Wilkestock Festival 2018

Wilkestock is one of the best annual events in the small festival scene. Returning for it’s 11th year, the festival provided possibly the best line up that it has ever had.  For those who aren’t aware, Wilkestock is situated at Frogmore Hill just on the outskirts of Stevenage in Hertfordshire.  The tiny  festival consists of a main arena scattered with recycled sofas, two bars, and also several other stages around the outline of the main arena, all constructed from straw bales. No bricks and mortar needed! Wilkestock even introduced a brand new addition for 2018, the “Home Grown” stage.

This years’ event basked in glorious British sunshine for the whole weekend which was perfect to lie back, relax and enjoy a cold brew to watch the huge array of bands on the multiple stages. On arrival to the site and after picking up my press passes for the weekend, security had ensured to do a full bag search to ensure everyone’s safety.  Wilkestock, unfortunately have had security problems in the past, although for this year’s fun filled weekend, they appeared to have stepped up their game.

Of course aside from the stage points, the festival also provided appropriate bathroom facitlies, a camping area- with a fancy shower block making it’s debut this year, a childrens area including crazy golf and inflatables to play on, also stalls including sales of traditional festival attire and accessories and also a glitter tent where everyone could treat themselves to a sparkly makeover (this small tent was run by some very jolly people and artists). Surprisingly this small sparkle filled tent often filled with men. It was great to see them walking around with crystals on their faces and glitter filled beards. One thing that stood out for the glitter stall was that all the glitter that was used was biodegradable and is made from plant sources.  Very eco friendly. And I can’t leave out the food court! Oh my goodness, there were some simple, yet amazing food on offer at this festival.  I sampled many, many seasoned sweet potato fries, a pizza (which in my opinion was a little over priced at £8 for a simple cheese and tomato stone baked pizza so there isn’t much to them, although still tasty), and also noodles. The Chinese/oriental cuisine vender served some delicious meals and even though I opted for the simplest most plain option on the menu – I think it was even called plain and simple noodles (which was also a vegan option), but it was big in flavour! So Wilkestock provides ticket holders with three days of great live music variety.  The whole weekend just kept giving, with brilliant performances from all.  Although I have chosen to highlight my top acts for each day of the event.

Friday 31st August 

Day one of Wilkestock 2018 was opened by grunge/rock band Tigress.  The five piece from Chelmsford took to the Main Stage to perform their edgy tracks including, “Paranoid”, “Hangman” and more. Unfortunately during their set, they were faced with a few techicnal difficulties so there were occasionally left in silent pauses while not much happened on stage to fill the silence.  Although the band did make light of the teething problems and were able to continue with their set fully, with no further hiccups.

Continuing with a heavier style of rock music, Defences put on an unusual performance. I can kind of liken their music to a combination of Evanescence meets Linkin Park perhaps.  Roaring male vocals and softer female vocals to assist.  The band released their debut album last year and appear to be doing well in the music scene.

Later in the afternoon the Bella stage opened and also had a great variety of artists. One I particularly enjoyed was Bedfordshire based all male pop/punk band Behind The Lines. Not only did they perform some awesome tracks, they also packed out the tent for the duration of their entire set!  If you like music from acts such as Bowling For Soup, Sum 41 or maybe even Blink 182, then this band will probably be one for you to check out.

Later in the day, I also got to see a great set performed by Radio 1 favourite, Fizzy Blood. A rock/alternative band who are currently making their way up into the music world. They also actually sound far better live than recorded in my opinion.  So if you get the chance to see them live, then I reccomend you buy a ticket.

The most stand out act for me on friday was Glasgow based rockers The Lafontaines.  Taking to the Main Stage, their set included mostly upbeat feel good catchy music, which got many people up off of their rather comfortable sofas.  At one point the band’s front man even leapt down from the stage to take a walk around the main arena.  He also decided to literally couch surf before leaping off of one of the recycled furniture pieces. Thanks to our photographer, there is an epic jump shot of this exact moment.  We managed to catch up with band after their set backstage and their singer was rather impressed with this photo that we had managed to capture.

Friday evening also saw another big techincal problem. Unfortunately the festival was left in darkness and almost silent as the main generator had failed (rumour had it).  This had affected almost the entire site, including the food vendors appliances. In total this issue lasted for around half an hour, although during this time the Bella Stage at the back of the site was still able to generate power. So even though the poor Main Stage was hung out to dry, the feel good party vibes continued in the Bella Stage.  Despite the rather large technical hitch, people really weren’t too bothered.  Everyone was still in high spirits and were happy to chug down their drinks from their refillable plastic cups.

