(Photo Credits: Linda Flynn)
Set in the grounds of Wiston Lodge in Scotland, Wildfire Festival was a 3-day event set to showcase some of the newest and brightest underground Rock and Metal music around. Around 70 bands performed over the weekend of June 23 – 25, spread across 3 stages. Here are some of the highlights for us.
Friday 23rd June 2017
Black King Cobra opened up the entire festival and did so with gusto. Being only their 9th ever gig (!) there were, naturally, some displays of nerves, and frontman Callum Moran seemed to have trouble accepting, or believing, that they deserved to be there, but after the dust settled on their set, there was no doubt. They absolutely DID deserve their place. This is a groove rock band at its finest. Tight songs, bags of melody and a proficient level of musicianship throughout. There were some technical issues with Ross Clark's guitar which he handled like a seasoned pro (including a wah-wah solo played with the guitar leads input jack against his hand) but it didn’t deter from their performance in any way. Johnny Keel on the bass is the next incarnation of Flea. That boy has the soul and funk oozing out of his pores and he is an absolute beast on the bass guitar. Keeping them all locked in together on the drums is Steve Todd. The chemistry these guys have is almost telepathic. One of the highlights of the entire weekend and a band well worth keeping an eye on.
Tantrum are your good old fashioned, old school rock and roll band, and a classic example of a band who sound good on record but even better live. There’s nothing gimmicky or flashy about them, they just get up there and deliver hard-hitting rock and roll with rumbling bass, dual guitar lines and powerful vocals. Full of energy, they gave a phenomenal performance that gave the crowd in attendance a kick up the ass. As drummer Billy Angus says “4/4 is the law” and you can’t argue with that.
Torqued were our first foray into the heavier side of Wildfire this year. Having heard their recorded material, we knew what we were going to get but again, another that just brings it in a live setting. Marc Cleaves bass dripped with groove as his fingers danced around the fretboard whilst Dave Grange’s sharp guitar riffs cut through the air, all the while backed by the solid foundation provided by Kurt Johnson on the drums.
I don’t know why, but he reminds me of Ken Owens of Carcass, not in appearance, but I think it’s more that he is an unassuming individual but is a monster behind the kit. Overall, the band sounded great and give off a Gojira vibe. One for lovers of a darker, heavier side of metal.
Hailing from South Wales, Beautiful Strangers made the long journey up to Scotland and delivered, for many in attendance, one of the standout sets of the weekend. The guitar tandem of Mike James and Richie Lewis is superb and the vocals of frontman Stuart Davies are incredible. Another one with #powerpipes for sure. Their music is dirty, sleazy, sexy, sweaty hard rock, laced with the kind of danger you’d get with Gun N Roses or Velvet Revolver.
Other Animals set went down very well. An Australian 9-piece with several members swapping instruments throughout which is always impressive. Musically they are quite experimental and alternative but they are equal parts heavy and majestic. The crowd were taken on a journey of bombastic, yet touching music. Big choruses, soaring vocals and a band worth checking out.
Eva Plays Dead have a punk vibe to them, especially in vocalist Tiggy Dee’s delivery, but the band deliver massive riffs and melodies and craft a very solid rock sound. Tiggy commands the stage with confidence and a cocky swagger and the high energy performance went down a storm. One fan having travelled 7 hours just to see them play and then was heading back straight after! With that sort of dedicated fanbase and the gritty, modern rock music that they create, there is no reason why Eva Plays Dead can’t go far.
Saturday 24th June 2017
Empyre kicked things off on The Moshville Times stage and unfortunately for us, we were unable to catch their entire set. What we did hear though blew us away. The vocals of Henrik Steenholdt were fantastic, the ferocity of their performance was captivating and they come across as a passionate, engaging modern rock band. Definitely a band we will be checking out again and one we recommend you doing so too.
Do you fancy having a continental breakfast thrown at you first thing in the morning? Psychobabylon think you should! Vocalist Rusty D, dressed partially in hospital scrubs, opened his goodie bag mid-set to unleash a healthy start to the day, bananas and croissants to an unsuspecting crowd. But what did we get with our breakfast? A side order of monstrous riffs and fantastic songs delivered at a frenetic pace. The minute their set starts, it’s like you’re being electrocuted, you are pumped and ready to be entertained. Psychobabylon are a horror punk, goth rock mixture, spitting out licks with a furious venom to a backdrop of monolithic rhythm. A fantastic live band, energetic and fun! As they say, forget what you know and embrace the strange.
Theia are another band that are full of high energy. Frontman Kyle flings himself around the stage like a madman whilst they entertain with their brand of AC/DC influenced classic rock. Armed with a new album, the incredible “Back In Line”, Theia tore through their set. Huge riffs, catchy choruses and a pounding rhythm section make Theia one of the UK’s fastest rising stars.
Northern Irelands Gasoline Outlaws put on an incredible performance and were undoubtedly one of the best bands over the entire festival. Good old fashioned riff rock with a tonne of melodies. They are a bunch of great lads and they bring that fun and craic onto the stage. The crowd went crazy for them and were treated to an incredible set which included a brand new song, “Hard Times,” which went down extremely well. A band that know how to command an audience and one well worth spending your hard earned money on seeing live.
