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HEVY FEST - THE PORT LYMPNE YEARS
When the world of Rock / Metal / Punk played for the animals of
Port Lympne Animal Park!
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A tribute to some great days at what I felt was a great Rock / Metal / Punk festival...

Hevy Fest was an August event that stood out in the busy festival season because its lineup each year always seemed so well put together. Although it wasn't one of the big festivals it was large enough for a proper camping festival experience. It always featured newer bands currently making waves alongside those that were more established from around the world. It also seemed to attract bands that were historically important to the scene and who might rarely have played the UK. A festival for new fans and older connoiseurs alike.

I had been lucky enough to photograph the event four times during the years Hevy Fest was held at Port Lympne Animal Park, unfortunately missing 2010. Actually, the event was on parkland just outside of where the animals are kept. Entry to the animal park was free for ticket holders, a cool perk and a great way to spend an hour or two in the mornings before the music started. To their major credit the festival helped raise many thousands of pounds for the work the park does in animal conservation around the world.

So to mark the end of Hevy Fest here is a brief round up of the events I photographed in 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015.

All the photos up to 2015 were taken for an excellent music website called Planet Loud - now merged with PureGrainAudio. The 2015 photos were for Pure Rawk, another fantastic music site I am lucky enough to shoot for. Be sure to check them out!

Jeremy Bolm - Touche Amore - Elbow to the face at Hevy Fest 2011

My first Hevy Fest was in 2011. The Dillinger Escape Plan and Four Year Strong played awesome headlining sets and it was the first time I saw some of my favourite current live bands... Arcane Roots, While She Sleeps, Touche Amore, and Make Do And Mend. Particuarly memorable were superb sets from Feed The Rhino and TRC who shared a slot on the main stage when another band had to pull out on the day. Both bands made the most of the opportunity, the shorter sets condensing their powerful live shows to stunning effect. This event was a good learning experience for me as it was one of the first times I had photograhed a stage that was taller than I was. Over the course of the weekend I had plenty of time to get used to it. With monitors along the front of the stage blocking the view further it required a different style of composition and a more patient approach, sometimes having to wait for band members to come forwards for a clearer shot.

Hevy Fest 2011 - TOP ROW: Greg Puciato - The Dillinger Escape Plan, ROW 2:  Heart Of A Coward, Crowd for Funeral For A Friend, Brotherhood Of The Lake, ROW 3: TRC, Feed The Rhino, Architects, LAST ROW: La Dispute, While She Sleeps, Touche Amore.

In 2012 Hevy Fest had two main stages, positioned side-by-side under cover in a large marquee, and an extra day of music. Although there were occasional main stage sound issues (sound checks on one stage while a band was playing on the other!), the line-up was brilliant with so many highlights. Those included Deaf Havana, Marmozets, Lower Than Atlantis, The Bots, A Wilhelm Scream, Dead Harts, Devil Sold His Soul, Feed The Rhino, Glassjaw, Municiple Waste, Norma Jean, Pianos Become The Teeth, Meshuggah, Converge, H20, Descendents, Ignite, Hundered Reasons, Mallory Knox, Madball, The Chariot, and far more besides! Being under cover meant all the bands got the benefit of the stage lights which I think always adds to the atmosphere. I also took some live shots of the brilliant Brotherhood Of The Lake, and was well pleased to have one used by the band as their website front page image.



Hevy Fest 2012 - CENTER PHOTO: The JCQ,  TOP ROW: The Chariot, Mallory Knox. ROW 2: Glassjaw, The Bots, Ignite. ROW 3: Andrew WK, Converge. ROW 4: Devil Sold His Soul, Gnarwolves.  ROW 5: The Chariot, Blacklisters. ROW 6: Deaf Havana, Marmozets, Desolated. ROW 7: Pianos Become The Teeth, Lower Than Atlantis.

Sadly, 2013 wasn't a good year for Hevy Fest, with issues over the venue site. Although alternative venues were looked at it didn't prove viable to run the event that year. It's fair to say the organisers took quite a lashing on the social media channels. As usual, with social media, those people spitting hatred had no idea what was really going on, with rumour and exageration everywhere. I felt the Hevy team were as up front with their problems as they could be and tried their best to find a workable solution. However, they felt there was no choice but to cancel the year's plans under the circumstances. It all meant that when Hevy returned for 2014 (at Port Lympne Animal Farm once again) it was very much a scaled back operation compared to the 2012 event. There was a return to one main stage outdoors and two smaller tented stages, the music held over two days instead of three.

