Fat Lip Festival: The Review

One of the main things that was taken away from this absolute jewel of a one-dayer, is that Bristol truly know how to support their music scene. Hundreds turned up to see the finest alternative, metal and pop-punk bands around for what was a belter of a day out. Spread across three stages, divided by two venues (The Lanes and Bierkeller), just shy of 30 bands in total gave it their all. It should be noted, that due to conflicting times, we unfortunately couldn’t stick around for Feed The Rhino or Young Guns.

To kick things off, from the Jurassic Coast came As Flames Rise [8] who took a half empty room at The Lanes and made it their own. The metalcore five-piece were fully aware that an opening slot is never the easiest to pull off, but their uncanny energy and sheer sonic force raised the bar high from the get go. Despite the unfortunate absence of vocalist Oscar George, the hero of the hour, Jack England, took to the mic last minute. Not only does England fill the shoes of their missing comrade, but with the biting conviction that you’d assume would have been from him being a member all along. Certainly, a band to keep your peepers out for if they should come to town.

Continents [8] serve up their brand of beefed up aggro hardcore that never seems to fail. Frontman Phil Cross commands the stage as excitement levels are already bubbling over mid-afternoon. Pounding out riffs like the clappers, the likes of "Pegasus, Pegasus" send The Lanes into a feverish frenzy, making it look all too easy.

Few can argue that Joe Green has vocal cords that could make a boulder cry, as Empire [8.5] are next on our list. As a whole, they bring a unique edge to the British underground that has made them one of the most talked about bands of the past few years. Mixing soulful vocal lines with hard hitting guitars, their reputation was upheld as their charm, charisma and showmanship is undeniable.

As we move from stage to stage, SHVPES [7] take on the considerably spacious Bierkeller to a revved-up audience that haven’t given up an inch all day. Their energy and dedication to an aggressive presence was noted, but at points seemed to be driven a little too close to the bone. A minor observation that overall didn’t impede on an electric performance.

Shooting straight back to The Lanes, and the hype surrounding Cardiff’s atmospheric melodic metal outfit Holding Absence [8.5] holds true. Cementing themselves as a contemporary act that wholeheartedly encompass all the tropes modern metalcore strives for, their latest single "Penance" is a step forward for the band. Ticking all the right boxes, Holding Absence keep the momentum bubbling over as good times are everywhere to be had.

Though the rain is drizzling at a rather depressing velocity at the acoustic stage, this did nothing to dampen the spirits of those who witnessed Walsden solo artist, Grumble Bee [8.5] [Jack Bennett]. In a hasty display of craftsmanship, a gazebo was erected (don’t snigger, that’s the correct term you bunch of m&%$£*!$ds!) and Mr. Bee, surrounded by his fans who take to the stage to avoid the apocalyptic precipitation, didn’t seem phased at the slightest. Being a hearty northerner, it would take much more than this pathetic moistening to get him to think twice. Busting out acoustic tunes from his back catalogue, it made for a refreshing change of pace and put his talent into perspective with the rest of the festival line-up.

Upping the aggression like a lighted firework from the arse, Create To Inspire [8] are hardcore incarnate. In your face, physical and passionately-aggravated, these lads fully understand how to display such meticulous angst without resorting to too many clichés. It’s these moments that showcase, even at its most raw, how much of a creative breeding ground the underground can be.

Coming up to 7:00pm, after six hours of ear bleeding noise, the fatigue started to show on some of those determined enough to hold their own until the end. Like a shot of Pro Plus to the brain, As Lions [9.5] have all the charisma you’d expect from the spawn of Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson. Vocalist Austin Dickinson certainly takes after farther dearest, jumping around stage like an absolute nutcase. As Lions brought in the crowd that indulged in typical beer drenched rock antics, acting like a defibrillator that brought everybody back to life.

Returning to the glorious rain, the acoustic stage played host to Irish brother-sister duo Greywind [7.5]. Taking their melodic alt-pop-rock and converting to acoustic didn’t seem like one of the most original ideas, considering their debut album Afterthoughts is bulging with pop-punk bangers that would be equally welcome to this environment. Still the voice of Steph O’Sullivan works heavenly with an acoustic backdrop and showcased an empathetic angle to their sound which is more than welcoming to the ears.

We end our journey at Beirkeller, as ROAM [6] had the presence of your typical pop-punk band, but none of the body that has helped push the genre in the twenty-first century. A rather disappointing turn of events, considering the competition had been a strong, consistent force throughout the festival. Nothing new was really brought to the table as many flocked back to the Lanes for Feed The Rhino, which promised to be a far more significant follow up.

Fat Lip did not disappoint, and is a testament that scenes can thrive with the right support. Not a single person was left breathless as we are counting down the seconds until next year. Photos Courtesy of: GLK Media