Wildfire Festival in review: Saturday

[avatar user=”Mosh” size=”50″ align=”left” /][avatar user=”Sean” size=”50″ align=”left” /]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!

Day two and the weather threw us a surprise by looking much nicer… until the heavy drizzle later on. Sneaky weather. We arrived just in time to catch openers The Idol Dead who did their best – successfully – to get a hungover crowd rocking at the ungodly hour of 11am on a Saturday. With a decent crowd making a showing – partly, I’m sure, down to the family-friendly format of Wildfire and thus some people who didn’t over-imbibe the night before! – the Leeds-based five-piece simply tore the place up as if someone had lifted a thirty minute segment from a much longer set. The crowd may have needed a bit of a kick-start, The Idol Dead certainly didn’t.

[Sean] The Idol Dead (8/10) – Waking us after Friday night’s NWOBHM party with the Tygers of Pan Tang was the Idol Dead. Bringing something a little different to the table with their upbeat pop punk style, The Idol Dead brought a catchy and energetic uplift to the morning and set us all up right for the rest of the day. Proof the crowd still had plenty of vocal muscle to last the weekend, The Idol Dead got us all shouting along to their brand of fun pop punk.

Death Valley Knights travelled all the way from London to lay down some heavy sounds during their main stage set, and they certainly did not look travel weary. Positively bullying the crowd into shaking off the last dregs of dehydration (or into necking some more paracetamol), they laid the groundwork for what was to be a pretty heavy day music-wise.

[Sean] Death Valley Knights (7/10) – Bringing the heavy back to lunchtime was Death Valley Knights. With a meaty sound and driving power chord-based metal, Death Valley Knights provided a good dose of energy to get the late risers going, especially with their good crowd interaction.

Today introduced the second marquee so we spent time running back and forth between them as times inevitably ended up clashing slightly. Thankfully, they were only about 100 yards apart, so it was perfectly viable to watch one band for a while then wander to the other tent without missing much more than half a song. Try that at Download…

Over at the Cack Blabbath stage, The Rising Souls played a more laid back set, with a sound that played heavily on the “Souls” from their name. A simple set up from this three-piece saw them armed with guitar, bass and a box. Percussion was handled with an old-fashioned wooden box, and some bells. And it worked brilliantly. Slow, bluesy and definitely what some of the crowd needed if they couldn’t handle the pace over on the main stage!

Like a tennis ball from the forthcoming Wimbledon, we bounced back to the main stage again in time for Line of Fire hitting the stage. Another of the few bands I’d seen before (supporting Lawnmower Deth in Nottingham 18 months back), Line of Fire have built themselves quite the reputation from near-constant gigging. Their blend of slow near-sludge stoner rock with the occasional flurry of mad thrashing is surprisingly addictive with a good mix of longer and shorter tracks.

[Sean] Line of Fire (8/10) – Next up was Line of Fire who brought some variety to the afternoon with their mixed sound. Like Ronin, I found it difficult to pigeonhole Line of Fire – there was stoner/doom moments seamlessly blending into faster thrash riffs and more. Some of the songs were long, and with a lot of changes in tempo and style, but Line of Fire never failed to keep my attention. They had bags of heaviness and certainly got my head moving throughout their set.

The second stage was graced with the presence of Pteroglyph, another band from Leeds. Their heavy prog output was well performed and they gathered a pretty impressive crowd in the warm weather. Over on the main stage, Promethium were promoted from the smaller marquee to fill the gap left by Re-Animator’s unfortunate cancellation. Self-described simply as “metal” they lived up to the billing and did a worthy job of stepping up.

[Sean] Pteroglyph (8/10) – Showcasing another musical mixed bag was Pteroglyph. One of the heaviest bands of the weekend, Pteroglyph brought a modern sound with talented shredding and awesome musicianship aplenty. There were very heavy moments, a combination of aggressive vocals and clean singing, syncopated riffing and time signature trickery – lots for the fellow musicians in the crowd to sink their teeth into. Ending on a cover of Metallica’s “Master of Puppets”, Pteroglyph certainly got their audience worked up for the rest of what Saturday’s Wildfire had to offer.

Courtesy of running off to deposit children back home, my wife and I had to skip a few bands, but Sean saw most of them…

[Sean] Solitary (7/10) – The first full-on thrash band of the weekend! I unfortunately missed half of their set since I accompanied Mosh on his interview with Line of Fire at the time, however what I did see was some good-quality thrash to headbang  to on a fine Saturday afternoon. Solitary were fast, heavy and shouty, simple and straight to the point – what more do you need in a thrash band?

