Fecking Bahamas owes a lot of its genesis to ArcTanGent 2013. One of our central tenets is that there is a thriving global math rock community, and ArcTanGent was most probably the first concerted attempt at an articulation of this fact in festival form. In that engaging space where we were free to speak openly of music designed to throw and confuse and excite people, friendships were formed, and out of some of those came the founding team of Fecking Bahamas.
Since then, a year has passed and the team has grown in line with its mission, and a couple more of us are due to head to the second instalment. But who are we most excited about? Rather than give you the rundown of the bands you probably already know and love, several of our team here at Fecking Bahamas are about to tell you some of their favourite more obscure acts on the bill, so that you don’t miss out!
And if any of you fancy having a chat and a dance, look out for an inflatable palm tree…
Paul – Bear Makes Ninja, Mutiny On The Bounty
Me first. For many, a resounding memory of the inaugural ArcTanGent was the moment Karina of Bear Makes Ninja joined And So I Watch You From Afar on stage for an energetic run-through of S Is For Salamander. It remains so lodged in my memory in particular because it allowed the drummer she replaced to stage-dive and in doing so kick me in the face. This time around, I’m excited to feel the force of her whole band kicking me in the face … aurally.
One of their biggest draws for me is that they represent – through a distorted math-indie lens that’s riff-heavy and subtly complex – small-town England. Just like Alpha Male Tea Party (who I will also be seeing), all their music videos celebrate classic DIY British weirdness and a dark satirical sense of humour. So if you’re coming to ArcTanGent from abroad and ever wondered makes Brits Brits, see Bear Makes Ninja. And if you don’t care about that stuff, see them anyway because they’re quality.
My favourite band from Luxembourg (and that’s saying something!) are Mutiny On The Bounty, who combine two of the best things in math rock: tight, rapid, restlessly shifting drum patterns; and glittering, dancing synths and guitar riffs. They are sure to make a wall of noise big enough to fill the Arc stage, so be there to witness it.
After them it seems I’ll be tracking down either of Nikk or Kat at the Yohkai or Bixler stages respectively, and they will find dancing with them the unshowered sweatbag they’re both trying to avoid contact with. The other half of ArcTanGent, which doesn’t fall within the purview of this website, is dedicated to post-rock. Last year Yndi Halda blessed us with a rare outing; this year it’s Rumour Cubes (among others) providing the violin-clad post-rock, and I will be at the barrier drifting blissfully along. Nobody could keep up dancing for the entire weekend.
Nikk – Shiver
“While everyone is breathing in each other’s three-day thick layer of body odour during the Mono headliner set on the Arc Stage, I’ll be busily searching for 4×4 time signatures in the PX3 tent amidst the crazy electronic-jazz stylings of Leeds’ very own Shiver. Chris Sharkey (of the equally awesome TrioVD) combines his superb and highly atypical guitar technique with surging electronics, producing a similar sound to Boards Of Canada during an epileptic fit. Is that offensive? I don’t care. Sharkey is one of the regular performers at the always fucking phenomenal ‘Proof Positive’ jazz nights in London, put on by Tom Rogerson (Three Trapped Tigers). That fact alone should be enough to make you head PX3 way on Saturday night.
I’m also secretly really psyched on seeing Fen because, deep down, I’m actually a black metal dork.”
Kat – AK/DK
“The third day of the festival is going to be the real tester for everyone: two nights of sleeping on hard ground, no showers, accumulating hangovers and silent disco. It stands to reason that by the Saturday people are going to be absolutely knackered. On Saturday afternoon we are going to be given the choice between accepting this fate and wallowing in our dreary situation with the dark and unlifting of tunes of Fen, or sucking it all up and using our last little microns of energy to dance and cause ruckus with Brighton’s AK/DK at the Bixler stage. I know what I’m doing.”
Grisha – Alarmist, Iran Iran
“Getting me started on Saturday, Alarmist are a four-piece from Dublin that utilise a wild variety of instruments and effects to create a truly unique and fascinating sound that is influenced by different styles like jazz, electronica, and ethnic music. Gentle keys and guitars, accompanied by soothing drumming, keep a light mood, and their sweet cheerful tunes progress into marvellous emotional musical pieces.
