Rockmantic now in it’s fouth year is an annual mini festival, hosted around Valentine’s Day (hence the name) by Raz White. It might be the fourth event but this was my third Rockmantic as I missed Rockmantic 2. Valentine’s Day 2016 fell on on a Sunday so this year’s event was held on 12th-13th February. The Brickyard, is a 320 capacity venue just across the road from Carlisle Castle, formally known as The Richmond Hall it was renovated to reopen as The Brickyard in 2002. Having been a few times, now I know it’s a fabulous little venue with reasonable bar prices. Today’s review is written by me with input from fellow PlanetMosh writer Jo Crosby.
Carlisle is fairly easy to navigate around on foot and I didn’t have too far to walk from my B&B just outside the centre despite that I still managed to miss the first song or two of The Senton Bombs, as I misplaced my room key and was frantically looking for it for ten minutes. I caught Nine of Hearts and a few of tracks from from their Chapter Zero album including the upbeat Medusa and Darkest Horse a country and western meets punk number, which was introduced with a ‘We’re from Blackpool. We’re cheap as fuck’ then frontman Joey asked if we were all revved up for Rockmantic and thanked Raz for putting them on, then announced that they have a new record coming out soon. Although they didn’t finish with a new song they finished with a cover of Supersuckers’ Born With A Tail which had Joey doing a few side kicks in time to the beat, Damien pulling a few guitar faces and Scott hitting the drums so hard that a cymbal fell off! I caught the end of good set which couldn’t fail to get anyone revved up for the rest of Rockmantic.
It seems that co-reviewer Jo enjoyed them too here’s what she had to say “I got to the Brickyard just in time to catch some of first band The Senton Bombs. This is a new band to me and I found them punky but with an almost southern-rock influenced twist. Interesting, I would go to see them again!”
Next came the only band on tonight who I haven’t already seen Staring Out The Sun a hard rock four piece from London. Initially I thought there was a bit of a Prog Rock intro going on then the singer John yelled ‘Good Evening All! We Are Staring Out The Sun’ with the last word on a longer drawn out yell and it turned out they weren’t actually very proggy at all, just one or two songs had a bit of prog thrown in. They were much heavier but also managed to sound melodic too. I think the same two guys I mentioned in the review last year were still there at the front bouncing and really getting into the music. I did ask them if they had moved since last time and they said that, no doubt, they will still be there next year too! John said he hoped everyone got roses but if not then buy t-shirts, and not just for their band but for all bands. John had a powerful voice and was covering the stage well. My friend (also called John) thought he was like an athletic Freddie Mercury, whilst I would have said more like a slimmer Pavarotti! I only got a set list for the headlinerrs so can’t tell you which songs but one had a bit of a rap beat to it with some fast singing, another reminded me of 30 Seconds To Mars and one was reminiscent of The Dirty Youth’s Fight. One song I caught the name of was Anesthesia, which was a bit mellower but still powerful and John introduced Connor, who was helping them out as their drummer had bailed.
I enjoyed them, alas Jo wasn’t so keen ‘Staring Out The Sun just didn’t do it for me I’m afraid. Musically they were spot on, putting me in mind of a faster louder Fallout Boy and even straying into Linkin Park territory. There were some nice harmony vocals in there and the last song had a nod in the direction of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers but despite a couple of yoof on the barrier trying to form a 2-man moshpit I just wasn’t getting it. I suspect I am just too old and set in my ways to appreciate this kind of sound.’ But the regulars were noticed by Jo too!
Rusted Hero a four piece from Geordie land came next and Jo says ‘Rusted Hero on the other hand were a revelation. I’d seen them previously and been unimpressed, finding them generic and rather dull. Tonight however they presented us with a classic rock sound that went down really well. They were all flying hair and throwing shapes, and the songs were powerful yet still catchy. Oh and they had proper Rock Star Trousers. Definitely one to watch.’