Thankfully with the efforts of the organisers, volunteers and production teams, the generator was back up and running.  The site was once again lit up with light and a buzzing electric energy. Everyone was more than ready to welcome the evening’s headline act, Mallory Knox.

The Cambridge based alternative rock band were anticipated by many.  I for one, was very much looking forward to seeing them perform live.  They have had a lot of airplay over the years, particularly from the very popular BBC Radio 1.  As expected, they put on a brilliant show for us all to see, although there wasn’t too much movement on stage from the band, there was an array impressive laser light shows accompanied by smoke machines and performances of all of their well known hits including, “Black Holes”, “Ghost In The Mirror” and personal favourite of mine “Shout At The Moon”. 

Saturday 1st September

Although a little tired from Friday night’s frivolities, myself and our photographer headed back for day two of Wilkestock!  Saturday was opened by this year’s local Battle Of The Bands winners Slap.

Slap were shortly followed by the band Fiende Fatale.  Their set was just a tad eccentric and I won’t lie, the singer’s appearance was somewhat different to say the least.  With smeared bright red lipstick (putting The Joker to shame) and a vest covered in hot dogs, the vocalist dominated the space he had with his on stage antics and interesting lyrics in the band’s music including a song titled “Vegan Cocaine”. An unusual act, but it totally works, they seemed to be quite popular there that day.

Another act worth mentioning is Wilkestock veterans The Scruff.  The band have been very well recieved in previous years while performing at the festival.  The band’s lead singer Adam, opened their set with probably the most amusing statement of the weekend “I’ve had a stella for breakfast and a hash in the van on the way here, but who cares? The sun’s out!”. The Scruff have returned to the festival fresh from playing at this year’s Reading and Leeds Festival. During their set we heard songs including the band’s current single “White Flag” and the very emotional “Her”.  They ended their set with a brilliant instrumental piece before exiting the stage.

There is one act that cannot be forgotten wherever they go.  They always leave their mark. The act I’m talking about is the very bonkers Strange Bones.  There is no other place to be for this band except on the main stage.  The band, from Blackpool, brought in some impressive crowds to surround the main stage as they performed.  Before this band had even entered the arena to perform, our photographer had said to me “The singer is known for jumping into the crowds”.  Low and behold, he was spot on!  The singer leapt from the stage numerous times, not only to perform and just be part of the crowds of people but also to just lie back and crowd surf too.  As their segment went on they were still pulling in new onlookers to join the masses in the main arena.  There is only one way to describe a live music set from Strange Bones, and that is loud, lary, madness!

All female rock band PINS brought a different vibe to the day. It was a performance to showcase girl power. I heard many people infront of me using that phrase over and over again. With two band members looking like love children of Sia and Lady Gaga, they certainly brought something different with their style of music, including heavy guitar riffs. Halfway through their set the bands drummer gave us an impressive intrumental solo. The main vocalist had great onstage presence and was often seen standing up on the drumkit platform to perform.

After a fantastic performance just two short years ago, the festival welcome back Eliza And The Bear. They have just finished a tour to promote their newest album “Group Therapy” which is due for realease in October this year. As anticipated just as they did two years ago they proved to be a very popluar act within the Wilkestock community. As far as the eye could see people could be seen up on their feet dancing, even on platforms and props scattered around the grounds. We got to hear performances of their singles “Lions Heart”, “It Gets Cold”, the almighty anthem that is “Friends” and not forgetting an awesome cover of Earth Wind and Fire’s well known hit “September”.

Saturday evening was brought to a close after a performance from headline act The Fratellis.

Sunday 2nd September

Althought their was a variety of performances on the Sunday the atmostphere was far quieter and much more relaxed. Performances included sets from Minnie Birch, Didi, Zoe Phillips, Crystal Tides and more. The final act on main stage came from Oh My God! It,s the Church! What a way to end an awesome weekend!

Throughout the entire weekend inbetween each act there were also DJ sets from DJ Adam O and Matt Crawley which encouraged giant, not necessarily pitch perfect sing-a-longs.

Wilkestock Festival is an event that you will unlikely be dissapointed by, with affordable ticket prices and alot to offer as there is something there for everyone, no matter what your taste in music may be.

Don’t forget to check out the Wilkestock site for more information and next years tickets here!

For more photos by Kane Howie check out our flickr page here!

