Updated: 7 days ago
A tragic thing it is when tradition breaks; and when the Infest crew were told by Bradford University that their long standing venue was no longer welcoming the festival back for 2023, it hit hard.
Many of you asked if Infest was going ahead this year, when were the tickets going to be available, and if booking the hotels and work time off was worth doing? When one door closes, often, a far better one opens.
Yes, it is sad to have lost the convenience of the university accommodation. However, everyone attending was pleasantly surprised to realise just how close the new venue was to all the hotels in central Bradford.
So it was that St. George's Hall welcomed us.
A venue of fine taste and standards, the staff at first were completely bemused by our our fashion.
(Especially some of the kink based or daring outfits)
Having been on site for hours before doors, I overheard briefings, hurried conversations, and a sense of the unknown being a worry for the theatre staff
(Conversations I heard and was part of plenty of times when I worked in security.)
However, I think the wonderful people of Infest truly shocked them all at how friendly, polite, and courteous we were to them and the venue.
As far as I know, there were no arguments or problems at all in that regards. The staff began to enjoy the event and its attendees quite quickly, and what a nice feeling it is to be served by staff who WANT TO SERVE YOU, unlike at a few other venues.
What I'm trying to say is, the staff were so good to all of us, and that mutual respect added a wonderful extra element to the atmosphere.
(And of course, Infest have been invited to return next year.. Trial complete!)
I will never know how Chris and Mark managed to pull the bands and the venue together at such short notice, and with such precision.
(You should have seen the size of the equipment lorries!) The wonderful management and crew of Infest pulled off one of their greatest miracles yet and what an Infest this was in the end!
I have more to say about the crew at the end.
The wonderful audience of Infest 2023
STOP A MOMENT!
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Review + Interviews
Twisted Firestarter DIMETHOXY--CHRYSALID HOMO--VAEIN--DEF NEON--METHOD CELL--GRENDEL
I was only lucky enough to catch the end couple of tracks of VAEIN after my journey to Bradford but one thing stood out on the approach to the venue..
'Is the entire bar and street.. Vibrating?!'
And it was, VAEIN is a fantastic soundscape to kick off my first part of the festival, deep, dark, techno bass assaulting each of the senses.
A jaw clenching heavy start from VAEIN who weaves dark electronic and techno into something daring, deep, and deathly satisfying.. and a start that I wish I had caught more of!
Def Neon.. Wow, it's been five years since seeing them at Infest, and they were so. much. fun!
The voice altering synth tube, the fantastic guitar riffs and solos, the energy and passion of the lyrics, and the joy they both exuded meant that the crowd loved it and not one T-shirt was left at the merch stand after that performance, for good reason!
Method Cell were also brilliant, having not been on stage for many years, it certainly didn't show! They owned the stage and swayed the crowd with ease. Everyone was smiling and slapping the singer on the back afterwards. When industrial can show that it doesn't just rely on heavy beats, but can also convey emotion and a sense of 'pop' without breaking the immersion, then you have something quite special, and Method Cell are one of the few bands that pull that off so very well.
GRENDEL, what can I say?
GRENDEL is always a guaranteed good time and the band appreciate that although we love the new and more complex releases, we also love the GRENDEL classics, being responsible for so many of us getting in to the scene, and so they played both seamlessly.
Each track hit deep and hard, fully satisfying those who managed to keep awake enough to party right until the end. JD and Kuro know how to work a crowd and weave their craft well.
A wonderful end to the first evening!
Silly, absurd, joyful, and ecstatic, Goteki were so much fun! They played the first Infest many years ago and here they were again playing some of their most enjoyable offerings.
The lyrics of 'Do not listen to Goteki' and 'Bone Shaaaaaker' are still living rent free in my brain and being hummed fairly often. A perfect start to the festival - with a very dedicated group of fans at the front singing along to every word.
A wonderful display of vocal talent and an intricately impressive soundscape made their performance smooth, and easy to melt in to half of the time, with rousing and dance inducing tracks scattered throughout as the other half, making for a fun little rollercoaster of enjoyment.
I got very excited wrapping up an interview when I realised the song 'Another World' had started playing, and having packed up, watched the last half of it from the upper tiers with a big smile on my face.
Stefan has a great voice, and Beborn Beton had certainly added a lot of flair to the live version of the track to get the crowd bopping along, and not only for this track but the other tracks too all sounded more alive and energetic than ever comes across listening at home. The crowd seemed lost in the joy of it all, deeply satisfied with their performance.
Photo Credit: Marek
Well these guys were wild. A comment overheard was..
'Tiger King sings industrial tracks?'
..and you know what? Seems about right.
