O2 Academy Sheffield 29th September 2018.
Now in it’s third year, it’s of no surprise that this particular event just keeps getting better and better! With the wealth of bands available within these genres, the band bookers must have a daunting task when it comes to booking a festival such as this, as they just don’t know how us, the general public will react! I think its safe to say, HRH is one of only a few festival that get it right, virtually every time! This year was exceptional but we were only able to attend the Saturday.
Having seen the line up for the Sunday, which looked even better (if that’s possible), we were feeling a little bummed that we couldn’t attend both days! I’ve now also seen next years line up and my word, it’s going to be an absolute cracker…AGAIN! Monolord headlining, we’re there! Before that though, we wanted to pen a few words about this year, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves!
Proceedings kicked off around 2pm, which gave us plenty of time to get up to Sheffield, get parked and say our hellos. At first, I thought attendance was a little thin on the ground but as the first band took to the stage, we were virtually crammed to the rafters in both rooms for the duration of the days event.
First up this weekend we had a rather hungover Sedulus – according to them, however that didn’t stop these psychedelic stoners from London, blowing away the cobwebs that had formed since my last outing, which was back in August for Beermageddon! Surprisingly, I even managed to obtain a smile from Rich, one of the band’s guitarists, which is unusual from the first band of the day but it was welcomed non the less. The other guitarist, Amit, hid behind his long black hair, which was more of what I was expecting to be honest, especially considering the genre of bands appearing today! These guys are all about the music, which is fair enough. Luckily for them, I love both these genres, so I persevered!
As Stage 2 hadn’t opened yet, the day continued with the second band on the main stage today, who go by the name Ancestors! These guys had travelled a very long way to be here today, all the way from Los Angeles in fact! The fact it took longer than allocated for them to get set up must of really upset them as it would appear Justin’s guitar was producing more power than it should have and when he tried to pick up his lead, to plug it into his guitar, he let out an almighty scream, as it gave him one hell of a shock! Once they got going, it was no surprise to see most of the stage lights go out, as these guys play a mixture of Post-Metal, Post-Rock, Progressive, Psychedelic, Doom Metal, Space Rock, all rolled into a very hedonistic one hour set! I enjoyed this bands creativity and their experimental sound. Their set also awarded me one of my more dramatic images of the day, with light beams all a glow!
As Desert Storm were up next, I decided to hang about for them! I generally have this band on repeat most days, so to see them play live was a real treat and thankfully, they didn’t disappoint! Matt’s vocals have so much gravel in, he’s practically spitting out sand! He also has the best swagger about him on stage, which suits the bands music perfectly! Even if people weren’t dancing (the majority were) just watching his hypnotic moves would be enough to find yourself swaying along with him! I love this bands bouncy beats as they accompany their riffs perfectly!
Sadly, I had no time to hang about as The Grudge were tearing it up, up stairs on stage 2, so off I swayed to check them out. The Grudge are new to me but after today’s performance, I’m hoping it won’t be the last time I see them – what a band! They had room 2 jumping along with them, especially Javier, one of the bands bouncier guitarists, who I later discovered, after speaking with him, is Spanish! This fact leads me onto four people in particular, who all turned up dressed as priests today! At first I thought they were all dressing up as Brother Pain, from Evil Scarecrow but it turns out they too, were also from Spain and thought dressing up would be a cool way to talk to people! What a great idea and it’s nice to see European fans making the effort to come to a festival, here in the UK!
As Ritual King were on this stage next, I thought I’d stick about! This was my third time seeing this particular band now, the first two of which were in my home town, Derby, when they supported those lovely fellas Witch Tripper, both bands I love! I recall having a conversation about this very show with the band back then and as I’m generally a man of my word (and I think they’re great) here I am, ready and waiting! I have to say, tonight’s HRH performance is the best I’ve see this band perform, as they appeared to go above and beyond, probably to coincide with the energy from the crowd and there was many in attendance! What a band and yet only a three piece! How they manage to create the sounds they do, is beyond me! If I was to hazard a guess, I’d have to say it’s down to the three very talented musicians that make up Ritual King from Manchester! Take a bow guys!
As Gevaudan were the only other band I saw on stage 2 (sorry Cybernetic Witch Cult) I’ll briefly say, what I saw, I thoroughly enjoyed! They also have an absolute legend in the band ‘Bruce Hamilton’ on guitar, who’s an avid music fan as well as a very talented musician and who I’ve personally encountered many times, over the years! I don’t think he recognised me though! Snigger! The band had great energy tonight and played up to the ladies in the crowd!
Throughout the day and up to the point OHHMS took to the stage, I’d had many conversations with people about this band, all of which said they really enjoyed them and I would too, so I was expecting a lot to be honest. They were certainly one of the most photogenic bands to shoot today, which was great. Musically, they were even better! I noticed the bassist had a child’s shoe strapped to his guitar neck, so later I asked him what the significance of this was. Apparently, it’s one of his four children’s items of clothing, he has attached to various pieces of equipment, which helps him to know he’s thinking of them, which I though was a lovely gesture! The bands vocalist was very charismatic and theatrical, who showed how a front man should be! Great to watch, even better to hear!
Elephant Tree were my find of the day though, having never seen or heard their music before, I was blown away with what I saw and heard. Their performance will live within my memory banks for a long time to come! Something about them appealed to me greatly, I think it had something to do with the great music they produced, yeah that’s gotta be it! Great set today and I can’t wait to see them play again. The sooner the better to be honest! It’s worth mentioning, I saw the bands bassist and lead vocalist having a right old jig during Stoned Jesus’ set! What a character!
Stoned Jesus are phenomenal noise makers, atmospheric and again, another three piece! Just check out their track ‘I’m the Mountain’ to see what I mean! This track is one of my all time favourites and seeing them perform it live was a real treat! Although I can’t attend every gig or festival that I’d like, the ones I do get to attend are all amazing for their own reasons! I’m quite lucky really, when I think about it and it’s truly humbling when I’m given the opportunity to witness a band, such as Stoned Jesus! These guys are future headliners, for sure! I’m aware these guys are currently on tour, so check them out if you haven’t already, although I know at least 45,000 people who have and I now they get these guys, as do I!
As headliners go, they don’t get much better than Elder, to be honest! The funny thing is, I saw both these guys AND Monolord at Dessertfest, opening the days events at KOKO, back in 2016! Now both these bands have worked their way to headlining slots, which is great to see! For their headline set, Elder enforced a three track rule, which I found Hilarious! If you’re a fan of these genres, you’ll know a fourth track equates to a full length album. Anyway, they opened with ‘Dead Roots Rising’ which is an incredible (12 minute) song, which only gets better at the playing time of 9:35! Hearing this track again live and by the time they reached that magical moment, I found I’d been transformed into a space goat and was floating within a mystical void, within my mind! This experience will certainly go down as one of many great musical moments I’ve witnessed over the years!
Thanks yet again to my HRH family, for a truly memorable event! Roll on 2019 and their 4th instalment!
To see more photographs from the day, be sure to check out music224 over on Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/music224/albums
Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)