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Live Review: Uprising Festival, O2 Academy, Leicester

Updated: Jun 10

Review and Photos by Sheri Bicheno

Amongst the kickoff for festival season, Leicester's Uprising show every year how a wonderfully put together event is ran - with a dedicated, wholesome and hardworking team at the helm and a line up that gives something to everyone, including their artists playing. I've said this before - the team at Uprising are wonderful and the amount of work that goes into this event, year round, to deliver an inclusive and family feel event is outstanding. This year for me was another special one and though I'll get into that in a bit, the day started first off with continuous streaming sunshine when the weather apps foretold that it would be grotty and wet. The whole weekend kicked off with The Night Before Uprising and with a last minute cancellation from the headliner, the team pulled together and was able to book Hidden Mothers to thankfully step in. I heard amazing things about this day and was sorry to have missed it. *shakes fist at unseen work entity* But if you were there - feel free to share your memories in our comment section!

Saturday 25th May - beautiful morning, up bright and early to swing by London to collect a very good friend who was an integral part of my Breed 77 days back in my early twenties. Soon enough, the doors opened for Uprising and the set out was so much better for Merchandise and access to stages than previous years. Upon arrival, I was greeted by soooo many wonderful people and friendly faces. Today was gonna be a TOTAL mates fest.

We kicked off with the Metal 2 The Masses Leicester final in Academy 2, where four bands absolutely thrashed the stage from the get go for a chance to play Bloodstock Festival this year.

Running With Knives returned from last years M2TM competition and opened the day up with an intoxicating mood of technical riffs and groove infused beats. Newest single Stay Afloat was released last year and I remember this being one of my favourite songs of their set from the last time I saw them. This time had a new kind of energy, with raw and electrifying vibes played harder than ever before with gorgeously heavy breakdowns thrown into the mix.

Second to compete for M2TM was returning Feral State with the first mosh pit of the day! Unhinged hardcore mixed with gnarly punk elements addressing the state in which the world is in today - war, racism, religion and the Tories - these guys are making a stand, loud and clear and do so with old school listening and anger as a driving force. Powerful set!

The third band to compete was a complete surprise to me as I'm not familiar with Independent Trucking but by the Gods, I was mesmerized. These guys may not be vocal but they certainly paint their visions with their music. Stoner doom heavily laced through their post metal vibes, these guys gave me the same rush as when I had first seen Yob. Atmospheric, full of light and dark dreamlike harmonies and chuggy bassnotes coupled with stunning riff work and intricate drumbeats, it's easy to get sucked straight into a vortex of colours and moods. I'll be following these guys closely from now with The Hills Have Allies on loop.

Last to play for the M2TM slot was a slice of pure chaotic hardcore - Break Them from Peterborough have been popping up everywhere and I was a little hyped to see them in the running for a place at Bloodstock. Bringing to Uprising, a sonic assault of groove fuelled gritty riffs and forceful basslines that go hand in hand with some stunning kitwork and facemelting hardcore X guttural style vocals. Delivering a solid set with some filthy beatdowns and angry lyrics, these guys blew the stage to bits.

Soon after, the winners for the Leicester M2TM were announced...and to be honest, I can imagine it was tough as these bands completely set the bar high for the rest of the day... congratulations to Running With Knives! See you at the NewBlood Stage!

For many years, I've seen Leicester's championing Stoner/Doom outfit Mage go from strength to strength and they remain one of my favourite bands of this genre up there with Ten Ton Slug (somebody please get these two on the same bill!). So to see them opening up the main stage full of bludgeoning riffs and myriad groove melodics fills my doom loving heart to the brim.

The stunning atmospherics encapsulate Uprising into a jawdropping vortex of dimensions. Green is a killer example here. The stage is lit in hues of green and the moods here dig right to the centre of your soul. With the announcement of Frazer Hart (Blood Oath) now joining the realms on guitar, this was his debut show with Mage - needless to say, he absolutely smashed it. Bringing his style into the mix gave Mage a further intensity to the stunning melodics they emit.

Back up to Academy 2, Brighton's loveable misfits Tribe of Ghosts brought with them, their input of light and darkness that blend the perception of what heavy music is about. I've followed these guys since the beginning and what they have going, what they are doing is something completely special and dynamic. Though you may call them Industrial, they also have twinges of blackened edges, noise rock, electronic metal and heavy metal - labels that simply cannot put them into a box. Which to be honest, is not where they belong.

Adam and Beccy use their difference in vocal style to work together to deliver intense and amplified power to the dimensions of Tribe of Ghosts. Drummer Danny is a jawdropping drummer - he switches between staggering blast beats and technical ranges that wash over tempos between tracks and shapes with the stunning bassnotes of Ben.