[Sean] Mason Hill (8/10) – I was quite looking forward to seeing Mason Hill as I had seen them supporting Attica Rage in Glasgow in the past. Mason Hill provided a welcome contrast to some of the heaviness with their brand of accessible rock. They had plenty to offer showcasing a mix of classic and modern influence with plenty of power chord riffing, arpeggio stylings as well as a melodic side. As a live act, Mason Hill were certainly great at working up the crowd with classic clap-alongs  and more. Throughout Mason Hill’s set, there was something about them that reminded me of the Foo Fighters – I can’t remember why but I don’t that’s a bad thing at all. Definitely a great home-grown rock band to look out for.

[Sean] Die No More – Unfortunately I only managed to catch one song from these guys so I won’t be able to give much in the way of a review for them. I’m sure they rocked their set though and I’ll need to catch them another time.

[Sean] Anihilated (9/10) – One of my most anticipated bands of the weekend! I’ve been into Anihilated for a few years now and didn’t think I’d get the chance to see them. I was hoping to pick up their first two records from back in the day – Created in Hate and The Ultimate Desecration – however they weren’t available so I’ll have to track them down online somehow! Anihilated brought their brand of old-skool punky UK thrash to Scotland for the first time with plenty of energy and aggression. They had my head banging in every song – I wish they could have had a longer set! Anihilated smashed their set at Wildfire and I hope they come back to Scotland sooner rather than later so I can thrash some more.

[Sean] Max Raptor (7/10) – Bringing more punk to the weekend was rising stars Max Raptor. Their simple power chord style with catchy melodies chock full of crowd stirring “Whoa-ohs” certainly proved favourable with the crowd.

[Sean] I.C.O.N (8/10) – Closing up the second stage over teatime was I.C.O.N. with their brand of straight-up no-nonsense heavy metal. With a chunky tone and great crowd interaction, I.C.O.N’s brand of heavy, from more upbeat punky ideas to slower Black Sabbath-esque moments, went down a treat with the crowd.

Thanks, Sean! Back again, we spent a wonderful half hour nattering to Lawnmower Deth before Lord Volture – one of the very small number of non-British bands on the bill – erupted onto the main stage in a blaze of metal. Not straying from the well-trodden path of traditional heavy metal, they served up a very enjoyable half hour or so of the kind of music they used to make back in the day. Loud, triumphant and glorious. Top notch.

Salem were next up with a more relaxed hard rock sound, somewhat along the lines of Thunder and – dare I say it – every bit as polished and fun as that band. Their set was hugely entertaining, and one song in particular had the hairs up on the back of my neck – “Break the Chains”. We had a quick word with Paul Macnamara from the band afterwards and he told us it was the first time they’d played it live. They’d only recently decided to include it in the set. I’m truly glad they did.

[Sean] Salem (8/10) – Bringing some more NWOBHM to the festival was Salem. Yet another underrated band who have definitely won a new fan in myself after their stellar performance at Wildfire. Salem’s catchy and energetic style of rock and metal was a welcome sound to my ears as the evening went on. The riffs were great and could easily stand alongside Iron Maiden and Saxon in my book. Equally so could the powerful vocals. The band had great charisma and stage presence which certainly got the crowd rocking into the night.

The highly-rated Empire followed, but I confess were a little disappointing. Their overall sound was good, but the singer spent a lot of the set addressing the back or sides of the stage instead of engaging the audience. He also had a habit of moving the mic far too far from his mouth so the vocals were lost to all but the fans who were against the barrier. Having checked the band out when I got home, this is a hell of a shame because the guy can’t half sing… but on the day I have a feeling we just didn’t see Empire at their best.

[Sean] Empire (6/10) – Following  Salem was the only band of the weekend I found a little difficult to take in. Musically Empire’s brand of modern rock with plenty of different styles laced throughout the sound was on point, but the performance was somewhat lacking in some respects. The band overall didn’t make much engagement with the crowd but the letdown was mainly the singer. The general concensus was that he was recovering somewhat from the previous night – he talked a lot of gibberish between songs, got the name of the festival wrong, rarely even looked at the crowd during the performance and overall had a pretty dreadful mic technique (constantly pulling the microphone away from his mouth at arm’s length resulting in the crowd not hearing a word he was singing). It’s a shame really because the music was good and the singer was hitting the right notes, some notably high, but his antics spoiled what would otherwise have been an overall good performance. Kudos goes to the bassist for trying to save the performance by playing and singing really well, as well as engaging with the crowd. Every time he turned round to look at the singer I got a sense of concern from the bassist’s facial expression – not a good sign for Empire. It was a little bit embarrassing to watch. I’m sure that next time they return to Scotland Empire will be firing on all cylinders but their Saturday night performance at Wildfire could have been better.

