Planetmosh descended en-masse to take in the sights, the sounds and the craic as Scotland showed it does indeed know how to throw a party all in the name of rock and metal. As with all festivals though, trying to take in every band is impossible. You can read our reviews, interviews and pictures of the weekend right here but in the meantime here’s our overview of the festival from the team covering it.
You have to know you’re onto a good thing when the second time you cross the border into Scotland you’re at a metal festival….and even better a new festival at that. The best thing about this festival straight off is that it is new; you’re getting on in there right at the ground floor. Well, OK, it’s the second year, so maybe the first floor. But it still feels like you’re one of the few in the know on a top secret – and we were. Make no mistake; this is one festival that is going to go from strength to strength. So, let’s look at the evidence.
First, it’s in Scotland; hello the Scots! They like metal and they like to party – so, good start there. It’s also nice to go somewhere new. Plus there’s the benefit of being surrounded by beautiful Scottish countryside – you don’t get that amount of greenery in my neighbourhood I’ll tell you that. It was also easy to drive to and find which is not something that can be overlooked.
The other big bonus is the line-up. This line up is one I would have willingly paid a great deal more to see. Three days of bands crossing different styles mean there was something for everyone. Friday was your heavy brand of metal and was capped off by a brilliant set by Evile. The next two days were a mix with highlights for me being Furyon (Voodoo Me was just amazing), States of Panic, Jettblack, Bull-Riff Stampede, Achren and Collapse just to name a few. For such a young festival, this line up was superb and good mix of bands that will clearly be headlining the bigger festivals in years to come. Also, the price you paid was insanely cheap! The cost basically of 2 gig tickets for a full 3 days worth of top bands and camping; how can you not agree to that?
Now, one thing you cannot ignore about festivals is the weather, and let’s face it it’s been quite crap so far this ‘summer’. However, the Scots know what they’re doing by putting on a festival indoors, yes indoors. There were two stages, the main stage was housed in the function suit upstairs and provided adequate space for everyone there. One downside was that it could really do with more lighting in the stairwell as it was quire dark in the evening, as well as slippery when beer was spilled. Not a good combination. The second stage was inside/outside in the courtyard under an open glass conservatory. Having an acoustic stage in this venue was inspired and the scene was really relaxed and just a great place to sit, drink and enjoy some great acoustic sets. My highlights were Triaxis (damn but she has one hell of a voice) and Inferno who produced one of the best sets of the whole weekend.
There’s also the benefit of the camping field being right next to the venue; near the acoustic stage but far enough away from the main stage to avoid a rude awakening the next day. There was plenty of room in the field for us all and space for the odd BBQ. But this is nature, which means there was also room for the animals that normally live in the field to leave their mark in places. The camping area also was not overly secure; yes we were in the country somewhat but the field backed onto a housing estate, though I didn’t feel unsafe at any time, nor heard of any incidents. Having said that, fencing for next year would be preferable.
There were a few other downsides as there are with any festival. The main one was catering. Yes, there were three venues for food; a tapas bar, café and burger station, but none were really suitable. The café and tapas bar seemed to not comprehend that the number of people meant they would need to buy in more food and more staff. The café ran out of food in the morning, the wait was far too long, and with the burger station closing about 8, the tapas bar was the only option left. Don’t even get me started on the service there. All but one member of staff were hardly any use, with me missing an interview due to waiting 1 ½ hours for what was just cheesy chips and an omelette! This did affect people with some leaving early Sunday after no food the night before. Luckily my interviewee was waiting also and so we were able to re-arrange for after the last band had played. I do however want to point out that the festival organisers had nothing to do with the catering, and it was completely out of their hands – it was part of the venue and so nothing they could do. Besides, who would have thought that the food venues wouldn’t have thought to prepare for an increase in customers?! The other downsides were that there were no cash points or a shop to buy food and beers. The bar also ran out of beer and tap cider on the Friday evening.
So yes, there were a few downsides but name one festival that doesn’t have those of a similar nature. Also, this is the second year, and so such teething issues can and will be fixed – make no mistake, the organisers take everything on board and only want the festival to be the best for everyone attending. Overall for me I WILL be going back next year and the year after that, whether I work or whether I just go for the bands. It was well organised, full of friendly staff and other festival goers and again, the line-up was just superb. Get yourselves a ticket to Les Fest when they are on sale for 2014. I can only recommend this festival. Top work guys!
