ArcTanGent Festival returns to Somerset for another huge weekend from 15th-18th August 2019Posted on: 02 Aug 2019
Somerset’s ArcTanGent (ATG) festival has rapidly become a key date on the international music scene for fans who like their rock experimental and their subgenres hyphenated. From math-rock and post-rock to tech-metal and post-hardcore, there’s something for everyone with an interest in music that pushes the boundaries of rock.
Having attended all six of the previous events, dating back to the original ATG back in 2013, it was highly unlikely I’d miss out on this one, and ATG 7 is looking like it’ll be one of the best yet. As with previous years, organisers James, Simon and Goc have slowly been teasing us with one fantastic band announcement after another, until you start to ask yourself “how the hell am I going to see all of these in one weekend and still manage to eat and sleep?!” They then announce someone else and you resign yourself to the fact that you didn’t need sleep anyway!
The festival is unlike any I’ve experienced before (that is, until I attended its sister festival 2000trees in Gloucestershire earlier this summer). The atmosphere is friendly and welcoming, and its dedicated crowd are clearly there to listen to the music, with people running between stages so as not to miss a second of the action. Luckily, said stages are just a three minute walk apart, so any physical exertion is kept to a minimum.
Over the years, ATG has adapted to cater for more bands, larger crowds, and easier access to toilets, bars, and food, and it has the feel of a festival where everything has been designed very much with fans in mind. On a side note, this is also the only festival I’ve ever been to that’s provided adequate toilets and regularly cleaned them, which seems like a strange thing to include, but is something that really can make or break some people’s festival experience.
Situated on Fernhill Farm, near the village of Compton Martin just south of Bristol, it’s extremely easy to get to and from. I’ve always loaded up the car and driven there with friends, but with regular shuttle buses from both Temple Meads train station and Bristol Airport, it’s easily accessible by public transport too. Once at the site, my advice is to get your tent up and as soon as possible get into the queue for the wristband exchange. The music starts early on the Thursday and if you’re anything like me you don’t want to miss out on even the first lot of bands usually starting around midday.
Promoted as a festival for lovers of pretty much anything across the spectrum of what can be described as ‘heavy’, you’d be hard pushed to find a line-up as diverse and exciting as ATG’s elsewhere. This is reflected in this year’s three headliners, with prog legends Coheed and Cambria, New York experimentalists Battles, and Swedish extreme metal pioneers Meshuggah offering three very different takes on what can be achieved when armed with guitars.
Other highlights to watch out for include the jaw-dropping black metal/African-American slave music crossover project Zeal & Ardor, UK math-rock heroes 65daysofstatic and Three Trapped Tigers, and Rhode Island noise-rockers Daughters.
For those like me who enjoy something a little heavier, this year also sees a wealth of amp-melting metal acts. The likes of Employed To Serve, Frontierer, Car Bomb and Conjurer will no doubt have a few people hobbling out of the pit aching, sweating, and wearing massive smiles on their faces.
The strength in depth continues right through the line up, and I’d heavily advise forgoing a lie-in to catch some of the bands on early each day. Upbeat Mexican math-rockers DJ Perro and angular Bristol punks The St. Pierre Snake Invasion are a perfect opening combination to Saturday’s main stage, while one of this year’s must-see events is Thursday’s The Beft; a tribute to Dan Wild-Beesley, the guitarist of ATG favourites Cleft who sadly lost his fight with cancer late last year.
To summarise why I go back to ATG each year, I refer back to a poll sometime after the 2nd ATG in 2014 that was held where fans were asked to sum up the festival in a short sentence. A few that stick in my mind are: “ATG: because who needs vocals?”, “ATG: the only weekend full of math in your life that actually rocks”, and my personal favourite: “ATG: no d**kheads”.
Biomedical Simulation Technician at University of Bristol, plays rugby and attends a lot of gigs.