Day two of this year’s festivities meant it was the inaugural day for the Moshville Times stage featuring gems like Empyre, AC Rid and Killatrix. Mosh and Nick will be reviewing that one. However, at 10am, it’s markedly quieter than this time yesterday as people trickle in and the stories of the night before start. It’s good to hear the fun doesn’t stop when the bands do.
The Swamp Born Assassins don’t let their small crowd faze them. Their sludgy blues tones show their name is rather apt. It sounds like it came from the bottom of a swamp, detritus falling off it as it rises. It’s a chilled out start to the day. Complete with a hippie backing singer, their music has that old time feel. However, given that the band are still in their relative infancy, it’s understandable it’s a little rough around the edges. Give them another six months and I’d imagine there’d be a far stronger band on show.
Psychobabylon are the band of the morning who blow the cobwebs away with their blend of punk and industrial sounds and a glam veneer. One of those bands which are just good fun, you can’t help but think they’d have been better kicking off the day’s proceedings. They even decide to share breakfast with the crowd, throwing out croissants and bananas with many of the crowd eager to grab something to tear into.
Hard rock with a metallic edge, Safire drag a classic 80s rock sound into the 21st century kicking and screaming. Add in some grooves and it’s the exact thing I spend most of my time listening to. Frontwoman Saffron Gorman possesses one of the best voices of the weekend whilst the entire band burst at the seams with energy and passion for their music. Definitely a band to look out for in the future.
Theia’s album has been sitting in my inbox for quite some time. Honestly, it reads like it would be right up my street so the chance to see them isn’t missed. With a blend of blues and groove poured into hard rock, the band are enjoying themselves. But not only that, the crowd are finally warmed up and clearly enjoying themselves. Now I need to dig through my inbox to hear how good they are on record.
Making their return to Wiston, Gasoline Outlaws impressed us last year and the intervening twelve months have certainly been beneficial for them. Upping the ante, they completely blow last year’s performance out of the water. Filled with hooks and grooves and a pinch of Southern twang, the good time rock has people singing along word perfect.
Syteria bring hard rock out in force with a NWOBHM flavour. Nothing less would be expected when the guitarist is none other than Girlschool’s Jackie Chambers. Acting as a great side-project for Ms Chambers, she’s with a more than capable band and whilst different from Girlschool, it still holds that air of familiarity to pull fans in. Ex-Mockingbyrd (of the Tequila variety) Keira Kenworthy shows with ease why she’s in high demand, her skill on the bass unrivalled across the weekend.
The Texas Flood makes me think we’re in for some big Southern grooves but instead it takes a bluesier angle. Don’t get me wrong, the Southern element is there, if a little less pronounced than you’d expect with a name like theirs. They’re one of the bands that crop up for the remainder of the weekend as a highlight. Much like the majority of the line-up of this year (and indeed, previous years), it’s stark proof that there’s so much talent being overlooked.
Chunky and ballsy rock doesn’t get much better than Skam. The three-piece never disappoint and stay true to that today. Hitting the standard-bearers of their career, the crescendo of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” is the icing on the cake. And somehow, it’s heavier than Sabbath ever did it.
Fireroad make their return with their unique brand of blues hard rock. Whilst the blues is still prevalent, it feels like it’s been stripped back ever so slightly in favour of a grittier and heavier tone. Whilst they weren’t the most chilled band last year, it was something akin to Bad Company. Now it’s a band forging its own identity and letting the influences take more of a back seat.
Kane’d may possibly have been the surprise act of last year. I’m sure my face was a picture in 2016 when three girls backed by a wide cast of characters on instruments took to the stage. Except Mosh (who reviewed them last year) and I were won over inside of a minute, if not less. Twin lead vocals are a rare occurrence and triple even less so. Combining melody with heaviness, the three sisters share lead vocals alongside harmonising with ease to deliver a hard rock performance which was even better than last year.