Hevy Fest 2014 - TOP: Kvelertak. ROW 2: '68, Anti-Flag. ROW 3: Heights, Empire, The Hell. ROW 4: Brutality Will Prevail, Feed The Rhino, TesseracT. ROW 5: Reel Big Fish, Oathbreaker, Capdown. ROW 6: Finch.

Hevy Fest 2014 felt like a return to it's roots to rebuild confidence for the future. Being smaller, the crowd seemed more relaxed and happy to soak in the sounds rather than go mental for every band. That's not to say there wasn't the usual levels of roudiness for some of the bands... Feed The Rhino once again put on another memorable show, as did Dead Harts, Oathbreaker, TRC and TesseracT. On the main stage Capdown, Reel Big Fish, Anti-Flag and Kvelertak proved popular choices. Kvelertak's singer wore his owl headgear which was a magnificent sight! Finch played a blinder too, even more so after their guitarist fell off the stage and was thankfully ok to carry on. Other highlights included everyone being invited on stage for Josh Scogin's latest band '68 in one of the tents. A completely nuts show from The Hell and excellent sets from The Vandals, Silverstein, Crime In Stereo, The Ocean, Structures, The One Hundered, Apologies I Have None... so many more good bands too... made this festival once again an unforgettable weekend for the true fans of Rock / Metal / Punk.

Coheed and Cambria at Hevy Fest 2015

Saving the best 'til last, 2015 was my favourite of the four events I saw at Port Lympne. The sound was excellent, the lighting atmospheric, the security people were relaxed, the organisation good, the bands... every single one of them... were amazing. It was probably the best 2 days of music I have seen. For someone like myself, who loves the very wide spectrum of rock / metal / punk genres, these two days had it all. My review for Pure Rawk was even more enthusiastic than usual! There are photos to accompany too so do have a look when you get a moment...

Hevy Fest 2015 Day 1
Hevy Fest 2015 Day 2

Hevy Fest 2015 - TOP ROW:  Horse The Band, Arcane Roots. ROW 2: Press To MECO, Fightstar, Creeper. Row 3: OHHMS, Black Peaks, Touche Amore. ROW 4: As It Is, Broken Teeth. Row 5: Fort Hope, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Hacktivist. Row 6: Thrice, Fall Of Troy. ROW 7: Heck, The Colour Line, Landscapes.

Highlights for me were... The Dillinger Escape Plan (a nuts live show and technically superb), Coheed and Cambria (pure class), Touche Amore (epic, poetic, emotional), Fightstar (catchy choruses pleased a fanatical crowd), Press To MECO (high energy and great vocal harmonies!!), Creeper (on their way to big things), Heck (total madness!), Chon (stunning jazzy licks a-plenty), Black Peaks (Will Gardners voice is incredible!), OHHMS (original dynamic songwriting), Fathoms (brutal), Fort Hope (commercial greatness), Hang The Bastard (sounding filthy), As It Is (good catchy fun and always jumping), Arcane Roots (awesome songs played with passion), Fall Of Troy (played "Doppelganger" in full), Thrice (legendary), Horse The Band (fun fun fun), Monuments (tight grooves), The Colour Line (The Chariot reborn but in their own original way), and Hacktivist (boom!).

So the 2015 event was a fitting goodbye to Hevy Fest. It is sad to see it end. Here is their final statement...

"Hevy Fest is no more.

After 6 years of incredible bands, legendary hangs, and a lot of monkeys - we’re sorry to announce that Hevy Fest is pulling the plug.

Despite the best efforts of our dedicated team, the festival has become financially untenable. Many things have contributed: Port Lympne being unable to continue hosting the event, the increasingly difficult task of putting together a line-up with more and more exclusives enforced each year leading to difficulties confirming our final headliner, and the pressure to offer good value with spiralling costs. The odds are stacked against anyone taking on the challenge, and they have proven too great for us to overcome.

There is a great community of Hardcore, Punk and Metal supporters in the UK and we hope that other small festivals will be able to grow into this space, and to deliver the event we aspired to.

Ticket holders will be automatically refunded. All monies will be returned in the next 10 working days (including booking fees and postage).

As a small independent event, we want to thank everyone who has supported us over the years.

Hevy Fest // 2009 - 2015
"

For any more info check the website at... www.hevyfest.com.


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