Saturday, 6 April 2013

Detestival Review

Photo: Alice Burrow

Published on the Forge Press website - 05/04/13

working men’s social club may seem like an unlikely venue for a two day showcase of some of the best and heaviest music on the scene at the moment. However, over Easter weekend the tinsel curtain-clad walls of Sheffield’s Queen’s Social Club played host to Detestival. As the brainchild of Sheffield duo Wet Nuns, it was billed as a selfish excuse for the pair to showcase a selection of their favourite bands. 

While the bands were all different, if a general theme is to be plucked from the line-up then its heavy guitars. Black Moth brought some good old-fashioned heavy rock to the early afternoon line-up. Front woman, Harriet Bevan, is a fantastically edgy vocalist and they were one of my highlights of Tramlines 2012. They delivered a similarly strong set at detestival from recent LP The Killing Jar. The front man of Dry Heaves summed up the tone of the weekend by declaring “#SWEATY” at the end of their furious hardcore punk set. Throne followed Dry Heaves with their own slightly more subdued brand of stoner rock. Early Saturday evening, Leeds-based Hookworms were let down by bad sound and lairy afternoon drinkers but still managed to deliver a promising set fresh from the release of their blisteringly good LP. 

I’m hesitant to apply a label to Japanese band Bo Ningen, but I’ll tentatively plump for acid psyche with moments of really heavy punk rifts. Hyped up as a Wet Nuns favourite of the line-up, this androgynous, long-haired four piece completely stole the show for the whole weekend. The strangely entrancing dance moves and peculiar gurning of the lead singer paired with psych rifts made this set pure madness. They left the subsequent bands Wet Nuns and Wolf People muttering regrets that they had to follow such an act and shouts of “Bo Ningen!” were heard amongst the crowd for the rest of the weekend. However, Wet Nuns need not have worried. The wonderfully heavy blues-rock of this Sheffield duo has gained a strong following over the past year and they didn’t disappoint the home crowd. Delivering one of the strongest sets of the weekend from a band that claim to be inspired by “women, booze, death, and Enya”. ‘Throttle’ was a particular highlight of the set. Sadly they plan to disappear for a while but they will hopefully return with a much-anticipated LP later in the year. Wolf People ended the day and brought some calm to proceedings with their own breed of folk rock.

Day two of Detestival promised to be a -slightly- more laid back affair, a god-send for the aching limbs and raging hangovers caused by Saturday’s onslaught of furious heavy rock and hardcore punk. Wet Nuns had managed to wrangle some of the best and most exciting new psych bands on the scene for the festival. Sheffield’s Temple of Coke ripped open proceedings on the second day, delivering a set of their trademark short, fast and furious metal tracks. It is refreshing to watch a band that doesn’t take itself seriously and the band’s performance can only be described as brilliantly shambolic. If you do nothing else today, watch their fantastic cover of some pure 90s gold, All Saint’s ‘Pure Shores’, on Youtube to get an idea of what this Sheffield band are all about. 

John J Presley, a performer who describes his style as “blues folk noir”, played a completely captivating set with heavy guitars and Nick Cave-style gravelly vocals. Manchester’s Kult Country felt rather different to the rest of the bands in the weekend’s line up but they were a firm highlight of Sunday with droning vocals and heavy effects. Following Kult Country’s well-received set, Temples brought their own brand of mesmerizing dreamy 60s inspired psych to Sunday evening. I can’t recommend their debut single ‘Shelter Song’ highly enough; it is an absolute must for Beatles fans. 
London- based TOY brought Detestival to an end, headlining Sunday evening after the unfortunate cancellation of Hawk Eyes. One of the most heavily hyped bands of 2012, this psych rock group delivered an amazingly good set, which was a fitting end to the weekend.

Wet Nuns / photo credit

The limited amount of sound checking time let some of the bands down over the weekend but this festival was clearly a labour of love by Wet Nuns and was curated perfectly. There was a great deal of variety amongst the bands playing but the weekend really came together as a whole. The atmosphere of heavy food (Street Food Chef provided some tasty Mexican delights), heavy drink and heavy music made the weekend mind-blowingly good. Like Tramlines, hopefully this festival will grow to be a permanent Sheffield fixture.

by Alice Burrow

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