Saturday, July 08, 2006

Some Rott Pix

Some of the pix from Rottfest more to come - all courtesy of Rokpix - Colin Patterson

An amazing day - but not without problems

Rottfest 666 was an amazing day for metal in Belfast, but not one without problems. There have been gripes, but equally there have been as many plaudits for the courage of Dean and everyone involved to stage this ambitious festival of the harder edge of metal.

In the end problems with residents and businesses took their toll on the running order, and there is no doubt that Bad Boat were aggreived at losing their slot - as were many disappointed that the mighty Devildriver could only play for an hour.

But those were isssues well outside the organisers' control. Issues that typify the mainstream attitude to metal. As Sid so rightly put it to a BBC reporter "Today is about our freedom!" Unfortunately suits and bores were intent on destroying any semblance of control their might have been for organisers.

What was within their control was laying on a metal feast.

Sure there alwas those that will gripe, but as many had a rockin' day in the sunshine.

Kicking off were the local acts Stand-Up Guy, Residual Effect and Honey for Christ. All delivered sets bristling with power and excellence - although some elements of the crowd seemed non-plussed by the sheer might of local bands pushing their wares through a 40kw sound rig. Not half as non-plussed as the office workers who claimed to be upset by the nouise. Their complaints were somewhat undermined by the confession of one of the complainants that "everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and doinfg no harm" in a BBC news report.

Ten Years are an enigma. They provide a style of metal that at times is old-school and other times on the edge of inventiveness. In many ways their not even metal. But their set was tight and at times angered by the apathy of the crowd - who seemed to storing up their energies. Or at least storing up in beer. It was ridiculous that those with beer had to be separated from the rest - but such is the stupidity of Belfast's licensing laws. Only during Wasteland did band and crowd come alive.

Nevertheless Ten Years diminutive singer was heard in the bar after their set enthusing with Dez Fafara about the gig, and commenting on how much a community there was in metal - before promptly fucking off.

Nevermore are a band with problems - when you lose one of yuor guitarists with a terminal disease, you'd think they would have put in a below par perfomance in this one of their first legs of a European tour. Hell no!

Despite adversity, Nevermore laid down a blistering set, filled with one part controlled vehemence and one part musical virtuosity - and during Narcosynthesis the crowd at last really came alive.

Devildriver are an enigma. Many still harbour doubts because of Dez's past with Coal Chamber, despite loving Dez's new musical direction. Those doubts were quashed at Rottfest.

Devildriver are an exciting and envigorating live act. Miller and co lay down a metal tapestry, while Dez is a demented conductor amid the mayhem. Of course they played all the favourites, and for once the pit got going in earnest, and of course Hold Back the Day was a highlight. Of course, they should come back and play a full set.

And therein lies the dilemma.

Many, many bands would put their name on a Belfast date, except for the apathy of so-called rock and metal fans. Rottfest may have been but a few short days before Download Dublin, but hell for £20 it was extremely good value, with a great selection of music.

Bottom line is that Rottfest was a great day for those that turned out with the intent to enjoy themselves and not so great for those (thankfully the minority) who came to snipe and sneer. When we have more of the former - that is those who may critique later but enjoy the moment - metal will continue to grow.

My abiding memory was as much about the bands as seeing two pre-pubescent young lads having one fuckin' excellent time. It's easy to criticise, not see easy to remember that this ole rock and metal lark is about having fun not bitchin'

And on one last point - Dez and co in Devildriver were genuinely nice guys as were the entire entourage. Come back soon!