Over the years, ArcTanGent has been in the habit of creating outstanding lineups for their three-day festivals, and one look at the poster for 2019 will tell you that the organisers have outdone themselves this year. There have a been a few complaints from fans that ATG, a festival with a history of showcasing some of the best math-rock and post-rock has become just another metal festival, but the team have always given some space on the lineup to more extreme acts, it just so happens that the biggest name on this year’s bill is a metal band. A UK exclusive appearance from Meshuggah is certainly going to be a big draw for a lot of metal fans, and rightly so, I personally can’t wait to see the extreme Swedish prog-metallers again, and there are a plethora of bands highlighted below that are just as worthy of attention. The selection of post-rock and math-rock bands on this lineup, to me anyway, does not look any weaker than the previous years that I’ve attended, so I don’t see what the fuss is about.
Winner of the Best Small Festival at the 2018 UK Festival Awards, ATG has expanded slightly this year by adding a small fifth stage within the merch and bar marquee that will focus on less abrasive acts, as well as panel discussions featuring members of Employed To Serve, Frontierer, Conjurer and others. After Gallops’ silent disco performance in 2018, Thursday night will see both Gost and The Algorithm playing to the headphone-wearing crowd of the main stage, followed by a Battles DJ set. It’s destined to get silly.
Ithaca are likely to be the first band I see at ATG (this will mean missing the Dan Wild-Beesley tribute) and I can’t think of a more ferociously energetic way to kickstart the weekend. Their Holy Roar released debut album The Language Of Injury has had time to bed in since it was let loose at the start of the year and the London hardcore quintet’s cathartic tracks are bound to pummel the early PX3 crowd. Elsewhere on the hardcore front, ATG will be the first chance for many to catch Azusa, whose members hail from Extol and The Dillinger Escape Plan, and I can’t wait to see Employed To Serve destroy the Bixler tent with their headline set.
Weirdo-rockers Raketkanon and fellow Belgian punks Cocaine Piss are two other bands that are going to provide upbeat and lively fun-times. Raketkanon’s #3 album might have toned things down slightly but I suspect their live show is still going to be as in-your-face and as ‘interactive’ as it always has been, and the snappy Cocaine Piss are riding high after the release of Passionate and Tragic, just don’t touch their cake.
One year since the live debut of Curse These Metal Hands and one day after the release of their brilliant (I can’t stop listening to the review copy…) debut, this collaborative slot from Pijn & Conjurer should be a high priority for ATG attendees. Formed exclusively for that performance at last year’s festival, the powerful three-guitar post-whatever of Curse These Metal Hands is sure to provide an uplifting experience for Saturday lunchtime. As if that wasn’t enough, each band will also be playing their own set on Thursday evening.
As with the last few ATGs, there are a handful of excellent post-metal bands on this year’s bill with The Ocean, LLNN, Bossk and Cult of Luna all ready to dole out the big riffs and atmospheric builds. Cult of Luna are one of the most consistently brilliant live bands around, Bossk are teasing something special, and expect some PA climbing and crowd surfing/running from The Ocean’s Loïc Rossetti.
When they last played ATG, Frontierer only had a handful of live gigs under their belt, now two years and one relentless album later, Frontierer will be fresh from honing their live show on a recent European tour. The most intense act on the lineup, Frontierer will push people to the limit as they headline the Bixler stage on Friday. Might we also see Sammy Urwin and Justine Jones of ETS join the chaos?
Not wanting this preview to get too out of hand, I need to at least mention the fact that I’m really looking forward to 65daysofstatic’s cinematic post-rock, the psych-stylings of Pigsx7, Three Trapped Tigers’ electro-rock, and the punk noise of The St Pierre Snake Invasion, Cattle and Daughters.
Finally, just who could Saturday’s Special Secret Guests be? There are obviously countless candidates but I’d be pretty happy if it was Latitudes, Knocked Loose, McClusky*, or Body Hound. They’d all fit the bill and are either touring or have a new album out. Unless, of course, ATG has gone all out and got Rush to play one final show…
There are few tickets left for ArcTanGent so head here if you want to have a good time.
ArcTanGent takes place 15th-17th August at Fernhill Farm near Bristol.