Over three days in mid-August (Thursday 16th – Saturday 18th), a couple of fields in Mendip will play host to the sixth iteration of ArcTanGent Festival. This year, the eclectic festival features an exceptionally strong lineup jam-packed with math-rock, prog-metal and post-everything bands. Outside of the main lineup, ArcTanGent will as always be offering up an after-hours silent disco, this time with added karaoke (uh-oh!), as well as having Gallops play an exclusive full-band live set through the headphones. You can also expect some excellent food and coffee stalls, proper beer and cider, and by the looks of it, some of your actual, genuine sunny and warm weather.
Thursday 16th August – The first day of ArcTanGent is going to busy for me and focuses heavily on the Holy Roar Records vs Big Scary Monsters ‘Battle Royale’. Alternating between the Yohkai and PX3 stages, the likes of Rolo Tomassi, Boss Keloid, OHHMS, Svalbard and Bossk will duke it out with Alpha Male Tea Party, Body Hound, Delta Sleep and Jamie Lenman.
Which of the two labels will come out on top? Considering many of the bands in Holy Roar’s corner have released strong contenders for album of the year, and that the Big Scary Monsters contingent are ArcTanGent favourites, this is bound to be one rumble that’ll be silly to miss and probably too close to call. The afternoon of the first day will also see Pijn & Conjurer play an exclusive joint set named ‘Curse These Metal Hands’ on the PX3 stage. Aside from a few hints in interviews, little is known about how this will sound but I’ve got a warm fuzzy feeling that this collaboration will be a highlight of the day.
Rounding off the first day, ArcTanGent veterans And So I Watch You From Afar will be headlining the brand-spanking new main stage. Expect a full-on fun and uplifting math-rock time as they play 2017’s The Endless Shimmering from start to finish.
Friday 17th August – I’ve made no secret of how highly I rate Conjurer, Mire being one of my favourite albums of 2018 so far, and it’s safe to say that I’m excited to see them live again. There will be riffs on Friday afternoon, and likely a bangover on Saturday morning. I’m also looking forward to finally seeing Friday’s headliner Glassjaw. Even though my enthusiasm for Glassjaw has waned slightly over the years since missing them on two ill-fated tours about 15 years ago, their return in 2017 with Material Control has had time to grow on me and I can’t help but anticipate a great headlining set from the post-hardcore New Yorkers.
Elsewhere on Friday, God Mother are sure to cause a ruckus and I have high hopes that Wren will dole out the doomiest set of the weekend. I’m more than tempted to witness the semi-naked one-man Belgian cello-grind act Mr Marcaille (now that’s bound to be fun, right!?), but Talons are fantastic live, have just released the excellent We All Know and are likely to get all of my attention for the whole of their set. The other clash that will prove frustrating for me on Friday is Zeal and Ardor’s soulful blend of black metal and blues having to contend with Strobes’ polyrhythmic electro-prog-jazz.
Saturday 18th August – The final day has a little of everything. Early on, Ilenkus from Ireland will blast away any lingering tiredness with their full-on blend of Botch and Dillinger, followed up by Edinburgh’s lush math-rock trio Vasquez. There will also be a healthy dose of grungey noise rock and psych provided courtesy of Hey Colossus, Part Chimp and Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs.
Other bands that should be a high priority to see are Brighton’s Black Peaks, who are poised to release new album All That Divides in October, and the off-kilter Giraffes! Giraffes? making their European debut and are a UK exclusive act for ArcTanGent. I’m also certain that I will make every effort to catch Møl’s blackened shoegaze and (mostly) instrumental post-metallers Telepathy, whose Tempest album was a genre highlight in 2017. Closing the festival will be Steve Albini’s much-celebrated math-rock / noise-rock trio Shellac.
With limited availability left, tickets for ArcTanGent Festival 2018 can be found here along with the full lineup and other bits of important information through their website.