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BAD POND Festival review

16th May 2018

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Bad Pond 2018 is now over – the 2-day alternative rock festival held at Brighton venue The Arch has officially come to a close. Headlined by bands TTNG and The Physics House Band, it saw crowds from all around Brighton, Bristol and Southampton make their way down to see some of the most exciting and creative bands the weirder genres of rock music have to offer.

I’m Sam Seaton, a second-year Music Journalism student sent to cover the event for BIMM Brighton’s social media channels. I’d bought a ticket for the event back when TTNG were announced as headliners, and had been listening to a lot of the bands on the line-up pretty religiously in the build-up to the weekend.

When I arrived, I met some of the other BIMM students. Danielle Reginiano (a second year Music Business student working as Artist Liaison) introduced me to some of the Live Sound team. They were calm and collected, which made me feel a lot less anxious about my role which was essentially running around, taking photos and captioning them.

The first day went off without a hitch. It was a little quiet for the first couple of bands as ticket-holders started to trickle in, but the audience was mostly full of staff, band members and dedicated fans. The vibe in the room for Wild Cat Strike was particularly great – there was a real sense of respect and admiration for the band’s performance from everyone in the room.

That mood of admiration was something constant throughout the two days. I caught Sam from The Physics House Band on one of my many trips outside for internet signal, and he couldn’t stop singing the praises of other bands. On the Saturday, I spotted two of the members of BIMM Brighton band Orchards in the crowd for almost every performance.

Toska and Slabdragger were probably some of the heaviest sets of the weekend, bringing welcome elements of sludge metal and hard-rock to the event. A Frank Zappa cover from Slabdragger was very welcome, a track from their split EP with the excellent Wren.

The Physics House Band really brought the roof down for their closer set for the first day. The venue’s club lighting system was in it’s prime for their experimental, jazz-prog sound, layering the crowd in smokey strobes.

Day two kicked off with Frank & Beans, a local duo I had been wanting to see live for almost a year now, and their creative, noisy live show lived up to the hype. Some of my favourite performances came from LibraLibra and their show-stopping vocalist, while Gender Roles were charming as ever between their bursts of frenetic grunge. Tangled Hair put on my favourite set of the whole event – hearing the crowd sing along to “Nao Is My Driver” from their latest album was an unforgettable scene.

As TTNG came on to headline, I ran outside for some final internet access before the show. One of the guys I had met from the Live Sound team was also catching some air, having just set up the final (and possibly most difficult) set of the weekend.

“I’m feeling good about things.” He tells me. “We only had about 30 minutes to get ready, and we did it in 16.” At this point in the night, something clicks in my head. They’ve done a crazily good job of keeping everything running smoothly. For an event with 15 bands playing in one evening, having every single set up and ready to go early is something that shocked me.

“I think it’s something that’ll be great for getting a job in the future. Anyone who went to this will be able to tell you, not a single problem slowed us down. I’ve showed managerial talents, which I didn’t really expect to be able to do.”

We talk for a little bit about our thoughts on Brighton and it’s music friendly culture (we both agree our conversation probably wouldn’t have even happened back in our hometowns) and our plans for after university – it’s all very optimistic.

I head back during TTNG’s wordily-titled “If I Sit Still, Maybe I’ll Get Out Of Here”, one of many fan-favourites they play through. Their whole set is back-to-back hits of theirs from the last 14 years. Their glittery, complex riffs are met with deafening cheers, and the banter between tracks is met with equal laughter. I also discovered that Tim Collis, their lead guitarist, performs with two capos at once, which is still blowing my mind.

The show closes out, the lights fade, and it’s time to leave. Standing in a smoking area for the final time, writing up a ‘goodbye’ post, I’m surrounded by bustling festival goers, all desperate to argue about whether or not bands sounded better or not live. There’s a general consensus that they did in fact, sound at least as good, if not better. (according to the drunk man who thought I was his friend.)

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Sam Seaton