Review: Butserfest 2015

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The UK’s biggest alcohol and drug-free festival took place within the idyllic hills of the Queen Elizabeth Country Park, situated between Petersfield and Waterlooville on the 12th September.  Over 35 bands played throughout the one-day event which saw a variety of both local and well known acts take to three stages.

Opening to a relatively small crowd on the Crossroads Alternative Stage was Wars who eased everyone into the day with a compact 25 minute set.  Featuring on Daniel P. Carter’s BBC Radio One rock show on 13th September, this up-and-coming band put on a good show and as their set progressed they managed to pull in a decent crowd.

The atmosphere in the tent slumped with people only coming in to shelter from the occasional spells of rain – it did not pick up again until Networks’ set after lunch.  Networks’ vocalist Sean Kelly made a real effort to come out amongst the crowd and connect with his audience, which helped lift the atmosphere immensely.  As a band they provided the energy which the previous acts were missing and were the perfect warm up to the next band – Prolong The Agony.

Also hailing locally from the Portsmouth area, Prolong The Agony were the stand out act from the Crossroads Alternative Stage.  During their half an hour set they put on a real show and really got the audience going; their vocalist Larry regularly came up to the barriers and allowed audience members to join in with the vocals.  Particular songs of note include ‘Dead Dreams’ and their final song of the set ‘Loveless’, which really fuelled up the audience.

The disappointment of the day had to be Hacktivist’s set.  After waiting for technical difficulties to be sorted the set began with their most well-known song ‘Hacktivist’.  This was a good opener – loud, punchy and crowd rousing – however, after that the set started to fall below expectation.  In a sense it felt chaotic and that it was losing its spark; their cover of Jay Z and Kayne West’s ‘Ni**as in Paris’ sounded better from a couple of hundred metres away from the stage – an odd occurrence.  It proved to be a massive shame as Hacktivist were one of the biggest acts of the day and after the release of their self-titled, debut album back in 2013, big things were expected of them.

Headlining Butserfest were Don Broco.  As well as performing on the main stage, they also performed a four song acoustic set in the ‘Acoustic Shack’ to competition winners and press.  Both sets were brilliant.  Playing new songs, mixed with old during their acoustic set (‘Automatic’, ‘Priorities’, ‘Fire’ and ‘Money, Power, Fame’) the four piece created a great atmosphere which the audience loved.  Although clashing with Funeral for a Friend on the Main Stage, which provided some interesting listening, Don Broco kept composure and had the whole audience singing by the last song of the set.

Although having to start 25 minutes late on the Main Stage due to technical difficulties, Don Broco came on to a rousing applause from the extremely cold audience.  Their performance was full of energy and not once did they let it slip.  By constantly moving about the stage they kept the audience’s attention and fuelled them further, even suggesting during the classic ‘Thug Workout’ that everyone take part in a Wall of Death mosh pit and crowd surf to the front of the audience to be greeted by security (who swiftly removed them).  Playing a mix of old and new tracks (much like their acoustic set from earlier in the day), the audience loved them and it was good to hear some of their old tracks and see the progression from when they first started out.

Overall Butserfest was an interesting day.  For a local festival it was impressive to see such well-established acts on the bill, whilst refreshing to be able to see new talent across the other two stages too.  However, the technical difficulties did put a slight dampener on the day’s proceedings, especially during Hacktivist’s set.  Don Broco were the highlight on the Main Stage, whilst Prolong The Agony gave an impressive performance on the Crossroads Alternative Stage.  To conclude, Butserfest is the perfect festival if you are a fan of rock/metal music without having to camp. Not to be ignored, it is a decent one day festival.

Tickets for Butserfest 2016 are available here.

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