For the last four years, ArcTanGent Festival has been the go-to place for connoisseurs of math-rock, post-rock and alt-metal, and this year from 17th to 19th August a patch of farmland about ten miles from Bristol will once again host a glorious gathering for those that like their rhythms to be complex, their time signatures jaunty and their guitars effects-laden.
Relatively small in scale (ticket spaces are limited to 5,000) but not ambition, this year’s three day festival will see more than seventy acts over four stages and three UK exclusive performances: Irish post-rockers God Is An Astronaut; legendary hardcore band Converge, who headline the Arc Stage on Friday; and Explosions In The Sky, whose resplendent instrumental post-rock will close the festival on Saturday night.
Many ArcTanGent veterans are making a welcome return to Fernhill Farm in 2017: Alpha Male Tea Party, Totorro, Gallops, The Physics House Band, and Thursday’s headliner Russian Circles are just a handful of the bands that have played at previous iterations of the festival. Although most of the acts at ArcTanGent do somewhat fall within the math-rock or post-rock categories this year’s lineup caters for a wide spectrum of tastes: from Listener’s spoken word country rock to Frontierer’s furious blend of tech-metal and hardcore, by way of the electronic rock of Gallops and Future Of The Left’s fun noise-rock.
With such a strong lineup, this year’s festival allows me to see again a few favourites of my own, and I’m especially looking forward to catching Converge, OHHMS and the mighty Boris, whose newest (their 23rd!) album Dear is astounding and will no doubt sound immense in a live setting. ArcTanGent 2017 will also give me the chance to check out some bands that I’ve not seen before but whose albums I have been enjoying lately: Belgian hardcore trio Brutus, the aforementioned Frontierer and Spanish instrumentalists Jardín de la Croix are all high on my list of ‘must-sees’.
As with any multiple stage festival, there are bound to be some band clashes, but thanks to some clever and fortunate stage planning by the organisers, for me there are only really two clashes that will prove tricky. Do I witness the electro/hip-hop/punk madness of Ho99o9 or go see The Number Twelve Looks Like You as a warm up for Converge’s headline set? And should I see the ever-reliable Sikth again, or intriguing Korean post-rockers Jambinai on Saturday evening? Such are the dilemmas of the festival-goer!
And if all of that music isn’t enough, there will be post-headliner acoustic sets from Steve Strong, Her Name Is Calla, Maella, and others, as well as the now (in)famous silent disco for those with enough energy left to dance/mosh until 3:00am. Plus, there’s going to be lots of great beer, a variety of food and an amazing coffee stall to give that much-needed kick-start each day.
Now, where’s my rain jacket?
Here’s a Spotify playlist of the bands at ArcTanGent 2017 that I want to see (in order of appearance, because I have too much free time, apparently):