My personal festival headliners ambled casually on stage at 9:20 to a backing track of The Muppets theme. Lawnmower Deth playing their first Scottish date in nigh on 25 years and I am so glad I was there to witness it. Looking around, a noticeable number of the audience were likely not alive when the band last came to town. With only a limited time on stage, the band’s trademark short-length songs probably gave them the largest set list of any act over the weekend. Sixteen were listed on their paperwork, but I think they ended up sneaking another one on there.

As unprofessional as ever, somehow watching five drunk men act like arses and play songs that really weren’t that funny thirty years ago when they came out is still an incredibly enjoyable way to spend an evening. Even when you yourself are sober. Yes, I wish I was younger and that stagediving was somewhat more a realistic proposition but watching Lawnmower Deth is like watching Bottom Live, but with better music. They’re politically incorrect and don’t care.

Before the set was even halfway through, they’d sparked off the first genuine pit of the weekend – one which lasted for the remainder of the gig. A gig that had only one fault and that was being far too short.

Now, pretty much every band of the weekend could have played for longer, and I’d have watched them do so. The difference with Lawnmower Deth is that I’ve seen them play a full ninety minutes a couple of times so I know what a full-on show from them is like and this was never going to match that. However, they still crammed more fun for the audience into thirty minutes than far too many other bands can manage in ninety or more. Not one single person in that marquee failed to crack a grin and they received the biggest cheer of the weekend when they both arrived and (finally) buggered off at the end.

At their current rate, we’ll see them again for Les-Fest 29 / Wildfire 25…

[Sean] Lawnmower Deth (10/10) – So Mosh told me these ugly old bastards were shit and I had to see for myself how such a joke of a band could be second from the top of Saturday’s listings… Jokes aside, Lawnmower Deth were easily the best band of the whole weekend. It was quite a special gig for me and Iain – we became friends in the first place over a chat about Lawnmower Deth coming to Scotland on their official fan group on Facebook. A year and a bit later, Iain asks me if I fancied making a one-off contribution to his little hobby and things snowballed from there – The Moshville Times is what it is today because of Lawnmower Deth. It’s all those auld gits faults over 1000 or so Facebook followers and other suckers worldwide are reading the pish we spout on the interwebs!

So finally after 3 years since that fateful conversation they made it north of the border! It might be fair to say I’m a little bit biased in my review since I love Lawnmower Deth but still, you have to see them for yourself – a 10/10 is justified. The main stage marquee was completely full during Lawnmower Deth’s performance. Their high-energy daft punky thrash and jokey stage demeanour maximised crowd engagement with singalongs to such hits as “Watch Out Grandma”, “Flying Killer Cobs From the Planet Bob” and “I Got the Clap”. Lawnmower Deth also featured the only combination of arm-in-arm dancing and mosh pit of the weekend, which I naturally took part in. I’ve still got the bruises from clashing with the other handful of lads, notably larger than me in stature, who also had fun in the pit.

Lawnmower Deth’s songs and jokes are short (“Ooh Crikey”, “Egg Sandwich” and “Did You Spill My Pint?” anyone?) but their set was too short – hopefully Qualcast Mutilator, Explodin’ Dr Jagger’s Flymo and co head up our way again sooner rather than later. When they do, you can bet Moshville will be there.

[Sean] Ten (7/10) – Closing the Saturday at Wildfire was Ten. Unfortunately for them, they had the extremely tall order of trying to surpass Lawnmower Deth. They did well, but not well enough (bear in mind, I might be a tad biased towards those rusty old garden machines).

Ten’s sound was a powerful one with their melodic heavy rock approach. They had great stage presence despite the very little room for movement on the stage with their 7 members and the performance was great. The lead guitar playing was astounding and the keyboards sounded great with the extra depth they added to the sound. Ten’s heavier moments and powerful vocals verged on the edges of power metal and prog, especially given the longer epic songs. However this was only problem I had with Ten.

They played a lot of songs, and they were all seemingly very long – it all became quite tiresome eventually. As evident by the crowd dispersing back to the bar, the food stalls and the campsite throughout the, set as well as myself leaving prior to the last song, Ten’s set felt a bit overlong. Not to the band’s discredit as their music and performance was great, it simply dragged on a little thus driving us tired from rocking out to the short but sweet silliness of Lawnmower Deth back to our beds (at least speaking for myself anyway) in preparation for our last day of what Wildfire had to offer.

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