TMF Festival Review

Orsett Showground
Saturday, 7th August 2004

By Andy of Indigo Flow

Now on it’s seventh outing in eight years, the TMF (Taking Music Forward) Festival has grown into one of the more important dates in the underground music calendar. With over 50 bands and DJ’s spread across five stages and one acoustic tent, plus graffiti artists and numerous fairground rides (whose music caused constant annoyance, drowning out some of the bands on stage), it’s amazing what can be packed into twelve hours.

The first upside to the day was the sunshine – there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and it stayed like that all day. I arrived just as the first bands started to play and took a quick wander around the site, stopping to watch the resident graffiti artists show off their talents before settling on Charlie Childs DJ on the Freaky Disco stage – the hip hop remix of Man Of Constant Sorrow he played made it all worthwhile.

Search for ‘Man Of Constant Sorrow’ here

One of the selling points of this festival is that its line up largely comprises unsigned bands from all around the UK. The standard was high but by half past two I found myself growing tired of bands borrowing styles from the latest nu-metal and punk acts and faking American accents. This was when I spotted a pedal steel guitar being tuned and thus discovered Ragmop.

Ragmop play country with rock dynamics (not in the same way as Blind Melon though) and were a joy to watch, both in terms of performance and sheer musical talent. After that came Buffcode, whose punk was impressive simply due to the amount of energy they poured into performing it.

More wandering brought me to the classic metal of Structured Chaos, the hip hop/rock fusion of Hallelujah Johnson, the 70’s rock influenced The Basics and the Maroon 5-esque The Release, who despite only being on their third gig had already developed a good live sound and performance.

As the early evening drew in, Hijinx (who are a strong contender for worst band name of the festival, though by no means a clear winner) brought us some good old fashioned metal, at one point playing what is probably the heaviest song ever written by two people in a tent. From where I was standing they didn’t look very old but they’ve apparently been together since 2001, which would account for the tightness of their performance.

By then I was in the mood for heavy things and so I stuck around for Thaed. Coming all the way from Newquay and bringing with them a big Will Haven influence, they were exactly what I wanted. Brutally heavy with an excellent frontman, their performance was one of the best of the day from the unsigned crowd. They were also the last unsigned band I saw, as the sunset saw the coming of the professionals.

Despite rave reviews for their debut album, Sluts Of Trust drew quite a small crowd, which was sad because they were really good. They just couldn’t contend with Joker’s Wild, who had been heavily promoted all day by a man with stickers and tales of televised talent shows. Still, there may only have been two of them (no bassist – hence White Stripes comparisons) but the sound they created was huge, dirty and a little bit intimidating (which could also have accounted for the lack of audience).

Buy We Are All Sluts of Trust from Amazon

I then scampered back around to the Fat Surfer stage to catch Engerica, only to find that their set had been bumped back to make room for Antihero (I think it was Antihero anyway, they were introduced at Antitrust but then claimed not to be). Still, this meant there was plenty of time to get to the Frantic stage for Reuben’s set – which was lucky because there was already a massive crowd forming when I arrived there.

Reuben were fantastic; performing songs from their debut album, Racecar Is Racecar Backwards, as well as a few b-sides and one new song. There was a quote on all their press material that went something along the lines of “it shouldn’t be possible for three people to rock this much”. Until I saw it with my own eyes I assumed this was just one of those things that people say but it is actually true – the sound is huge, energetic and not one normally made by such a small number of people.

Buy Racecar Is Racecar Backwards from Amazon

After Reuben finished I hung around for Million Dead. I very nearly got bored of waiting and went off to find something else. Luckily I didn’t because they provided one of the best sets of the day, further cementing their role as IF favourites. Playing through the best tracks on A Song To Ruin, starting with an excellent rendition of Breaking The Back and ending on The Rise And Fall (all thirteen minutes of it) it was one of those moments that remind you why you love live music.

This left just enough time to catch a few of the fine songs in Jetplane Landing’s set before the headliners, The Eighties Matchbox B-line Disaster.

Eighties Matchbox are one of the many bands I’m constantly told I should go and see. I nearly managed it once too, I heard their entire Glastonbury set this year from the queue for the cash machine. Needless to say, that wasn’t the ideal setting. However, TMF was.

The band came on stage after a lengthy Evangelist minister-style introduction; that, the lighting and the music evoked images of classic horror movies throughout the show. The grand scale of all this made sure that they were worthy headliners and also seemed to make the stage look a lot larger than three HGV trailers strapped together.

Search Amazon for Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster

This all brought to an end a great day out. Plans for TMF 2005 are already underway, so if you want to catch the top up-and-coming names on the scene this time next year, remember the name.

Pictures: Click here

Originally appeared on Indigo Flow

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