Festival Review: Impericon Manchester 2017

My trip down to Manchester for Impericon last year was taut and tense to say the least. I was working late at Bon Fest the night before and after very little sleep, Oleg and I set off early morning in an effort to beat rush hour traffic.

Just before or just after the Scotland/England border, my car decided this would be an ideal time to develop some form of cooling problem. Long story short, there were about three more stops on the way to top up on water but we eventually made it, which was a huge relief to me as the thought of missing Hatebreed after months of anticipation was bringing me close to tears.

I planned on being a lot more organised this year, booking a hotel in Manchester the night before the show but what I didn’t foresee was the Bury Tomorrow/Crossfaith gig would be scheduled to happen the night I was meant to be travelling down.

Long story short again, the Easter Bunny finished terrorising the staff at the Garage nightclub, said his goodbyes to the bands and grabbed a midnight Megabus to Manchester were hotel staff were kind enough to let me check in at ridiculous o’ clock. I nabbed as much sleep as possible before I had to check out the next morning, which wasn’t a great deal believe me… so much for being better organised!

So, sleep-deprived again I killed some time in the city before making my way to the venue to find a lengthy queue outside, always a good sign! Once inside I was speedily accredited and managed a quick meeting with “Hold Tight” Hannah before venturing upstairs to catch the first band of the day.

Hailing from nearby Leeds, hardcore outfit Higher Power already had the crowd off their feet and round-housing invisible ninjas by the time I get to the main hall. They may not be to my taste musically but they’re confident and aren’t at all fazed by the fact they’re first on. In fact they positively embraced this opportunity and it’s reflected well by the “hardcore kids” vocalist Jimmy Wizard is shouting out to.

It’s a genuine shame that the same couldn’t be said for Casey. They’re a band from South Wales which is roughly all the information I could actually find out about them. I’m really not sure what genre of metal you put them in either. Admittedly it’s my first time seeing them so I’d be naive not to think that their reservedness on stage is actually a signature of their performances. They might not have hit the right notes with me but the near 20,000 followers on their social media with an international fanbase to boot suggests they are elsewhere.

Seeking to blow away any cobwebs that may have accumulated over the last forty minutes, Napoleon marched on stage with the burning desire to conquer Impericon. It’s not long before their energy turns the academy dancefloor into what looks like a 17th century battlefield (minus the cannons and muskets of course). This enthusiasm will carry them far.

Keeping the almost battlefield violence going is Welsh hardcore outfit Brutality Will Prevail. Their stage presence alone sends a very clear message – if you don’t move to this music, we’ll jump off this stage and move you ourselves!

I’ve not got anything massively against hardcore music, I actually really like some of the bands in this genre, but unfortunately the hardcore scene does seem to attract twats at times. My point is proved in Manchester when I have to help security break up a fight in the pit. The big dude who I grabbed managed to get himself arrested outside the venue for mouthing off at the police. I don’t know if he started the trouble inside but I’ll offer some free advice to him if he ever reads this – wise up, big man…

I didn’t manage to see much of Broken Teeth‘s set as I left to go get something to eat. What I did see of them was not a peaceful affair in the slightest. When you’re in a slam/beatdown kind of band you’d never dream of wanting a stationary crowd though so there must have been smiles all round.

Fed and watered I used the quiet time before In Hearts Wake were due to come on to give the barrier staff some heads up, basically saying the next three bands were going to cause an upsurge in crowd surfers. Some of them remembered me from the previous year so decided it was advice worth heeding and beefed up the barrier staff accordingly. That was actually a really cool feeling!

I was super excited to see the boys from Byron Bay as I’d heard many good things. They definitely lived up to expectations with two major highlights being vocalist Jake surfing the crowd on an inflatable crocodile named Alfred, and IHW officially had the best mosh pits of the entire day. When you consider who the headliners were that’s no mean feat.

Last year I managed to forge a friendship with Ohio metalcore kings Miss May I. I saw them twice in one week and whilst both of those shows were marred by minor difficulties MMI still gave it a million percent. It’s truly awesome to see them back on stage a year later with all guns blazing!

A real bonus was being treated to some music from forthcoming album Shadow Inside which is due for release in June. A new album hopefully means a UK tour coming where I can cause some more chaos with my boys from Stateside.

I’ll always remember the first time I saw Carnifex live as it was last November at the Glasgow Garage; they were part of the Impericon: Never Say Die tour. I’d lost a lengthy court battle the same day and had been disqualified from driving for 6 months. Believe me their kick ass music provided some much needed stress relief and now, almost 6 months on, they’re absolutely killing it in Manchester with sick pits, tonne-hammer heaviness and a cover of Slipknot’s “Heretic Anthem” which might possibly be one of those once in your lifetime experiences.

Confession time: like Broken Teeth I missed a big section the Being As An Ocean set but the brief part I did witness was a major surprise as it was almost as if a cloud of chloroform engulfed the crowd with almost no movement at all.

I should explain, I went upstairs to the press area to check my phone and this led to a chance encounter with Miss May I drummer Jerod Boyd, which further led to an invite to the dressing rooms to hang out with MMI and headliners Thy Art Is Murder. Who would refuse that?

After an insightful conversation with CJ McMahon about travelling the world and relationships I made my way back to the main hall to await Thy Art is Murder‘s arrival on stage.

A short time later they put a match to the gas with the thunderous “Holy War” and started 45 minutes of what I can only describe as carnage. Pits were huge and crowd surfer numbers must surely have reached triple figures. I really do have to commend the ShowSec pit crew. They held their nerve and didn’t lose their cool once, even after CJ called for a stage invasion and some stage divers, which really are the ultimate tests for concert security.

Nobody who made it over the barrier actually got on stage or managed to jump from it but this didn’t dent CJ’s spirit and he invited a woman he had met earlier in the day to come on stage and show everybody her third nipple, seriously! Then, like a flash, Thy Art’s full frontal attack was over. I would say probably to the relief of the security, who were still in good humour thankfully.

So Impericon was over again. Hatebreed headlining last year, Thy Art Is Murder this year. How are you going to top that in 2018? I wait with bated breath. Over and out!

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