7 Things We Learned at Macmillan Fest Nottingham 2018

It may be September 1st but that doesn’t mean the heatwave, that’s dominated the summer months, isn’t disappearing just yet. Unfortunately, our festival season comes to a close at Nottingham’s Macmillan Fest; an indoor all-dayer across multiple venues. Either way, the charitable spirit of the day and the wealth of bands to see doesn’t put a downer on the day.

With seven stages offering over 60 acts, there is a lot to take in at Macmillan Fest. From nationally-recognised bands to local up-and-comers, we’re spoiled for choice. Nevertheless, here is seven things we learned from our day at Macmillan Fest 2018.

Local Talent Shine

  • Borders - Photos by Carrie-Anne Pollard

One thing that Macmillan Fest takes pride in is showcasing local talent. Our day begins with Distant Blue. Besides a couple of dodgy haircuts, their mid-tempo brand of melodic rock is a fitting way to ease us into the day. While in the main room, old school hard rockers Fahran provide a shot of adrenaline with thrashing riffs and towering vocals from Matt Black. Elsewhere, Derby’s Bury the Traitor deliver blast after blast of chugging metalcore. And although the Black Cherry Lounge is intimate, it’s home to the first mosh pit of the day.

Later on, Eva Plays Dead put on a strong showing on the “main stage” at the Rescue Rooms. Led by the vocal prowess of Tiggy Dockerty and supercharged riffs from Matt Gascoyne, the quartet produce a domineering wall of sound. Songs such as ‘Get Back’ are raucous and delivered assuredly.

Haggard Cat have hit their stride

  • Haggard Cat - Photos by Carrie-Anne Pollard

Even though their local, Haggard Cat are one of the days more familiar names. Last time we saw the duo in Rescue Rooms, they were destroying it alongside their former bandmates in Heck. Today, guitarist/vocalist Matt Reynolds and drummer Tom Marsh deliver a plethora of pounding garage rock riffs. While their former band specialised is chaos, Haggard Cat have a feverish, refined energy.

HalfLives showed us why they’re ones to watch

Emerging Italians HalfLives may have been tucked away in Red Room, but it’s clear they have a set of anthemic pop-rock songs in their arsenal. Songs such as ‘Empty Room’ and ‘Burn’ soar beyond the tight confines of the small setting. As for frontwoman Linda Battilani, she commands the crowd with sultry, empowering vocals, complimenting the upbeat vibe that the crowd feeds off. While an admirable of ‘Welcome to the Black Parade’ unites the room.

Palm Reader deserved a bigger stage

  • Palm Reader - Photos by Carrie-Anne Pollard

If we thought the Red Room was packed for HalfLives, then that was nothing in comparison to Palm Reader. Just weeks after supporting Glassjaw at the o2 Brixton Academy, the future British hardcore heroes return to their adopted home in fine form. With the crowd spilling out of all exits, the quintet showcase their brilliant third album, ‘Braille’, with complete conviction. ‘Swarm’ and ‘Inertia’ are highlights amongst the all too short outing. Monsterous and commanding, it’s clear Palm Reader are a band in demand. Surely next time their placing will fit the increasing demand seen here today?

Holding Absence – Photos by Carrie-Anne Pollard

Holding Absence are certainly on the rise

With a summer of festival appearances and besides a slight lineup tweak, Holding Absence continued their ascension at the Rescue Rooms. Frontman Lucas Woodland is an earnest star in the making, while his bandmates supply a stirring set of atmospheric post-hardcore. Woodland’s emotional outpouring easily connects with this packed crowd.

They’re clearly doing something right, as organisers asked them to fill the vacant spot left by Astroid Boys pulling out due to a family emergency.

Devil Sold His Soul still have plenty left to give

  • Devil Sold His Soul - Photos by Carrie-Anne Pollard

Having been going at it for 15 years, Devil Sold His Soul are considerably veterans compared to the wrath of relative newcomers playing today. However, they’re still a force to be reckoned with as the sextet deliver a monstrous display of ambient metal. Vocalists Paul Green and Ed Gibbs bounce off each other against a compelling and empowering heavy sound that we can’t help but be enthralled by.

This won’t be the last time Black Peaks headline a festival!

  • Black Peaks - Photos by Carrie-Anne Pollard

Two years ago Black Peaks were just one of a few acts that attracted a reasonable crowd in Rock City’s main room. While Macmillan Fest’s attempt to host in a bigger room may have failed, it’s clear the Rescue Rooms is the ideal venue to host today’s headliners.

Ever since witnessing them at the Hit The Deck Festival four years ago, the Brighton group have gone from strength to strength becoming one of UK’s rocks most formidable live bands. On tonight’s showing, and as they prepare to release their second album, ‘All That Divides’Black Peaks have all the right ingredients to become a breakout band beyond these shores. Drummer Liam Kearley and bassist Dave Larkin hold down an intense, thick wall of sound throughout as guitarist Joe Gosney produces a stunning, dynamic display. And then there’s vocalist Will Gardner. With his incredible range and captivating, almost eerie, presence, Gardner is the finishing piece of a puzzle that thrives on producing twisting, heavy and vigorous progressive rock.

New songs such as ‘Home’ and ‘Can’t Sleep’ seamlessly fit alongside highlights from 2016’s ‘Statues’, resulting in a thoroughly consistent set. Black Peaks continuously prove to be a force on live and on record, and on this showing, it’s clear they’ll be topping the bill at many festivals to come.

Further information on Macmillan Cancer Support can be found here.

Macmillan Fest 2018 links: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86). Photos by Carrie-Anne Pollard