 

Geronimo Festival 2018 Review (Knebworth Park)

It's the ultimate family festival in the UK and The Sunday Mirror have labelled it as "Glastonbury for kids!"  Yes, this review will feature the brilliant Geronimo Festival.  For 2018 Geronimo was brought to ticket holders at two different locations.  The first being at Cheshire's Arley Hall and the second being Knebworth Park in Hertfordshire.  I was lucky enough to be able to attend the two day event at Knebworth Park on the weekend of 30th June – 1st July.  

With Geronimo being the ultimate family festival, I made the most out of the event by taking my three year old son along with me.  The line up was jam packed with well known CBeebies presenters, characters and many other recognisable faces that my son believes to be his idols, so there was no way I could leave him at home with the grandparents for this one.  

The site was easy to find, although we did have to queue in a lot of heavy traffic outside of the park at the top end of Stevenage.  I believe we sat in our car and waited for around 20 minutes.  The organisers of the festival had hired traffic control teams and stationed them outside of the park to help to manage traffic levels in a more effective manner.  On Saturday morning, the workers that were taking on this role, actually appeared to struggle with the amount of cars building up, as traffic could be seen queuing onto the A1.  Although by Sunday the problems had been resolved and it was far easier to enter the site straight away without any problems at all.  

Walking into the actual festival site was like walking into a wonderland. There was so much to see and do.  At the entrance there were dancing trees, a clown on stilts, floating bubbles, balloons, brightly coloured flags, music and more. This was a festival that had it all.  At the back of the site there was access to an inflatable village, a fun fair with a large Ferris wheel, Helter Skelters, smaller rides, traditional fairground stalls and games.  There was also a climbing wall, a real life arcade where children and parents alike could be part of games like Whack-a-mole, giant Jenga and Tetris. It felt like everyone was able to be a character from the blockbuster Ready Player one.  I won't forget to mention there were also plenty of access to toilet facilities, water stations, nappy changing and breastfeeding tents as well smaller live shows including stunts, imaginative plays and a brilliant live Dino show which my son watched numerous times.  Children were asked to volunteer to meet a 'real' baby T-Rex, aptly named Rex in a fun and interactive segment.  

The whole weekend was presented by former CBeebies presenter Alex Winters. What a brilliant choice.  Not only did he introduce acts on stage, he also entertained the audiences in between set times, he was also casually walking around the site meeting everyone and would cover all of the site to promote other events going on around the site that weren't featured on the main (Castle) stage.  As the weekend event fell in the middle of a heatwave, what was also great about Alex was that he was there to be an assistance to parents to advise children to put on their sun creams, wear protective clothing like hats and drink plenty of water.  This worked very well. Also regarding the heatwave –  Winters was often seen on stage throwing out water balloons and buckets of water to the crowds of people in front of the main stage to keep everyone cool, which actually was really helpful in the scorching temperatures.  

There was also a great variety of food provided by vendors at the event.  On offer were ice-creams, deluxe milkshakes (at a whopping £8 each!), stone baked pizzas, the traditional burgers and fries, sushi, vegan and oriental street food and plenty of sugary treats for the little ones.  

Before I get to the performers that were featured at the weekend event, I would like to share with you all just how much there was to do on site.   We never once got bored as there was always something else to take part in or see.  My son was able to part in a wide variety of craft activities, which was actually really lovely as it meant taking something home.  All craft activities were FREE, but were happy to receive donations should ticket holders want to offer to support their organisations.  An example of just some of the crafts included making bug bling and pine cone insects by the lovely people from The Fairyland Trust, wicker craft which meant shaping and decorating either balloons, wings or baskets, wooden staff carving – so ideal to bring out your inner explorer or wizard. Also clay modelling, soap carving, ceramic tile decorating inside the Messy Kids workshop tent. 

Over the weekend there were so many amazing performances including shows from Sohan Bollywood – pretty self explanatory, but it was a colourful, fun and interactive Bollywood dance show where parents and children were invited up onto the stage to dance along.  Also Junior Frood – a teen dancer who has amazing talent at such a young age. He does all of his own choreography, has already danced alongside pop star Justin Bieber and is soon on his way to Hollywood to work with celebrity choreographer Brian Friedman.  Other very amusing and interactive shows came from CBeebies presenters Sid & Rebecca (who are well known for their imaginative TV programme "Let's Play") and also the very funny and cheeky pirates Cook & Line from the very popular children's television  programme "Swashbuckle".  

