Live Review: Fat Lip Festival (July 2017)
As festival season is in full swing this was my first chance to catch some festival action for myself in the terms of Fat Lip Festival. This small but jam packed festival brought local upcoming bands to Bristol. The festival is normally a club night which showcases bands from around the country. This is the first time they have made this showcasing club night into a full fledged rock festival with a the venues being The Lanes and Bierkeller. The Lanes had an acoustic outdoor stage which was named the Alvarez stage and also the indoors was named the Adnams stage. These were perfectly co-ordinated between each other to maximise the amount of bands you could see for the day. The Main stage was at Bierkeller just a short walk away, which made it easy to catch all of the action. This festival for as little as £20 had a great lineup of pop punk bands, acoustic acts for a softer mix of music and some heavier bands thrown into the mix this festival really did cater well for a variety of tastes surrounding the rock genre and was definitely worth every penny. With the festival being held in the beautiful city of Bristol, there was no excuse not to head down. The city and the festival are both great and definitely worth a visit.
Upon looking at the lineup for this festival the bands I had heard of gave me the impression the festival was going to be an all pop punk vibe. So to my surprise walking into the first act of the As Flames Rise being heavier than some of my personal favourite bands out there made me more than happy to be catching this 5 piece melodic metal band from the south coast. The band made up of two vocalists who were both astounding singers and I loved the difference in their style of screams which bounced off each other to create a powerful performance. Both vocalists blended well together to create an interesting sound that you don’t hear very often. Although we later found out from lead singer Matty Bowdidge, that second singer Jak England was a stand in for absent vocalist Oscar George, this didn’t show as both had great chemistry and Jak was an incredible singer. The two most notable songs from the band for me were new single ‘Redemption’ and then ‘Victims’, which they closed with. Both are great songs and I’ve since added them to my favourites playlist, if you're a fan of early Parkway Drive you need to check them out, these were definitely one of my favourite acts from the whole of Fatlip Festival.
Next up we saw Continents a band I’ve heard of before and who I was excited to go check out as I hadn’t seen them live before. These were another heavy band like As Flames Rise, with the lead vocals being heavy they are definitely ones to watch out for in the future in the hardcore scene. They opened up with a song that is being released in September called Preacher, which I can’t wait to get my hands on and have a proper listen too. During the second song there was a slight mic malfunction but this was quickly rectified and didn’t hinder Continents performance. Lead singer Phil Cross had a great stage presence and engaged with the crowd on many occasions, however surprisingly moss pits or circle pits didn’t break out which I was a little disappointed with, maybe it was too early because on the same stage later in the day it was rather rowdy, more on that later. The song ‘Pegasus, Pegasus’ was announced by Phil and was met with a big roar from the crowd which upon reflection was justified as this turned out to be my favourite song from their set. Excluding the unfortunate mishap with the mic Continents still had a solid performance and I would love to see them on a bill again soon.
Our first act on the Acoustic stage was Luke Rainsford, and from the previous two acts it was a nice change of atmosphere. With the sun shining on the outdoor stage and benches to chill on whilst watching the act, this young man quickly got my attention with his heartfelt lyrics and acoustic guitar. Opening with Home Safe a song from his 2nd album “I Feel At Home With You” it quickly became apparent I must have been living under a rock when I say I hadn’t heard of this guy before Fatlip festival. The majority of the crowd were singing his lyrics back at him so i could tell he had a strong fanbase. I really enjoyed Luke’s set and his album is definitely worth a listen if you like more acoustic chilled out music, he’ll certainly be making his way onto my chilled playlist that’s for sure. Luke closed with songs ‘Nightmares’ and ‘Frames’, these two being my favourite and the most emotional of the setlist which even Luke acknowledged when he stated “these next two are my most personal songs I’ve ever written”. These two songs being about depression. The young artist got huge cheers when he spoke up about the illness by mentioning the Head Above The Waves Charity an organisation that raises awareness of depression and self-harm in young people which is a huge topic in today's society, so huge credit to the young artist for bringing this up, well done Luke. The charity had a stand in the upstairs part of The Lanes selling merch with a message and talking about mental health, which is a nice touch from the festival for allowing them to set this up.