What can you say about SKAM that hasn’t already been said before? The Leicester based 3-piece delivers a high octane show full of energy and they always put smiles on the faces of those in attendance. Great songs, fantastic musicianship and an all round great performance. Full of passion and conviction SKAM just get better and better with each and every show they play. Always worth going to see because you are guaranteed to be entertained.
Dirty Thrills sounded amazing. Playing for the first time in Scotland, their energy is infectious and they captivated the crowd with their blend of blues rock. Vocalist Louis James has elements of Jagger in his performance and whilst not a theatrical show, the band do perform intricately with an essence of theatricality. Dirty Thrills lose themselves in their music, give everything and leave nothing. The crowd lapped up everything and Dirty Thrills gave their all to leave them wanting more.
Vice are simply put, an exciting live band. Elite levels of musicianship as they mould their sound from their influences of Machine Head, Meshuggah, Dream Theater and more. Superb shredded guitar lines, thumping drums and just an incredible, epic performance all around. I implore you to go seek out their debut album “The First Chapter” and put it on repeat.
Sunday 25th June 2017
Anchor Lane put on an amazing performance. They came across really heavy and their music was presented to us on another level. They have a confidence that belies their youthfulness. Their set was delivered with enthusiasm and you couldn’t wipe the smiles from their faces if you tried. Anchor Lane write great songs, they interact with the crowd amazingly and they topped it off by dedicating “Take Some Time “ to Chris Cornell whilst also incorporating “Black Hole Sun” into the performance.
It was our first time seeing Beth Blade & The Beautiful Disasters and they look every inch the rock star! Beth had the audience in the palm of her hand and is an awesome frontwoman. Taking some of her cues from her idol Paul Stanley, she prowled the stage with a sense of fun, armed with songs chock full of muscle and melodic sensibility. Beth Blade & The Beautiful Disasters want nothing more than to put on a great show and for you to have a good time whilst they do so. Big riffs, bigger choruses and a dollop of old school rock and roll attitude. Awesome!
Fragile Things are an incredible band with incredible vocals. What also helps is that they write incredible songs. It’s no secret that the acoustic video of “Broken Sun” has been played to death around Down The Front Media HQ. Another band we were seeing for the first time and we were excited for this opportunity. With a live show bursting with energy, Richie Hevanz’s vocals soar over the massive riffs, huge grooves and driving drums. If you like melodic, hard rock music then we highly recommend Fragile Things to you.
Making Monsters were a nice surprise because we didn’t know what to expect from them. Billing themselves as ‘Alt Rock’ we had no idea of the pure aggression that was to come. Gigantic riffs, brutal drums and thunderous bass provided the backline for Emma Gallagher’s vocals. I think of her as a female Chino Moreno. Part melodic, part demonic, Emma sang, screamed and wailed her way through their blistering set, somehow providing simultaneous guttural death growls alongside a piercing screech. It was an impressive set from an impressive band.
The Bad Flowers were a band we’ve seen before at The Gifford Arms where they blew us away. Their recent time in the studio added to playing more shows, including their recent run of dates with Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown has seen them get tighter as a band and more explosive as a live entity. Putting the power into power trio, The Bad Flowers are a tour de force of energy and passion. Each member giving it their all to deliver the best live show that they can. Tom Leighton's skills as a guitarist are superb, Dale Tonks is by far one of the best bassists around at the moment, and as for Karl Selickis on the drums? The man is a machine! Seemingly half octopus, he is a blur of arms flying through the air, drumsticks spinning all over the place and never a beat out of place.
Punctuating their set with a couple of new songs, including the awesome “Let Us Rise”, Piston were on fire this weekend. Each member clearly enjoying themselves on stage, none more so than drummer Brad Newlands, another monster behind the kit and a boundless ball of energy. Jack and Luke on guitar compliment each other so perfectly with Luke’s clean rhythm work being the perfect foil to Jacks blistering leads. Stuart on bass anchors everything with his rumbling bass and all of this allows frontman Rob Angelico to show off his fantastic vocal abilities. An awesome live band and great guys too. Watch out for new, recorded material shortly.
Leeds based Late Night Legacy are a young funk band, high on energy and another band with an explosive live show. Heavily influenced by the likes of Hendrix, Incubus and Red Hot Chili Peppers, Late Night Legacy are a breath of fresh air. Catchy, melodic riffs married with a blazing stage presence, they are a powerful and dynamic band that get the crowd moving. Rightfully creating a stir in the rock world, Late Night Legacy are a band going places.
Those Damn Crows delivered an absolute masterclass. Vocalist Shane had the crowd in his palm from the off, as did bassist Lloyd who benefits from having a wireless rig, as it allows him to get all over the place and whip the crowd into a frenzy. The guitar tandem of Shiner and Dave delivered crisp, clear and crunchy riffs that sounded perfect whilst drummer Ronnie provided the driving beats that propel the band forward. Each member showcased themselves brilliantly and were on sparkling form. We were treated to new song “Going Down” as well as classics from their debut Murder and the Motive. Those Damn Crows put on a slick, tight show and they know how to have a great time whilst doing it. Very much proving that Rock n Roll ain’t dead!
Lots of awesome bands on display, some of which we were unable to see, but for us, those above were our highlights of Wildfire Festival 2017. Did you attend the festival? Who were your highlights? Let us know
PHOTO CREDITS: LINDA FLYNN
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