Second choice is Iran Iran, a great noisy math band from Bristol. Their music features quite weird guitar sounds, odd rhythmic and time signature changes and, most importantly, really catchy riffs, which all combines to make a totally energetic and fascinating mixture. Fans of You Slut will love it.”
Tim – Theo
“Theo, aka Sam Knight, is on the impressive Barely Regal roster for this year’s ArcTanGent, and is a veteran of the festival, having stolen the show on the PX3 stage last year. Theo’s riffs are noticeably protracted; each melodic idea is stretched out to catharsis and then compressed to cerebrally immerse its audience and ostensibly defy the laws of temporality. Fundamentally, a lot of Theo’s music is about freeing the rhythm so it can manipulate the melody. Hence there is a real notion of spectacle to his live performance, in which he moves back and forth from his drum kit and Travis Bean guitar, punctiliously layering rich, complex rhythmic and melodic nuances. The one man loop machine will be opening the festival on Thursday, so arrive with plenty of time to struggle in futility with your tent before he’s on, or better still, set it up right next to the Yokhai stage.”
Niall – Jamie Lenman, Suffer Like G Did
“If you can only see one band at Arc Tangent, see Jamie Lenman. Seriously, he’s been on the horse so long now that it would be nice to see him get some love for it, and Reuben were the band that defined my teen years. His solo double album, Muscle Memory, which released late 2013, is half experimental metal and half soothing folk ballads, and every track is fantastic. Whether he’s crooning about his relationship with his wife or howling fury at the ubiquity social media, he is a natural songwriter and consummate performer.
If you can see two bands at ArcTanGent though, after you’ve seen Mr. Lenman, go and see the mathmagicians who make up Suffer Like G Did. Their music totters along like it’s on stilts; precise, fast, jazzy, technical, smooth – it’s the audio equivalent of a really sharp suit. And who doesn’t like a good suit. If the first 20 seconds of ‘Beow’ doesn’t persuade you to go and see them, take a serious look at yourself in the mirror and then think again. Repeat this process until you’ve made the right decision.”
Chris – Tera Melos, Enemies
“There are many reasons I’m upset that ArcTanGent and I are separated by a thirteen-hour plane ride across the Atlantic that I have no hope to afford. Two of those reasons are as follows:
I’ve seen Tera Melos before. If their festival showing is anything like the show I saw, you can expect any amount of zaniness; a man-sized stuffed doll with a hot dog for a head (to quote frontman/guitar wizard Nick Reinhart: ‘Shouts out to my mom for sewing up Hot Dog Man!’) and a Freddy Kruger puppet accompanying the band and possibly sitting atop their shoulders is certainly not out of the question. This is icing on the cake if you’re an effects pedal junkie, in which case, you should get as close to the stage as possible to watch Reinhart work his inhuman magic on a series of switches and levers and have fun trying to guess at what will come out of his amp next (read our interview here). Throw that all into a show that has all the energy and tenacity of any punk rock gig you’ve ever been to and you’ve got a pretty standard Tera Melos set. Try not to miss them at any cost.
One of the bands that got me set in my mathy ways, I’ve longed for the opportunity to see Enemies in person for years now. A friend introduced me to them and Don Caballero in the same sitting, and some years later, here I am. From what I’ve seen in recorded live material, Enemies definitely take it easier than Tera Melos, but they still have their share of upbeat grooviness that will make for a wonderful chill-down set amidst all the craziness. Feel free to sway and bob along in the spacey ethereal jams and partake in the call-response-like vocals –something you’ll be used to if you plan on seeing And So I Watch You From Afar at the festival. You should look forward to just gazing on and getting lost in the instrumentality, only to find yourself involuntarily dancing to the irresistibly tight riffs laid out for you.
An honourable mention goes to This Will Destroy You. Not math, so really no place on this website, but a quick shout out to one of my absolute favourite bands. A must see, a semi-religious experience; either way, they will likely change the way you think about music.”
ArcTanGent festival will be taking place in Bristol from the 28th-30th of August.
And there are only a few frickin’ tickets left!