Back inside The Lanes for Foes, a band from my neck of the woods, playing on the Adnams stage. It was great to see the lads playing to a packed out room. The lads from Liverpool have high technical ability with their guitar play, drumming and vocals, it’s beggars belief of why they weren’t higher up the bill in my opinion. What they have put together is definitely worth a listen if you haven’t heard of them before. If you like soft rock with clean vocals I promise you won’t be disappointed. The lads played new song ‘Orchestrator’ and closed with song ‘No Sleepers Verse’ which was my personal favourite. The slow drums at the beginning of the song building up throughout the whole song before a huge end, this massive instrumental heavy track is one of ‘Foes’ best songs.
On the Acoustic stage we next had local band Montroze for a chilled 30 minutes. It’s worth mentioning that Montroze are a five piece band that play a pop punk set up and don’t usually play acoustic sets, however today three members of the band were going to perform something different in an acoustic set. Needless to say the set was great and it didn’t come across that the lads don’t normally do acoustic sets. After opening up with ‘Good Old days’, they then played ‘Fit For a King’, with a great guitar solo at the beginning (which sounded amazing on acoustic guitar) was a great song to play in a set they weren’t used to performing. The boys treated us to two new songs ‘Escape: Part II’ and ‘Shameful You’ which will be released in September on the upcoming EP ‘Escape’, which is definitely one to watch out for. Overall I loved Montroze set and I feel privileged to have caught a set that not many people may witness.
Our first act on the main stage, at the Fireball stage in Beirkeller was Shvpes a band I’d heard a few songs by before and was really looking forward to seeing as they remind me of Letlive. With a low roof at this venue which made it very hot and sweaty before the crowd had even gathered around the stage, the guys exploded onto the stage and took no time in showing what they were made of. With lead singer Griffin Dickinson dominating on stage and engaging with the crowd from song one, the crowd thrived off the bands performance and for the first time we saw small mosh pits breaking out. The stand out song from their performance was ‘Two Minutes Of Hate’ which saw the crowd go crazy with pits and crowd suffers. Shvpes had a great set and they were one of my top five from the whole festival, here’s hoping that the band annouce a tour later in the year.
After Shvpes it was a quick dash back to the Adnams stage to catch Holding Absence, a band I was familiar with as I’d caught them a few weeks earlier in Chester. Before they started I noticed the drummer fist bump the rest of the band indicating they are a close tight band, which was nice to see. The boys ready to start, had their backs to the crowd which indicated they were here to put on a full performance by showing their full routine, to a packed out room. ‘Permanent’ a personal favourite of mine quickly got the band and the crowd into the full swing of things and with Lucas Woodlands clean vocals which were passionate and empowering. The song ‘Dream Of Me’ had the fans in full voice and the set was well underway. They closed the set with ‘Penance’ which was another song their faithful fans knew and loved. This is the song I would recommend if you haven’t heard of the band before. Holding Absence are a fresh new band that sound like they have been around for a long time, and with shows coming up supporting ‘Young Guns’ I’m positive they have bigger things to come if they carry on the way they're going and i’m hopeful of hearing a EP or full album soon.
Dead! Up next on the Fireball stage who are an alternative rock band that I’ve heard good things about and who i’ve wanted to catch and didn’t disappoint. It quickly became apparent why Dead! Were on the main stage and these boys certainly left with more fans than when they started. My favourite songs were ‘Alaska’ and ‘Enough Enough Enough’ which got the biggest responses from the crowd and had everyone singing along. After seeing Dead! Live, I liked the vocals of the lead singer and how easy it was to sing along to most or if not all of their songs. If you’re a fan of alternative rock music these boys should be at the top of your list to go check out next with an album looming and a new song just being released these are definitely ones to watch out for in the future, as they bring a fresh and unique sound to the stage with high energy and enthusiasm.
Staying on the main stage, WSTR another band from the North came out to the Trainspotting theme which had the crowd pumped from the start. WSTR had the young crowd bouncing around the floor instantly, with tame pits breaking out and the band encouraging the fans for movement, the atmosphere was great for this typical pop punk band. Among the setlist ‘Footprints’, ‘Gobshite’ & ‘Eastbound and Down’ the boys put on a solid performance. They played the first song they ever wrote which was ‘Graveyard Shift’ and it was nice to see a band who have established themselves in the pop punk scene go back to their roots and see how much they’ve improved in a short space of time. With the floor moving and the crowd jumping in the last song they showed me that the energy is very much alive when it comes to pop punk music and that a new era of bands have emerged to take ownership of the genre since the legends of punk rock in the 90’s who we know would have inspired them to carry on the genre themselves and bring a new spin on it and introducing it to young audiences like the bands before them.
