Live Review: Outbreak 2023 – Sunday

Live Review: Outbreak 2023 - Sunday
Words: Jacob Schwar
Photos: Nat Wood / Eddy Maynard

The Sunday was looking to be a quiet day for myself as predominantly most of the acts were hiphop or anything over than hardcore/metal, however saying that there were some excellent heavy bands to see so despite feeling exhausted form the last two days I made sure get down to the festival in time for the first couple hardcore acts.

Starting the day off in a crushingly heavy style were the band Zulu who were quite successful in waking up all of us shattered, hungover, non-straightedge fans. I been hearing a lot about the intense live sound of Zulu and was not disappointed in the slightest as soon as I heard the first riff of ‘For Sista Humphrey’ with which the crowds came alive! Zulu play a style of hardcore that blends power-violence and beatdown alongside soul music to create a style unlike anything we’ve really seen before in the genre with their lyrical content being strongly inspired by very real issues with race, identity and injustice. Songs such as ‘Fakin Tha Funk (You Get Did)’ and my favourite ‘Straight from Da Tribe of Tha Moon’ were insane live, demonstrating the visceral yet soulful sincerity behind the music, proving that Zulu really are a band to keep an eye on going forward.

Photo Credit: Nat Wood

Tearing things up on the second stage were Buggin, a hardcore quartet form Chicago bringing some playful punk energy to the smaller stage. Fronted by the superb Bryanna Bennett who’s formidable stage presence surely rattled the hench hardcore dudes on the front row as she screamed through tracks such as ‘All Eyes On You’ and ‘Snack Run’.

The majority of Buggin’s songs never exceeded two minutes or more which is more than enough time for the crowds to slam dance like crazy, the music itself is truly aggressive blending some cross-over thrash within the mix making for a fun, groove-orientated style of hardcore. It was great to hear some tracks off their latest album Concrete Cowboys (2023) which is just an absolute rollercoaster of ferocious, high-energy hardcore with some much appreciated old-school sentiment, thoroughly recommended by myself!

Photo Credit: Nat Wood

Up next on the mainstage were Loathe, a band I’d been wanting to see for some time since the release of their much acclaimed album I Let It In and It Took Everything (2020). Loathe put on an utterly spectacular performance, in fact it was one of the best of the entire weekend, they delivered their unique metalcore style that flirts with progressive, shoegaze and alternative metal genres to a packed out venue with phenomenal reception in return!

Their set list was well crafted consisting of some excellent songs such as the doomy and alluring ‘Two Way Mirror’ or the menacingly heavy ‘New Faces In The Dark’ or my favourite track ‘Screaming’ with its poppy, indie rock vibe which was also leadsinger Kadeem France’s best vocal performance of the show. A truly special moment came with their performance of the handsomely mournful ‘Is It Really You?’, the mood within the venue changed drastically as both guitarist/singer Erik Bickerstaffe and bassist Feisal El-Khazragi began to play the intro on their synth keyboards, also showing the more progressive side of Loathe.  This was accompanied by the entire audience pulling out their phone torches and creating a sea of white sparkling light, it was like something from a dream, a truly beautiful moment in their set which was soon dashed when they played ‘Gored’ and as you can imagine everyone went ballistic, nicely affirming the unpredictability of Loathe’s music!

Photo Credit: Eddy Maynard

Rounding things up for my experience at Outbreak Festival were hardcore heroes Trapped Under Ice who had already graced the stage at Outbreak a number of times since its inception. These lads play a candid, no-nonsense, high-energy style of hardcore taking much influence from the classic NYHC sound whilst injecting some modern flair. It was quite extraordinary to witness the crowds going mental during their set as Trapped Under Ice were the last hardcore/metal band of the day before the hip-hop side takes over the remainder, this was one last chance for them to really invade that stage!

They tore through tracks such as the anthemic ‘Born To Die’, the groove-ridden ‘Skeleton Heads’ and the fan favourite ‘Believe’ with its chuggy riffage, all awhile being flooded on stage with many fans wishing to sing into the mic then fling themselves off stage. Trapped Under ice served as an appropriate closing band for myself at this edition of Outbreak Festival, it harked back to the hardcore roots of the festival as if it were one last act of defiance from the old before making way for the new, yet regardless no matter how big Outbreak Festival becomes I believe it’ll always be a hardcore festival first and foremost.

Photo Credit: Eddy Maynard

So that was Outbreak Festival, without a doubt one of the greatest indoor festival experiences I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing so far. The bands were excellently curated providing a nice mix of different styles within the heavier genres but also catering for fans of the more mainstream, accessible styles. The venue too was a massive plus perhaps being the best large scale venue I’ve ever been to. The industrial interior really suited the theme of the festival not to mention the layout was well organised with the introduction of a specific area in each stage allowing us with free gold wristbands to get up close allowing for no barrier and an open stage plus a good selection of vendors and activities such as the skatepark to keep us entertained in our downtime.

Despite the positives there were of course some negatives such as the serving of unrefrigerated canned beer inside the venue for £6 much to the dismay of many attendee’s I spoke to, even more controversial was the no re-entry policy in the venue which meant we weren’t allowed to leave and comeback to the venue once we’d entered however something like this is down the venue itself, not the actual organisers. Though these negatives are pretty minor and something that can be improved with time and evaluation, I had a fantastic festival experience regardless, the festival is clearly going to get bigger and bigger and I’m already excited to see who will be announced for next year’s edition!

Photo Credit: Eddy Maynard

Photo credits: Nat Wood / Eddy Maynard

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