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FESTIVAL PREVIEW: Must-See Bands At ArcTanGent Festival 2019

ArcTanGent 2019

With its focus on math-rock, post-rock and the weird, noisy spaces in between, ArcTanGent Festival presents a uniquely refreshing atmosphere that you don’t find anywhere else on the annual festival calendar. It’s not only unique for its line-up, but is also the only festival where the crowd can clap perfectly in 7/8 and are just as likely to sing along to a guitar lead line or trumpet riff, than they are lyrics.

ArcTanGent 7 promises to be the biggest one yet, with the addition of a new, stripped-back stage inside the bar area for even more musical diversity. With another four stages absolutely packed with great bands as well, it can be daunting to pick your targets, so we’ve given you a headstart with our pick of the bunch this year.

Cultdreams
Thursday – Bixler Stage

CULTDREAMS ATG

Formerly known as Kamikaze Girls, Conor Dawson and Lucinda Livingstone will be taking to the Bixler stage the day before the release of their second album Things That Hurt. The follow-up to 2017 debut Seafoam looks set to build on their tried and tested formula of rowdy punk, which explores important personal issues. Expect to hear anti-misogynistic single Not My Generation and the dreamy We Never Rest, which features Katie Dvorak and David F.Bello of The World Is A Beautiful Place…, battling the issues surrounding the need to conform. Great things come in small packages, and this duo are proof of this.

Nordic Giants
Thursday – Arc Stage

Nordic Giants ATG

Nordic Giants take their grand post-rock to literal cinematic levels, often pairing their vast, expansive soundscapes with film clips projected on screens around them. The duo performed here in 2017 on the festival’s smallest stage, which sadly hampered their ambitious production and restricted a large portion of the crowd from seeing anything at all. Thankfully they’ve been promoted to the Arc Stage for their return this year, which should allow unrestricted access to the full range of their creativity. The combination of hauntingly beautiful, cinematic sounds and inspirational imagery is not one to be missed.

MØL
Thursday – Bixler Stage

MOL ATG

Denmark’s MØL have been in demand all summer, appearing at ArcTanGent as part of a busy summer of festivals. The blackgaze (that’s shoegaze-meets-black metal) five-piece released their critically acclaimed debut album JORD via Holy Roar Records in 2018, followed by a re-release of their EPs I / II in 2019, so expect to hear a setlist that expands their entire back catalogue, both vicious and cinematic in equal measures. Prepare to be wowed by this rising quintet.

Coheed and Cambria
Thursday – Arc Stage

Coheed And Cambria ATG

Day one of ArcTanGent is set for a colossal conclusion, courtesy of Sci-Fi prog champions Coheed and Cambria. The quartet are true veterans of the industry, having now released a staggering nine full-length records, and their experience shines through every time they step on stage. Claudio Sanchez’s signature vocals are as mind-blowing now as they’ve ever been and with riffs even bigger than his iconic hair-style, you won’t want to miss a note. Get your voices ready for old singalong classics like A Favour House Atlantic and Welcome Home, and expect some choice cuts from the band’s fantastic, most recent record Vaxis – Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures.

The Algorithm
Thursday – Silent Disco / Friday – Yohkai Stage 

The Algorithm ATG

If you’ve never witnessed The Algorithm live then now is the time. Mastermind Rémi Gallego and drummer Jean Ferry will make two appearances at the festival, bringing the fun to Thursday’s early hours with a Silent Disco takeover before they perform on the Yohkai Stage on Friday afternoon. The Algorithm have already turned heads across the globe, championed as ‘Best Underground Act’ in 2013 at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods, performing at Big Day Out Festival in Australia and touring alongside Enter Shikari, TesseracT and more. The end of 2018 saw The Algorithm release new album Compiler Optimization Techniques, and with that deliver a brand new live show, so expect a huge party at both of their sets over the weekend.

We Never Learned to Live
Friday – Yokhai Stage

We Never Learned To Live ATG

Brighton quintet We Never Learned to Live released their debut album Silently, I Threw Them Skyward in 2015 and followed it with a mesmerising set in front of a packed-out Bixler crowd at ArcTanGent that year. Their astonishing blend of emotional energy and raw power had to be seen to be believed, but after such a quick impact, the band fell away for a number of years. Fast forward to 2019 and the band are well and truly back in business. Their second full-length The Sleepwalk Transmissions surfaced in May and just like their breakthrough year, we’re fully expecting them to back it up with another fiercely memorable performance at ArcTanGent.

Sleep Token
Friday – Bixler Stage

Sleep Token ATG Credit Andy Ford

Photo Credit: Andy Ford

This anonymous, masked collective has been gathering momentum over the past year thanks to the release of incredible tracks like Jaws and The Way That You Were, and the ever-evolving quality of their stage shows. Sleep Token‘s identity still remains a mystery, but their immense talent and potential has become staggeringly apparent in recent months. The band are releasing a new track every two weeks in the lead-up to their debut album Sundowning, and what’s been unveiled so far has been breathtaking. Their live performances are somehow even more atmospheric than their recorded material, so don’t miss the opportunity to experience a ritual for yourselves. Worship.

