Arctangent - Day Three (Cover Artwork)


Day Three (2022)

Live Show

Waking with both the heavy weight of two days of festival and the promise of a day of exceptional music in my mind, it’s fair to say I was excited. By the knowledge of what the day held and also what the following day held in the form of my bed, running hot water, films and solitude. But those things were very much playing second fiddle to an absurdly stacked lineup for the final day. First up for me and one of my most anticipated bands of the weekend was Ithaca. The recent release of They Fear Us meant the metallic hardcore troupe brought a new set of killer songs, an enhanced sense of drama and a whole barrowload of well-deserved goodwill to the stage. Luckily, the band were able to do justice to the expectations of the assembled masses. The set felt truly incendiary, but the trademark staccato riffing and frenzied screams were set on a bedrock of optimism. Just a magnificent way to kick off Day 3.

I then made my way over to the Bixler stage to catch a band with a great deal of buzz around them. Heriot have been around for a while now, but their resurgence has been astonishingly pronounced and they’re winning over more fans than surely any other heavy UK band at the moment. I caught up with Julian and Debbie after their set and they’re absolutely brimming with excitement and enthusiasm for their own band in the best way possible. They talk about the fact that having played Download, Bloodstock, 2000 Trees and now Arctangent in a single festival season is about as close to a dream come true as they could have imagined. I think we’re going to hear even bigger things from Heriot in the coming years. After that I headed back to the arena to watch Devil Sold His Soul. A band who exist in an unusual pocket of producing music that has very immediate melodic hooks, but also has very distinct ‘post’ leanings. Also their story is fascinating, but that’s for another time. The set began with a slightly smaller crowd than I maybe expected, but that was not the case by the end. The unashamedly emotive, crescendo-laden beauty of their recent record Loss brought die hards fans and new fans alike, into the tent to experience the full heft of what turned out to be something of a highlight of the festival. Frontmen Paul Green and Ed Gibbs, both bringing slightly different styles and energies, but bringing a profundity and magnificence to a Saturday afternoon. And when they were joined by Djamila from Ithaca and Chad from Frontierer out for ‘Narcissist’, the party vibes were throbbing from the stage. A real moment and one that all those collected on stage seemed to enjoy as much as those of us in the crowd.

After a break to catch up with Ithaca for a chat, I intended to go and watch Emma Ruth Rundle, but as I was sat with a photographer friend who had been ejected from the tent (Emma insisted on no photographers) I gave it a miss. (No judgment I hasten to add). Another band who I had been assured I simply had to watch was The Armed. A band who (to me, at least) are at least as much live show mythology as they are recorded output, seemingly played to their strengths as the main stage was packed. Being honest, there seemed to maybe be a greater focus on the theatre than the music, but then I am less familiar with their music than most of the crowd. At one point a guitar is launched a full 20 feet in the air and into the crowd which at the time I had assumed was a locking nut issue, but speaking to people closer to the incident, I gather it was more just punk rock exuberance. Kind of cool, I guess. Next was a bit more of a home turf show for me in the shape of Pallbearer. That beguiling mix of Sabbath, trad metal vocals and modern doom influences makes for quite a show. Drew a huge crowd and took the opportunity to play 2012 album Sorrow and Extinction in full. All five tracks of it over an hour. It’s a record that many people hold dear with good reason and the headbanging was slow, metronomic and universal as a result. A lovely time, though I’m far more attached to Heartless. But that’s just me.

For the final period of the final day, I saw a series of bands, each of whom formed something of a first for me. Leprous, being a band I was only peripherally aware of, I was railroaded into seeing by the rightly enthusiastic journo and chum Matt Mills. Leprous really are quite some band. Their oeuvre unclear, their style chameleonic, the consistency and quality of songwriting and delivery; almost without compare. They’re much like a melodramatic extreme metal band who have an innate knowledge of a thousand musical styles and wield them almost simultaneously. To the point that their extremity is entirely masked. It is there, but I’m not sure how to articulate its existence. It’s fair to say I was impressed and continue to be impressed now that I’m beginning to dig into their discography. From there, I headed for the final headliner of the weekend in the shape of Opeth. I, like most metal fans, have a huge love for Opeth and like most, do have a greater love for one of their periods than another. Doubtless being aware of this, Opeth play the definition of a career-spanning set; nine songs, each from a different album. They play with professionalism and also Mikael’s trademark witticisms between songs. An almost universally adored band playing to a crowd of tired, but incredibly happy and satisfied listeners.

Arctangent drew to a close and I began to understand why it has such a fanatical following in certain musical circles. Overtly ecologically/sustainably focused, small enough to feel boutique, but big enough to have real atmosphere, but first and foremost, an extraordinary, eclectic mix of bands for the discerning listener. It even stayed dry for most of it. Amazing.