We manage to make it in just in time to catch the final tracks of C4 on the second stage. Sitting within an arch of the old railway platform which lurks above, the narrow area could feel quite claustrophobic but somehow manages to feel more like it is pulling the community together. It is testament to the punters that the entire room is full at mid-afternoon on a Friday and tracks from ‘Chaos Streaks’, and the new single ‘Split Your Skull In Half’, cannon around the room for a glorious start to the day.
On the main stage, Koyo are the first band to really take advantage of Outbreak’s unique (for the scale of the event) no barrier approach. An eclectic band on record, they certainly channel the more ferocious elements of their sound today and playing to the crowd results in a chaotic and joyful reaction to tracks like ‘Straight North’ and the (suitably titled) ‘Anthem’. By the time the band pile into their recent single ‘You’re On The List (Minus One)’, it feels like more people are on the stage and off; this afternoon, Koyo made it clear why Pure Noise Records have snapped them up and their debut album, due later this year, is sure to be an absolute stormer.
Relative supergroup No Pressure are up next and they certainly don’t dumb down the more pop punk elements of their sound to appease any fans of heavier music. Coming across at times like a more frantic, riff-riddled version of Blink-182 their sound also, understandably, mines the catalogues of the respective members ‘parent bands’ such as The Story So Far. The result is a celebratory whip through a massive setlist of bitesize anthems. Following them, Militarie Gun are also up for celebrating with today marking the release of their long-awaited debut album proper ‘Life Under The Gun’; while it might have only hit shelves and streaming platforms this morning, tracks like ‘Do It Faster’ and ‘Very High’ have been drip fed over the past few months and the reaction to these new cuts is as explosive as any of the songs from their earlier EPs.
One Step Closer are surprisingly fresh and spritely given their stint headlining the official Outbreak pre-show at Bread Shed last night and they launch into ‘I Feel So’ with all of the aplomb you’d expect from a band making a welcome return to this festival’s stage. Drawing heavily on last year’s ‘This Place You Know’, it’s great to see the band starting to build up the momentum they’ve always deserved the chance to create.
Since releasing ‘No Sense No Feeling’ back in 2019, High Vis have been a slow-burning success story and their gratitude at the reactions they prompt today is apparent to everyone. Front man Graham Sayle originally hails from Liverpool and he plays on his understanding of making friends in the North West by opening the set with a chaotic thrash through of the Oasis classic ‘Morning Glory’. While many of the weekend’s shoutalongs might surpass the response given, it’s doubtful that there will be many bigger singalongs. As they close with the trio of ‘Out Cold’, ‘The Bastard Inside’ and ‘Trauma Bonds’, it’s hard to see how they won’t be headlining this stage in the next few years.
Which brings us nicely to the day’s main attractions; the legendary duo of Converge and Bane. To call Converge influential would be the under-statement of the year and the crowd bursts into life with the opening riff of ‘Eagles Become Vultures’ and doesn’t let up for the entirety of the set. 2009’s ‘Axe To Fall’ makes up a chunk of the setlist, but their seminal 2001 release ‘Jane Doe’ (referenced on their stage backdrop this evening) is also fairly represented. While the short, sharp shocks across their back catalogue are explosive moments, sending shockwaves rippling throughout the crowd, the true highlight comes in the incredibly rare performance of ‘The Saddest Day’ which closes today’s proceedings. An epic which could arguably be considered the band’s finest moment, it has only been played live around five times in the past decade and the crowd respond with the fervour such a treat demands.
The fact that this moment doesn’t close the evening is testament to the strength and depth of this year’s Outbreak lineup. As Bane bounce onstage looking as spritely as they did when laying the foundations for an entire scene in the late nineties, they are surely one of the few hardcore bands who could follow such a set from Converge without feeling intimidated by the prospect. The setlist features highlights from throughout their catalogue and the frenzy in the pit somehow manages to raise the bar even higher. As the set reaches its explosive climax, it underlines the incredible journey Outbreak Festival is on. Where they go from here is anybody’s