This was a first time at Wildfire (formerly LesFest) for myself (Mosh) and Sean. The three articles covering the long weekend are a combined effort between the two of us. Sean got to enjoy the majority of the weekend including camping, whereas I made four return trips due to family reasons. At least I had a comfy bed each night!
Before we launch into the band coverage, we’d both like to offer sincere thanks to Dave, all the crew and all the bands for a great weekend. Wildfire is a superb little festival with a great atmosphere and in a lovely location. My wife has asked me to emphasise how child-friendly it is as well. Indeed there were a fair few junior metalheads there from the months-old to the early schoolers. Dogs are also welcome! We’re planning on getting one of the cabins next year and staying with the kids and the pooch.
Photos of all the bands can be found in this large Flickr collection which will be added to over the next week or so as more pictures come in!
[Mosh] Crimes of Passion opened a little late on the Friday courtesy of one drop-off from the Friday line-up. The delay didn’t dampen spirits, though, and it was good to see an opening band get a well-deserved warm welcome from the fledgling crowd who’d arrived early on. Definitely worth the drive up from Sheffield, and I hope they have luck with the new material they’ve spent the last year working on!
[Sean] Crimes of Passion (7/10) – The opening band of the weekend! Crimes of Passion were certainly a great start bringing their powerful brand of heavy rock to a typical drab Scottish morning. Unfortunately for them it was rather early in the festival’s beginnings and as a result there were only a few rockers onsite (with more arriving later in the day). However they rocked it and managed to warm up the early arrivals for the rest of the day with a great performance.
[Mosh] Next up on the first day’s single stage were Kaine who, frankly, blew us away. With their self-confessed homage to the NWOBHM, they’re a simple out and out metal band with a ton of energy. They had the growing crowd cheering between each song and definitely strode off having made some new fans – my 7-year old son amongst them. A huge thanks to Chris from the band for taking the time to talk to Austin afterwards and signing a drumstick for him!
[Sean] Kaine (9/10) – If Crimes of Passion hadn’t warmed up the crowd, Kaine certainly did! Still early on in the day with many more arrivals on the way, the crowd had increased in size between the first two bands, and Kaine certainly brought the fire with their heavy metal attack. The biggest comparison to make with Kaine’s style is to that of Iron Maiden – 3 guitars? Catchy melodies? High energy performance? It was all there. With great musicianship, harmonies aplenty (guitar and vocals in 2 part, 3 part and unison harmonies), and a rousing racket of modern NWOBHM-esque metal, Kaine smashed it early on in the weekend. Look out for these guys in the future – I certainly will be.
[Mosh] Worcester’s Ronin were third on the bill and are another young band, their combined age probably barely reaching my own. Gits. A lack of years doe not mean a lack of talent – something very apparent from many of the bands we saw over the three days – and Ronin, frankly, smashed it. Somehow managing to give an even more energetic performance than Kaine before them, they take their live show from the Airbourne Bag O’ Tricks with singer/guitarist Kit beginning the set at the back of the crowd before belting forwards to join his mates on stage. From speaking to them afterwards (interview up shortly), this short set was comparatively tame. Ronin are without a doubt a band to keep en eye out for, and one I’ll definitely be up to seeing should they pass this way again.
[Sean] Ronin (8/10) – Energetic performances is certainly a theme among the bands playing Wildfire over the weekend, especially with the next band – Ronin. Beginning their set with the frontman rocking out in the middle of the crowd (he would make a return later on), Ronin brought crowd engagement to the next level. Throughout Ronin’s set I was finding it increasingly difficult to pigeonhole their sound – it’s all clearly rooted in rock but there’s heavier moments, lighter moments and more in their unique sound. Including a cover of “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child, further clouded the clarification of Ronin’s sound with it’s heavy take on the R ‘n’ B chart-topper. Still, kudos to the guys – they made Beyoncé rock ‘n’ roll and smashed their performance. Definitely a band to look out for in the future.