Palm Reader
Friday – PX3

Palm Reader 2019 Trees

Palm Reader celebrated their ninth birthday last month and ArcTanGent will be the perfect belated party that you’re all invited to. In their nine years together Palm Reader have worked relentlessly, and with that comes a hard-hitting and chaotic live show that is a must-see on the PX3 stage. The five-piece released their powerful album Braille last year, which has since scored them well deserved tours with Blood Youth and Let’s Talk Daggers, and appearances at 2000trees, Boomtown, Jera On Air and more. Make sure you catch them on Friday and make their birthday even more special!

Black Peaks
Friday – Yokhai Stage

Black Peaks ATG

Black Peaks’ jaw-dropping performance at Download Festival was supposed to be the  springboard to a series of headlining shows later in the year, but sadly the band have had to shelve their plans due to vocalist Will Gardner falling ill. Fortunately for ArcTanGent fans, the show will still go on, thanks to Jamie Lenman, who has volunteered to step in and cover the microphone. Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see two legends of the scene combine on stage!

TTNG
Friday – Yokhai Stage

TTNG ATG Credit Chris Collis

Photo Credit: Chris Collis

Math-rock scene legends TTNG produced one of the stand-out performances of ArcTanGent 2017, featuring a surprise guest appearance from original vocalist Stuart Smith. Smith has stayed close to the band ever since, joining them on tour over the past year to celebrate the ten year anniversary of the band’s beloved Animals record. At this year’s festival we’re in for a performance to savour, as the band prepare to play Animals in full, with Smith on vocals and original trumpet/bass player Dan Adams joining them on stage. For a huge hit of math-rock nostalgia and the chance to sing trumpet melodies at the top of your lungs, be sure to head over to the Yokhai stage on Friday for a special set to remember. 

Gender Roles
Saturday – Bixler Stage

Gender Roles ATG

Gender Roles are a name you’re likely to have heard recently, or will soon be hearing a lot of thanks to the support they’ve been gaining from the likes of Radio 1 presenters Annie Mac and Daniel P Carter. The Brighton quintet are gearing up to release their debut album PRANG on 30th August, including singles Hey With Two Whys and You Look Like Death. Their style encompasses joyous melodies, delightfully infectious hooks and sing-along choruses which are perfect to be showcased at ATG during their set on Saturday. In support of the album, you can also catch them out on tour across the UK during October, dates for which can be found HERE.

Puppy
Saturday – PX3 Stage

Puppy ATG Credit Georgia Rawson

Photo Credit: Georgia Rawson

Puppy kick started 2019 in a big way with the release of their debut album The Goat through Spinefarm Records. Their varied sound combines a little bit of everything, so expect to hear some choppy, metal tones with a mosh pit in the crowd before a punk-rock sing-along chorus comes out to play when you least expect it. If you like something a little different sound-wise, likely to appeal to everyone in your festival group then Puppy are a band you need to catch during your ATG weekend.

The Contortionist
Saturday – Yohkai Stage 

The Contortionist ATG

Progressive rock sextet The Contortionist will be a great soundtrack to your final day of ArcTanGent, set to mesmerise with their captivating live show. The six-piece are suitably warmed up after a summer of live shows and festival appearances across Europe, meaning they’ll be on top of their game as they take to the Yohkai Stage. The band released their new EP Our Bones via eOne earlier this year, so you’ll be treated to new material as well as old favourites, a perfect combination!

Elephant Gym
Saturday – Bixler Stage

Elephant Gym ATG

Tiawanese trio Elephant Gym have all the ingredients to be one of this year’s hidden gems. Their instrumental math-rock is awash with mind-bending rhythm changes, time signatures and clever riffs, while somehow retaining a constantly infectious groove. Led by a luscious bass tone and jazz-inspired snare work, the band inject warmth and energy into their music, which is even more infectious live. If you’re still not convinced, check out the band’s fantastic Audiotree Live set for a sample of the brilliance that awaits you this weekend.

Employed To Serve
Saturday – Bixler Stage

Employed To Serve SDF

Having signed to Spinefarm Records at the end of 2018, Employed To Serve have already had a great 2019 following the release of their third album Eternal Forward Motion, which has included slots at Slam Dunk Festival, All Points East and Glastonbury Festival. Their frantic live sets see the energy maintained by both band and crowd, as powerful numbers such as Harsh Truth pack an even mightier punch when performed live – you’ll be able to see for yourself if you catch them on Saturday. If you like what you hear at ATG, then you can also see Employed To Serve supporting Bury Tomorrow later this year on their UK and German tour dates.


ArcTanGent Festival takes place between 15th-17th August at Fernhill Farm, Bristol. For further information, the full line-up and tickets head to the festival website.

Written by: Nicola Craig, Mark Johnson and Hannah Gillicker 

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