Saturday 25th January begins a cold and grey day. However, things are heating up over at Belgrave Music Hall. Myself and many other fans of hardcore music are there for Rifffest, a day festival boasting some of the best bands on the scene. The first band to the stage is three-piece ‘99% Cobra’. It’s easy to say that they are unlike any other band you’ve seen before. The word ‘outrageous’ comes to mind but in the best way possible. Robert Kirk (vocals) constantly keeps audiences on their toes. From shoving the microphone in his mouth whilst screaming to rubbing guitars across the stage, nothing seems too crazy for 99% Cobra. They will stop at nothing to be remembered, and it works. Next up is DENSE. Describing themselves as a ‘manic’ live band who play ‘thick fuzz’, DENSE takes the audience back to a scuzzy garage in the 90s. DENSE can be commended as during the set there are a few technical difficulties. For a moment, the power goes out, but they continue playing and keeping up the crowd’s mood, barely even missing a beat.
Dead Naked Hippies switch things up with female vocals. Bursting onto the stage, singer Lucy Jowett captures the crowd. Her fantastic vocals matched with her erratic dancing makes her a force to be reckoned with. Jumping into the crowd, Jowett struts down the catwalk that she has made for herself. Following this is the anticipated set by Calva Louise. Singer Jess Allanic has an excellent voice. They blend summery sounding guitar with metal vocals. Calva Louise would be a compliment to any festival lineup. Leeds’ own Brooders and Rifffest organisers take to the stage in a fashion like no other. They describe themselves as ‘psych grunge’ and they are certainly that. In this set, Brooders introduces me to a type of music that I have never heard before. Is it metal? Is it grunge? Is it psychedelic? No, it’s all at once. Brooders can only be highly commended for their descent into a brave unknown world of new genres.
Just when you think that it can’t get any better, the evening climaxes with the final two acts. Strange Bones bustle onto the stage first. With a pretty big following, it isn’t surprising that the venue at Belgrave is almost filled to the brim. Strange Bones are exactly what they say in the title – strange. It’s Beaver Works meets Slipknot meets Britpop meets Marilyn Manson. Things that probably shouldn’t work together, but do. The mosh pit is spread far and wide and there isn’t a single person in the room who isn’t bobbing their head in time. Apparently, strangeness sells. There is an anticipation in the air as everyone waits for headliners ‘Crows’ to arrive on stage. When they do, they don’t disappoint. Guitar heavy and ready to rock, they keep the morale up and the mosh pits alive and kicking. They churn out some incredible, energy-filled songs. The London based band can only be complimented on not only their instrumentation but their ability to write a catchy rock tune. Ultimately, Crows are a great band to end an exceptional day of live music.