 

Here is some information of some of the most standout performances of the weekend:

Andy and The Oddsocks – Saturday

Andy Day is probably one of, if not the most famous of the CBeebies presenters.  He is easily recognisable for his height, big hair and his smiley, jolly nature. Andy is well known for his many adventures on CBeebies shows including "Andy's Wild Adventures", "Andy's dinosaur Adventures", "Andy's Prehistoric Adventures" and most recently his "Safari Adventures" on the pre-school aged television channel.  Now he will be known for something completely different. For being in a band!  Andy and The Oddsocks have recently recorded and released their debut album, titled "Who Invited This Lot?" which is solely aimed at young children.  At the beginning of the set, we got to meet The Oddsocks (Blu, Moxy and Mac) first as they entered the main stage.  Of course there was a big build up to introduce the main man himself (Andy Day) as band member Mac worked the audience to encourage everyone to chant "Andy! Andy! Andy!" 

Day ran onto the stage to greet the crowds of screaming pre-schoolers and some very enthusiastic mothers. Haha! The set was highly energetic and involved a lot of audience participation including bouncing giant inflatable footballs around the arena.  The band told the stories behind each one of their very catchy songs that they performed including:"Aliens", "Ninja Pig",  "Groover Hoover" – which saw the introduction of Hetty The Highland Hoover, "Dinosaur Football Legend Mega Match" and the song with a heartfelt meaning "Unique". 

I was also lucky enough to meet Andy Day backstage for a chat before they were due to grace the main stage to discuss more about Andy and The Oddsocks.  He was just as everyone imagines him to be, so down to earth and just lovely.  My son was also clearly very star struck when he got to meet his hero. Thank you to Andy for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet  with me.  

To find out what's next for Andy and The Oddsocks and to check out my interview with Andy click on the video link below:

Katy Ashworth – Saturday and Sunday

Katy is best known for her presenting role on children's television programmes "I Can Cook!" and "I Can Cook With You".  The presenter is currently heavily pregnant, but this certainly wasn't going to hold her back from putting on some amazing shows.  How she had that much energy I do not know. She is a role model for not only children but mothers alike. She sang a couple of traditional children's songs, one of them being the very popular  "Wheels On The Bus" and also songs from "I Can Cook" which I even ended up singing along to, but there was a lot of amusing puns and innuendo within her show aimed at parents so that it was certainly something that we could all genuinely really enjoy too.  I remember at one point she asked parents "Who out there eats the children's left overs?"many people admitted to this so she continued with "Oh yes, a lovely soggy fish finger on a Wednesday night after Brownies!" Katy also had the audience interacting by playing a giant game of "Fruit Bowl" which is a game where children, mums and dads all had to impersonate and represent a piece of fruit whenever she called out it's name.  Towards the end of her segment she also invited three dads up onto the stage to help her 'cook' were they helped her make a banana milkshake and the winner was presented with a wooden spatula with her name on it and the runners up being given wooden spoons with the same inscription. 

Mr Bloom & His Band – Sunday

Mr Bloom is a very popular CBeebies character played by Cornish actor Ben Faulks. He is a keen gardener and has been involved in programmes including "Mr Bloom's Nursery" and "Here And There" where he teaches children about nature, the importance of gardening and also goes on day trips with children (or as he calls them 'Tiddlers') and their families.  The famous gardener strolled out onto a stage that was surrounded by giant inflatable fruit and vegetables as he introduced everyone to his band before shortly bursting into song while playing his ukulele as they performed the well known theme tune for his programme "Here And There".  The show included a fruit and vegetable guessing game to which children in the audience won whatever food item Mr Bloom was showing on stage.  I've never known young children to be so excited over a piece of fruit or a vegetable. Many families could do with their own Mr Bloom in their households at mealtimes if that's what it takes to get children to eat their 5-a-day.  Like Katy Ashworth's set there was also a lot of innuendo filled humour for the grown ups too. Even a discussion about the possibility of the band playing music by Metallica

 

