Day Three of the Rocket 20 dawns and the weekenders are looking (and feeling) a little jaded, but the prospect of a third day with a darker, heavier side holds much appeal.
Opening are Bonnacons of Doom, a collective of musicians based out of Liverpool who last week announced their debut album with be out on Rocket in May. Their performances are theatrical to say the least; clad in black robes with silver disc masks reflecting the audience back at them. Musically they are complex, elements competing for attention throughout, yet somehow they manage to make this not sound chaotic. By far the stand out track from the set is latest single ‘Solus’ with its haunting vocal melodies and eerie countenance.
Upstairs the first offering of the evening is Ayn Sǿf, the solo project of Gnod’s Paddy Shine. He is joined tonight by two fellow musicians, one of which remains anonymous shrouded in a cloak. This project showcases a more subdued side to Shine, with the beauty remaining in the detail. The tantric qualities evoke a trance like state from the listeners and it is a perfect experimental showcase of talent that not many would know to experience otherwise.
Bristolians Kuro (the Japanese word for black) are the product of the experimental union between classically trained violinist Agathe Max and double bassist Gareth Turner, whose name will be familiar from this association with Anthroprophh. The duo released a self-titled LP on Rocket in November 2016 which was largely improvised. Their set today encourages many curious listeners to edge forward, and the raw power and beauty of the music makes one think it would be better suited to a film score than the festival circuit. The tracks are painfully haunting and evoke a sense of melancholy as it fluctuates, ‘The Hierophant’ is a particular beautiful track and having experienced this live many feel a sense of transcendence.
The next solo entity comes in the form of Negra Branca, the project of fellow Gnodite Marlene Ribeiro. She picks up largely where Ayn Sǿf left off, with a carefully proportioned array of nob twirling, beautiful lyrics and spurts of action that take listeners by surprise in many cases. The juxtaposition of elements suits her style and the packed room sway harmoniously. Again, an act that not many would know about, Rocket have brought her here tonight and she has gone down fantastically.
Zimpel/Ziołek who are not a Rocket band, join the festival this weekend to make their first UK live appearance. The Polish duo are rooted in improvisation, with limited vocal elements and an overall folk style that channels their roots. They are interesting entity and break up the heavy sound which has dominated so far with a superbly executed set which is certain to have earnt them a few more fans.
Anthroprophh, comprised of Jesse Webb, Gareth Turner (The Big Naturals) and Paul Allen (The Heads) are a huge draw on todays bill, and with an album release, OMEGAVILLE, imminent, expectations are high. Their set is loud and heavy from the offset, like we would expect anything else, and it has an almost instantaneous head bobbing effect. Don’t let the volume fool you though, there are finer elements are work here from the motoric drumming leading to Can invocations, to the guitar runs, the intense bass lines and all overlaid with a distinct vocal drawl. Their long association with Rocket holds them in good esteem and if the cheers and sweaty bodies in the room are anything to go by, they’ve been well received.
Tonight’s headliners are Salfordians Gnod, who have a lengthy association with Rocket going back to 2011 with some five LP releases under their belt; INGNODWETRUST, Chaudelande, Infinity Machines, Mirror and Just Say No to the Psycho Right-Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine. Expectations are high for their set, and they do not disappoint. ‘Bodies for Money’ undoubtedly steals the show with its explosive countenance and rolling riffs which control from the second they are released. They leave the stage to swathes of cheers and applause, with Paddy singing Happy Birthday to Rocket, which is a nice touch that I’m certain they’ll appreciate.
And with that, it’s all over. Johnny and Chris should be incredibly proud of what they have accomplished here this weekend, with barely a hitch to speak of. Superb performances from a fascinating array of artists who appeal to every taste. All that’s left to say is Cheers Rocket, here’s to 20 more!