Adam is one of the best technical guitarists of the underground metal community today. All the above is encapsulated perfectly in Sunburner (Deny The Rot) where the dynamics of what Tribe of Ghosts are about are displayed - raw, energetic and full of mesmerising contrasts of light and dark.

Back to the main stage, it's full on party mode and what better way to do this than witness Seething Akira's infectious energy and fun infused unapologetic vibes. These guys are wonderful people and bring nothing but genuinity to the stage with cross overs of hardcore, hip hop and rave metal for everyone to get full submerged into. Something In The Water and Metaphors are both tracks that always gets me moving to these guys and in their live setting, the energy really stands out.

Full of humour, encouraging lyrics and pure feel good vibes, the energy on the stage is second to none - dual vocals from Charlie and Kit inject a diverse sonic assault of rap with the odd brutal scream and chaotic constant bouncing around the stage from all members, encouraging the crowd to jump with them. Insanely good as always.

After a couple hours of interviewing, I'd gone down to catch some of Swiss Prog band Cellar Darling. Though they had a delay, their performance was ethereal - Multi-Instrumentalist Anna has a captivating voice and amongst the beautiful hues on stage, both light and dark moods swirled through the main stage of Uprising.

As part of their Esto Es Brujeria tour, Brujeria donned in masks, littered Uprising main stage with inhuman blast beats, extreme brutality and remorseless energy. Powerful chugging riffs and unforgiving vocals surrounding immigration, feminism and politics form together to collate pure venom and ferocity towards todays society. Raw and full of attitude, filthy riffs and brutal vocals, Brujeria put the crowd into a feral state with the pit going mental. Unforgiving, pure filth.

Back up to the Academy 2, the headliners for second stage were without a doubt one of the highlights of Uprising 7 for me. For 10 years, we've been waiting eagerly for a sign that Gibraltarian metal leviathan Breed 77 will awaken from their slumber and here at Uprising, their first show in a decade unfolds. This is wholesomely sentimental to me for many reasons - without these guys back in the day, I'd not have gotten to do what I do these days.

With them, they bring not just the sun and the unwavering energy they've always delivered but also a whole bunch of faces from 10+ years ago unifying all over again.

Bringing classics back with A Matter of Time it's as if these guys never left. The whole room is brimful of people singing back to the stage and reverberating the energy and excitement to see the guys performing again. The moods are infectious and completely full of nostalgia and heartwarming feelings. New drummer Adam is totally the right fit with Breed 77 - he delivers the tempos perfectly and with so much of his energy fuelled behind the kit, the rush of getting to experience this again is inexplicable. Paul's vocals are completely encapsulating and though i've seen that he did some YouTube videos through lockdown, getting to listen to him live once again is nothing short of killer. He has an outstanding range that flows between beautiful clean singing to earth trembling roars that coincide with the mood that Breed 77 always deliver. Danny and Pedro are phenomenal guitarists - through Worlds On Fire they display the flamenco infused guitaring blended with heavy riffs and stunning melodics to make way for Stuart's immersive backbone of basslines. With the introduction for two new killer songs for their comeback - End of the Line and Outside these showcased a newer and evolved Breed 77... I cannot wait to see what more these guys have in store for the year. Breed 77 are back!!

Last year saw the release of one of my favourite doom bands new album which was named Sky Void of Stars and made one of my top albums of the year - knowing that headliners Katatonia were moments away from playing some of those tracks was an utter treat. In hues of blues and smoke, they delivered a striking melancholic experience from Lethean's and Racing Heart's powerful crafting into the human spirit to the chilled and absorbing elements of Old Heart Falls and Atrium. The guitars of both Anders and Roger are always so immersive, providing the pace for the band and tonight with just one on guitars, was just as captivating. My Twin was a beautiful moment of nostalgia for Katatonia fans with every moment so beautifully orchestrated into an aura of cathartic moods and totally stunning feelings to get lost in. With a stunning ending to wrap up Uprising, the pure energy for Forsaker was heartbreakingly beautiful. I could have cried. This track has always had a special place in my heart and this is the first time seeing it in it's live setting. I got totally lost in Jonas's stunning vocals and the dynamics of the cosmic guitars and solo. Spellbinding. I absolutely fell in love with this set.

Uprising have a special place in my heart - I wont lie. They are a team of wonderful individuals who not only deliver some of what us other events aspire to be but they do so with genuinity and love for what they do and who they do it for. Thank you for having me back, guys.

For ticket to Uprising 8, see below link!


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