We Scots love to party, of that there is no doubt and Les-Fest 2013 proved to be one big party indeed of predominantly Scottish origin! It was chilled for the most part and I was chuffed to not only be covering it for Planetmosh but also getting the opportunity to play on the Friday with my band Diementia.
The great thing about this festival is that both stages (acoustic and main) are under cover or actual venues. Valley International Park may indeed seem a strange choice for a festival (check their website and you’ll see what I mean) but it was actually pretty cool, aside from the few points Sheila and Rowena have mentioned that were outwith the Les-Fest team’s control.
Highlights? Well, truth be told every band brought their A-game to the festival which just added to the overall enjoyment. In-between interviewing over the weekend we were treated to some amazing performances on the Friday in particular from the likes of MAIR (huge kudos and balls of steel for opening the festival in fine style), Excellent Cadaver and Sworn Amongst. We saw a stunning display of controlled brutality from Achren, a lesson in old-school style from Virus and an absolute masterclass in metal from Friday night headliners Evile. I do have to make special mention to the guys in Hell is Harmony in particular on the Friday, especially guitarist Bart for his unique playing style. Definitely check them out if you have the chance.
Saturday came and with it the opening of the acoustic stage and a tremendous set from Christie Connor-Vernal in particular drawing a great reaction from those present. The main stage meanwhile mixed the heavy of the Friday from the likes of the thumping Def Con One, the awesome crossover stylings of Severenth and all out rocking of States of Panic with another stunning headline set from Brighton’s finest; Furyon.
For most of Sunday I found myself chilling around the acoustic stage and catching The Goddamn Electric with a goddamn eclectic acoustic set, complete with a nude Dave Ritchie cameo! The Dawgheads, featuring members of Evil Edison and Attica Rage, produced some fine covers before virtuoso performances from Scott Cowie and Scotland’s very own, albeit angrier, answer to Johnny Cash; Dave Arcari, rounded off the day perfectly. Sadly I didn’t catch much of the main stage as Les-Fest came to a close, however, I did manage to catch some of Triaxis‘ superb set that put me in mind of Doro Pesch at her very best and Skarlett Riot had themselves a little pocket rocket front and centre directing the enthusiastic crowd to great effect.
In all it was an amazing weekend. Huge kudos to Dave Ritchie, Fede Valls and all the Les Fest crew for making it such a success and also such a celebration of Scottish rock and metal predominantly. Here’s to Les-Fest III next year!
I had attended the first Les-Fest last year so I had been looking forward to this year’s festival for quite a while, okay a full year to be honest!
Line up –Superb choice of bands and mix for genres, especially for the size of the festival.
Value for Money – Bargain ticket prices for the quality of bands – £35 for a weekend ticket and £45 for a weekend camping ticket as well as only £15 for a day ticket.
Location – for me it’s easy to reach. It’s an hour drive away from me, which is a massive bonus instead of having to travel to England or further afield for a great rock/metal festival. As the festival is set within a country park it’s is very picturesque and makes it nice to walk around. You can even go for a nature walk along the banks of the Clyde!
Sound/view– the sound quality at both stages was fantastic. You could easily see the bands on stage at both stages as well and on main stage you could even see the drummer, which makes a change. Well done to the sound and lighting teams :) Only issue was the fog machine as it literally flooded the hall and stairs when it was on!!
Atmosphere – there was a great mixed crowd, ranging from young children right up to the ye old rockers. There was a laid back vibe to the festival however there was a few more skirmishes than the previous year, however on the whole it was a great atmosphere all weekend.
Secuirty – the team were brillant as well as helpful and courtesy.
Lack of toilets – as per most festivals the lack of loos lead to folk complaining. The loos in the venue were stunning and well maintained, however the portaloos and the other loo block weren’t. The company that supplied the portaloos never came to clean them.
Food – there was very limited places to eat onsite however this was out of the festival organisers control as it was ran by the venue. The Cafe was open until 4pm each day the food was cooked to order so this lead to queues but it was tasty and value for money once it arrived.
The food tent by the venue closed far to early especially when they ran out of burgers on the first night! I never managed to get anything from there at all!
The Tapas Bar – well we had huge issues here due to the chef being outside and no one cooking in the kitchen on Saturday night, we had to wait over an hour and half for our meals. We never went back after that.
My summary – Les-Fest has doubled in size from last year, which brings with it more challenges. Dave, Fede and the team did a stellar job this year and did their utmost to overcome any hurdles they came across. Well done guys, I’m looking forward to next years festival already.