While Butserfest may not be in the same league as your Download’s or Reading and Leeds, the picturesque surroundings of Queen Elizabeth Park in Hampshire make for a perfect setting for this drug and alcohol free event.
Targeting the younger element of the rock audience, it has to be said that where Butserfest succeeds is that it offers something different to your traditional festival with plenty of attractions, stalls and information centres away from the multiple stages to keep punters of all ages occupied.
As for the line-up well, this year, organisers pulled together a cracking mix of bands covering numerous and easily accessible stages meaning that no matter what your musical thing was, there were plenty of opportunies to not only see your favourite bands but also wander around and catch a few songs from any one of a number of other bands you might never have seen otherwise.
Our first port of call is rising UK metalcore kids Vanity Draws Blood who certainly wake up the early punters with their shuddering metallic assault. It’s a brutal start to the day and one that Manchester based post-hardcore outfit Lost Atlanta can’t really follow.
Over on the main stage Cardinal Bay and Boston Manor offer up more of the same run of the mill screamo-hardcore fodder. Sadly watching a lot of the younger bands racing through their sets highlights how much of the UK scene follows that similar uninspiring screamo blueprint and it all starts to muddle into one after a few bands.
Thankfully as the event starts to really kick into life Networks, Prolong The Agony and Shvpes on the smaller second stage cause a right rumble with their brutal sets. Particular highlights include the brilliant “Backstabber” from Prolong The Agony while over on the Main Stage, Our Hollow Our Home and the utterly fucking crushing The One Hundred really turn things up a gear with equally punishing sets.
Back on the second stage the one man whirlwind that is Shields bludgeons his Create To Inspire hit hard with their chaotic noise while back on the main stage, highly rated rockers The Xcerts live up to their reputation with their brand of grungy, gritty alt-rock. Busterfest is now well and truly alive as the quality bands keep on coming with The Qemists snarling through their beat-laden set while Lock & Key bring some old school hardcore to the second stage.
One of the most exciting bands I’ve seen in a long time are up on the second stage next. That band is Zoax who really have to be seen to be believed. Frontman Adam spends all of about two minutes on the stage before he disappears into the festival causing all sorts of mischief among the punters who are drawn to the stage to see what the hell is going on. Away from his antics, his band are ripping up an eclectic sound which is most definitely one of the highlights of the day.
Back on the main stage Hactivist are simply unstoppable today. They may only have a short set but they batter through their brutal hip-hop infused tech-metal with the kind of ferocity which leaves the remaining acts on the main stage with a mountain to climb to top that. Sadly, emo favourites Funeral For A Friend fail to follow it with a fairly forgettable performance which at times sees them looking like a band who, at this stage in their career, are just going through the motions.
Over on the second stage Scouse metallers Carcer City emerge from their rehearsal room to treat this small but very appreciative crowd to a much more exciting performance which points at bigger things to come from the returning metallers. As the second stage heads to its conclusion metallic hardcore outfit Fathoms light the fuse for the headliners with a crushing set before it is left to headliners Heck (formerly Baby Godzilla) to bring the second stage crashing to a conclusion with the kind of set which not only pulls in the punters but causes security all manner of headaches. Of course you could level the accusation that the band are more famous for their antics than their actual music but, when all is said and done, watching the band tearing the stage and the dancefloor apart ensured that this second stage bill signed off in style.
So, it’s left to Don Broco to bring Butserfest to a conclusion and they do so in their own inimitable way. Big smiles, big hooks and lots of slick pop rock have the crowd on their feet singing along with massive smiles on their faces. You may not like what Don Broco offer but there is no getting away from the fact that as our Butserfest was brought to an end we left with the sound of a thousand or so sober kids having the time of their life.