Justin Fletcher – Sunday

Justin Fletcher, MBE, is the man behind many lovable children's characters.  He is most famously known for his TV show "Something Special" where he appears as a clown like character named Mr Tumble. He teaches children how to use Makaton in their daily lives.  This form of sign language makes Mr Tumble a firm favourite in many family households and he is held dear to the hearts of families with children who may have physical or learning difficulties.  His show started in the most spectacular way possible, he was supported by backing dancers as he came out singing original single, the infectious "Just Party" while confetti cannons were released and filled the grounds in front of the Castle stage with bright colours.  He soon went on to sing "Happy Birthday" in case anyone at the event were celebrating a birthday around the time of the festival.  Fletcher also went on to announce that his TV show "Something Special" is 15 years old this year and that he has been in the business for  an impressive 20 years! He followed the announcement with a huge thank you to everyone for their support over those years.  There was also a further announcement that the presenter had to share with his fans, he told everyone that there will be a new series of "Gigglebiz" on it's way and that there's only 2 more weeks of filming.  Exciting stuff.  As "Gigglebiz" was mentioned he went on to bring some other well known characters of his to life including Arthur Sleep, Keith Fit and Gail Force.  His show also included a the biggest "Hokey Cokey" with the whole arena getting involved and other songs including "Let's Go Fly A Kite", "Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes", and "Wibble and Wobble". There was also a chance for both parents and children to show him their Makaton skills before he closed his set by singing "The Goodbye Song"Justin Fletcher not only put on an amazing show, but he clearly had an amazing time himself too.  

My little family had the best time at Geronimo Festival, it really is a festival like no other and is perfect for the whole family to enjoy.  This is a festival that I highly recommend to everyone and one that I hope to return to in 2019.  Some details for the 2019 weekend have already been put into place including the line up. For more information about what Geronimo has in store for all of the Geronimites in 2019 check out their website.

Photos by Kane Howie

For more photos CLICK HERE!!

 

 

Truck Festival 2017

Truck festival is the self labelled “Godfather of the small festival scene” and is one of the longest running small festivals in the UK. The festival based in Steventon in Oxfordshire was founded by brothers Robin and Joe Bennett and originally began as a birthday celebration for Robin. The brothers then handed control of the event over to Matt Harrap and his team after facing financial difficulties in 2012.  Now in 2017 in it’s twentieth year, the festival is still going strong with a line up that gets bigger each year.
In past years the festival has been known to find talents from up and coming bands that are trying to find their way onto the music scene to become arena sell out artists with many of these artists making their festival debut’s at Truck. Past performances include Biffy Clyro, Mystery Jets, Foals, Catfish and the Bottlemen and many, many more.

This year, Truck has seen a big change to the layout of the festival site compared to previous years’ usual look. The large area provided festival goers with eight stages, each with their own style of performances. Over the weekend, the ever popular Truck Stage, which is the event’s main stage in the centre of the site provided a huge variety of bands and artists for us to see.  Secondary to the Truck stage was the Market Stage which brough us performances from popular artists including Honeyblood, Tom Grennan and Twin Atlantic. The other six stages included were The Nest-the third of the bigger stages, then the slightly smaller venues that included The Barn, The Saloon Bar-which is well known for its country style, Veterans and Virgins stage, and lastly, not forgetting The Temple, and The Ruins venues that could be found within the Palm City area of the site which mostly showcases DJ sets including an amazing set from none other than Hollywood actor Idris Elba!

Also on offer on site was an array of activities and stalls for all ages to enjoy. Even fairground rides and games. As this is a family friendly festival, Truck saw the return of Angel Gardens which is a dedicated team of enthusiastic people in a designated children and family area. This area was situated just  off of the main arena and provided activities from 10am until 6pm.  Their tipi was full of lots of things to keep little ones happy and content. They had planned activities that included arts and crafts, singing and music, dance and movement, sensory play, story telling, cooking classes, races and games and even circus skills performances. Angel Gardens also planned to provide a bath and bedtime hour each evening from 5pm until 6pm where children can wash and relax to get ready for bed. I thought this was a brilliant idea, especially as I took my two year old son with me.
Next to the children’s area was a cinema with a diverse range of films for both  children and adults. The listings included big Disney movies- Moana, Up!, Toy story 1, 2 and 3 and also films aimed at a more mature audience like Jurassic Park, The Mask, Jaws, The Wedding Singer and the multiple award winning La La Land.

Each year the team at Truck festival has been known to provide ticket holders with a wide variety of food choices. Well this year there was even more! They had almost every corner of the food map covered. What was better is that because there was a much wider choice of foods this meant that people were spending a lot less time queueing for their grub. The food hall tent gave us pizzas, smoothies, indian cuisine, a hog roast, burgers, mac and cheese, tea and coffee and so much more. There was also many street cart food vendors on site around the arena which introduced us to greek street food, vegan and vegetarian cuisine, thai food, the list goes on and on. Feel good food stands were also donating all of their profits to many different charities which is a really nice idea. The one downside that I and many others noticed was the extortionate prices at the bar. I remember going to buy a bottle of water and being charged £2.50 to which I refused to pay, especially as I was able to buy the same amount of bottled water for just £1 at another food stall. Not only this, many people I had spoken to at the event were feeling a little cheated as they were being charged £5 per pint at the bar. And as there was a new no alcohol on return policy in place, this certainly rubbed a lot of people up the wrong way.

