Due to a few cancellations Northcote 2015 started 15 minutes later than planned. Cold Mind became the new opener. Their vocalist seemed to have had a rough Saturday night as he struggled through their set which, don’t get me wrong, was pretty decent. For the crowd it was a Sunday afternoon too. Although the attendance was pretty good considering the early hour, most people were pretty static. The first ones to get the crowd moving were the riff masters in Pulse. Their usual vocalist couldn’t make it to the festival and had to be replaced. That sure as hell didn’t stop them from transforming the Power Stage into a warzone. Was it because they had brought their Belgian mosh crew? Or was it the eagerness of Deathtrap’s frontman to hit the pit right after he played for a somewhat unsatisfactory crowd? What’s for sure is that Pulse provided Northcote 2015 with a first highlight.
The afternoon was packed with lots of promising Dutch bands. Bands who know their history, judging from the amount of covers we heard. Punk chick Louisa from Rites considered herself just a ‘Minor Threat’, Deathtrap got the ‘Wolverine Blues’ and Tarantino were “Ready to Fight” but the award for best cover song goes out to Backbreaker and their vicious cover of Ceremony’s ‘Open Head’.
On the 5th of December the Dutch traditionally celebrate the holiday of “Sinterklaas”, but it was it had a clear aftermath on this Sunday. For the occasion the girls from “Taarten van Jansen” baked a special Ginger-Edge-Men, a little gingerbread men with X-ed up hands. Those who didn’t get any gifts were able to treat themselves to some reasonably priced records from one of the various distros at the festival market. Therefore Northcote was a great occasion to celebrate “Sinterklaas”, provided you omit the character of “Zwarte Piet”. This caricature of a black servant is increasingly considered racist. Tarantino dedicated their song ‘Free Speech (For The Dumb)’ to those who still support this racial stereotype.
When Lotus started playing, most of the crowd stood in the back of the venue. This was not how their vocalist wanted to see it. Instead of asking to move up like most previous bands had done, he dominantly ordered everyone to get in front of the stage. “This is not a beatdown show, you won’t get hit,” he said. When the crowd didn’t obey as easily as he had hoped, frontman Jelle got angry. His tantrum seamlessly went over in the next song and a few people decided that maybe they should move up after all. Jelle performed among the crowd ferociously spitting his heartfelt lyrics in the faces of the people up front. The brave were rewarded with the most impressive set of the day.
Being one of the only punk bands at a hardcore festival is no walk in the park. Take for example The Uprising. This self-declared street punk band hailing from Berlin is currently touring with Such Gold and started their set in an almost empty venue. They were aware of the fact that they were misfits among the other bands but nevertheless felt at home. When they asked the audience whether they were welcome at a hardcore festival, the response was affirmative. After watching the whole set, we seriously doubt the sincerity of the crowd’s answer.
Vitamin X’s members may be a little old to be considered a youth crew band in a strict sense but they still sound as fresh as if it’s still 1999. These Dutch straight edge legends premiered some tracks from their upcoming LP which seems something to look forward to. The meagre response from the crowd didn’t stop Vitamin X from having a lot of fun on stage, something which cannot be said for every band on the line up.
Wolf Down absolutely killed it, closing down the Legends Arising Stage. Vocalist Dave has proven himself a worthy successor for Larissa. The charismatic singer had the crowd in the palm of his hand. He successfully broke up a fight in the audience without even having to stop singing. As usual, Wolf Down used the time in between songs to transmit their political message. They paid tribute to their imprisoned or killed “comrades” and condemned animal exploitation. Because of the line-up change, Wolf Down is now an all-male band. The crowd at Northcote provided counterweight for the testosterone on stage though. A bunch of diehard female fans moshed way harder than the guys in the audience and demonstrated that hardcore is not just boys’ fun. A pile up during ‘Stray from the Path’ served as the apotheosis of a hardcore set as it should be.
When Such Gold entered the stage, it became clear that Wolf Down had been the real headliner of the festival. Some folks had already gone home; most others considered Such Gold some kind of aftershow to end a long day. Nevertheless, the band played professional and with full enthusiasm. Such Gold praised Northcote for putting together a line-up full of great European bands which they thought people in The States would love. We totally agree. Unlike the previous edition, Northcote 2015 lacked really popular bands to attract a lot of people. But those who were present had the opportunity to check out no less than 19 bands and get a pretty good impression of what is happening today in European hardcore. The absentees were wrong.
Written by Wannes Dewanckel
Photos by Nous Davidse