Review and photographs by Linda McDermott
The Main Event
After a good night’s rest and a hearty breakfast, it was just a couple of minutes walk around to the hall at 11.30 a.m. to get ready for a full day of amazing live rock music from 13 of the finest bands. The beauty of this festival is that it’s indoors, you’re not standing in a muddy field, in the pouring rain losing the will.
Opening the proceeding, on what is going to be an amazing day is King Voodoo. We all know first-on isn’t the easiest of slots for a band, but they got stuck right in with their bluesy hard rock songs. ‘Hex City’ is their debut album released at the end of May this year, Check it out on all streaming platforms. If you’d like to catch them, they are playing at SharkFest on 28th Oct and Hard Rock Hell from 2-5 Dec.
Zac and the New Men
Dressed as they’d stepped out of the seventies, which was at least thirty-five years before they were born, Zac and the New Men are a brilliant alternative rock/pop band hailing from Wales. With a string of singles behind them and their first album released this year called ‘Reinvent Me,’ they are a bunch of young whipper snappers set to do great things. After a few technical issues got sorted out they gave us a brilliant set consisting of a mix of funky pop-rock tunes, that will appeal to the masses.
They are playing at Shoreditch on the 16th of September and Liverpool on the 30th of September.
There is something I really like about the deep rich tones of Mike’s voice; it complements the sound of this band. Speaking to Alan and Dave at the merch stand they told me they are celebrating the band’s 10th year. They started out as a covers band doing AC/DC, Guns and Roses etc. while writing their own songs, I can see the influences right there. I loved the song ‘Cursed’ it had a great rock and roll beat to it, while the next song, ‘Get Away was much heavier and one of my favourites. This was followed by a tribute to the forces with the track ‘Ground Hammer’ which was released on November 22. They have a great album out called ‘Fools and Monsters’ which should get any heavy rock fan’s juices flowing.
The Dukes of Bordello
These guys are my surprise band of the day. A 3-piece punk rockabilly band with guitar, drums and a double bass they just went for it, and I loved them right from the start. Playing songs from their debut album ‘Lowdown N Dirty,’ as well as the last single, ‘Alternative Jesus’ they brought a different feel to the room and if I could dance this would’ve been exactly what I would have been doing for the whole of their set. They just made you smile and want to move to the music emanating from the stage, I wasn’t the only one who was foot tapping and head nodding in front of them. I’m now a fan and look forward to catching them again. If you’ve not heard of them, check them out, I swear you won’t be able to control your head or your foot!
Fresh from playing at Firevolt festival Tony, Mouse and Mark from Blackpool played a blinder of a set. I’m glad to say they sang Nah, Nah, Nah, Nah again, which is taken from their second album, House of Cards, I do love an easy chorus to sing along too. These guys are great and have the audience eating out of their hands. If you want to catch them, and I think you do, they are playing at The Gifford Arms, Wolverhampton on 16th December 2023.
Lords of Ruin
I was thoroughly entertained by this metal rock band. With singer, Dox taking eye makeup to the extreme they hit the stage with a mix of heavy and melodic songs that engaged the crowd, and a show of devil horns was their reward. These guys have been working hard to break through and by all accounts, they are gathering momentum and I wish them luck.
Daxx and Roxane
Well, what a great rock and roll band Cedric, Cal, Luca and Simon are! These guys used every inch of the tiny stage in their performance, bouncing off the walls, balancing on the drums and jumping over each other without a second thought, at one point I was looking around to see where the paramedics were! They were thoroughly entertaining and had the audience captivated with their music and antics. With influences coming from the likes of Led Zeppelin, AC/DC and Mötley Crüe they have the perfect mix to create their own sound, I particularly like ‘Fast Lane’ and ‘Give it Time’ which are on their second album aptly called Daxx and Roxane. Go listen.
Luckily for you they have 6 dates in the diary. https://daxxroxane.com As for me, I will be seeing them again Sept 30th at the Rockinburgh Festival in Edinburgh.
Keeping the tempo raised the Takeaway Thieves have got a kind of sleazy edge to their songs and I was swaying along with the fans at the front of the stage. As I’ve said before I do like a sing-along chorus and they had them in abundance, Along with riffs deserving your best air guitar moves, what’s not to like about these guys? They are playing at The Ferret in Preston on the 30th of September 23.