Speaking of grievances, If anyone reading this review has also read any other 2017 Truck festival related news, you will have undoubtedly seen a lot of negative articles about this weekend’s event. Here on behalf of myself and everyone at Summer Festival Guide, I do not intend to focus on the negatives that have appeared to over shadow many peoples opinions of this festival. Lets get the negativity out of the way. Firstly the weather was absolutely awful.  It rained, and rained and then rained some more. This of course turned the festival grounds into a giant muddy slip and slide and caused many campers tents to become flooded, including my own. No one is at fault for the very unpredicable weather conditions, but the security teams and production teams on site tried to help as much as they could by covering the worst effected parts of the ground with straw in an attempt to soak up the mud. Which worked to a certain extent.

While at the festival and since the event, I have spoken to many people as they were wanting to express their concerns to pretty much anyone who would listen as unfortunately the organisers of Truck festival haven’t appeared to be overly co operative. It appeared that the layout of the camping areas were not as well thought out as they maybe should have been.  There were five campsite areas which surrounded the arena, one of which was for the production team. The rest included general camping, the glamping and Zodiac camping areas which were priced higher than general camping as it provided extra facilities such as showers and larger tents and lastly the family camping area.  Family camping was the furthest away from the arena to which I can only assume was an attempt to keep it quieter for families with younger children which in therory is a good idea. Although in order to get the the festival arena, families were expected to walk through the general camping area which in my opinion and in the opinion of many others wasn’t such a good idea. Especially as it required walking down a hill that was turned into a giant mud slide after the heavy rainfall.  Not only that, it also was not ideal for young children to be walking through a campsite full of other festival goers that had a lot of alcohol and even recreational drugs on them which also left the general admission campsite in a bit of a state.  There is a very strict no drugs on site policy in place so clearly there would have been further security issues there too. Further issues with campsites included broken showers in the glamping and Zodiac camping areas. Ticket holders in these areas had paid over £30 extra to be able to use these shower facilities only to discover that they weren’t always able to. Lastly regarding complaints and unfortunate situations, over thirty reports were made to the organisers about items being stolen from tents, not only while the tents were empty but also when occupied while people were sleeping. Even though many people are left confused as to what is being done about these reports, it does appear that reports of stolen goods are still being dealt with. In all honesty it looks like the organisers at Truck festival will have a lot to think about while preparing for next year’s event.

Who’s ready for the fun stuff? The music highlights! The weekend provided us with an amazing line-up with so many great acts to see. It was so hard to pick which acts to go and see as many of “the ones to watch” had timing clashes so it mean’t a lot of running around for myself and our photographer. But totally worth it, no matter how much mud we may have been covered in. There are so many artitsts that I would love to include in this review but I have narrowed it down to just a few. One of the performaces that really stood out for me was the set from South London band Arcane Roots.  If you enjoy music from Biffy Clyro then these guys will be right up your alley. The band who have recently been raved about by DJ Annie Mac, attracted a lot of fans into the tent, which was eventually full to capacity. Just after perforfming their latest release, titled “Off The Floor” which in itself is a great head bopper, they then went on to sing a small segment of the massive  Linkin Park hit “Crawling”, which I have no doubt was a touching tribute to the band’s front man Chester Bennington who has recently passed away.  This was definitely a stand out moment for me and clearly many others in the room as it was met with applause.

An act that is defintly worth a mention is the unforgettable and high energy four piece, Yonaka. The band’s first appearance at Truck was in 2016 and they were named as one of the best sets of the weekend’s event.  This year they had returned to find themselves performing  on the main stage. With striking vocals from Theresa Jarvis and her very theatrical movements they had an amazing stage presence and captivated the audience. The band performed some of their singles including “Wouldn’t Wanna Be Ya”, “Ignorance” “Bubblegum” and the intense “All In My Head” to which they encouraged the crowds of people to sing along with them. If you get the chance to see them perform live, don’t miss out!

Saturday lunchtime brought us the very energetic Truck festival veteran that was the one and only Mr Motivator. This was certainly a segment to help festival goers get up onto their feet to shake off their friday night hangovers. With great music, funky moves and inspiring words during his half an hour time slot Mr Motivator really did bring out the inner sunshine in all of us during a very damp weekend.

