Sounds Of Disaster
Supersonic Festival Day Three (Sunday)

The festival started with a two piece drone band playing tubas… In a cinema. Not the typical festival performance (which arguably is the best thing about Supersonic). It was different, for sure. They included a cover of an Earth song - Ouroboros Is Broken, which was both apt and enjoyable. While it certainly wasn’t my favourite thing of the day I’m glad I checked it out. I ended up staying for the whole set.

Pekko Kappi
A chap from Finland playing a strange bowed lyre thing. He was a very entertaining and likable character… The sound he got from his instrument was pretty strange too… Was worth watching for sure.

Mike Hurley Ensemble
This was a weird one. I had no idea what to expect upon turning up to the space they were performing in. I was quite surprised when I got there… They must have been the largest band playing! There was two drummers, a double bassist, a guy on keyboards and well, just look at the picture! There was a lot of people on that stage and you can’t even see them all in the picture - there’s two guys to the right who are out of shot. I have no idea which one is Mike Hurley by the way… Anyway, when I got in they were playing some quite avant garde jazzy stuff which was quite chaotic and complex… I wasn’t really digging it that much to be honest, and then it sort of simmered down into this more sparse quiet and interesting passage which was really really great. I think it must have been mostly (if not totally) improvised and they clearly knew what they were doing… At another point the chap playing melodica got off the stage and went to the barrier to sort of direct the other musicians… That was cool too. One of the most pleasant surprises of the day for me.

Eternal Tapestry
These guys were pretty cool… Psychedelic jams just going on like… I don’t know. Their name is sort of a good description of their sound though I think. It was pretty enjoyable stuff. I might have to check out any records they’ve made. They had a sax player who is almost impossible to see in this picture… He was almost impossible to hear from where I was standing too…

Drum Eyes
Scotch Egg’s band… Having seen Scotch Egg earlier in the festival and having read the description of Drum Eyes I knew they would be one to watch… I made sure to get there before they were on and to get to the front and man, am I glad I did! Quite simply these guys were one of the absolute highlights of the festival… They had two drummers which is always a good start, a guitarist and a woman playing violin and a bit of synth as well as Scotch Egg on bass and synth. From that kind of lineup you can tell they’re probably going to be great to watch! Seriously though, amazing stuff… It was energetic and fun and all other kinds of brilliant. The visuals were a perfect compliment to their show too. I’d take any chance to go see them again. I ended up buying their album straight after their performance. One of the best bands of the festival for sure. Guitarist just out of shot.

Barn Owl
I’d heard good things about Barn Owl, but never actually heard them… Upon arriving at the space they were performing at they sounded pretty boring… Just loud drones.

Cut Hands
Loud dirty electronic noisiness with odd rhythms. Apparently inspired by african music. Peculiar, interesting and cool. I can’t really explain it too well…

Tony Conrad
Some guy playing violin. I found it pretty boring and self indulgent…

Fire! With Oren Ambarchi
It was unfortunately busy in this area… I couldn’t even see Oren Ambarchi. It sounded pretty cool once it started to get going and I wish I’d stuck around for a bit longer. I like to see a band when I see a band though if you get what I mean…

Somewhat disappointing I have to say… I’d heard good things about Envy (but not actually heard them). They were okay, but really there didn’t seem to be anything all that special about them. I wanted to like them, but it just wasn’t all that great in my opinion. Maybe I’ll check out their recordings and change my opinion on them… But I wasn’t sold based on this performance.

Alva Noto
Ahh, this was some awesome music. Not much to watch since it was just a guy behind a laptop, but the visuals were pretty cool and went with the music perfectly. It was loud and sounded awesome. Glitchy minimal rhythmic brilliance. I’ve downloaded his latest album and I really like it. Great music. Would have stuck around longer but I wanted to check out Circle.

Another of the highlights for me… If not only due to their frontman’s hilariously flamboyant performance… I think the band’s lineup was exactly the same as Pharaoh Overlord who played the other day. The guitarists and bassist were definitely the same and I think the frontman for Circle was one of the drummers… Either way, they were totally different performances!!! This was just brilliant and over the top… Turbonegro who came on after didn’t really look all that camp after this. The singer was prancing around and sort of baptized all the other band members while they were playing… It was the most hilarious and cheesy performance ever. You just kind of had to be there I guess.

White Hills
This was in the same space Fire! played earlier and it was just as busy… These guys sounded great though. It was a shame I couldn’t really see… I ended up sitting on the floor by a wall for most of their set. Cool psychedelic music though… Will definitely be checking them out…

The headliners of the final day… The last band… I was at the barrier for their set, and it was pretty cool. They certainly have a lot of pretty hardcore fans… People who probably showed up only to see them and were kitted out with denim jackets covered in Turbonegro patches (and I think there was the odd sailor hat or two). It was a pretty cool atmosphere - instead of cheering when they came on stage everyone was singing ‘ohh-woah-oh I got erection!’. Funny stuff. They were pretty entertaining and definitely got the best reaction of all the bands playing… It was a good end to a great festival.

