It’s a lovely sunny day as I pull into the car park of the Stoke Prior Sports & Country Club in Bromsgrove. It’s been three years since The Moshville Times covered this event, and this was my first time attending Breaking Bands Festival so a quick look round and I easily found the booking-in tent at the entrance to the camping areas. The event’s mastermind Jay McGuire was manning the tent, handing out wristbands and welcoming the early comers, which was a nice touch and was just a taste of the welcoming atmosphere this festival is all about.
Having been advised as to which the quiet and noisy camping spots were around the site, I choose a nice quiet spot 100 yards from the main area, parked up and pitched my tent next to my car. That’s right, no lugging of camping gear for miles, and then trekking miles to the bands. I’m going to follow Will’s formula from the previous 2016 review, as like him, I wasn’t here to critique the bands. They all put on exceptional performances, with each deserving a full write up of their own. But there will be some special mentions at the end for reasons that will become apparent.
The festival itself is held in the main room of the country club with a well sized stage set up at one end and a bar at the other, perfection if you ask me. Then outside the rear of the club there’s a large area with tables and chairs with a large marquee set up 50 yards from the club which houses the acoustic and outside stage. A merch stall, and food/coffee vans line either side squaring off the centre area for people to chill, talk and drink in. Previously the capacity was 500 but is now around 700, yet still feels warm and friendly. I hear next year there may be a small increase in capacity, let’s hope it doesn’t spoil the feel of this very friendly and welcoming festival.
So, speaking of food there is quite a choice of burgers, hotdogs, chips, etc. and speciality cooked foods including vegan and gluten meals to cater for most tastes. With the menu changing each day in some vans there was plenty of variety and I have to say my favourite was the full roast dinner wrapped in a large Yorkshire pudding which was very moreish. You can even top it off with a dessert of homemade cakes which I spotted being sold at one stall, the addition of a speciality coffee stall finishes of the refreshments on offer and the prices were all very reasonable.
The club’s bar is well stocked with various beers, ales and ciders being enough to please any self-respecting connoisseur. With the cost of drinks being usual pub prices, it’s nice to see the venue not bumping them up to take advantage of the captive audience. Of course, you’re welcome to bring your own beer to drink at the tents, though as with any festival, they do ask you don’t bring bottles and don’t take your own beer onto the main area. Which is more than fair enough.
There is a music quiz and DJ on the Thursday night for early arrivals, which by my observation got a little messy, with folks catching up and just generally having a laugh. The event kicks off properly Friday night with several bands on the main stage. Then Saturday and Sunday the bands start at around 11 with acoustic sets in the outside marquee, before bands start on the Main stage around 12. One thing I do like is that there are no clashes, never. With a 5-minute gap between start and finish times of all bands it’s possible to grab a beer and cross to the other stage between sets and catch the start of the next band easily.
There is something for everyone at this festival no matter what genre or age you are, the welcoming and family feel here is second to none. I arrived knowing hardly anyone bar some of the bands and left with a host of new friends who I’m looking forward to catching up with next year. It’s a place to take your children and introduce them to the festival experience with children of all ages from 6-60 all enjoying themselves (the younger children all with proper ear protection, I might add). No trouble just one hell of a fun, friendly and inclusive atmosphere no matter who or what you choose to be.
Onto the bands now, the cream of new up and coming bands plus some seasoned well-loved bands thrown into the mix. The motto of this festival is “discover your new favourite band” and I did – several of them. Whether it’s the seasoned Gin Annie who I’d heard of but never heard live, or the relatively new arrivals Transients, who blew me away with their set on the outside stage to name just 2 of the great bands on this weekend. So, as to the bands, I promised some special mentions so here they are… First off Ward XVI, whose leading lady Kberrie Nutter was just a tad pregnant and yet still put on an amazing performance along with the rest of the band. I am happy to write they announced the arrival of the beautiful new inmate Emily several days after the festival and both mother and baby are doing great.
Next is the incredible and always smiling Theia, with guest drummer Dave Sanders who I’m sure you all know is drummer for Falling Red, who announced the sad news recently of Mikey’s fight with cancer. After the set Jay McGuire joined the guys on stage and after a small dedication for Mikey, a collection was taken with people donating over £200 towards Mikey’s bucket list Go Fund Me.
Finally the staff, marshalls, security and trade holders of this event were nothing short of excellent. Professional to the end with virtually no problems and smooth running throughout the event. Special mention to main stage compére Chris Heath (Badaxe) and acoustic/outside stage compére Guido McFister. Who both kept the crowd entertained and gave great introductions to each and every band. I could go on and name each staff member for their great work over this weekend but we’d be here forever, but a big thanks needs to go to Matt Patey who inherited the role of band liaison and did an amazing job coordinating between bands and press, we couldn’t have done our job without him. Finally Jay McGuire mastermind of BBfest, he managed to seem to be everywhere at once, organising and running the whole event but still managed to have time to chat to anyone and everyone he could. Well done, sir – I can’t wait till next year.
Speaking of next year, the festival was all ready over 50% sold out on the weekend, and with a cost of just £50 you get 4 days in this lovely spot. So if you fancy chilling out and camping with the cream of some of the best new bands (I was camped between Seething Akira and the Transients), get to camp by your car and experience one of the best welcoming atmospheres I’ve felt so far at a festival then I’d get your tickets booked now. Jay has already promised a few surprises for 2020 and I loved it that much I’ve offered to go and help marshal next year. Also any bands looking to play this awesome start to the festival season get in touch with them ASAP, as they get 100s of requests each year.
And what bands did you miss out on this year? Well here’s the line up for the weekend, read it and weep ‘cos you missed a blinder…
Friday (Photos here)
- Reign of Fury
- Hell’s Addiction
- Hell’s Gazelles
Saturday (Photos here)
- Witch Tripper
- Gin Annie
- The Heretic Order
- Colina Pearl
- Chasing Dragons
- Crooked Shapes
- Death Valley knights
Sunday (Photos here)
- Trucker Diablo
- The Midnight Dogs
- Tom Harte
- Seething Akira
- Chris & Luke Appleton
- Footprints in the Custard
- Ward XVI
- At the Sun
- Quiet the Thief
- Colina Pearl
- Avain Galen