And you find yourself sprinting haphazardly across a sodden field after a five hour drive to see a band in a packed out tent; and you smile, breathless, on arrival, because you know you have finally arrived home. And as the ache drains from your muscles, and the first shivers transcend the length of your neck, you also affirm that the anticipation which laced your hajj was just.
There’s probably some poetic justice in the fact that the early arrivers this year were treated to some of the sounds that sparked their allure for Arctangent last, enough so to book tickets well in advance of today and initiate a countdown that would test the patience of even the Samaritans on site. A joyous symmetry at least, echoed in the harmonics of This Town Needs Guns, who last year as this were spellbinding, and Three Trapped Tigers, who were thunderous in decapitating their inaugural benchmark.
No disco to close, no Partridge quotes wafting the campsite, but there was time yet.
I awake to the payload of ‘Beow’ being checked at a variety of tones until the right one is settled upon. As an alarm, it transcends perfection. James tells me later how rare it was to be given the breathing room to find the sweet spot on his telecaster before a set, but the care taken here was well placed, because Suffer Like G Did‘s first public outing in time (excluding the warm up in Guildford two nights before) was a peach. A new drummer and a new method, it seems, as debutants such as ‘Toska’ and at least one other were more free-flowing than the rigidity of the mutes and stabs which punctuate their early work. Neither style was better or worse; both are unique and disciplined, and a treat in the morning air. So too their humility when confessing this is their largest show to-date, and humbly requesting the picture below to commemorate.
I hug the tent for Olympians soon after, again disarming in their delivery and endearingly so. Even when sharing gin with Dan in a barn many hours later, a parody of myself garbling anecdotes about this very website, his good nature is unblemished. ‘This song is called shut up and play the fucking song’ he quips, spontaneously, unable to hide both his delight to be on stage and his earnest need to bare soul. Another great band that we’re fortunate to have, so reciprocate that love please.
Ditto Physics House Band: one of the best jam bands active currently, if you needed an excuse to see them, but a given if you already have. Please don’t skip the video below, because as a moment it sore-thumbs itself not only from this weekend, but from my collective festival experiences combined.
Enemies put their new drummer through his paces on the same stage, though he didn’t come close missing a beat. Without comparing to their former set up, they’re solid today and this bodes well for the future, which is warranted, because their brand of math-pop is pure smart.
Another personal highlight this time last year were Cleft, and they didn’t come close to disappointing today either. The duo’s synchronicity is, at times, terrifying; the closest our isles have come to spawning a pneu. And the audacity… What I would give to have been a fly on the wall during the discussion which concluded, ‘how do you want to end the set then? Rage medley? Rage medley.’ Class.
El Ten Eleven show us how it’s done in LA, and, well, simply how it’s done. Their masterclass of math is printer-perfect, and I’ve begrudged picking up my guitar since.
Then, ah then. The synergy of the silent disco, synonymous and fabled in its own right: the sway of glowing headphones like fireflies from afar, we share stories, form new bonds and cherish the old magnificently.
Don’t play S Club 7.
It’s not ironic.
Saturday is bittersweet, conceding that this will be the last of it for another year, yet safe in the knowledge that I’m spoiled for choice ahead. I jump at the rare opportunity to see Alarmist in the UK, a magnetic pull most definitely. Live they resound fearlessly as on record, minds racing at warp speed, grooves to facilitate our moves and melodies terrifically bright. Come back soon, for the love of God.
A first venture to the Arc stage follows on the back of necessity too, capitalising on the chance to witness Luxembourg’s Mutiny on The Bounty as well I might. They request, and deserve, the Kodak moment from the crowd, one of half a dozen of the weekend by my count, and no, it didn’t tire.
Sticking around for Jamie Lenman was another no-brainer (mercifully so at this stage in my mental being), half to hear some Reuben tracks, half to witness a guy at the top of his game. I get both. I also get to catch Mylets‘ tail end, and it’s impossible not to fall in love. Henry’s the bedroom guitarist in all of us, but he’s gone out there and made it happen. More power to him.
Reaching the business end, there were behemoths to be had yet.
Tall Ships are one of the brightest prospect we have for the mainstream, and the plaudits are merited on this and countless other performances. Comfortable, almost innately, on a larger stage, (for the most… Matt’s nosedive was out of kilter/wincingly-painful) they’re a pull factor on any bill and this will be true for many years hence.
Lite are also astounding on this, the first time I’ve been able to see them live, although it’s more a glimmer given the swell inside the tent. They live up to any pedestales I dare to build beforehand, and I’m left grinning like a goon at the thought afterwards.
There’s a true ace up the sleeve to close as well, this time from the tent dutifully manned by the fine folk at 7bitarcade. Their bill was watertight over the course of the weekend, as it happens, and I take no great pride in confessing that many of the excellent bands I did manage to see were at the expense of the excellence on the PX3.
That said, Shiver had been circled on my battered timetable well in advance of this hour, firm as I am in the belief that Chris Sharkey is one of the greatest guitarists of a generation. Tonight he (and his trio) is effortless and invigorating in perfectly equalled measures, the soundscapes he creates for the most seemingly impossible. It’s a wonderful celebration of all that is right with our music scene at the moment, the essence of the weekend perfectly distilled in everlasting notes: a salute to the people. Echoes of Truck.
It’s taken me almost two months to get over the blues and write this account, but what to say? I could/should wax lyrical about what Arctangent has created in two short years, a formula laced with primes: visionary music, unique and indelible moments, the farmer who would rather sell his produce to attendees than acquiesce to Tesco (his own words), the complete lack of ego from anyone, anywhere, the togetherness, the sustainability (the first we were told on arrival was ‘your car is full, you park for free’), the distortion, the disco, the lambs in the adjacent field, the mud, the merch, the drive in… but I won’t.
I’ll simply share a smile when I see you next year.