Live Review: Portals Festival

Live Review: Portals Festival - The Victoria, Dalston
20th February 2022
Feat: Mountain Caller, Gilmore Trail, Apidae, Ahsoka, Maebe, The Death of Us, Frost
Words: The Papist

Portals have set up a great variety of bands, they are not afraid to push the boundaries in which their festival sits and the line up. The Victoria has a great gig room and a brilliant bar, you wouldn't believe there is a 160 capacity venue in there. The bands listed are Frost, The Death of Us, Maebe, Ahsoka, Apidae, Gilmore Trail with the brilliant Mountain Caller headlining the day.

First on were Frost, a one piece unit of drummer/electronic experimentalist experimenting with sound, rhythms and samples. The music and patterns varied throughout the set and gave a great mix and a really interesting listen. If you like drums, electronic sampling all mixed in one give Frost a try.

The Death Of Us came on next, a two piece with bass and samples recorded so they could overlay the guitar and drums over the top. They describe themselves as Shoeglaze and as their first gig together the nerves got the guitarists/vocalist a little, but he carried it through and didn't drop a note. Cracking songs, well played and delivered, well worth a watch and listen. Was great to see a lot of people watch them too, and I hope they go on to do more gigs.

Maebe are a instrumental band, very technical and combining post, math and prog rock! To be honest, the whole math genre has passed me by, but they played a strong set with a variety of jazzy to dark precise and well written material. They delivered a great set and the crowd loved it.

Ahsoka deliver with their heavy stoner grunge sound. A three piece (drums, guitar, vocals) who produced a powerful set, with some very on point lyrics powerfully delivered by the singer. She is one powerhouse on the mic.

Apidae were up next and they defy genres for me to gave a great mix of rock, prog and indie delivered from the four members with well structured songs and melodies. A really refreshing set and brilliantly delivered, if you like atmospheric and beautiful songs on the lighter side then they are for you.

Moving onto Gilmore Trail, a four piece and having never heard them before I had no idea what to expect - which was one of the things that was great about this festival, discovering lots of new and exciting music. Two guitars, drums and bass provide another instrumental band to warm your ears before the headliners. They blew my head off, a brilliant mix of light melodies overplayed with a little Celtic vibe then hitting you like a planet with massive riffs and huge sound. Glorious to see live and they gave it their all, massive sound and spot on. Very well received and big fans of Mountain Caller, I really enjoyed them and recommend you check them out if you like heavy instrumental bands then you will like these.

So now onto the one and only Mountain Caller, a brilliant three piece instrumental prog/post-rock band. After first seeing them at Damnation Festival I was really looking forward to seeing them again. They ruled the stage and filled it with their massive sound. At Portals they were, in my opinion, better than at Damnation and by far the best band of the day! They treated us to a glorious ride through their songs and surprised us with two new songs, one never played before live. I am so looking forward to their next release, its going to be massive. What's great about Mountain Caller is some of the subtlety they add to their cinematic instrumentals, they take you on a journey and deliver it brilliantly. They bring a level of fun too in the space between songs and you cannot help but smile once you have seen them. This band are going places and deserve all the success they get, cracking set, a brilliantly played and a musical journey.

Header image credit: Tim Finch Photography

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