For this festival review I decided I will take a different approach. I was not able to see every single band on each day so it would be impossible and impractical to write a comprehensive piece about each performer. Instead I shall capture the spirit of the whole festival, while mentioning my favourite bands who need promoting the most. I had not previously attended Infest, nor have I ever been to a alternative music festival of this caliber before; so unfortunately I do not have anything to compare it to, but I shall try my best.
Infest is known for being the UK’s premier EBM/Industrial/Synthpop/Noise event. Starting in 1998 this festival has attracted alternative people from all over the UK, as well as the world. Previous bands to have played at Infest have been Alien Sex Fiend, VNV Nation, Projest Pitchfork, Caustic, and Covenant to name a few. I was personally looking forward to seeing VNV Nation and Mr. Kitty, whose music I was most familiar with. Especially after the cancellation of AltFest, I was really looking forward to an event to fill my summer festival needs and Infest certainly got the job done!
Arriving in Bradford a bit groggy after a 6 hour coach ride, I was hoping my energy would perk up by the opening night. The University of Bradford was hosting Infest and was also providing housing for the festival goers. I was one of the lucky ones who landed in student housing right next to the venue itself. My housemates were most excited about seeing Dream Divide and I went along out of curiosity.
I was really surprised just how much I liked Dreams Divide. David, the vocalist had a really incredible stage presence! The way he roused the crowd was really entertaining to watch and made the music that much more enjoyable. Gem’s amazing backing vocals complemented David’s perfectly and made for one captivating performance. I certainly couldn’t get enough of them and hope to see them again in the future. Overall, it was the perfect start to a magnificent festival with the party progressing way into the night and surpassing dawn at the after parties.
I was not familiar with any of the bands of the Saturday lineup and had spent most of the afternoon sleeping off my hangover. By the time I had gotten dressed-up and ready, it was time to see Juno Reactor. My friends assured me that they were a combination of bellydance and industrial so I was certainly intrigued. What I had not expected was dancing non-stop for more than an hour to what by far the best dance music of all three days of the festival. The beats pulsated throughout my body and the beautiful female vocals added sensuality to the hypnotic music. I felt like I had been transported to a futuristic club somewhere in Istanbul where traditions met alternative EBM music and had a passionate affair. I was not the only audience member completely mesmerized. The room was packed full of people with everyone, from the very front to the back of the room, jumping, dancing and inhaling the atmosphere. Juno Reactor played a combination of songs from their newest album “The Golden Sun of the Great East,” as well as some memorable tracks from their 2004 album, “Labyrinth.” I cannot name a favourite moment or specific song because of how effortlessly the set had flowed from one track to the next. All in all, Juno Reactor rocked Infest and made that Saturday very memorable.
On Sunday, the last day of Infest, I leapt out of bed in anticipation of the magnificent day to come. I was predominately excited for the performance of Mr. Kitty, who I had only recently started listening to upon Caustic’s recommendation, and whose music I had completely fallen in love with over the course of the summer. Mr. Kitty’s music can be best described as dark synthpop with catchy melodies combined with dark lyrics addressing pain, loss and depression. It is primarily due to such raw honest lyrics that I fell in love with Mr. Kitty.
Mr. Kitty opened his set with the song “XXI” from his newest album “Time” and set the tone of the room. The fast beats got people’s feet moving and one could already pin-point the superfans out of the audience by the intensity of their lipsynching, as well as the Hello Kitty masks. Following a very warm welcome and reception, Mr. Kitty went on to play a selection of tracks from all four of his albums, including his most recent release, “Time.” Songs such “Insects,” “Destroy Me,” and “Unstable” were some of the most enduring moments in his performance. Bouncing up and down the stage in a hooded cloak, Mr. Kitty delivered every lyric with enthralling passion which was truly intoxicating for the audience. Certainly Mr. Kitty is young and can still learn much about performing but he definitely has his stage presence down. His connection with the audience is undeniably real and can be felt from even the back of the room. Mr. Kitty finished his set with “London” as he reached into the crowd to touch his most adoring of fans. Even my friends who had never heard of Mr. Kitty’s music until that day became devout fans. Mr. Kitty makes incredibly genuine music where one feels connected – not only to the music – but to him as a performer and person!
I mingled in and out of the venue the rest of the day, catching snippits of Solar Fake and Ashbury Heights but didn’t stay long enough to hear full sets, as I was saving my energy for VNV Nation. That afternoon I checked out the marketplace and the merch tables. Looking at the beautiful clothing, corsets and accessories did make me a bit sad for being poor but did not damper my spirits.
Infest came to a crescendo at the arrival of VNV Nation on stage. The crowning jewel of the Infest lineup, VNV Nation are known for their mind-blowing performances wherever they may be and they certainly did not disappoint this at this year’s Infest. The main room of the venue was packed solid and the crowd were going wild! It was a true celebration of alternative culture and everything that makes us unique. The whole weekend I felt so loved and appreciated for being myself – I definitely did not want to let that go. I applaud the performers, organizers and all the fans who came together to make Infest 2014 as special as it was. I will certainly return for years to come!