Day 2 started off with a bang from Sheffield hard rockers Steal The City. We last caught them as a last minute fill-in at Rockin’ the Bowl last year, and they were somehow even better this time around! The band boarder on metalcore almost in their sound but it is also light enough to appeal to the hard rock crowd pretty well. They are four talented individuals, put on one hell of a show and won over a pretty decent-sized crowd considering it wasn’t even midday yet.
Following on from them, we caught the awesome glam/sleaze rock band Twister. Opening up with an awesome drum intro that saw the guitarist and bassist playing kettle drums either side of the stage set the precedence for a great show. The screams built into the cab-wall was also a fun, interesting touch that I haven’t seen much of before! Add to that some incredibly catchy songs and frontman Stevie Stoker’s powerful, almost Bruce Dickinson-esque vocals and you have yourselves a fine set! Sleaze as a genre has never really got the love it deserved, but this band has the potential to change that and be massive.
After a few quick interviews we managed to swing by the third stage for the first time and check out our friends Dead Writers. We caught the back half of their set and they were amazing. Having an up and down last year with line-up changes, the band are currently down to two members and some touring session players. However, everyone put in the work and played their hearts out to make it a great set. I can see big things for the guys in the future, especially once they have a full lineup!
Next up were brooding rockers Empyre. I have to admit when I saw them at Rockin’ the Bowl I didn’t quite get it. However, they smashed it out of the park and have a definite huge fan in me. Each of them are such incredible musicians and when they all come together they put on a good show and write some great music. And it probably helped that they were the ONLY BAND it rained during all weekend, only adding to the dark atmosphere. I can’t wait for their new music!
Next up were a band I hadn’t heard of but I left being a big fan of: ENDSCAPE. Much like Steal the City, the band seemed to boarder on metalcore when I saw them live. However, checking them out in the few days since, they remind me more of Burn Halo and Rev Theory, the kind of post-nu-metal/post-post-grunge US sound. We don’t get much of it over here so it’s so awesome to hear it be part of the UK underground rock scene. The band rattled through some great songs with a lot of energy and left me wanting more. Good stuff!
Next up were another band that will probably be up there with everyone’s favourites for the weekend, Florence Black. What more is there to be said about this band? It’s not a case of if but when they are going to make it huge, and I really don’t think it will take them long. While they are rather different styles, I feel myself comparing them to Black Stone Cherry in their stage presence, effortlessly good songwriting and immediate gripping of a large, growing portion of the UK rock fanbase. And they still get better and better still every time I see them. The scene is in good hands for the future with these guys and South of Salem.
Next up were the most curious band on the line-up for at least myself and a couple of other journalists, Raging Speedhorn. The heaviest big band on the bill by quite a margin and sandwiched between two crowd favourites in Florence Black and Massive Wagons on the main stage, it was an odd slot for them to have. Because of that, the crowd didn’t care, with a lot going elsewhere. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the band then took that personally and started calling the festival goers names and even going as far as to call out the guy next on, the legend that is Ricky Warwick. Musically the band were great, but the negative energy all around made this not the greatest of sets.
As mentioned, next up was The Almighty/Thin Lizzy/Black Star Riders alumni Ricky Warwick. Speaking to him before his set he seemed calm and quiet, but that all changed when he took the stage. The man oozed charisma effortlessly, he alone making sure you couldn’t take your eyes off the set. The rest of the band also played their parts perfectly, too. Ripping through a setlist full of awesome, folk rock tracks from the Fighting Hearts, with even the odd Thin Lizzy and Almighty track thrown in for good measure, it was a show and a half. Ricky had the crowd eating out the palm of his hand like only a seasoned veteran could.
Then we have the Friday night headliners Massive Wagons. It’s another band that I feel it’s redundant at this point to say they’re good. They’ve been putting out fantastic music for over a decade and have a reputation of being a great live band, wherever on the bill they end up. Heck, I have barely any notes on them as I wrote them up on Saturday morning, the show was too enthralling to look away from. Between the awesome songs, electrifying stage presence and enough pyro to cause Till Linderman’s eyebrow to raise, it was a huge highlight of the weekend!