I’ve seen them a few times too, a good looking band with three tall dark haired musicians and vocalist Dox, in customised waistcoat, jeans and chains a real powerhouse looking like a cross between the late Kurt Cobain and Axl Rose. Dox said that they opened last year and had moved a bit higher up the bill this year and were going to play a lot of songs from new album, The Unknown with the title track reminded me of Aerosmith’s Same Old Song and Dance. Dox was getting people clapping along and said it was hot up there so they would do a nice slow one called Get Out which turned out not to slow at all. Bassist Andy is a great showman but I couldn’t get a good picture of him as he never stopped moving about the stage or raising his instrument in the air! A bit of Southern rock n roll came in the song Mexico which had Dox jumping up and down and holding his mic stand aloft too. A really entertaining set from Rusted Hero.
New Generation Superstars a four piece from Nottingham, who I first saw at The Brickyard about five years ago now were next up and there have been a few line-up changes which see brothers in law AJ on vocals and guitar, and Davey Messiah on guitar joined by Jonny Suicide on bass and Mord Fustang on drums. I think they were the most heavily tattooed band on the bill this weekend with lots of blonde hair and AJ with the good looks of a Calvin Klein model, although the pouting and posing came from Davey! They started with their backs to us, which I’m seeming to recall in customary and AJ said this was their second time at The Brickyard and their first time at Rockmantic. I was at their first gig there then when I saw them supporting Falling Red, and Falling Red’s drummer Dave suddenly appeared, as if from nowhere, and handed Jhnny a bright red steaming mug, which turned out not be anything stronger than coffee or so Jhnny said when he thanked him and held the mug up before taking a swig! One song reminded me of LA Guns’ Sex Action although a little bit faster. AJ announced that their new album King of The World would be released on October 7th and they play the title track a fast, punky number which got lots of applause. This was followed by a ballad then he asked ‘Have we got time for two more?’ and said they would play them extra fast Cold Outside had bass drum start and people were clapping along. They AJ said ‘If we’re going to get this party started, take one step forward and get involved’ and people did move forward and it was nice to see all of Knock Out Kaine joining in ans singing along to the song ‘Guess What’ which was quite easy to pick up when AJ said ‘Guess what’ we had to say ‘Get fucked’ a good participative one to finish on!
Here’s what Jo had to say about them “I liked the look of New Generation Superstars very much. There was a lot of leopard print and glitter, and even a headband or two. Bassist Jonny Suicide is also a familiar face, I’ve seen him pop up playing with a couple of other bands too. Unfortunately what should have been a bit of a riotous set of trashy, glammy, punky bouncealong songs was spoiled for me by a truly awful mix. I don’t know what happened but the sound seemed to be having a bit of a civil war with itself resulting in a muddy mush with no clear vocals or guitar. Shame. The band currently have a pledge campaign up and running for their 4th album, worth a look I think. I’d like to see them again just to check that tonight was a one-off as I’m sure they usually sound much better when you can actually hear them.”
I think she was pleased when Thirteen Stars took the stage though as she say “Yeehaw, the (cow)boys are back in town! Thirteen Stars may come from Cumbria but their sound is pure down-home American Southern Rock. They played songs from their recently-released album White Raven and also threw in a couple of covers (The Black Crowes’ “Remedy” being one). There was slide guitar, big riffs and a definite feel of classic rock being brought back to life by new blood. People have been asking recently where the arena bands of tomorrow are – well I suspect one of them might be right here in Cumbria even if singer Hoss did keep forgetting his fake US accent and slipping back into local dialect between songs!”