It was heavy, confusing, silly, loud, and FUN, even with a hint of cheese which some didn't seem too keen on, but that was a minority. No one quite knew what to make of it all, but there was no doubting the strong energy of enjoyment on that dancefloor.
This was unexpectedly heavy, powerful, and full of stomp. A lot of what blasted out of the speakers would be worthy of a Chaos Noise Marine. The growls down the Mic were ear rendering but in an artistic and enjoyable sense. It conveyed emotion, experience, expression, and most of all this less than silent powernoise weapon made people DANCE!
Jewels and Ruth were the stars of the festival for many I think, myself included!
Each track uniquely different from the last, this duo knows how to extract as much energy, excitement, emotion, and expression from every beat, every lyric, and every movement possible in their show.
Jewel's vocals were crystal clear and spouted fire, the beats Ruth put out stole the minds of the audience. These two captivated everyone listening. There were big smiles, groups of dancing friends, and very few people stood still, they had the entire room moving from start to finish, which at Infest, is a hard thing to do.
A stellar performance, a brilliant interview, and a wonderful duo to talk to off stage!
This was a fun show. Fantasy metal was a favourite for many of us growing up with bands such as Nightwish and Within Temptation. Normoria are an industrial band that brings that same energy and fantasy feel to their music.
More fantasy industrial bands please! Strong vocals, impressive instrument solos, and a track featuring Matt Hart.. A very different and noteworthy performance all round, especially from a band who were all feeling quite unwell that day.
This was one that I'm still not quite sure about how to word. It felt like an artistic expression of loss, anger, and painful memories, like a deep dive into madness. The looks they gave one another, the strange movements on stage, and the anguish in the lyrics conveyed something I can't quite put my finger on.
The music was good, don't get me wrong, but I don't remember too much and therefore don't think I can say much more than that.
Xotox's flight got cancelled, so the familiar duo who has performed as Genevieve Pasquier, now swapped rolls to play as Thorofon before heading off to Slimelight to perform the same set again.
This however was a surprisingly great show. I had not heard the name or music before but it was powerful, angry, and so, so enjoyable. It felt cathartic, the beats slapped, and the stomp started to come out in the more dancing orientated members of the audience. So many people commented about how much they liked it and were glad they got to dance to something a bit more club centric.
This was magic. The lighting and the sound at St Georges Hall was absolute dream, and with Zynic, it was pushed to the peak of perfection. Each word was clear as day, the tone of the performance was that of beauty, of living in the moment, and of emotional experience we can all relate to.
From the upper tiers, the incredible use of the vertical standing stage lights washed over the crowd in peaceful choreography to such well known and smooth songs that it felt otherworldly..
Each track was so well received by the audience and I would call anyone a liar who said they did not enjoy each moment of that wonderful performance.
Photo credit: Damian Himself
If you like it bloody, Rhys served it RAW.
The Nightrain bar once again vibrated to its core, ear defenders presented a phalanx of shields with every face pointed at the stage in overwhelming satisfaction at the pounding beats assaulting their ears and chest cavities but they stood firm and took the full assault with smiles on their lips.
The savage vocals, and the gratitude clearly being displayed by Rhys as the crowd responded with nothing but love and rave energy to the pulse pounding buffet being served like a brick to the face was truly touching. Aka.. Fucking tasty!
WOW, just WOW. Violence, non stop strobes, and flashes. Dino threw himself and his vocals across the theatre harder than pretty much anyone I've ever seen perform live. The incredible moments where he would get to the edge of the stage, finish his tirade down the Mic and then shout as loud as he could at the audience without the mic, were poignant and incredible, not only because it conveyed the emotion and feeling of the track in greater depths, but because we could all hear what he was shouting, even over the music. This man's vocals are gloriously powerful.
The last track conveyed so much story in the sample of a man phoning 911 after having killed his family. So much anger at the state of the world, when the sample played out one final time and the lights dimmed, the audience felt a sense of devastation and loss, truly powerful stuff. It felt like it had the poignancy of SKYND mixed with the metal industrial power of some of the heaviest industrial influences.
Nightmare Frequency were phenomenal and unforgettable. Keep an eye out for this band from now on!
INTSEC was the artist I had as my no.1 must see for the weekend and he certainly put on a show worthy of that expectation.
This is my kind of music, the deep and heavy industrial techno that has you dancing away the entire set as if you were doing an exercise routine.
(And I certainly saw some VERY sweaty people after his set was done!)
No vocals, just beats and stomps, loud and crunchy enough to catch the attention of the Gods. Shrouded in mystery, INTSEC put on a masterclass of how to make a crowd move in the most guttural and primal way that techno can achieve.
This was a unique and beautiful touch to the festival. La Rissa has a majestic voice that puts me in the mind of a Gothic Lanna Del Ray.
