The intimate and unassuming Dome in Tufnell Park is once again set to host Raw Power Festival; an event during which the expansive and experimental bands that lie within transform this small London venue into a conduit for the world of avant-garde music. From the 27th-29th May; Baba Yaga’s Hut will curate a festival that boasts a Rube Goldberg Techno Machine, the first UK show in twenty years from industrial legends Test Dept. (a band known for trading in instruments for factory scrap metal and machinery) and more art noise bands than can be found within Brian Eno’s reasonably-priced shed.
But as with Raw Power’s spiritual cousin, Birmingham’s Supersonic Festival, the festival is less about the bands you know and more about your new favourite band you’ve never heard of. Sporting the biggest bill they’ve had yet, and an expansion into the Boston Arms pub, it’s hard to recommend missing any bands…so instead here’s a selection of bands you should be getting excited for in an adventurous festival for adventurous people.
Teeth Of The Sea
What a fantastic band to help kick off the festival. I first discovered London’s Teeth of the Sea supporting Saturday’s headliners Melt-Banana, and was immediately taken by their sweeping intricate soundscapes and intense mystic. Throwing together so many components into one song is often a recipe for disaster, but Teeth of the Sea excel in delivering a dynamic sound that is often heavy, often beautiful, often unnerving but always enjoyable. Songs from their excellent Highly Deadly Black Tarantula album are a great example of experimental soundtracks done right – songs that never sacrifice quality songwriting for the expansive bazaar of sounds that lies within. Imagine hearing the coolest and most absorbing soundtracks to hundreds of films you’ve never seen. They are an absolute must see and will most likely leave you wondering where exactly you are.
Teeth Of The Sea’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Teeth-Of-The-Sea-115594505139423/
Sometimes you need a bit of heavy with your psych. The ever-impressive sludge doomsters Slabdragger will be balancing out the roster on Saturday with some disgustingly heavy riffs. This will be a great time to catch new material off the upcoming Rise Of The Dawncrusher which, if the band continue as they have done, has a good chance of making the Dome a derelict health risk by the end of the set. That’s not to say that heaviness is Slabdragger’s only virtue, with a psychedelic flair that distinguishes them from the rest – they are a fitting band to inject some adrenaline into the Saturday. Essentially riffs for days accompanied by condemned marshland heaviness. It will not be dull.
Slabdragger’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Slabdragger/
Japan’s The Piqniq is the perfect example of a hidden gem that you likely would have never heard of outside the festival. A brand new shoegaze band from Japan, this may be an opportunity to see a future hit in embryo. Shoegaze tends to lend itself well to intimate environments, and the Dome could foster just the type of atmosphere to really dig its teeth in. The first songs available to listen to sound promising, but shoegaze tends to flourish as a full set with songs and sounds blurring together – and as such they really are one to watch out for to add some smothering character to the Saturday.
The Piqniq’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/The-piqnic-346412282159781/
With a good chance of being the highlight of the festival, Raw Power are hosting what may be Melt-Banana’s only UK show in 2016. Fresh from supporting Napalm Death & The Melvins on their North American tour, Melt-Banana will take the position they deserve as Saturday night’s headliner. I’ve droned on and on about how inimitable and awe-inspiring they are both on and off record and, with a set list that can surely only benefit from the release of their singles collection Return of 13 Hedgehogs – that habit is unlikely to change. They boast a truly unique and inflammatory sound, and you can expect to be blown away by one of the best live bands on the planet. Boasting a repertoire of bludgeoning grind & noisecore amongst impossibly poppy punk numbers, they’ll soon prove that there are few things as fun, infectious and downright mesmerizing as a Melt-Banana live show. You’ll be seeing one of music’s true originals. You may also see me losing my mind. I really like this band. A lot.
Melt-Banana’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Melt-Banana-192954987398661/
Workin’ Man Noise Unit
Another little-known band making big noise – Reading’s Workin’ Man Noise Unit sound absolutely massive. Appearing early in the Sunday line-up, they could have the opportunity to make plenty of new fans if their sound is as enveloping live as it is on record. Hot off their debut, filled as it is with earth-roots rock riffs surrounded by drowning atmospherics, Workin’ Man Noise Unit may be a great surprise to those arriving early on the Sunday. Perhaps providing a more direct, riff-heavy form of rock, they have the potential to hit hard and hit deep if the crowd can mimic the raw energy on offer.
Workin’ Man Noise Unit’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rdgnoisepunx/
Italy’s STEARICA will be bringing their progressive instrumental meanderings to the Sunday night with steadily building movements that should hit in all the right places. Wielding a prancing rhythm section and meandering guitars; STEARICA have the potential to create an absorbing experience not unlike Teeth Of The Sea. If the sound is good on the night, they very well might run away with the Sunday with their infectious pacing and all-encompassing sound.
STEARICA’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Stearica/
Headlining and closing out the festival on the Sunday are alternative noise/sludge favourites Part Chimp, bringing with them swampy grooves and a direct energy that should leave the festival on an appropriately upbeat and satisfying note. Make no mistake; this band is all the right kinds of heavy, with a basement sound that should leave cracks in the ceiling and a sea of quietly appreciative bobbing heads. Think Electric Wizard crossed with Red Fang and you’ll get a good impression of the cross-genre appeal Part Chimp have, with hopefully a live show that does justice to their dense sound.
Part Chimp’s Website: http://www.partchimp.com/
And there we have it, a brief look at a festival which is assured to be filled with little surprises making big waves. For more of an insight you might also want to check out festival mastermind Anthony Chalmers’ Spotify playlist, which showcases more of the bands on offer at the festival.
If your curiosity is thereby piqued, then you can purchase weekend tickets and view the day splits here.
Make sure you don’t miss out in what looks to be a killer couple of days at one of London’s most interesting and unique festivals. Whatever it is – it won’t be what you expect.