Another I’d been wanting to see, Dirty Thrills never disappoint with their dirty, gritty blues rock and roll. There’s an urgency to their performance as they hammer through their set and their Scottish debut is well received. Singer Louis James is compared with Phil Campbell as they both have boundless energy but it’s bass man Aaron Plows who keeps the energy at its peak with his massive grooves.
Fahran grab the crowd by the scruff of the neck and refuse to let go. Their raw, upbeat hard rock has everyone headbanging with some awesome riffs on offer from Jake Graham; there’s endless opportunities to clap in time with the rhythm as well. Meanwhile Matt Black has a voice you’d expect to hear on an early 2000s pop punk record but it works excellently, setting them apart from all the other hard rock acts with a gruff, gravelly baritone.
Little Brother Eli are one of the few bands I’ve never heard of in the slightest. It’s a good breather after Fahran’s up-tempo rock and before the metal onslaught. There’s an old-school garage vibe to them combined with elements of hip-hop and blues to make something tranquil, even if the band are drenched in their own sweat by the end. It’s not to everyone’s tastes (myself included) shown by the crowd numbers but I’m all for changing up the pace at a festival alongside continuously pushing the boundaries of what rock music can be.
Vice were high on the list last year of the best discoveries I made. Combining thrash and speed metal, they’ve only gotten better in the last year. Singer and guitarist Tom Atkinson lays down some impressive fretwork, his hands a-blur at times without screwing around on the neck of his guitar just for the sake of it.
The Fallen State bring out the downtuned guitars and when mixed with the rasping and snarling vocals, it’s another band which falls into the trappings of creating a modern hard rock sound which is common as mud at the moment. But (and this is a massive one), they do it better than most. The non-stop energy from the band is obvious and they have the audience in the palm of their hand for the entire duration.
The King Lot are a band that I and several of the Moshville Times crew have asked “Why are these guys not huge?” They’ve got some brilliant songs backed up by incredible skill and talent. From the minute they take the stage, the tent is bouncing as they work their way through old tracks like “Addicted” and “As They Burn” alongside songs from the new album, A World Without Evil, including the title track. It’s a lot grittier and heavier than previous work but it still retains the melodic element. The band are clearly enjoying themselves as are the crowd as they all dance and bounce around me as they win over a legion of new fans into the bargain.
“At least they’re trying,” someone in front of me says a couple of songs into Broken Witt Rebels. It’s not the first time I’ve heard that remark about them. Whilst bands like Little Brother Eli and Other Animals have seemed out of place, it’s worked. Here, it doesn’t. You get the impression they’d be better suited at the other festival taking place this weekend or to a Radio 1 crowd. Sure, they’re out on stage doing what they enjoy and like most bands, had a long journey here but it’s sloppy. Frontman Danny Core tries to be an impressive frontman but it’s clearly not his strong point but the more he does it, the better he’ll get and the more the band play, they’ll become a stronger unit.
One I was apprehensive of, Toseland has the tent at an almost uncomfortably full complement of patrons. Don’t get me wrong, the two Toseland albums are great but live, it’s never translated. Balancing the set with songs from both albums, ex-superbike star James Toseland leads his band through a riveting hard rock set. Since last time I saw him, he’s really grown into his role and now has the air of someone who has been doing this all his life. The band and crowd are feeding off each other’s energy as if it’s finally clicked.
Oliver/Dawson Saxon is a set a lot of people are looking forward to and understandably so. Featuring ex-Saxon men Graham Oliver and Steve Dawson, they turn in a great performance featuring every Saxon staple you can think of like “Denim and Leather”, “747 (Strangers in the Night)” and “Dallas 1PM” before closing the night out with “And the Bands Played On”. People are on a high watching the set and rightly so; vocalist Bri Shaughnessy hits the high notes with far more grace than Biff Byford does these days. Actually, as someone who saw Saxon last year, I’d make the argument Saturday’s headliners were better than the “real thing”. Fists are pumping, people are jumping as part of NWOBHM’s DNA is laid bare tonight and much of the crowd get to relive their youth. There’s grins all around and for the band who put in an incredibly polished performance, it’s well-earned.
Here’s Gary’s full flickr set from the day…
And here’s Carly’s: