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'The undiluted squash of UK math rock': the performer's view of ArcTanGent festival

O'Connell, Joseph ORCID: 2019. 'The undiluted squash of UK math rock': the performer's view of ArcTanGent festival. Riffs 3 (2)

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In its promotional materials ArcTanGent describes itself as ‘the world’s ultimate music festival for the alternative of the alternative.’ August 2017 saw the festival sell out its fifth instalment, attracting five thousand attendees to a farm south of Bristol. Its competitive booking of internationally-recognised acts makes ArcTanGent an unmissable event for fans of math, post, and noise rock, many of whom play in bands and aspire to perform at the festival themselves. In the case of the largely DIY UK math rock scene, this aspiration derives in part from ArcTanGent’s assumption of congressional status among members. Not only does it provide a platform for lesser known bands to promote themselves to an engaged audience, it also presents an opportunity for scene stakeholders from around the country to interact socially and strengthen networks. This article draws upon multiple interviews, primarily with three bands on ArcTanGent’s 2017 line-up, to provide an overview of the ways in which it is perceived by performers within the UK math rock scene. The findings of these interviews expose similarities, but also some notable differences, in each subject’s experience of the festival: the excitement and positivity of ‘novice’ bands contrasts with the limitations and sense of routine felt by ‘veterans.’ The bands’ levels of engagement with the event also serve to demonstrate that in its short period of existence ArcTanGent has become an important pillar in the structure of this underground scene, leading to a sense of community developing among participants. However, in comparing the festival with the everyday there is recognition among bands that it presents a ‘falsified sense’ of their popularity, posing the question of whether ArcTanGent has done more harm than good to the commercial progression of the UK math rock scene; an argument which is currently being played out in the scene’s blogosphere.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Music
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Uncontrolled Keywords: Popular music; math rock; punk; progressive rock; festivals; scenes; communities; genre
ISSN: 2513-8537
Related URLs:
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 3 August 2020
Date of Acceptance: 16 September 2019
Last Modified: 08 May 2023 05:56

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