Review: Wildfire Festival 2017, Saturday (Moshville Times Stage)

So here it was. After months (well, a couple of them) of planning we were on the cusp of opening the inaugural Moshville Times sponsored stage at Scotland’s Wildfire Festival. With a line-up plucked from our extensive mailing list and catalogue of PR contacts (and believe me it was not easy to narrow it down to the ones who featured) our aim was to give a live outing (in some cases the first ever in Scotland) to some great up-and-coming talent.

Empyre (c) Ellissa Avart

Nick’s reviewing Sunday (and Ross covered the main stages) as I selected most of the bands, so it made sense to have someone else pass opinion on them. For the Saturday, most of the acts had been selected by other members of the Moshville Times Crew so I was less familiar with them – the ideal festival experience!

Kicking us off – and we couldn’t have asked anyone to do it in better style – were Empyre who’d travelled up from the Midlands. We’re really rather glad they did, as were the impressive crowd they managed to gather for first thing on the Saturday morning. Without a word of warning they blasted into lead single “Drive” from their first EP, a song we first encountered being promoted by a very swish video… which it turns out was recorded and edited entirely by the band themselves!

With Henrik Steenholdt’s gravelly vocals atop his and Did Coles’ guitars, accompanied by an appropriately driving rhythm courtesy of Dan Grannum (bass) and Jack Bowles (drums), the foursome finished the first track to a rousing round of applause and continued to grab and maintain the attention of passers-by for the remainder of their slot. By the end of their set, they’d captured many flies in their Empyre-ical web, and I don’t mind admitting that I was bouncing (internally) at having been fortunate enough to have such a great band open our stage.

Next up, at the recommendation of one of our Junior Crew members, were Second Suns who’d had slightly less distance to travel from Prestwick. For those who don’t know, that’s where one of the airports is located that Ryanair likes to call “Glasgow Prestwick” despite being 30 miles away from the actual city. Anyway, the band suffered the only real technical hitch of the weekend when singer Euan Gallagher stepped up to a dead microphone. Rather than halting, the remaining three members kept the music ticking over while Euan treated us to an impromptu chicken dance – all in time to his bandmates, I may add!

AC Rid (c) Carly Campbell

The issue fixed by the time the chorus kicked in, Second Suns returned to foursome strength and we were treated to a thumping set of country-tinged hard rock. The audience wasn’t as large for them (I’m not sure who they were up against on the main stage), which is a shame as they really belted out some good tunes. I have to single out Amy Miller on drums as one of those surprise packages. Like Dead Label’s Claire Percival, she looks all nice and pleasant until she gets behind that drum kit and then she unleashes hell on the skins.

A change in tempo with our next act, one I actually didn’t know anything about. Recommended by one of our photographers and booked by Mrs Mosh, my interest was definitely raised when I spotted a brass section. That almost certainly means some element of ska and, holy crap, I wasn’t disappointed. If you could sum AC Rid up in three letters, they would be “F-U-N”.

Founder member Alex Marr (who passed away five years ago) would have been proud of the band he created around twenty years ago still kicking arses in such magnificent fashion today. Current frontman and bassist Tam Kane is self-effacing and genuinely funny, and backed by a bunch of utter nutters who gel perfectly. Every member looks like they’re having a whale of a time, and when the people on the blowy instruments aren’t blowing, they’re helping with backing vocals (whether or not they have a microphone handy). We were only on the second song when trumpeter Phil Ramsay leapt over the barricade and started spinning audience member around.

We had some great bands on our stage this weekend, and the main stages weren’t exactly short of entertainment either, but AC Rid really shone out. If you want a party band, you’ve found it. Best bit for us is they’re almost on our doorstep so hopefully we’ll get to see them again soon.

Killatrix, it turns out, are fronted by one of our PR contacts. I didn’t know this until after we’d booked them as we deal with everyone pretty much by email so I didn’t recognise her on on any of the band’s (superb) videos. Despite travelling a ridiculous distance from Southend-On-Sea to join us, the band were bouncing with energy and threw out some belters. Mixing mainstream rock, metal heaviness and electro breaks they definitely brought the bass.

Killatrix (c) Ellissa Avart

Jenni’s a superb frontwoman – angry yet melodic, and does a great job alongside Chris (bass), Sam (guitar) and Kris Donnelly (drums). With the electronic edge there’s always the danger that a band of this type could step too far into “dancey” territory for my taste but based purely on this live outing… nuh-uh. They rock. There’s enough electronica there to provide originality, but what really stands out is the band’s ability to create something monstrously catchy.

Also travelling some significant miles to entertain us were Standing Like Statues from Cambridgeshire. The five-piece are a modern alt-rock group with definite emo trappings and, boy, does it work. I was joined at the front by a fair portion of AC Rid (actually, a large number of bands took time out to watch other acts performing over the weekend – thank you!) to enjoy an energetic and melodic half hour by this talented bunch.