Thirteen stars are another band I first saw at The Brickyard and I last saw them at Hard Rock Hell’s Highway to Hell in Sheffield, where they were joint winners with Bigfoot and . These guys definitely had the best selection of hats of the event, with Jax sporting some cool black and red striped pants too. When I first saw Thirteen Stars, last year, I hadn’t heard the band Primus before but as soon as I heard them, I thought Hoss and Les Claypool sounded very similar although Thirteen Stars aren’t quite as weird as Primus but that would take some doing! They did a cover of Black Crowes’ Remedy and Hoss worked the words ‘Heartbreak Remedy’ into the lyrics, a nice touch. The song Beautifully Numb went out to guitarist Jax and his ancestor Edie Sedgwick who Hoss said was a crackhead and whore, whether that’s true or not, your guess is as good as mine. I picked up a Lynyrd Skynryd vibe in one song and a similarity to I Believe In A Thing Called Love by The Darkness in another. The last song went out to all Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, whodo a difficult job with very little credit and Hoss asked us to give a round of applause to the guys and gals before Only A Soldier another one with a Black Crowes flavour which got a few people dancing. A good set from Thirteen Stars who are currently out on a European tour with The Quireboys which starts today see the tour dates here
Friday’s headliners came in the form of local lads Heartbreak Remedy with a bittersweet ending as tonight was to be guitarist Callum Glynn’s last gig with them. I’ve seen this band a few times and always enjoyed them so far. Matty and Luke had some great customised jeans on and they opened with Cocked and Loaded before Matty yelled ‘Brickyard make some noise! Let Me Hear you’ Heartbreaker had a bass drum start, and not for the first time tonight I was reminded me of Aerosmoth’s Same Old Song and Dance. For the next song they invited one of the audience up to sing along think I caught the name Bruce but I could be wrong, so feel free to correct me. I got a few pictures though and the song was Hair of the Dog with Bruce (as I’ll call him anyway) really giving it his all, a few piercing screams from Matty, who is an entertaining frontman, working the audience and holding his bass aloft! Matty told us they have started writing some new music, and this would be the first time they’ve played Baby Blue electric. It reminded me a little of Rod Stewart’s Maggie May. I then thought I picked up some slide guitar so I whizzed across to the other side of the stage to check out Luke’s fingers and I was right he had a big plastic slide, think I’m finally getting an ear to pick up a bit of slide! (More like a lot of the bands a review play slide so I’m getting used to the different sound!) Life was a mellower song, sounding almost acoustic, with a Lynryd Skynrd’s Freebird flavour and some great riffs from Callum. Matty then said ‘Ok that’s it for the quiet stuff’ and asked ‘You still with us Brickyard?’ a few whoops indicated that we were. Josephine upped the tempo and a noticed a guy in front of me with an e-cig or perhaps he was on E’s as he was really going for it! New song Crypt Kicker reminded me of Faster Pussycat’s Babylon. Nearing the end Matty thanked everyone for sticking around and said it was great to see so many people in band t-shirts. Convoy reminded me os The Senton Bombs’ Nine of Hearts. Then we came to the final song and we got an introduction to the band although it was also time to say Goodbye to Callum Glynn before final song Keep Rollin Luke was down in pit playing to audience before climbing back up on stage and I think Matty’s voice was going a bit by the end as we got a gruff throaty ‘Thank you so much! See you tomorrow! This is it Keep on rollin Brickyard. Thank you!’ and after the six bands today, all that was left was to roll back to my B&B to be up bright eyed and bushy tailed for day two!
As it’s Valentine’s weekend and Jo’s a little bit in love I’ll let her have the last word for now! “Headliners Heartbreak Remedy closed the stage on Friday night, and very worthy headliners they were too. Their sound is a little more laid back, a sort of heavy blues mix but with a hard edge to keep you interested. Singer Matty’s voice improves every time I see them, and tonight he was in fine form. Their music is the sort that you just can’t keep still to, unfortunately all my photos are a little blurred as I suspect I was bouncing up and down way too much to be able to focus on the stage properly! We were treated to a preview of a new song that will be featured on the album they are currently working on and it followed the same groove as their previous stuff – hard and heavy but with a light touch making it accessible and hummable. I’m not sure that even makes sense – shall we just say I love this band and leave it at that?”
Cocked and Loaded
Hair of the Dog
Girl At The Bar
Matty Penn – Vocals & Bass
Callum Glynn – Lead Guitar
Luke Blair – Rhythm Guitar
Stephen Jackson – Drums