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Live Review: Bradford University, Bradford, UK - 28th August 2021

Stay-In-Fest (Infest) Live on Stage line-up – Portion Control, Tapewyrm, Witch of the Vale, Zeitgeist Zero, Red Meat, Scene Cover, Byronic Sex & Exile, La Rissa, Bone Cult and Biomechanimal. Virtual livestream line-up – DSTR, Shiv R, IAMX, Cyanotic, Noisome, A Place to Bury Strangers, Empathy Test, Spank the Nun and Nightmare Frequency.

Infest is and always has been more than a music festival. It’s a meeting of converging like-minded souls. By this I don’t mean everybody is Gothic. It’s a highly unusual melting pot where everybody from crew to artist through to crowd is on the same wavelength. The overall feeling of community cannot be matched within any long running UK Goth festival. How does such a festival family meet up during a pandemic? Well to beat lockdowns in 2020 they invented Stay-In-Fest. A livestreamed virtual festival. This year with restrictions lifting, but with an eye on community safety and well-being, a hybrid event was created. Partly live, with bands and a socially distanced crowd for those that are willing to attend such an event – and a livestreamed festival for those still not comfortable venturing into the new Covid world just yet. Simply brilliant.

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If you are into harder metal infused industrial techno you’ll know about Biomechanimal. I’ve seen them before and again they provided a set full of energy. A set so full of energy it not only made me

think they deserved to be further up the bill, but they were so hot they set off the fire alarm! Matthew was accompanied by a different band line-up to the last time I saw Biomechanimal play, the two new members were equally up to the job. A great set, I wouldn’t expect anything less.


Bone Cult

Two guys in masks that provided an edgy slab of The Prodigy style metal / dance crossover for the Infest crowd. They played throughout the set in full-face masks which looked other worldly on stage. The lights complimented the overall look and sound incredibly well. I got the impression these two have an eye for an overall audio and visual style – the two elements are closely related in Bone Cult’s world. A screaming, beating selection of Bone Cult catalogue was exactly what I needed. Seemed like the crowd felt the same too. A highly recommended live band, you need to see them.


La Rissa

Now a two-piece band, this Leeds based synth-pop band have done rather well lately – being tipped by the BBC as one to watch. I’ve spent time getting to know the band listening to their studio output, but never seen them play live. Now I have they have seriously got under my skin – in a good way, not in nasty parasite way. Larissa has a splendid voice live that contrasts with the soulful dark themed songs and the electronics. It was a completely faultless performance that just seemed so easy for them. In many ways they reminded me of Empathy Test, another high-quality band simmering under the surface and about to break big.


Byronic Sex and Exile

Joel Hayes is a well-known and well-liked face on the ‘true’ Gothic circuit. His new project has done rather well for him and has filled a bit of a void that was once so full in the scene of the 1990’s. Think of bands such as London after Midnight, Nosferatu and Suspiria, with even more Gothic soul, romance and poetry. This guy is no stranger to being on a stage, and to all intents and purpose completely at ease showing off his Gothic stylish good looks and poses. He would make a fine actor in a period drama, perhaps even portraying the Prince of Darkness…… Well as it is he’s a fine performer this afternoon, he played new tracks from his latest album ‘Unrepentant Thunder’ and a couple of covers – including a marvellous VNV Nation cover to please the Infest crowd bias towards electronic Gothic acts. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of listening to this talented chappie and seeing him on stage.



Fitz is the guy behind the sub-lime Skinjob, a band I am a huge fan of. Scenecover was born in 2020 and played at the Stay-In-Fest. It’s kind of basic stuff, Fitz playing stripped down acoustic style covers of well known and loved tracks from our scene. He simply sat behind his keyboards, played and sang. He covered a wide variety of songs covering around forty years – OMD’s ‘Messages’ was an enjoyable cover of one of my favourite songs from the earlier days. He also covered ‘My Name is Ruin’ from Gary Numan – and as anybody that knows me will say; I am a huge fan of Numan. The rest were a crowd-pleasing mix of the likes of VNV Nation, Apop, Rotersand and Seabound. I’ve got to be honest, I enjoyed the set, but didn’t love it. I guess it wasn’t helped by Fitz having some vocal problems. I hate to say this, I feel like a traitor to Fitz. But the rest of the crowd loved it, despite it not quite gelling for me.