With her and drummer Tom on stage, I was impressed that unlike most artists I've seen singing more delicate and softer vocaly, the drums never once drowned her out or made it hard to hear the lyrics.
The whole performance was masterfully done with the balance between them both.
La Rissa also sang the song they had given to a charity album for Ukraine, sung in Ukrainian, with the yellow and blue lighting to match that was a touching and endearing piece.
Like the Cure on three pints of pure adrenalated caffeine, JE T'AIME blasted around that stage with an epic performance of fun and grace.
These guys know how to use and own a stage, they know how to connect with the audience, and of course, they really know how to play and sing!
I heard so many great things about their show but I was only able to catch the first two songs and a little bit of a third later on, having to have to run around with interviews.
From what I heard and saw, I was thoroughly impressed.
They joined me about twenty minutes after the show for their interview; And from about the half way point it became one of the most fun interviews I have ever done! These guys a wildly fun.
Sadly an artist I got to see precious little of, I caught half a song from the top tiers but the aggression and prowess that poured off the performance in just that slither of the overall performance was enough to show me why Choke Chain has enjoyed rocketing success worldwide. A brilliant show from Mark it seems, that I'm sad I mostly missed.
When the crew joked about how much equipment Test Dept had brought with them, I thought it an exaggeration.. How wrong I was.
They had brought some ingenious contraptions to play as instruments; From a crushed trumpet to a huge drum, and of course the frame stand above with the metal plates, springs, spindle, and poles for drumming, and more.
The first two tracks, I was in the photo pit and I was thoroughly impressed at seeing these things so close and how they were used so effectively.
The nature of the tracks spoke of anti-capitalism, the people's poetry of humanity under a microscope for all our sins. Background visuals played out immigration battles and destruction, yet also rebirth, culture, life, and nature. There was a lot to take in.
Heading up to the upper tier for some crowd shots, I believe it was Alistair who leant over as I passed saying..
'I believe this comes under the category of truly special'.
That sunk in instantly and I realised that not only was this from watching the band perform of course, but those in the audience who were enjoying it (For a few it wasn't what they had expected and had already filtered out) were enraptured in the art piece being performed in front of them, this was important and deeply profound 'pure' industrial, down to every last element and sound.
It also conveyed a profound sense of relief coming from a crew member too.
If you scroll down to the conclusion. I have a bit more to say about this very feeling..
I didn't manage to get a good picture of Zardonic, so above is one my partner Ravyn took of him and REEBZ.
This was a three part set and it was incredible, most of us are still recovering!
The first part was heavy as all hell with the techno electronic hitting as you'd expect from Zardonic and his skull crushing beats.
After that part I was done, I'd dance myself too hard and the heat was far beyond my limits.
However Zardonic was not done, pumping out Nu-metal, and other genre remixes to keep the dancefloor buzzed, and the final part..
REEBZ joined him for a few songs, including a cover of 'Blue Monday'.
To say that this rounded off Infest in a legendary fashion, would be seriously underselling it!
The wonderful crew of Infest 2023
The venue worked out as a true blessing. A wonderful atmosphere, great staff, easy to reach from wherever people were staying, and of course safety was paramount. Crew made a 'train' to take people to Nightrain bar afterwards, and the security of watching out for anyone not in the train was increased the next couple of nights by the crew and myself, as well as a good police presence in the town having had the Infest team liaised with them from a bit more cover. Infest made sure the journey for everyone was as safe as we could make it.
Importantly, the available seating, space, and different areas were ample and the sound systems, lighting, and harmonics of the theatre were absolutely STUNNING in their use and clarity. Next year they may be more space upstairs given to us too.
Here are three final crew pictures which sum up the sense of magic I discussed at the end of Test Dept above.
First off we have Mark, arms folded watching on as everything went smoothly. Mark and Chris don't get to see much of the bands with how busy they are running the show but this moment of observation, both serene and yet alert, was a hidden moment of the weekend's story that speaks volumes.
These last two are the crew enjoying Test Dept. It was rare to see more than five people up here during a show but the crew filtered in more and more for the final band as the sense of serenity and appreciation of the magic and a job well done began to settle in.
As with Mark above, here we see Chris, hands steepled in a rare moment of enjoying the fruits of his labour. I felt a sense of satisfaction, wonder, and gratitude pour off of the crew around me, thanking the universe in their own ways that this had all ended so well.
They do this for you, the audience, those who will enjoy it where they rarely ever can.
The Infest crew are a truly selfless and pure of heart bunch, and I for one am grateful for everything they have done, and continue to do.
If finally allowing yourself to sit back and enjoy the hard work and camaraderie of it all is not magic, then I'm not sure what is..
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