Last week, I was invited to attend the wicked MacMillan Fest in Nottingham, a festival that not only had an awesome lineup but was doing it’s bit for raising money and awareness for those affected by cancer. It was a brilliant day for a great cause and I’m here to tell you a bit more about it and review the bands I saw.
The layout was well done with the rooms spread out across Nottingham’s Rock City and the Rescue Rooms: the only problem was walking through the crowded narrow walkway and smoking area to access everything. The various arenas were full of independent clothing companies, tattoo artists and loads of other alternative goodness, giving the festival a really home-grown feel to it. Communal areas could definitely feel tight at times but there were always plenty of places to escape to. Now, onto the bands!
Who invented that awful rock frontman trope of pointing at your temple when singing and pretending to be angry and insane? It was most probably unhinged singers whose actions are now mimicked by bands around the world who want to show they’re a ‘lil bit cray. Miscreant got the trope memo and brought it to the Black Cherry Lounge, their false feeling theatrics souring a genuinely fun way to start the day with some simple metalcore. They were best when they ventured into the super low end fast elements of their songs but ultimately fade into that category of ‘Typical Heavy Band’ that you bump into at festivals and gig support slots alike. They weren’t bad – other than when the bassist narrowly missed my face with the drink he threw at the crowd for no reason – but they weren’t anything particularly special. Miscreant do have a talent though, so I hope they explore the parts of their sound that are great (5/10).
I then made my way to the Rescue Rooms to get some METULZ from Fahran who I knew nothing about. They were exceptional with a stage presence that could fool you into thinking they’ve been performing together their whole lives. All of them are uber talented musicians and a treat to watch, their songs were memorable and ultimately they crushed their early slot at the festival (8/10).
One of the most anticipated bands of the day for me was Haggard Cat, a band made up of the remnants of acclaimed hardcore band, Heck. Creating a whole different style from their former band, Haggard Cat stormed though a set with so much charm that the crowd couldn’t help but lap them up. There’s a lot of overdrive in the two-piece’s sound to make everything seem a bit bigger and it definitely achieved that as the room danced away to their fuzzy/bluesy sound. It’s always great to hear a band that don’t sound like everybody else, Haggard Cat are an absolute treat, always (9/10).
After a ceremonious trip to Maccies, I caught half of Eva Plays Dead, a band who have been around for a few years and still sound as boring and bog-standard as they did back then. There’s loads of hard-rock in their sound, think the younger sibling of Halestorm or The Pretty Reckless, it’s just not for me but there are so many that love this sound. Despite this, I couldn’t separate myself from their set as I was so enamoured by the band’s personalities, a group of big characters, none bigger than front-woman Tiggy Dockerty (4/10).
Sadly, I only saw one woman perform on the MacMillan Fest stages, I’m sure that there were more there but still, that’s not good enough. The day was a big reminder of the lack of women in the heavy music scene, this is something that everyone can play their part in changing. Make women feel safe at shows, book their bands for festivals, make the scene a safe space for all!
I then head upstairs to the smallest room I’d seen so far to see Palm Reader. To give you an insight into how tiny it was: the band couldn’t even all fit on the stage. In the minutes leading up to the performance, people were pouring in from every available entrance, turning the room into a sweatbox. I couldn’t see a damn thing once the band started playing, the room packed from shoulder to shoulder full of people witnessing this exciting performance. Palm Reader have become a band that know exactly how to please a crowd and stormed through a setlist full of the very best songs in recent British hardcore. Yeah, it was well fun (8/10). Just downstairs were Holding Absence who I managed to catch the end of after wading through their also massive crowd, I was blown away by how rabid those at the front were, singing along to every word like their lives depended on it. That’s a sight I always love to see and these are a band I definitely need to check out more.
Blood Youth were then on in the Black Cherry lounge and it was fun! That may seem like a lacklustre explanation of them but they’re a fairly standard melodic hardcore band performing catchy songs to people who love it. A pretty decent way to spend your time (7/10)!
No band should ever have to perform before the mighty Black Peaks though. The voice of Will Gardener, the technical prowess of that band, the innovative, crazy and live wire performance they put on. Black Peaks are undoubtedly one of the best bands that Britain has produced since I’ve been into rock, their music sounding so distinctly like others but also undoubtedly their own. They’re a band who I could see perform forever and never get bored, they’re such a force to be reckoned with. Black Peaks were exceptional (10/10).
That’s it for my MacMillan Fest review! It was a great day out, I saw some fantastic bands and it’s a festival I’d recommend to attend if you live near the area. I’ll be there next year!