Supersonic Festival Day Two (Saturday)

I’d booked a place on a workshop, so for me the festival began at 12:00. The workshop was to build a Mute synth, and was run by John Richards (who runs the Dirty Electronics Ensemble and lectures at my university). It was a good workshop, and I came out with another noisemaker to add to my arsenal of sounds. I helped a few people finish theirs as some participants didn’t have any previous experience building electronic instruments. There were also rehearsals for a performance to take place in the Theater that evening. I decided to sit out as it would clash with Electric Wizard - having taken part in many Dirty Electronics performances and having missed Electric Wizard last year due to illness the choice was clear! The workshop ended at 4:00 and the festival began properly for the day. Here’s the result of the workshop:

Berg Sans Nipple
Yes. Quite an odd name… Quite an odd band too, I must say. They were a two piece consisting of a drummer/vocalist who also played mbira and melodica and a chap who played some synth and what appeared to be a small steel drum type thing. I’m not entirely sure what he was doing exactly… It was cool though. The vocals could have been louder, but oh well. I moved on after a while - not from boredom, but because there was a chap playing banjo who sounded promising at the same time as this.

Nathan Bell
I’d heard he did cool experimental stuff with a banjo… Bowing it, electronic stuff… I can’t really remember, but I do remember that it sounded really interesting. When I got there it was extremely crowded and there was nothing much that seemed all that experimental… It was just a guy playing a banjo, which I couldn’t even see too well because there were too many people there. I left pretty soon.

Spanish doom band. Very typical of their genre. I downloaded their album Gran Poder quite a while back and I remember enjoying it so I thought I’d try and catch a bit of their set. Live they just didn’t do much for me - maybe because there’s just so much of this kind of stuff… For some reason I just wasn’t feeling it at the time.

Teeth of the Sea
I had heard good things about their live show, and they always kept on popping up on my recommended radio… I made sure to get to their stage before they were on so I could get a good place. So glad I did… Was right at the front and I ended up staying for their whole set. They were absolutely brilliant. Really, really brilliant. Dynamic, hypnotic and just really powerful. Trumpet, guitar, keyboard, other electronics, bass and a drummer who plays standing up… They definitely come across 10x better live than on any recording I’ve heard. Great energy in the performance… At one point they were holding up their guitars to each other… The drummer was holding his cymbal while playing it. They really were brilliant. I’d love to see them again. One of the best bands of the festival.

Bardo Pond
Another band I knew of before the festival. I’m wasn’t too enthusiastic about them. They’re cool, but they do seem a bit droney in a bland way. The singers voice is great though! I liked what I heard and I’ll likely check out some more of their records.

They sounded interesting… A fourpiece with three musicians onstage and one at the sound desk processing their instruments with delays and such. I never really heard any of that manipulation, so while it was a cool concept it didn’t really come across. A shame, really. I moved on after a few songs.

Wolves in the Throne Room
I thought this might be fun. I’ve not ever seen any black metal bands or bands like WITTR before so I thought I’d give it a go. I like the album that I’ve listened to. Their stage set up was pretty nice… They had these big long drapey flags and old style oil lamps or whatever they were adorning the stage. They refused to have anything but the most subtle and dark blue light and it looked fucking cool. The guitarists had lights attached to their guitars pointed at the fretboard so they could see what they were doing in the dark. There was lots of fog too… It was intense. Loud and intense. Enjoyable.

Were pretty heavy and had sax too. It was a pretty cool combination, but overall the space was too busy for me to get into what they were doing. I like to be able to see a band if I’m going to see them, y’know. The vocals were perhaps slightly off-putting too.

Lucky Dragons
This sounded interesting but there was no way of really knowing what was going on because it was so crowded. I think there was some kind of audience participation happening, but everyone was crowded round this one table bit and it was impossible to see, let alone take part. I didn’t find the sounds to be a compelling reason to stay either.

Pharaoh Overlord
Repetitive! To the extreme. I think the first song they played was just one riff that lasted 10 minutes. One riff. It was like two chords as well. It felt like an exercise in patience more than anything else. I perhaps wish I’d have stayed for longer now, because after checking out their recordings I quite like them. It’s nice music to have on while you’re doing something else. Apparently their performance was better towards the end too… Well, at least I got a good place for Electric Wizard.