Red Meat

I loved Rhys’s last project Ded.pixel, so was looking forwarded to this proudly queer chunk of meaty, pounding, meaty Wax Trax style industrial techno beats. If you were at this gig and weren’t moving you must have died. Completely engrossing, enthralling and ultimately a clever kick in the frontal lobes – your senses are given a test run on the wildest test track. A sheer elevation of this genre, Red Meat is really where it’s happening right now.


Zeitgeist Zero

Surely there isn’t anybody in the scene that hasn’t heard a track by Zeitgeist Zero? Or been to see them live? A perfectly Gothic ethic meets industrial rock with some fine melodies and great song

writing. But I’ve always felt that the home listening experience, though excellent, is not a patch on them playing live. Some bands are like this, their material breaths and expands on stage. Zeitgeist Zero add the extra element that defines them as the special band they are when put on a stage. As always I loved this set, bubbles and all. The bubbles seemed very fitting due to the time, consideration and care Infest had taken to provide Covid safe conditions for everybody. There was a slight mishap with (I suspect) a footwear malfunction, which resulted in an impromptu stage floor

body-pop. But other than that a perfect set from one of the big hitters of the UK scene.


Witch of the Vale

As I write, I know my pulse is racing just that bit faster when I write Witch of the Vale. I don’t often get overly enthusiastic, I’m quite a reserved chappie after all. But hey, I f*cking loved Witch of the Vale! I remember missing them play at the 2019 Infest. I was too bone idle and slept in – they were an opening band that year. Ever since then all I have ever heard is people being gushing in their enthusiasm for them as a live band. I loved it when their album was released last year, it filled a gap in my disappointment of missing them. So, yes I admit this was the band I was looking forward to the most at this years festival. F*cking hell! F*cking f*ck hell. I don’t swear a lot. F*ckity f*ck! These were awesome, f*cking awesome! Everything you have ever heard about the band playing live, it’s true. Very f*cking true. The imagery, the unsettling atmosphere, the sublime vocals of Erin swirling around and forging bonds with Ryan’s traditional drumming and his contrasting electronics. This is something very special. I don’t swear much, f*ck these guys are f*cking good!



Seeing a gig by Tapewyrm is a one-man mission to head-butt you right between the eyes with a full force wrecking ball of unpleasant noise. Tribal rhythmic beats vibrate you until you submit and

dance, a huge wall of distorted sound mashes your brain. How can this guy muster the power? How can one guy make all this impactful noise? It’s purposeful. Its purpose is to chew you up and spit you out. A brilliant set that left me a little punch drunk, I wondered if my ear drums had burst. Was my sternum still attached to my ribs, or had that powerful vibe completely mashed my insides? That’s mission accomplished for Tapewyrm.


Portion Control

Being almost a pensioner, I’ve followed the electronic beats of Portion Control since around 1980. They recently released a series of three EP’s ‘Seed’ and this set is heavily based on those. This was the perfect end to a festival. I looked into the crowd, don’t forget this was a socially distanced seated table service festival – but everyone was on their feet. Dancing, smiling, laughing, cheering. It was like the old times, before Covid changed the world. Yes a moment of madness, I guess – but a huge release for us all provided by these old timers, Proving us old guys are still entirely relevant. Good old fashioned techno EBM, kind of in a similar vein to Nitzer Ebb, I loved this set. So, we were at the end of this special day – a milestone in the history of Infest. What a way to finish it. Portion Control were awesome.



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