[Mosh] Knock Out Kaine (I’m assuming not named due to an argument with an earlier band on the bill) were one of the few bands I’d seen before, opening for Love/Hate a couple of years back at Bannerman’s. I recall enjoying them then, and today’s slot was no less impressive. Playing a heavy rock sound with an edge of glam/sleaze, they’re very much entertainers with a bunch of good tunes to pick from. They also seem to be on the road constantly so if you couldn’t make it to Wildfire then you’re sure to get a chance elsewhere!
[Sean] Knock Out Kaine (8/10) – Following the modern mash-up in Ronin was the more straight-up hard rock of Knock Out Kaine. With a slightly more glam image in tow, KOK brought their own brand of charisma and crowd banter – expressing confusion at previous Wildfire festivals (under the old moniker of Les-Fest) as some gathering of frolicking females? I’m sure many others out their feel the disappointment, however surely a weekend of great rock and metal is surely miles better? Knock Out Kaine brought a great afternoon performance with their good time rock ‘n’ roll laced with bluesy moments and the token country song thrown in mid-set. Good fun all round.
[Sean] Fahran (7/10) – Getting a little heavier over teatime was Fahran with their heavy rock sound. I must admit I missed a portion of Fahran’s performance but what I did manage to catch was good display of their heavy talent with melodic vocal overtones.
[Sean] Tysondog (9/10) – I was really eager to see these guys having heard about them but never taken the opportunity to discover their music. Better late than never as they say! I was blown away with Tysondog’s high velocity NWOBHM sound. The riffs were catchy, the performance was energetic and the band had great stage presence. Overall, really good fun – I headbanged in every song despite not knowing them! I immediately had to pick up one of their records afterwards (expect a review in the near future), with the other albums soon to follow in my collection when I have more money. Simply put, Tysondog are a great heavy metal band – fast, loud, catchy and fun. They’ve definitely earned a new fan – check them out, you won’t regret it!
[Sean] The Burning Crows (8/10) – Scaling back the heavy for a moment was The Burning Crows. More reminiscent of a good old fashioned classic rock band, The Burning Crows brought an AC/DC-esque sound with their open chord based rock ‘n’ roll. The vocals had a melodic overtone with a nice dose of grit underneath. The Burning Crows brought more fun and catchy rock over teatime with great crowd banter, singalongs and more.
[Sean] Holocaust (8/10) – Another band I was really keen to see, however I missed half of their set due to grabbing an interview with Tysondog. When did make it back to the marquee to catch Holocaust I definitely made up for lost time. Scottish veterans of the early 80’s NWOBHM scene, it’s rather shameful to say I wasn’t a fan before. There was definitely a few Holocaust fans at Wildfire that night as there were plenty of their t-shirts floating around and the majority of the crowd rocking out to their heavy performance and singing along to anthems like “Heavy Metal Mania” – “I’ve got heavy metal music in my blood!”
A home-grown war cry for many a denim and leather-clad headbanger to live by indeed – it’s certainly my new anthem.
[Sean] Tygers of Pan Tang (9/10) – Bringing Friday night to it’s conclusion was another group of NWOBHM legends. There was definitely a lot of people there to see the Tygers as the main stage tent was completely packed! The crowd were loving every minute of the Tygers performance with singalongs and chants throughout the set. Rocking out to Tygers classics from their early 80s heyday records Wildcat and Spellbound to their latest release Ambush, the crowd went wild and so did the band, with their energetic performance and epic shredding – seriously some of the best lead guitar playing I witnessed over the weekend. One thing I got from the awesome experience that was Wildfire, though particularly on the Friday, was that even though the heights of NWOBHM are topped by the forever reigning kings Iron Maiden, followed by Saxon (albeit at a much more accessible level), some truly underrated gems of the scene who should have made it to the top in the first place are to be found rocking out at these smaller festivals. Bands like the Tygers of Pan Tang, Holocaust, Tysondog and newcomers interpreting the style like Kaine are truly awesome and hopefully we can see them rising to the heights they deserve in the future.