AMPLIFIED FESTIVAL 2017: Day 2 (22.07.17)




Rain clouds were still looming overhead as we entered the festival site on Saturday morning and it seemed quieter than it had on Friday morning. There was still some confusion around how the day was going to progress. In the midst of trying to find some information, the heavens opened with yet another monsoon and we dived for cover into the Tokyo Tattoo tent. At this point, the rest of the festival looked like it hung in the balance. I soon learned that the main stage would be going ahead as planned, but the rest of the stages had been shut down. A plan was being hatched to put a second stage up to accommodate the bands who were due to perform on the other stages.

We were still hiding from the second monsoon of the morning when Outright Resistance took to the main stage. There was a handful of truly hardy music fans stood in front of the stage in the torrential rain; most had taken shelter in the bar. But it did not stop this heavy metal band from performing; vocalist Paige Lee decided to take the music to the fans, strutting across the arena to sing in the bar. She also gave a touching speech about mental health, letting people know that the band would offer a listening ear to those who had nobody to talk to. A cover of Limp Bizkit's version of George Michael's Faith followed, with Paige once again getting up close and personal with the crowd. The rain had finally subsided and we ventured out of the tent just in time for the big finale, with party poppers being thrown out into the crowd for everyone to let off on cue. I may not have heard of Outright Resistance before that morning and they are a little too heavy on the heavy metal for me, but I don't think there would have been a better way to kickstart day 2 of Amplified. I absolutely loved their set.

Up next were Press to MECO, a 3-piece alt-rock band. They categorise their influences as 'everything' and this shows in their music as it's hard to pigeon-hole their sound, but for me there was a nod to 60's rock and pop-punk. What did stand out for me throughout the set was the harmonies; all three band members sing and come together in a way that I've not witnessed in a live setting before. They are a lively and entertaining band to watch and their catchy tunes are played and sung with pinpoint precision. If pop/punk/rock crossover is your thing, you should check these guys out.

Given the trying circumstances, the team at Amplified had done a great job of setting up a second stage in the bar. First to take to what later became known as the 'Broken Jaw' stage were The Uncharted, a post-hardcore/metalcore band. Although metalcore is way out of my comfort zone, this band had a fantastic musicality and the balance of clean and scream vocals really worked. Clean vocalist Arron Carter has a sublime voice with fantastic range. Both Arron and scream vocalist Pete Lee were visibly having a great time and the large crowd that had gathered in the bar were lapping it up. To my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed their set and would happily watch it again.

While we ventured out into the rain in search of food, we had Welcome Back Delta blasting out no nonsense, pure rock and roll from the Red Stripe Main stage. Although I didn't see all of their set, they sounded great; a truly infectious mix of heavy guitar riffs and catchy grooves. The whole band were loving their time on stage and the audience were giving the love back, despite being extremely soggy. I will be making a point of checking these guys out properly.

Back in the bar, Goblins were next to take to the stage. In keeping with today's theme, this was another band who were way out of my comfort zone; but whilst post-punk hardcore might not be my music of choice, everyone else in the tent loved them. There was not a single dull moment in their set. The male vocalist jumped the barrier and ran amok in the crowd as an amazing circle pit formed around him, this was then replicated by the female vocalist. By the end of the set, the tent had practically turned into a giant mosh pit full of wellies and raincoats.

Earlier in the day, I had been chatting to one of Anti-Clone's family and had promised to check them out. Due to the stage times changing to accommodate as many bands in the bar as possible I only caught the end of their set. With their costumes and masks they were very entertaining (and a bit scary) to watch. They have taken different metal elements and put them in a melting pot - perhaps with eye of newt and toe of frog – and come up with something that sounds original, yet familiar. I wish I had managed to catch more of this set, I found them intriguing.

We headed back into the tent and caught the end of Black Art's set. The crowd that we had left moshing earlier were still moshing to this punk RnR band, with the vocalist and guitarist running around in amongst them. Despite everything that had unfolded over the previous day and a half, I was stood in a beer tent with a group of people who were just enjoying the music and having fun. That's what festivals are about.

Broken Jaw had given up their slot on the Red Stripe Main Stage to a band who had their slot cancelled on the VMA Stage and had relegated themselves to the bar stage. Only fitting as the band members were the driving force in creating the second stage. This punk/metal band came out with all guns blazing and did not let up throughout the whole set. Considering vocalist Nutzie Shelley had been running himself ragged all day, he could have been forgiven for being sat at the bar with a pint in hand. But no, he was bounding across the stage, running around among the crowd, and I'm sure if he could have got on the tent roof, he would have.

The next band up was the one I had been waiting all day for, Massive Wagons; and judging by the amount of people who had crammed into the bar, I wasn't alone. These guys always put on an amazing performance but they seemed to find another gear this evening. The Wagons play fun, bouncy rock and roll and this was just the medicine that was needed. The atmosphere inside the tent was electric with the crowd singing along to almost every word vocalist Baz Mills sang, with 'Tokyo' and 'Ratio' almost deafening. This is a band that if you haven't seen live, you really should.

There was some slight confusion as the headliners had swapped stages, with Phil Campbell & the Bastards Sons requesting to play in the tent; this was good for me as I didn't need to move, I really didn't want to venture out into the cold. The fact that the band had requested to play in the tent made it feel like a really intimate performance and Phil looked as happy as a pig in….well,....a rather sweaty tent. They ran through a set that consisted of their own material, Motorhead classics such as 'Killed by Death' (my favourite) and 'Born to Raise Hell', as well as Sabbath covers. Vocalist Neil Starr, was both energetic and entertaining whilst  'the sons' really looked like they were in party central. If they could have played all night, I think they would have and the crowd would have loved it. I was in the minority of people who hadn't seen PC&TBS before and I really want to see them again.

Saturday at Amplified got off to a bumpy start but definitely finished on a high with everyone in good spirits. With the weather looking up for the final day, Sunday looked set to be a belter.