I’m not sure how I’ve not seen this band before as they have been around for a few years now, but I’m seeing them now. I like them! They are lively and play powerful anthems throughout their set. The crowd seemed to know most of the set and lapped up the choruses to the band’s delight. I can’t find any more dates in the diary for this year for these guys, which is a shame, but I’ll be looking out for them next year. If you want to check them out, they have music on all the usual platforms.
She Burns Red
Hot on the tail of the release of their latest single ‘Crosshairs’ and a couple of weeks before their much-awaited debut album release, She Burns Red plays Rockwich as they head on an upward trajectory with their own brand of rock music. Playing a mix of earlier released songs and some from the album, ‘Out of Darkness’ which has its launch party on the 9th of September in Audio, Glasgow, James, Andy, Scott and Naz gave the crowd a sneak preview of what to expect from it. I don’t know about anyone else, but I definitely felt a shift in the room just before they came on, there was a heightened expectation and a buzz coming from the many people wearing their merchandise, and the people who were seeing them for the first time. No one was disappointed, they rocked the place with their electrifying set. Speaking to James he said they were blown away, especially when their latest single, Crosshairs, was sung back to them loud and clear. You could visibly see how emotional this was for them and for some of the crowd. I’ve predicted for a while that these guys are going to be big so catch them now if you can and you’ll see why. They will be playing in Edinburgh at the Rocking for Tots festival, Rockinburgh, which is on 29th/30th Sept in La Belle Angela and then supporting South of Salem on their UK tour.
South of Salem
South of Salem have been hard at work in the studio putting the finishing touches to their much-awaited second album. If it’s half as good as their first, ‘The Sinner Takes It All’ it is going to be incredible. Every track is a great big singalong with a hook it’s hard to ignore, From ‘Let Us Pray’ to ‘Nail in my Coffin’ you will want to join in. Introducing the title track from the second album ‘Death of The Party’ and ‘Static’ to the set list gets the crowd cheering with anticipation for its release in the new year.
The day before Rockwich they played at the Stonedead festival to around 5000 people and got an intoxicating reception. Today they gave that same performance to 300 people who loved them just as much if not more and that’s the mark of this band and this festival. Joey was very humble and thanked the fans, for helping to make their dreams come true, and I’m glad to be a tiny wee part of that. They have just announced their very own tour in October and November which has already nearly sold out. Support comes from She Burns Red so if you’ve not got a ticket yet, I suggest you don’t leave it too long or you will most definitely be missing out. You can buy tickets from www.myticket.co.uk
Next up was Hollowstar, fresh from the Firevolt festival where the guys got a brilliant reception. They played songs from the ‘Hollowstar’ album, which I love, and I couldn’t fault a single thing about their set. They have a different take on rock music from the two previous bands but that’s not a bad thing. I love ‘All I Got to Say,’ ‘Sinner,’ and ‘Good Man Gone’ The last song has a heart-breaking subject matter that always touches me.
It was very poignant to learn that one of the band members had been struggling with mental health problems but had now turned a corner. Joe asked the room to show him some love and they did, with a loud cheer and a show of hands in the shape of hearts, it was a sight to see. I hope it helped in some way. The guys are working on their second album, and I can’t wait for that to be released.
Last up at this incredible festival is The Treatment and boy do I need some! It’s been a long day of rock and roll and it’s unfortunate that a few people, who have been on the go for the last 12 hours decide to turn in. However, they missed out on a great set by this band who are all hair and attitude. With tones of AC/DC and good old-fashioned rock music, they had those who had a bit of energy left jumping about with them. With 5 albums under their belts, they had a wide choice of songs to choose from and they gave us a gutsy performance, nailing them all. They finished with Shake the Mountain taken from their first album, ’This Might Hurt’ demanding that we join in with them, which we all did enthusiastically. And then I needed my bed!
I can’t praise this little festival enough. It has a great relaxed atmosphere, with everyone enjoying themselves, nothing is too much trouble for the organisers. The bands are happy to stand and chat to you and are very approachable. There’s food, a very reasonable bar, cheery staff and an array of merch available. I’m lucky enough to have a golden ticket for next year, I hope you get one too.
Review and Photographs by Linda McDermott