Supersonic's care at picking acts makes for an exciting and inspiring weekend

Supersonic 2011 review

published: Tue 1st Nov 2011

Barn Owl

Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd October 2011
The Custard Factory, Gibb St, Birmingham, England MAP
£75
daily capacity: 2500
last updated: Thu 29th Sep 2011

Selfless
The Old Library on Sunday featured an interesting juxtaposition of the faithful classic, and the avant guard. Selfless gave a stunning and brutal performance of pure, back to basics grindcore with all its political potency, speed and aggression. The vocalist summed it up nicely when he said towards the end of the set: "We're going to play a few new tracks now, then some old classics, and then some more new ones. All of which should take around two and a half minutes." It was great to see a home grown Birmingham band representing a distinctively Birmingham sound and culture.

Fire! came later representing the more experimental and futuristic side of things. With a solid foundation of hypnotic repeating basslines, the all star Swedish line up layered up drones and heavily effect laden guitar in a series of intense, extended jams. The really distortion heavy moments where the layers gave way to what can only be described as noise, were a little too much for me, but it was interesting to watch nonetheless.

Space 2 was for the most part awash with beautiful sounds on the Sunday. Barn Owl, and Eternal Tapestry brought in the ambient, improvised soundscapes, while ENVY took the post hardcore genre to some dramatic emotional heights.

Barn Owl
Barn Owl are particularly worth taking note of for always pushing their sound further. Last year they played the Theatre stage and stuck strictly to ambient music. This year, however, they took an entirely original approach, crossing genre boundaries within each song. They would start by slowly building up a beautiful tangled landscape of interwoven melodies, until their creation became span out of control: a giant wall of undulating sound. Then, slowly but surely, they would begin to reign it in, consolidating the sound and pulling it down into a low drone, at which point they would slowly push the song to its conclusion through a series of doom like chord progressions. It was seriously impressive to see a band made up of two people make such a titanic sound. The Boxxed stage once again took on the experimental dance side of Sunday's music, starting off with some delicate tech influenced beats from the audio visual collective Modulate. It is a shame these didn’t get a later time slot, for the sound was a distinctively small hours affair, and felt strangely out of place in the light of day.

Iconaclass
Iconaclass was the highlight on this stage, though. Better known for his work as a member of hip hop pioneers Dalek, MC and producer Will Brooks brought his distinctive East Coast rapping to his shoe gaze/hip hop productions, played out by DJ Motiv. The sound, like that of Dalek, was dark, intricate and intelligent. His productions had a washed out psychedelic aspect which begs for comparison to the likes of My Bloody Valentine, but there was also a strong theme of returning to the roots of hip hop. Testament to this was the nostalgic performance of Eric B and Rakim's Microphone Fiend.

Back in the Theatre Space Dario Argento's 70s cult classic 'Suspiria' was an extremely fitting choice of cinema for the festival. A series of dark, dreamlike sequences put to the chilling and deliciously retro soundtrack by Goblin.

Turbonegro
Headlining Space 2, and marking the end of the festival, was Norwegian rockers Turbonegro. Though they have a distinctive sound that combines hard rock and punk, often described as "deathpunk", these came across as a rather flat and uninspiring end to the festival. The charisma and spectacle of the band members themselves, especially the lead vocalist, made them not uninteresting to watch, but the music itself felt a little too middle of the road when compared to the boundary pushing sounds on display throughout the weekend.

Regardless of this disappointing finale, Capsule deserves a lot of praise for Supersonic Festival. In the film Blood Sweat and Vinyl, shown in the Theatre Space on Saturday, the head of Hydra Head Records Aaron Turner described what was so special about independent record labels: the integrity, consistency and quality of sound on offer is such that you can pick up an album by a band you have never heard of and know that, because it is a part of this label, you will probably like it. A similar thing can be said about Supersonic. Many people coming to the festival, myself included, will be doing so mainly for the sake of, or only knowing of one or two bands. But because Supersonic take such care in picking quality acts that are new, exciting and inspiring, then you can be sure that if you go and see a band you have never seen before, more often than not they will blow you away.
review by: Robert Knowles

photos by: Robert Knowles

Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd October 2011
The Custard Factory, Gibb St, Birmingham, England MAP
£75
daily capacity: 2500
last updated: Thu 29th Sep 2011


latest on this festival

Supersonic Festival
festival home page
last updated: Thu 13th Feb 2014
Supersonic 2012
photo galleries
last updated: Thu 25th Oct 2012
SuperSonic Festival 2012
festival listing
last updated: Thu 11th Oct 2012

more on this festival



not logged in? Sign in here | not registered? Register here

search future festivals only   advanced search

 
most viewed pages in the last 24 hours
The Secret Garden Party 2014 festival listing
updated: Mon 23rd Jun 2014
BoomTown Fair 2014 festival listing
updated: Tue 17th Jun 2014
The Secret Garden Party 2014 line-up and rumours who's playing
last updated: Wed 28th May 2014
Tom Jones & Little Mix at Osborne House 2014 festival listing
updated: Thu 17th Jul 2014
Glastonbury Festival 2015 festival listing
updated: Wed 2nd Jul 2014
Carfest North 2014 festival listing
updated: Thu 17th Jul 2014
Glastonbury Festival 2015 line-up and rumours who's playing
last updated: Tue 15th Jul 2014
most popular festivals (all pages) in the last week
The Secret Garden Party 2014 Thu 24th to Sun 27th Jul 2014
Mill Hill Field, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire
last updated: Mon 23rd Jun 2014
Glastonbury Festival 2014 Wed 25th to Sun 29th Jun 2014
Worthy Farm, Shepton Mallet, Somerset
last updated: Wed 11th Jun 2014
Tom Jones & Little Mix at Osborne House 2014 Sat 26th to Sun 27th Jul 2014
Osborne House, East Cowes, Isle of Wight
last updated: Thu 17th Jul 2014
Glastonbury Festival 2015 Wed 24th to Sun 28th Jun 2015
Worthy Farm, Shepton Mallet, Somerset
last updated: Wed 2nd Jul 2014
WOMAD 2014 Thu 24th to Sun 27th Jul 2014
Charlton Park , Malmesbury, Wiltshire
last updated: Thu 10th Jul 2014
V Festival (Chelmsford) 2014 Sat 16th to Sun 17th Aug 2014
Hylands Park, Chelmsford, Essex
last updated: Today, 09:57am
BoomTown Fair 2014 Thu 7th to Sun 10th Aug 2014
Matterley Estate, Nr. Winchester, Hampshire
last updated: Tue 17th Jun 2014
Walthamstow Festival 2014 Sat 26th to Sun 27th Jul 2014
Lloyd Park, Walthamstow, London
last updated: Thu 17th Jul 2014
V Festival (Staffordshire) 2014 Sat 16th to Sun 17th Aug 2014
Weston Park, Weston-under-Lizard, Staffordshire
last updated: Today, 10:05am
I Am Music Festival 2014 Sat 26th Jul 2014
Castle Park, Colchester, Essex
last updated: Thu 17th Jul 2014


Festivals
Shop
About