Deadbolt Festival 2015

Sound Control, Manchester, United Kingdom

Photos by Christopher Burrows.

3 Floors, 2 Stages, 26 Bands, 1 day: It’s Deadbolt Festival at what lately, seems to be Mute Print’s second home, Sound Control, Manchester.  With so much to see and so little time, we head straight into the venue to catch as much of the action as logistically achievable, starting at the basement stage with:

Best Years
Best DaysThe Manchester based Pop-Punks open up the festival and with the help of their local fan base, start to fill out the early doors. The singer, Joel Plews, spends the entire set filling any space left by the crowd and the band have the energy to get people moving right off the bat, which is great when everyone is still a) sober or b) hungover. There is nothing too heavy here but it is lively, which is a nice way to ease us in to the festival spirit. Best Years make the most of the festival spot and drop a bunch of new material along with some old stuff that the fans can sing along to. There is a slight technical fault with the guitar but the band lose no spirit and march on through the set, the determination shown makes up for the minor fault and Best Years don’t let it distract them from delivering a great opening slot. There is a risky Good Charlotte cover thrown in that is slightly confusing at a festival with the likes of Heart Of A Coward playing later, more so because Best Years original material is far better and tighter than anything by Good Charlotte. It does go to show the refreshing diversity here, though, we applaud the bands and the organisers for that.

Loathe start off their set with some whiLoathete noise as the vocalist parades around the growing crowd with a half and half monochrome mask: the band adorning medic masks look like they’re about tear it up…they are. The second that the music starts, the masks are off, not so purposefully but inevitably, and the pit starts. The band go as hard as the crowd and the pit pushes out as the slam dancing ensues. The moment that the crowd begins to relax, the band are straight in to pick it back up again. There is a blend of pounding breakdowns and nifty grooves as Loathe continue to rile the afternoon audience up. The layers of dual screams, clean backing vox supplied by the guitarist and a melodic backing track make this one of the more interesting afternoon performances: the brutality encouraged is enough to shake off the thickest of cobwebs. There are a few opportunities for audience participation here as the crowd grab the mic to a memorable “Prepare, Consume, Proceed” chant, it draws the circle in closer. The set finishes with an epic that we could best describe as Ambi-Djent, not sounding too dissimilar from Vildhjarta, which is huge. Loathe leave the won over onlookers with some ambient noise that is almost drowned out by applause at this very early stage in the festival: the bar has been raised.

Bearing Loss
Bearing LossThe Hard-Core two steppers that have congregated in the basement, following the Loathe set, are ready for more; before Bearing Loss even hit a note the pit pushers are testing each other out. The eagerness for the NW-HC quartet is great to see just over an hour into the festival, especially when the crossovers from the Loft Stage have started to split the demographic. Bearing Loss don’t let the crossover impact as they are straight in with their intro and a new song. The slam dancers appear out of the ether with spinning arms and attempts of spin kicks as the Milestones fans from upstairs are drawn in by the ruthless riffs of Bearing Loss. The band bounce back off the increased fandom and the energy levels rise “Deadbolt, wake the f#@k up!” is commanded and the pit opens up. It is a solid performance from Bearing Loss: the relentless power of the riffs, the robust rhythms of the drums, and the rage filled roars of the vocalist, Craig Leicester, make for a definitive crash course in Hard-Core. By the end of the set, more of the loft crowd have filtered in and the basement pit has poured out, meaning that, for the first time today, the crowd has pushed back beyond the sound engineer and are still moving: now it’s looking like a festival, albeit, indoors.

We caught up with the Bearing Loss boys and Leopards after the show for an interview, stay tuned for that.

It’s our first chance to venture upstairs for the Loft Stage and just in time to catch Leopards: It’s another display of diversity from the festival as the female fronted Pop-Moshers take to the main stage.
It’s the most light-hearted set of the day but it is by no means light in energy and presence. Leopards bring to Deadbolt all of the drive of Rock with the catchy hooks of Pop and it’s pretty addictive. The performance is tight, the band look like a well gelled unit and the female vocalist, Jenna, is able to lure in the crowd without the usual intimidation to “Get the f#@k up”: It works and, better yet, it leaves space for people to dance…at a metal festival…dance. The band move and shift through their unique blend of Pop and Metal, creating huge sounds and the first songs of the festival that we would describe as anthems, it’s refreshing. Through the intermissions Jenna is able to draw in the female supporters for some girl power in what is, predominantly, a male scene and keeps us all entertained with some humour. It was a particularly clever move for the guitarist to offer a joke with the punch-line only available at the merch stand before breaking into their last song, well played Leopards, well played, indeed.

ShvpesInstantly, our favourite thing about Shvpes is the use of a Gibson SG in a genre with ubiquitous 7 plus stringed guitars. We are in riff heaven with plenty of the chaotic tech and soaring vocals to wash it down with. The first track is a new one and the pit is just waiting to happen. With one barking command, the pit erupts: for the first breakdown it’s like an explosion of bodies. The crowd here are all ages, shapes, genders, sizes and are all bouncing off of each other as the singer, Griffin Dickinson, using the security rail and floor as an extension of the stage, spurs them on.  We are treated to three new songs, filled with fat riffs, bass drops, techy taps and stadium sized choruses. We can’t help but admire the vocalists' ability to draw in a crowd, not just by asking the collective to “Bring it in” but by picking out individuals who aren’t involved enough for the bands liking and ordering them forwards. It’s a powerful technique, just on the right side of bullying, the character building side that they will thank them for later.
The live performance of Shvpes is one of the truest to record performances we’ve heard, the only thing that was different was the raw energy of the live show.