Electric Wizard
The Wizard! Yes… One of the reasons of attending was Electric Wizard. They weren’t as loud as I anticipated. I imagined them being loud to the point of physical discomfort. They were not. They were loud, sure, but the right amount of loud. I stayed for the whole of their set and Funeralopis was fucking great. The guitars didn’t seem as crushing as on Dopethrone, but damn… It was still good! Heavy, heavy riffs.

Skull Defekts
Thought I’d give them a quick look and it didn’t really do much for me.

After many bands and quite a long day I went to go for a sit down, and I find the Dirty Electronics crew sitting in the seating area. Made a nice relaxing change, and since I wasn’t bothered about seeing anyone at the time it made sense. The seating area was just outside Space two which is where the last band of the day were playing.

Another band I stayed for the full set of. I know only one of their songs… Orion. It was pretty cool though. They are pretty cheesy, proggy and 70’s, but it’s all good fun. I quite enjoyed them overall. It was a nice way to end the day, but I couldn’t help but wonder why Electric Wizard weren’t playing this later headline slot…

Supersonic Festival Day One

I got to the festival just before it opened, which was around 9pm. Upon having my ticket checked I was given a wristband and a programme. I have to say the programme was absolutely brilliant… It had all the information you could possibly want - information about all the bands, the timetable of where and when they were playing and a map of the festival area. Since I hadn’t really done much in the way of research it was absolutely invaluable! It’s certainly helpful to be able to have all that information in one place and really helped me decided which bands to see. Upon entry I headed to the first area - Boxxed to see Slabdragger.

Very typical of their genre in both appearance and sound. Sludgy, heavy rock. The singer even had the sterotypical beard. It’s cool enough, but there’s so much of this kind of music around and Slabdragger didn’t really do all that much for me. I could take them or leave them - they weren’t bad, but they really weren’t exciting either. After two or three songs I did decided to leave them and went to the other area to watch APATT.

I already knew they’d be entertaining - it much the same as earlier in the week when they supported the Secret Chiefs… That’s no bad thing; I think I enjoyed them more this time round, possibly because I knew what to expect. They were very entertaining though - the frantic and frenetic show they put on is pretty great. I half wish I’d gone straight to APATT instead of checking out Slabdragger. Never mind. I stayed for the rest of their set and it felt like it ended far too soon. There was a little break before the next two acts so I headed back to Boxxed to catch an act who I thought sounded interesting - Drumcunt.

Despite sounding interesting… they were not. I stuck around for maybe ten or fifteen minutes and it was really really boring. Just this one sound repeating over and over getting ever so slightly more dense. Maybe they picked up and got interesting after that, but I figure if you’re going to play a festival you should start strong or people will walk away and watch someone else (which I did). I gave them a ten fifteen minute chance to be interesting and they failed miserably. I moved on to Space 2 to watch…

Part Chimp
I’m familiar with Part Chimp. They are one of the few bands I had already listened to going into this festival. Thing is, when I did listen to them I obviously wasn’t really too struck by them as I never listened to them again after that (which is why I chose to watch Drumcunt…). They were a million miles better than Drumcunt, and definitely worked far better live than on record. They had a couple of songs which I quite enjoyed… So they were definitely worth seeing. I’ll give them another listen at some point. Back to Boxxed for the next act which was Scotch Egg!

Scotch Egg
That’s a great name isn’t it? Scotch Egg was one that really piqued my interest from what I’d heard about him, so I wanted to get down the front. I managed to do so, and it was brilliant! Scotch Egg is a Japanese chap who essentially plays music on a Gameboy and screams a lot into a distorted microphone. It sounds like it would either be shit or brilliant and it was, fortunately, brilliant. He had a great energy and was jumping all over the stage, onto the table and running around and stuff. Not just good, but funny. Wholly entertaining. Probably the most pleasant surprise of the day. I think I watched pretty much all of his set. After that I headed back to Space 2 to catch the very end of Mike Watt.

Mike Watt & The Missingmen
They weren’t really one of the bands I was bothered about seeing (otherwise I’d have left Scotch Egg earlier), but they sounded pretty great from the last one or two songs I caught. Looked like quite an intense performance. I might have to check out some of Mike Watt’s stuff. I stuck around afterwards and patiently waited for the Chiefs.

Secret Chiefs 3
These guys were pretty much the reason I booked my festival ticket when I did, and I was really looking forward to them, so I made sure to get down the front (I did, therefore, stand around waiting for a bit instead of seeing any of Cloaks, which was fine). They played pretty much the same set as they did in London earlier in the week. It was just as intense, but they had more room on the stage to move around in and there were visuals behind them this time too. Really really great. It was pretty late by the time they finished (something past two in the morning) and I was pretty knackered. It was a great first day!