I was delighted to be asked if I would like to review and photograph Hollowstar headlining the 545 show at Bury St Edmund’s Apex venue on Friday 8 September. I had a personal nightmare getting there with one of my contact lenses dropping out while I was driving on the A14 meaning I had to turn back to get a replacement. But I preserved and I’m so glad I did as it was fully worth it. The Apex is a great little venue and about 80 fans were there to watch Hollowstar after support from 4 other local bands, Stone Deepe, SIAH, Deep City and Cathedrals & Cars. I had seen the band play for the first time a couple of months ago and after that performance they had me hooked.
Hollowstar themselves only formed a couple of years ago in 2015 and are a four-piece rock band from St Ives in Cambridgeshire. They play good loud energetic punchy rock with strong riffs, hard hitting drums and awesome guitar solos. Any similarities? I would suggest they have their own uniqueness but Stonebroken, Massive Wagons, The Treatment, SKAM and Western Sand are of similar ilk, young British rock bands who love to play modern classic rock and entertain their fans. Hollowstar themselves have a great local following who were there again in their droves all wearing their band T Shirts. Joe provides lead vocals and plays the bass guitar, his brother Jack is on drums, with Phil and Tom on the guitars taking turns to play lead. Tom had just returned from a business trip to a guitar show in Mannheim but the travel certainly didn’t affect his performance during the performance. Joe opened up the set by recalling they played there about 12 months ago. The acoustics in the venue are decent but the lighting is a photographers’ nightmare with lots of white, blue and red spot lights coming out from the back and with the enormous amount of dry ice it was like shooting in a cloud testing me to the limit.
They guys played nine tracks in all over the 45-minute set and it went unbelievably quickly. Five tracks came from their recently released six track EP together with four others.
The first track, “Money”, kicked off the set and is one of two where Jack on drums provides, what is becoming, his trademark drum stick twirls. Unfortunately, neither I nor the fans could see it this time through the blue fog but he didn’t miss a beat so I assumed he didn’t drop one. “Lay Down” followed and got everybody warmed up and bopping around with its awesome riff and easy to shout two-word chorus. “Future City” was the third track and slowed the pace a little but has a great guitar riff as a chorus where I couldn’t help myself from playing my own air guitar, I just hope no-one else noticed. “Sweet Suicide” followed which was a new one for me. It was a great bluesy song which showed me just how talented the lads are. Hopefully it will be able to be included on their next EP/album. Joe, the frontman who looks like a rock star should with his long flowing hair, then dedicated the next song to anyone suffering from, or who knows anyone suffering from, a mental illness. He explained that half of those attending have either suffered themselves or would know someone who has so asked those not suffering to support those who are as we never know when we might need similar. It was said with real personal passion so it was clear to he meant it from the heart. The slowest track of their set followed, “Feel The Burn”, and listening to the words brought new meaning to my favourite song of theirs that I hadn’t realised before. This time, rather than Jo handing over his bass to Phil and focussing on the singing, the band kept their guitars and it was just as good as when I heard it last time a couple of months ago. Another new track to me “In My Dreams” followed and again it was excellent. Then “New Age Lullaby” kicked in which had me bopping and singing along to the words again. Then Joe explained that they were going to play a new track which most fans probably wouldn’t have heard before, “All I Gotta Say”. Embarrassingly for me, he dedicated it to myself which I’m not sure I deserved but which was extremely kind of the band and I thank them. It was a great track again with a good guitar riff and an easy to sing along chorus I felt I already knew so I was back to singing along again. The final track was “Guilty” where Jack does his drum stick twirl for a second time in the set but again, unfortunately, we couldn’t see him in his cloud. I was ready for more but unfortunately their 45-minute set had meant they had already reached the curfew.
On vocals and bass Hollowstar have a great frontman in Joe with proper rock singer long flowing hair and a wonderful charisma. Phil and Tom are able to switch the lead and rhythm on the guitars at will with their own style and sound which flows seamlessly from track to track. I had to regularly do a double take to see which of them was leading on each track. Jack was obviously having his own fun on the drums and hats but unfortunately, in his cloud, we couldn’t see much of him this time. After their set, they stopped around to chat and sign goodies with their fans and they are all great guys in their own rights. All of them were extremely gracious and all they need is that one thing that will enable them to move on to the greater things they deserve. I provided my own personal support to them in buying the obligatory black T Shirt which again they have given their own uniqueness in printing a big “Hollowstar” on the back just above the waistband. Nice touch.
Hollowstar provided an awesome performance and I certainly can’t wait to see them again in a couple of weeks at the Subterranean Festival in Cambridge supporting Stonebroken at a larger event in front of a bigger group of rock lovers. This may be the break they are seeking. I then look forward to seeing them again supporting Tygers of Pan Tang in Bilston and then finally this year at The Melbourn Rock Club, when they support Joanovarc. A great band, a great gig, go see them if you haven’t already, you won’t be disappointed.
*PHOTOS ARE NOT TO BE USED WITHOUT THE PRIOR CONSENT OF Volcanic Rock Photography / DOWN THE FRONT MEDIA*