Frontman Jamie Wiltshire sometimes swaps barrier-encroaching screamo-mode for an acoustic guitar, creating a 3-guitar (plus bass) sound. Credit must also be given to bassist and backing vocalist Beth Dalton. What she lacks in height, she makes up for with a hell of a set of pipes. At points in the set when she was just singing along with the lead vocals, I could still hear her despite her not being near a microphone!

This is a cracking unit with a varied set of songs, and they enjoyed their trip so much they’ve even popped a video online. I’m actually wearing one of their t-shirts as I type this up (though I’m gutted to say that our puppy’s torn a hole in it already *sadface*)

As Mallen set up to play, it was obvious this was a band with an eye for detail with their custom-made metal stand-on platform thingies (seriously cool). Fronted by blonde siren Kelly-Jane, the band wasted no time in chucking out some solid tunes to fill their set time. While the band’s meat and potatoes are the all-out rockers such as “Jack of Cards”, Kelly-Jane’s vocals lend themselves to a wider variety as can be sampled on recent video release “Owes You Nothing”.

Mallen (c) Carly Campbell

Their high-tempo set seemed to blast by, with the band engaging with the audience. By this stage, Tom was playing a bass drum with no decorative head on it as our bands so far had proven too metal. Apologies to headliners A Ritual Spirit who’d loaned us the kit so that their logo would be in all the promo shots…!

Mallen left us in no doubt that they’re a band with great things in front of them, and I hope they weren’t too exhausted from their energetic performance for their drive back down to the Midlands.

Filling the second-top spot were a band I’d plucked out based on their recent release which – seven months into the year – is still my “album of 2017”. Jupiter Falls joined us from Leeds and ploughed through a top-notch hard rock set, very much in the GN’R/Alter Bridge mould.

Jupiter Falls are a band that comes along very rarely – one whose songs don’t just want me to headbang, or raise my hands, or pump my fists… but which actually give me chills and stir emotions. This is partly due to the lyrics (by singer James Hart) and the incredible guitar work of lead six-stringer Deano Silk. Talking to the latter afterwards, he’s continually developing and pushing himself to the point where he has a song written that he can’t actually perform all they way through… yet!

While these guys do the bulk of the songwriting, the limelight is very deservedly shared by the rhythm section of Zach (guitar), Dan (bass) and Luke (drums). Together the five band members are incredibly close-knit on stage, note perfect and managing to pull forth the soul of their music that’s very much present on the recorded version.

Jupiter Falls (c) Amy Harris-Abbott

I confess that I’d asked Jupiter Falls to play partly as I wanted to see how well their incredible album came across live – and I am very glad to say that I wasn’t disappointed. With two full albums and an EP out, they had no problem filling a forty minute set without a single damp squib. They’re already hard at work on album three with enough material for a fourth (apparently!) which is great news. I can’t wait to see them in a year or three playing the full ninety minute to two hour sets we’ve come to expect from headliners!

Talking of headliners, local-ish lads A Ritual Spirit filled that spot for us on the Saturday with a set they’d specially extended for us. As mentioned before, skinmaster Dave was playing his own kit which, though sounding great, was a little tattered on the front end (oops).

Another band that had been recommended, I’d deliberately held back from checking them out too much so I could enjoy “discovering” them on the day, they did us proud as headliners. Obviously experienced and having great fun, they played to an engaged crowd and had heads and bodies in motion with their dirty rock’n’roll.

You can take one look at A Ritual Spirit and see that it’s four mates having a great time playing music together, and that relaxed, fun feeling just pours out into the crowd. They’re what live music is all about – letting go, shedding the weight of the working week and raising your voice.

Oli engaged in a bit of banter with the crowd, and the weather held out for us (though it did get a little windy) as they played through a lovely, varied collection of their own material, culminating in a hastily-rehearsed cover of classic “Spoonman”. By their own admission, both on stage and afterwards, the track didn’t go “exactly as planned” but I for one didn’t care. It was a song they’d picked for obvious recent-news related reasons, had worked on purely for our show and I didn’t see a single person in the crowd not enjoying it.

It was unique. As any live show should be. And even better, it was memorable for all the right reasons.

Despite my Friday panics about “Argh, the kit’s not set up yet!” (that was all sorted by the fantastic sound techs we had) and “No way can bands swap over their sets in twenty minutes” (oh yes, they can – less in fact), the day went absolutely hitch-free barring that tiny hiccup with the mic cable. A huge, huge thank you to all of our performers, helpers and Crew on the day. It really couldn’t have gone better in terms of sound quality or music.

Photos by Gary Cooper, Carly Campbell, Amy Harris-Abbott and Ellissa Avart. Header image by Ellissa Avart.

Ellissa’s full Saturday set is below. To see Carly and Gary’s check out our main stage review.

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Annette Price
Annette Price(@annette-price)
July 9, 2017 10:16 AM

Is this guy for real??? The Broken Witt Rebels were amazing!!

November 28, 2020 7:17 PM

[…] We’re just chuffed to see them do so well after they tread the boards (barefoot) on our Wildfire stage a few years […]