With four days this year the line-up was jam packed full of bands and there were a lot to choose from. Things kicked off on Thursday which was party night with the crowd really getting into this year’s theme by dressing up Western style. I didn’t manage to get to arrive there until Friday, but from the photos I’ve seen this was quite a sight. From those I chatted to it was also a great start to the festival with everyone in the mood for some drinks, music and just a good weekend. With bands such as Toadstool, Tigertailz, Hangfire and Gypsy Pistoleros things really kicked off with a bang.
But Friday dawns and I arrive at last to get straight into my round of interviews. However, I managed to grab time to see a few bands and first up was Ajenda, an acoustic-style rock band on Stage 2. I only managed to catch the very last part of their set but this was not the case for quite a few other festival goers judging the good size of the crowd. Despite it only being a while before 3pm the festival goers were very much in attendance as well as very attentive to what was happening on stage. A good band, good singer and great abs (very jealous about those abs).
I then meandered over to Stage 1 to watch Massive Wagons. The only thing I can think to say is go see this band! If you like your rock classic and a good live band then you need to go see Massive Wagons. As you can tell I was very impressed. I had only just headed into Stage 1 for the first time and was having a look about me to see what was what, check out the crowd and the atmosphere and turning to the stage was caught immediately. Go see them at their next gig, that’s all I have to say.
After a few hours interviewing (and yes, I stopped for some food too) I went to watch Serpentine on Stage 2. This is a good rock band which went down very well with the crowd who were present. Having interviewed two members of the band earlier in the day I was interested to see how they performed on stage and was definitely impressed with what I saw. Which was not only an increase in the size of the crowd, but also a band that interacted very well with the audience, an ability which can often be over looked by some bands, but one that will keep an audience coming back. They’re also cheeky with it, and can back it up with their songs, so if you have an opportunity, go and check them out.
Stage 1 was soon calling to the sounds of Blackfoot and let me tell you, it was very crowded indeed. So for those of you going to Hammerfest next year, make sure you grab an early spot for your favourite bands. Blackfoot had a very appreciative audience indeed with cheering and jumping thrown in for good measure. An American style classic rock band there was plenty you could have danced to if you felt so inclined, and if not, an encore with ‘God Save The Queen’ to listen to – classic. \m/ This was a very good choice in my opinion for this year’s festival and fitted with the other bands nicely. But it was time for a bit more grit, so after this set I crossed the court yard again to Stage 2 for a bit of Slam Cartel. Having missed their set at Hammerfest I had decided I was definitely watching them this weekend. I was not the only one either as it was nice and busy with everyone ready for a bit of dirty rock. Again, another band who can interact well with their audience. They can also do a good cover and threw out their version of the Talking Heads’ ‘Once in a lifetime’. If this sounds a bit odd, let me assure you, they pulled it off nicely. Not seen them before? Check out ‘Wishing Eye’. First time I’d heard it and I have to say, I really liked it. Play it again Slam!
Now, moving yet again (anyone else getting that yo-yo feeling?) I headed back to Stage 1 to grab myself a good standing spot for Sebastian Bach. Another first for me, but I’d seen the effect they, sorry he, has had on a fair few of my mates so I was very curious, and so grabbing myself quite a good spot I waited…..and waited…and waited as a technical difficulty meant that they began 40 minutes late. There was a little unrest in the crowd, but this seemed very much forgiven once the band began to play. Watching the first couple of songs I can see the cause of the effect on my mates, as they certainly know their stuff. However, after waiting around for that long I left after a few songs as I had wanted to see some of The Mercy House before they finished, so back I went to Stage 2. Awaiting me was a grittier rock, which is more my style and it turns out, exactly what I was in the mood for. The penultimate band I caught was Gravedigger, another band a few of my mates were very excited to see and were not disappointed in either. Many were really getting into the music and there was a really good sized crowd up to the large raised area of the room (there are 4 parts; the floor, and 3 raised sections) a.k.a. near the bar, towards which I found myself gravitating. Well it was early in the morning and also time to celebrate as afterwards it was the turn of Attica Rage on Stage 2 for the launch of their new album ‘88mph’. Part time indeed!
Photo credits: Sean Larkin and David Farrell