After an eight-year absence from the live music scene, Takedown Festival returned triumphantly as its new home in Portsmouth Guildhall. With five stages both inside and outside the venue, it was a fantastic opportunity to see different genres of music as well as discovering some new favourites too.
When I arrived, after grabbing my pass, I made my way upstairs to the super VIP stage and caught the end of former Reuben frontman, Jamie Lenman’s performance. A great acoustic set, I was looking forward to seeing his main show later in the day on the main stage.
Local favourites, Seething Akira smashed the main stage and packed out the main room, with so many people cheering and singing along as both Kit Conrad and Charlie Bowes ran up and down the stage, energy levels at 100%. It was my first time seeing these guys after following them for a while and it was great to see them in action and in front of a home crowd too!
Outside in the Total Rock Stage, female fronted As December Falls took over the stage and the three-piece had the crowd’s full attention throughout with some impressive vocals and riffs that had me instantly adding their songs to my Spotify playlist!
Other bands on this stage were InMe who I’ve wanted to see for a while and did not disappoint as they paid tribute to the 20th anniversary of their album ‘Overgrown Eden’. I was also lucky enough to catch lead singer Dave’s acoustic set in the VIP lounge where he did an intimate performance of ‘Faster the Chase.’ As this is one of my favourite InME songs, I felt very lucky to witness this live and in this stripped-down state.
Social media sensations, Punk Rock Factory covered some hit well known Disney songs and TV themes, with the audience of all ages singing along. They also went down a treat with some of the passengers waiting on the train platform, next to the venue. My personal favourite was ‘Under the Sea’, as The Little Mermaid is one of my favourite films.
Over the course of the afternoon, I made my way around the other stages. Among the other bands who caught my attention were local groups, Royals and Slackr, both have a pop-punk vibe to them, which I love.
The main stage favourite was Our Hollow Our Home, who were performing with their new line up for the first time. Despite a few technical issues at the start which didn’t phase them, they were brilliant and were one of my top bands of the day.
Still on the main stage, it was almost time for the headliners. But first up were Loathe, a highly anticipated band from Liverpool who had just come back from a tour in the USA. A wildly, energetic experience and another band I’d not heard much of before today.
Finally, it was time for the top billed act, Sleep Token to take the stage. I could feel the energy levels from the crowd behind me as the stage was being set up and I knew I was about to witness something special.
Lights down and the main singer, only known as Vessel, walks onto the middle of the stage. The isolated vocals for the beginning of ‘Chokehold’ instantly gave me goosebumps and before I knew it, we were onto a crowd favourite ‘The Summoning’. Each song is full of theatrical movements from the band and emotive vocals. Performing in intricate masks and robes, they let their songs speak for themselves.
It was the first time I’d seen them live though I have been a fan of them for a few years. The set was beautifully executed with both their stage design and performers.
I went home exhausted but still on a high from the day. A fantastic independently run festival which has firmly rooted itself on the calendar for local music events. If you’re a fan of the heavier side of music, then Takedown Festival will not be one to miss next year when it returns across two days. Which means more bands and more stages! I can’t wait to see who they have for the line up in 2024, early bird tickets are already on sale!
Words and Photos: Hannah Victoria Kenyon