Badgerfest 2021: Day 1
The Bread Shed, Manchester
Friday 15th October 2021
Review By Rob Sutton
Photography by Sheri Bicheno
This was a weekend I’d been looking forward to for a long time! Good friends, good bands, and beer. Day one was the shortest of the 3 and only had the main stage open, but this worked nicely as a warm-up into the rest of the weekend.
Kicking things off were Badger and the Mushrooms. By the name of them, I wasn’t expecting anything too serious, and this became immediately apparent, as Danny (Prognosis/Bass) was wearing possibly the darkest sunglasses known to humankind! The whole band has been put together by the main man himself, John Badger, who was in his usual place, behind the kit. Joining him onstage were a selection of the most talented musicians in the Manchester scene, Arun (Beyond Salvation/Guitars), Johnny (Zebedy/Archetype/Guitars). and Nathan (40,000 Leagues/Vocals). All of these guys were there for one purpose only, to kick the festival off in style. There were no original tracks, just a selection of covers, ranging from Rage Against The Machine to Disturbed, all performed flawlessly, really giving the crowd a chance to get a few beers down them while singing along to rock and metal classics. One thing that caught my eye in particular was Nathan’s voice. While I have seen him in his band many times before, this performance really showcases just how good his voice is – he was on point! Great way to kick things off!
Next up, and the beginning of the originals, were Manchester based BruteAllies. I have seen these guys before and what stuck in my head was the awesome light up coat worn by the singer, it’s quite something! These guys are loud, and they provided us with some cracking riffs backed with heavy beats, and brute-al Randy Blythe style vocals. The crowd seemed to love it and so did I. The swap between the bassist and guitarist highlighted their ability to play anything on anything, too. This was their first gig back after the global hiatus, and it did feel like there were some nerves on stage (also the joy of being the first band on), so I feel like there is still more energy to come from them, once they get back into the swing of things. If you like fast, heavy music, these are a band I would recommend!
From the lights of a coat, to the darkness of blackened hardcore next, from the insanely heavy Grief Ritual, who hail from the South West UK. This performance was in your face and relentless! From intense breakdowns to pained screams these guys had all basses covered. Speaking of bass, the bassist was bouncing around like Tigger on Red Bull! His feet were barely on the ground! To contrast this, the vocalist genuinely looked like he was ready for a cage fight – truly invested and passionate in the music. This was a tight set from a band I honestly had never heard of before, and I found myself headbanging for the entire set, and lapping up every blastbeat and every riff these guys could throw at me. The set flew by and I was left wanting more. One of my finds of the year!
Basement Torture Killings are a band I have listened to for a while now. A punishing grindcore band who leave no teddy bear ungutted in their quest for raw speed and precision. This performance surprised me; I was not expecting the voice I heard to come out of the tiny lady on stage. She has an incredible voice and probably one of the best death metal voices in the underground scene. The music is brutal, and the stage show matches, although in a slightly more comedic way. We witnessed the beheading of a beloved teddy, who’s head made its way onto an audience member’s head, and from what I heard, caught the attention of the Manchester police, too (probably confused). This was a very enjoyable set and continued the heavy theme of the night fantastically.
With the penultimate act of the night, Agvirre, we saw the return of John Badger behind the kit. This was the second time in as many months that I had seen them, and while last time I didn’t quite get into the music, this time was a bit different. I think the bigger stage suited them. I felt the angst in the voice and the pain in the music. While they’re different from the previous 2 bands, being more on the Post-Black Metal side, it still strangely fitted tonight’s theme. Musically, they are very different and grab influences from many genres. They were an interesting and (this time) enjoyable watch, though I’m not sure why the keyboard faces away from the crowd. From the audience comments I heard, they made a lot of new fans, and rightly so. This was a solid, dark, and almost depressing (in a good way) 35 minutes that I would happily watch again.
Tonight’s atmosphere had been building up for one thing, and I’m not talking about a hangover on Saturday morning! I’m talking about UK grindcore legends, Foetal Juice. Somehow, this was actually the first time I have seen them, and I was not disappointed! The speed and technicality these guys displayed tonight was the very reason why they played on the Bloodstock main stage. Pits were in full swing to just about every song, and heads were furiously banging away! These guys provide no rest, just a constant assault on your ear drums. Remaining professional during technical issues is something a lot of bands struggle with, but while there were some issues here, Foetal Juice powered through, so the energy of their performance didn’t waver in any way. Ending day one with a band like this ensured the audience won’t be able to headbang for the rest of the weekend… Oh well, it was worth it! Perfect headliner to round out day one!
This may have only been the first day, but my neck hurt, I felt an impending hangover looming! Judging by the rest of the audience, I wasn’t going to be the only one feeling a little worse for wear on Saturday morning. Fantastic first day and every band smashed it, bring on day 2!
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Rob Sutton and Ever Metal. All photographic images the property of Sheri Bicheno. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.