When I first e-mailed Albert about covering Chimpy Fest for Decibel he said something that a lot of you are probably thinking: “What the fuck is ‘Chimpy Fest’?” Chimpy Fest is an annual grindcore/powerviolence festival held in the southeast of London since 2013. For the past few years, the lineup has featured a grindcore enthusiast’s wet dream of bands including bands such as Warfuck, The Arson Project, Afternoon Gentleman and many more. Being that this year’s lineup included several bands I had covered in this very column this past year, I decided it was my duty to finally make the trek across the pond and attend. What follows is a brief account of my experience attending Chimpyfest 2019 and all the associated madness I experienced over the weekend in London.
After literally prying myself out of bed and feeling zombified due to jet lag, I managed to drag myself to the venue in time to see the lads from Ona Snop kick off what was going to be a long weekend with their unique brand of mischievous “partyviolence.” Ona are from Leeds, a city three hours bus ride from London, but one that made its presence felt throughout the weekend as I met countless people who had made the trek just to attend Chimpy. Leeds is also home to its own grindcore festival, Dread Fest, which is held every March and features bands of the same caliber as Chimpy.
Up next were Controlled Existence, a Blast Worship favorite, and as soon as their drummer started warming up I knew I was in for some serious, big boy-styles Euro-grind. And deliver they did. Following that was probably the band I was most excited to see out the whole lineup, France’s Whoresnation. I cannot even begin to describe how amazing it was to see this band live. The tightness, the precision, the clarity — it was all there. They ended their set with a cover of Insect Warfare’s “Human Trafficking” and I moshed so hard that a guy in a Terrorizer shirt asked me if I was ok and all I could muster was “I don’t know.”
Feasten then brought some of their HM-2 Finnish madness to the stage. My favorite moment of their set was before a song the vocalist asked if anyone had seen the youtube video of the guy singing along to “Enter Sandman” and vomiting on himself and it was very clear no one had. They then played a song that had a brief two second long pause in the middle and the singer in the most deadpan tone just said “It’s a really funny video, you should definitely watch it” and then the band without missing a beat went right back into a blast beat. Comedy gold.
Dropdead where then slated to headline the night but the crowd moshed so incredibly hard that the on-stage electricity stopped working and the band had to cut their set short. How fucking punk rock is that shit? I also want to give a quick shout-out to Mensvretters, a south African horrorcore rap group who played following Dropdead’s abbreviated set. They managed to combine elements of Insane Clown Posse and Gwar into something truly bizarre and memorable and they used a tremendous amount of fake semen to do so.
After a harrowing morning spent in the Imperial War Museum with my friend Jazz, we quickly returned to the venue for an evening of more blast beats. Sick of Stupidity brought an absolute hellacious onslaught of pure speed-grind that was somehow even more impressive than when I saw them two years ago at Maryland Deathfest. Gets Worse from Leeds brought the caveman riffs, this band is so groovy and sounds so much like Weekend Nachos that I am genuinely surprised why they don’t have a bigger following here in America. Their lead guitarist played the entire set in his underwear and that really was emblematic of the “fuck you” vibe that the band gives off.
L.A.’s BruceXCampbell were next and their bass player started off the set by shouting to the crowd “YOU GUYS DRIVE ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE FUCKING ROAD!” — something I had been thinking to myself all weekend. They were definitely the band with the most death metal influence to perform the whole weekend and you could tell the crowd really appreciated it.
Next up were Germany’s Yacøpsæ, who are the pinnacle fastcore band. The vocalist’s rasp really punctuates in the live setting and when they played “Frost” I got chills (PUN INTENDED). Dropdead were allowed to play another set due to the mishap from the night before, and if their first set hadn’t given me a concussion, then their second one gave me CTE. Endless stage-diving punctuated by the vocalist’s vicious and timely political diatribes. Seems that punks in both the U.K and the U.S. have a lot to be pissed about these days.
Going into Sunday I knew I was gonna have to pop out of the fest a bit just so I could watch the internet stream of my beloved New York Jets lose to the Buffalo Bills, so my attention at first felt very divided, but Day 3 actually probably ended up being my favorite of the fest.
Suffering Quota’s set really blew me away. For 4:30 on a Sunday afternoon, these guys brought the energy and execution that you ask for in a grind performance. Their singer even ended by whipping himself with his own belt on stage. Fucking brutal.
Another Blast Worship favorite, Entrails Massacre, graced the Sunday stage and managed to enchant the weary crowd with their Noisear-brand of sci-fi skronk. Then came L.A.’s Trappist (featuring our own No Corporate Beer columnist Chris Dodge), easily the funniest band of the fest, doing spontaneous covers of everything from “Wonderwall” to “Raining Blood” and just generally not giving a fuck at all.
Finally, Despise You closed out the fest. I have seen this band live now three times, and every time I have seen them it has re-affirmed my faith in hardcore. Sunday’s set was by far the best, I don’t think I have ever truly enjoyed being in the pit as much as I did for those wonderful, life-affirming 30 minutes. Truly spectacular.
My experience as a whole attending this fest for the first time was truly amazing and littered with some of the most colorful characters I have ever met in my life: a gigantic, Nordic looking crust punk named Gino, Matt the street punk who limbo danced to every band’s set, the dude’s in Ona Snop drinking boxed wine in an old London telephone booth and the countless other wonderful people who made the fest what it was. Perhaps my favorite part was how one of the organizers of the fest himself, Tony, could often be found up front in the heat of the pit, moshing as if he were any other fan. That experience really encapsulates what Chimpy is all about: having fun and not giving a fuck. See you all next year.
Photo credit: No Filters Ever