Back out on the Acoustic stage we had the band I was most looking forward to seeing Greywind. Unfortunately by this time the heavens had opened and rain began to pour, the outdoor stage wasn't packed like previous acts, due to the rain. A small gazebo had been placed outside at the furthest point away from the stage but with a quick team effort from the fans we moved the gazebo closer to the stage and although there wasn’t many of us we were ready for Greywind. With just a small group of us it felt as though we were at a small private gig with Greywind and their loyal fans as almost everyone was singing along with the band, which I was more than happy to be apart of. Before they started we all began chanting Greywinds name and you could tell the rain wasn’t dampening our spirits as we were excited for Greywind to start. With a set list packed with some of Greywinds best songs they opened with ‘Forest Ablaze’ and closed with ‘Afterthoughts’ my personal favourite Greywind song. The set was a solid performance from the Irish band and I was impressed at how they put on such a great performance to a small group of fans in less than perfect conditions.
Back down to Bierkeller for Roam, where to my knowledge they had the first backdrop of the day and with the stage set a young crowd came rushing in from Devil Sold His Soul. The crowd were energetic from the start as they were moshing and crowd surfing before Roam had even sung a note. With the lead singer jumping into the crowd, it was apparent he was eager and more than up for giving a good performance to a packed out venue. "All the same" saw a circle pit breaking out which was a pleasant surprise from this pop punk band as I hadn't seen one all day. ‘Tracks’ a favourite from the crowd it seems as they screamed upon the lead singer announcing it, it was a much slower song of the set but was a great song nonetheless and was a perfect song to hear the fans sing along to. The band closed with ‘Hopless Case’ a great pop punk song that would be a perfect song to play to someone unfamiliar with Roam as it shows their best work so far.
Back to the Adnams stage and time for the heaviest band on the bill Feed The Rhino. These guys were amazing and I previously mentioned that no pits were breaking out on this stage for Continents earlier in the day, however by the time Feed The Rhino had finished it was a surprise the building was still standing. The lead singer asked for the crowds participation with a wall of death before jumping on the bar to perform a song, with the pit still in full motion he jumped off before heading back on stage. Not for long though because whilst performing song ‘Burning sons’ he was on a fans shoulders and being taken back into the centre of the pit. They then slowed things down with song ‘Tides’ which with a slow calm start and clean vocals eventually opens up to a belter of a song, this being my favourite song performed by the boys on the night. I’m looking forward to following Feed The Rhino going forward and I could quite easily see them support someone like While She Sleep, which I think would be an amazing line up and a show I wouldn’t want to miss.
The headliners of the festival being Young Guns took to the stage to finalise the event. Young Guns are the band I’d listened to most before the festival being one of my favourite British rock bands. Before they came out they were playing 'Girls Just Want To Have Fun' which had the packed out crowd singing and dancing, which was an indication of what was to come from the boys from London. The band opened up with ‘Echos’ and as soon as the song kicked in from the first note, I knew they meant business and they were here to put on a show. Standing on top of a speaker in the centre of the stage lead singer Gustav Wood sang the song flawlessly with the crowd singing every word right back at him. 'Weight Of The World' was an older song of theirs and a pleasant surprise as I thought they would play everything off of the latest album ‘Echos’. Clearly the most experienced on the bill, these guys knew exactly how to perform their tracks to a T and engage the crowd seamlessly. If Young Guns carry on being this good I can see these guys headlining much bigger festivals within a few years; Leeds festival being an obvious choice. The band continued playing songs from their latest album including ‘Bulletproof’, the best song from the album in my opinion. They also played a cover of Foo Fighters ‘My Hero’ which was a great rendition of a band i’m sure they are aspiring to be as big as and with the cover being musically and vocally on point, Young Guns had a great set and made the most of a good opportunity headlining a festival, which i’m sure will have helped them gain more fans for them, who may not have heard of them before or for people who have only seen a glimpse of what they have to offer.
Overall the festival was a great success and a pleasure to go to and I would certainly go back next year as it showcases bands who in my eyes will only thrive off of this opportunity and over time. My favourite bands were As Flames Rise, Montroze, Shvpes, Dead! and Feed The Rhino. The stand out act for me was As Flames Rise as I had never heard of this band before and I didn’t know what to expect. I certainly didn’t expect a band first on the bill (which is a tough ask for any band) to grab my attention as much as they did. They had some awesome songs and a great performance made them the first band I listened to when I returned home.
Review by Joe Mellor and Photography by Anthony Hunt