Sunday evening saw probably one of the best acts of the weekend at the Market stage. Scottish alternative rock band Twin Atlantic. The quartet who formed in 2007 completly packed out their venue at Truck.  Not only was the Market stage bursting at the seems being at full capacity but they area surrounding was jam packed too. The band performed well known singles “Brothers & Sisters”, “Heart and Soul” and had blown the roof off of the venue during big hit “No Sleep!”.  Clearly these four lads would have been better suited to the festival’s main stage.  I really hope they will return to make this happen.

Lastly I cannot forget to mention the awesome headline acts! Truck organisers did not disappoint with these big names. Friday night concluded with the chart topping Franz Ferdinand.  The glasgow based indie rockers opened their impressive set with the very familiar “Matinee”. They also performed hits “Walk Away” and the massive “Take Me Out”.

Saturday night’s headline act was The Libertines. The band ushered on to the music scene in the early noughties with their debut single “What A Waster” competing with the likes of The Strokes and Doves. Following a hiatus in the mid noughties the band then reunited for gigs at the ever popular Leeds and Reading festivals in 2010. At truck crowds of fans saw them perform hits such as “Time For Heroes” and “What Katie Did”.

The biggest and probably most anticipated performance of the weekend was also the one that brought the weekend to a close. This came from huge British band The Vaccines! These guys had drawn in thousands of people to the main stage (even England footballer Stuart Pierce!) while they performed many of their greatest hits which included “If You Wanna”, “Post Break-up Sex”, “Melody Calling”, “Norgaard” and even sampled some new music from their forthcoming album. Their set ended with a spectacular firework display which left the entire site reeling in feel good vibes

To me, Truck festival 2017 was a success. I really enjoyed my time there and I would absolutely love to go again. Yes there were a few hiccups this year that can be improved upon, which the organisers need to take into consideration when planning the 2018 event, but I won’t let it dampen (pardon the pun) my view of a well rounded family friendly festival.

Bring on Truck 2018!

Photos by Kane Howie

For more photos click HERE!

To purchase your 2018 Truck Festival tickets click HERE!

Best Kept Secret Line up Complete!

Best Kept Secret, the food and music lovers dream festival that takes place in Hilvarenbeek each year has finally released their full Line Up, with Daphni, Palbomen II and Joost van Bellen making their appearance on dj stage FOUR. 

These are additions to an already overwhelming Line Up. Headliners Beck, Editors and Jamie XX will be joined by an array of different genres of artists, hailing from all continents. Two Door Cinema Club, Wilco, Mount Kimbe, Beach Slang, Yeasayer, Band Of Horses, Bloc Party, Fat White Family and many more will be taking the five stages at Beekse Bergen Safari Park over the weekender. We can't wait to see what the fourth installment of the festival has to offer, see you in June!

To read the review of last year's festival, click here

Wychwood Festival 2015 Review

Wychwood festival returned for its 11th year in the beautiful Prestbury Hills of Cheltenham. Set on the famous Cheltenham Racecourse, the location boasts great transport and parking facilities, while still being on acres of well maintained luscious land. The friendly atmosphere brings in a mix of all ages with its main priority focusing on a family feel. With activities including arts and crafts workshops and improvised comedy, as well as an eclectic range of music on offer it is easy to keep every member of the family happy. Although it is family friendly Wychwood does not compromise on the festival experience. With headliners from the funk and soul Craig Charles to the legendary UB40 there is music for all tastes.

Friday kicked off to a dreary start, but the rain and grey clouds soon settled into a delightful afternoon of blue skies with the occasional cold wind. This gave people a chance to seek shelter in the smaller tents which hosted a range of entertainment from acoustic sets to clay modelling classes and comedy. The biggest bar of the festival was inside the Hobgoblin tent, where americana/ folk band, Loud Mountains gave a stellar performance on the Friday afternoon. With awesome guitar riffs, catchy rhythms and clever harmonies, Loud Mountains gave the crowd a heartwarming performance which all ages could sing along to and enjoy.

With a huge selection of drinks, local ales and food stalls on offer- there was plenty of choice for all tastes. Tasty pulled pork, nutella smothered crepes, ostrich burgers and Mr Whippy ice creams were a few of the many popular choices that Wychwood had to offer. Despite the festival being well tailored for families, the Pimms and Real Ale was also flowing, with adults enjoying themselves as much as the children.

