12 reasons why Breaking Bands Festival, 2016 was the place to start your festival season… (and why you should buy a ticket for 2017).
Photos and words by Will Tudor.
If I’m honest, I’ve not been to TBFM’s festival offering before, so wasn’t exactly sure what to expect – but I have been to this venue before, which is important, because I’ve come to expect certain things from this venue. The ‘bar’, for me, has been set by Beermageddon (which is my spiritual home to end the summer festival season) – and I’ll be the first to say, they set it pretty high. Could TBFM step up to the plate and compete?
The answer, simply put, is yes. Whilst the festival here at the end of August is akin to a staging platform for Bloodstock, Breaking Bands is more like a precursor to Download. With a variety of bands and sub-genres, it’s a bit less heavy. So, with that in mind, instead of boring everyone to the verge of tears with the technical intricacies of each band’s performance, I figured it’d be simpler if I gave a list of why Breaking Bands Festival is the start to your festival season:
- Venue. As I touched on earlier, the venue at Stoke Prior Sports Club is just about perfect for an underground festival. With a capacity of around 500, there’s camping by your car, different zones depending on your level of partying ability, hot showers, a nearby pub and other amenities for the festival-goer who may have forgotten something.
- Food. It’s not overpriced! One of my favourite festival eateries Deli-Kate is on hand to provide quality grub that won’t break a wallet, or a band (see what I did there), or anything close to it. There’s other options as well, from baked potatoes with some fantastic fillings to burgers and chips, or the pub across the bridge if you fancy something a bit more substantial.
- Drinks. The bar is actually reasonably priced with the vast majority of drinks £3 or under, and plenty of choices. I don’t really think I need to say much else.
- Price. Early Bird tickets (which just expired) start at £20, and are now currently £30. For a weekend full of some of the best music you’ve probably never heard of, it’s a steal.
- Entertainment. There are a lot of the bigger festivals that can pull in all kinds of gimmicks to entertain the masses in between bands or if there’s nothing worth watching (a problem which Breaking Bands Festival doesn’t have). Here it’s simple. In between bands on the main stage, they have an acoustic tent, which opens up to the area between the food stalls and the venue itself. Trust me when I tell you this, there’s not much better than listening to a band like Resin perform a killer acoustic set whilst sitting in the bank holiday sun and catching your breath in between bands. If that’s not for you, how about a go on the mechanical bull. That or just mingle with bands and fans alike.
- The Bands. This festival throws you the cream of unsigned bands. The Festival’s tag-line is “discover your new favourite band”, and they definitely keep their promise. I walked away from the weekend with a head full of fantastic bands who all put in, if not the performances of their lives, pretty damn close. If you’re looking for a list of who did well, or who did what, you’re going to be disappointed as this isn’t what this is about. They were all exceptional. Without question. I’ll put the festival line-up toward the end of this, but I can promise you this, every single band that performed over the course of the weekend was worth the admission fee by themselves.
- Commitment. There’s a lot to say here. When you have an organisation that receives hundreds, if not thousands of band applications – it’s got to be hard to put together a bill of any kind of quality. However, the folks at TBFM do their homework. They actually go and check out the bands they put on their bill. Then you have the bands. When you have a band like Evil Masquerade who come from Denmark to Headline and their van breaks down in Dover, what do you expect to happen? How many bands do you think would pull out? Probably close to all of them. Nope. Not these guys. They took a taxi. Yeah, that’s right, a taxi from Dover to Bromsgrove. With a new lead singer that’s only had 3 rehearsals. How many bands give you that level of commitment? Not many. Why? Because they understand how important this festival is to the future of Heavy Metal not only here in the UK, but across Europe.
- Attitude. Everyone involved in the weekend cares, and that comes across. The number of fans and bands alike that said they’d be back reflected in the 100+ tickets sold for next year’s event within 3 days of the festival closing. If you want to go to a festival and actually feel like you’re a part of it, this is the place for you. There’s no pretence here. There’s no VIP area. No segregation. None of the things that can make the average festival goer feel less than equal. The bands mix with the fans, vendors, press and organisers. I’m not saying every festival should be this way, because – well, logistically it’s impossible. But they’ve figured out that there’s no room for that here. And good shout too.
- Stage times. Let’s be honest, nobody wants to get up at 9 in the morning, walk 3 hours in the mud and rain and spend half the day hungover waiting to watch half a set of a band they want to see, and then walk another hour to catch the tail-end of another band they want to see. Stage times start at 6pm on the Friday and around noon for the subsequent days. Each band gets an equal crack (with the obvious exception of headliners who get a bit longer – duh) and there’s stuff to do in between, which I alluded to earlier.
- Accessibility. Breaking Bands Festival is accessible to everyone. I saw kids. I saw people in wheelchairs. I saw a blind dude. I saw people of all shapes, sizes, creed, colour, style and taste in attendance. There’s no exclusivity here. It’s all about the music… And I’m all for it.
- Diversity. There’s something for everyone here. Like I said, While Beermageddon is a precursor to Bloodstock, this is more like the bands you’re likely to find at Donington Park in June in the future.
- Atmosphere. Talk about laid back. It’s like a family environment and over the entire weekend, there wasn’t a whiff of trouble. No overbearing security guards, no police, no hassles. Essentially, it’s a big fuck-off party full of like minded people. But even the locals who, while this kind of music may not necessarily be their cup of tea, are allowed to use the bar and were all, without exception, courteous, respectful and pleasant.
So if you’re not sold that 26 bands on a stage, an acoustic stage, excellent affordable food and drink, amazing people, the future of Heavy Metal all wrapped up in a nice little bow, where you can camp by your car is for you, then I offer you this… Breaking Bands 2017 should have a second stage outdoors next year. Bringing you more bands, more music and well, just more for your money.
While there are festivals falling off the map left and right, for reasons that could be debated in forums for an eternity, the folks at TBFM have the formula nailed. Keep the prices down, keep the fans happy. You don’t need big flashy gimmicks if you’ve got great music and great people – and this place has it all. I fully hope and expect to see the place heaving next year. You couldn’t keep me away.
If Beermageddon is the perfect way to end the summer, this is the perfect way to start it. This little venue right off Junction 5 of the M5 has become the perfect “Bookends” for anyone’s festival season, for what I hope, will be many years to come.
Who’d have thought Bromsgrove would become the home of the future of heavy metal?!?!
The organisers, scouts, bands, DJ’s, Compaire’s, Tech’s lighting guys and well, everyone involved should be proud of what they’ve accomplished here. Cheers guys – that was a blinding weekend.
As promised, the festival line-up for anyone who was wondering if they should’ve gone:
Friday [full photo set here]:
- Reign of Fury
- Wretched Toad
- Left for Red
Saturday [full photo set here]:
- Evil Masquerade
- Trucker Diablo
- Chasing Dragons
- Cadence Noir
- Black Star Bullet
- Crash in Clouds
Sunday [full photo set here]:
- Parkin’ Lot (Covers band – closing out with a party)
- Blaze Bayley
- Welcome Back Delta
- Hell’s Addiction
- Thunderfuck & The Deadly Romantics
- A Jokers Rage
- A Tower of Crows
- Kill All The Gentlemen