Sheffield’s premier underground rock festival, Rockin’ The Bowl, finally returned to Don Valley last weekend after a years absence due to the state of the world. With a stacked line-up that was mostly a carry over from 2020s event, with headliners of AOR legends Cats in Space, the metal queen herself Doro, and the almighty Massive Wagons, it was not one to be missed.
And miss it we did not! We managed to attend and experience the music and merriment, but just in case you couldn’t we thought we’d review it! Three days, two stages, 33 bands and one hell of a party, we managed to experience just about all of it!
Having arrived in barely enough time to set up my tent due to traffic, it wasn’t long before the gates opened and the host announced the first band… Bastette!
What a way to kick things off. Their awesome blend of pop-rock was the perfect way to start off an afternoon of great music. Caroline was all charisma and power, a fantastic frontwoman and really owning the big stage. The perfect combination of pop queen Lady GaGa and rock lioness Lzzy Hale. That isn’t to take away from the rest of the band though, who got plenty of chance to show off their awesome skill and musicianship. It took the crowd a little to warm up, not surprising given that it was probably the first gig back for some, but once they did they were joining in and enjoying it plenty!
Wasting little time, Daxx and Roxanne were on quickly afterwards. The Swiss born blues rock band blew the place away, owning every inch of the stage and having the crowd in the palm of their hand throughout! The whole band had an aura of polish and professionalism, something that made me quickly realise they are one of a few bands over the weekend that I can see playing massive stages at huge festivals around the world in just a few short years. Just good old fashioned blues rock, delivered awesomely!
Unfortunately the following band, Liberty Lies, had to pull out last minute, but it meant that Sheffield locals Steal the City got promoted from the second stage to take their place. Unfortunately we couldn’t catch all of their set as it was when our interviews started, but we caught the back end and they seemed awesome! They really utilised their upgraded slot well, putting on one hell of a show and being the heaviest band on yet was a nice change of pace too! We will have to see them again I feel to fully appreciate them!
Up next were The City Kids, bringing an awesome punk edge to the proceedings. Another very polished band, but having enough swagger and attitude from their punk sound to still give it an edge. They were the first band that felt truly over with the crowd, that some of them had gone there specifically for them, which meant the crowd reactions and interactions were all the louder. One of the best modern punk bands I’ve heard, definitely for fans of the likes of Rancid and Bad Religion!
Up next, The Outlaw Orchestra chilled things out again with a more southern/blues sound. I love all things country so this was right up my street and I had a blast! I found they were at their best when they were a little slower, playing longer, more epic-feeling stuff. Their closing track was a definite highlight, but that isn’t to take away from the rest of the set. Even the covers they performed were top notch. Another top class band!
And within no time at all we reached the headliner of the first day of Rockin’ the Bowl, Cats In Space! What a way to close out a fantastic day too, with an equally fantastic set from a veteran rock band. They remind me a lot of Night Ranger or even Def Leppard, so ridiculously polished and well produced live that it could have just as easily been a recording of the tracks. Everything from their guitar tones to their harmonies to Damien’s incredible vocals sounded MASSIVE. I have to admit I was a little intoxicated by this point so my notes are messy and don’t make a lot of sense, but both ‘Mr Heartache’ and ‘Marionette’ were particular highlights. A fantastic way to close the night!
Read about the rest of the festival down below!