ShieldsFor the first time in the festival we are seeing one stage reach full capacity and the brief crossovers have little impact. Shields have calved quite a reputation for themselves and from the start it’s clear that they have attracted some dedicated fans, ones who know the songs word for word and will pit at the drop of a beat. Throughout the set the screams are crisp, the cleans are smooth and the glassy tone of the sustained lead guitar is sublime. Shields are a uniform looking band, not in a way that they look as though they rolled up in the same outfit but in the way that they are a solid entity with a sturdy stage presence.
Chugging riffs, circle pits, lead harmonies, ambience and sub bass combine to shake the room and leave the crowd in shock and awe.  Shields continue to bombard us with bouncing beats and pit inducing presence until the final eruption sees them off.

Carcer City
Carcer CityThe first band to bring along their own addition to the light show, Carcer City are here to leave an impression burnt onto our retinas as well as beat into our ear drums.  Starting with a backing track of ambient noise and tension-building speech samples, the crowd from the basement have just enough time to rush in and find their space in the loft of Sound Control Carcer City look as though they could just as well be headlining; from the off, the band have the crowd in a crazed conformity, jumping in unison at every opportunity. The band break to have the audience raise their middle fingers, holding them there as the singer lambasts the state of financial affairs and monetisation in general: It’s this kind of crowd inclusion and political awareness that has endeared so many new fans to Carcer City, and part of the reason why they are growing exponentially.
The new song is an example of how this band are growing musically: it is the heaviest track yet with huge sub drops, a breakdown that sounds as though The Predator wrote it and the vocals are sounding more polished than ever. 
Carcer City host the first wall of death of the evening, the singer,  Patrick Pinion, taking the time out to personally split the crowd, pushing and shoving them to opposite sides of the room, ready for the chaos that will ensue: on his command it goes off. These boys never disappoint and this stampede wraps up the set nicely.

Martyr Defiled
Martyr Defiled
Despite starting with some technical difficulties, Martyr Defiled are undeterred and way more determined to give us a set to remember for all the right reasons. From the first beat the full capacity crowd break into a full capacity pit. The evening is reaching its crescendo and we are reaching peak consumption on the festival fuel. With the crowd bouncing, the singer perched on the security rails and the onlookers screaming along, the party is in full swing. The lighting of the stage resembles a lightning storm and the drums replicate the thunder to go with it. The crowd are eager and taking every opportunity to get involved: we see more guest vocals from Cheshire’s finest, Darryl Jones (This Is Turin) and Jamie Owen (Bearing Loss) just to add to the already vast range of vocals from front-man Matthew Jones. It isn’t long before Matthew is in the pit with the crowd and revelling in it. We have more opportunities for the audience to make themselves heard as they clap and chant along over the military snares, leading us into the filthiest of breakdowns. The combination of heavy grooves and Hard-Core vocals with this level of intensity makes the sound that has brought Martyr Defiled up amongst the top ranks of the festival. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, Martyr Defiled’s live set is so filthy: it needs a good wash, and we wouldn't have it any other way.

Heart Of A Coward
Before the headliners even step into the limelight, the Deadbolt crowd have already started to pit amongst themselves. Heart Of A Coward hit the stage to a huge ovation, from the front of the loft to the bar at the back, the whole crowd scream back at the band. There is a three row deep congregation at the front of the stage, made up of the most hardened fans, reciting every word, whilst the biggest pit of the day opens up behind them. The sound quality for Heart of A Coward is clear and crisp, as with so many of the bands today; this speaks volumes for the Sound Control venue and sound engineer as it does for the band. There are considerably more Heart Of A Coward T-Shirts here than any other act as a homage to the reputation that they have built through touring relentlessly: the Rick Flair style “Whooo’s” still echoing from their recent Saturday slot at UK Tech Metal Fest.
We get to hear some new material from Heart Of A Coward which is already as tight and well-rehearsed as the band's live set staples.  A wall of death emerges for Heart Of A Coward without them even asking, the relentless pace and spirit of the band and fans, alike, is everything but cowardice. Before the end of the show there are wall to wall circle pits, crowd-surfers, now a five deep front row and a growing body count: last tallied at 8 revellers dropped and collected by their supportive comrades.
Heart Of A Coward have continued to deliver in every situation and are worthy of any headline slot that they are put in. As the night draws to an end the Deadbolt crowd have one last surge of energy to the merciless breakdowns, the music stops, there are drones from the mic and guitars as the band exit the stage and the stage lights dim, ready for the after party to begin.


Deadbolt Festival, from start to finish, is one of the more diverse alternative festivals this year with a mixture of styles, experience and support. For an indoor festival, held over 3 floors, with 2 stages and 26 bands, the organisation is impeccable.

With minimal impact from crossovers, given the time constraints of 26 bands in 10 hours, every act from the doors opening to the curtains dropping got enough exposure to make an impression.  It’s little wonder that a festival with a capacity limited to the indoor venue size, that is growing each year, has sold out its early bird tickets. Here’s to hoping that next year the fluctuating festival, in the heart of Manchester’s live music hub, will be bigger than ever and held over 2 days so we can make better use of the after party passes too.

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