After the impressive set from Loud Mountains, it was over to the main stage for ‘The Undertones’ who played a set made up of more songs than many bands write throughout their entire career. It was a punk rock treat with the Derry band choosing to let their music do the talking as they treated crowd to songs like ‘Jimmy Jimmy’ and ‘Teenage Kicks’. The latter of the two songs brought almost a sense of relief throughout the crowd, as they played that ever recognisable riff. Once they had finished, it was time to prep the stage for the headline act, which left just enough time inbetween to check out ‘Darlia’ over on the second largest of Wychwood’s stages. 

Darlia– the Blackpool based 3-piece were really impressive. Walking around between the crowd, the words ‘Nirvana’ and ‘Kurt Cobain’ were mentioned so many times by onlookers, it gives a good picture of their sound. Sadly this somewhat draws away from the fact that the band actually have their own nailed-on balance of gritty guitars and catchy melody lines, which is almost an evolution of the Seattle grunge sound of old, without being at all tacky or cliché. Their set was really impressive with the song ‘Candyman’ being a stand out favourite.

It was now time for the headline act for the Friday and much like the range of people who attended this fantastic little festival – it could not have been any more different! It was time for the crowd to go wild for ‘Boney M’. With their back catalogue of disco tracks, they entertained the masses with the likes of ‘Daddy cool’, ‘rasputin’ and ‘brown girl in the ring’ and at one point even played a rendition of Bob Marley’s ‘No Woman No Cry’. Boney M were 110% fun from the word go and played with the professionalism of a group that has been together for just short of 40 years. Maizie Williams  was the only original member who performed in this line-up, her star quality such that she stood out like a diamond. A great choice of headliner from the festival and a job well done from Boney M.

The weekend’s sun continued to shine down on Wychwood festival as the family-friendly vibes started up for the second day. The afternoon crowd which gathered at main stage for the Electric Swing Circus was a mixture of all ages and the band was the perfect fit for a such a varied audience. The vocal double act of Laura Louise and Bridget Walsh’s energy was infectious, and Guitarist Tom Hyland entertained the kids with his ringmaster attire and killer dance moves. But the band were not all about the visuals, as their ‘Electro-Swing’ music was Saturday’s real show-starter; a sound to match the diversity of the crowd with heavily sample based tunes backed up by solid double-bass lines and swing rhythms – it worked really well.

 

 A small break on the main stage was enough time for the crowd to multiply ten-fold for one of the most recognisable acts of the past 30 years – both visually and sonically! It was the turn of the Proclaimers to take to the Wychwood stage. Identical twins Charlie and Craig Reid played through their back catalogue as well as throwing in a few songs from their latest album. Their set was hugely entertaining and was a singalong from the beginning to the end. At one point, Charlie read out a dedication they had received before bursting into ‘Let’s get married’ – The dedication proved to set the scene for a marriage proposal on the front row and she said yes! The duo completed the song and wished the happy couple the best of luck before Charlie said (tongue firmly in cheek) ‘ Just the one time, I’d like someone to say no and for there to be a little fight in the corner.’ After many a classic, they courteously wrapped their set up with ‘I’m gonna be (500 Miles)’ before making way for the headline act – UB40’S Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue.

 

 UB40 Hoodies seemed to be the clothing of choice for many throughout the day and this was reflected by the size of the crowd for the headline act. Accompanied by a saxophonist, trumpet player and trombonist, the band stormed through a set of their classics, whilst also throwing in some songs from their latest albums. Starting the proceedings with ‘Here I Am (Come and take me)’ they flew through a hugely entertaining set including ‘Red Red Wine’ and even an Elvis Presley cover!

Sunday brought with it a tiredness to the crowds, but this was in no way reflected in the music with stellar performances from DJ Craig Charles and Rusty Shackle. Justin Fletcher also made an appearance on mainstage for the children and was received with much jubilation by the crowd.

The highlight though for Sunday, possibly even the entire festival, was the South African male choir group, Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Formed in 1960, this band certainly lived up to its platinum disc honoured status. With the ravishing harmonies and joyful atmosphere- every child to every adult danced in awe as the sun set amongst the Prestbury Hills. Gleeful children on parents shoulders waved their arms in time to the flawless rhythms of the choir. The uplifting experience worth watching in the flesh was definitely the best way to end a brilliant weekend. Despite the bitter cold of night, Ladysmith Black Mambazo had defiantly left a warm mark of Africa on Wychwood Festival 2015.