The first encounter with Amplified.

Concept – This festival is the brainchild of one, Gary Patterson, who had an ambition to put on a festival. I commend anyone who tries to put on a new festival these day, what with the amount of music events now available in the UK, so getting one off the ground and successful must be a daunting prospect.

Many have tried and some have failed before they’ve even got people through the gates, remember Alt Fest? Some have failed after the first year, remember Rock and Metal Circus? Some have even failed for one reason or another, after many successful years of activity. Yet, there have been new festivals that have started big and just got bigger, look at Rambling Man Fair or Steelhouse Festival – they appear to be doing very well and stand to be very successful. I know Gary has invested a lot of time and his own money into getting this festival up and running. He also appears to be a really nice bloke, so we thought we’d support him and the festival as best we can. Sadly, some people I spoke with, only knew of Amplified’s existence two months ago, which really surprises me given the amount of coverage and press this event had on the run up to it? We know that every single band out there wants to get their music heard by as many people as possible, so to be given an opportunity to play somewhere like this, they generally bend over backwards to do so. Given the location of this festival and the lack of events like this, in that part of the world, I think people should help to support this festival, because if they don’t, it will be gone forever and then where will the best in underground bands, such as the ones billed on this years line up get to play? Speaking of the line up, I couldn’t help but notice how varied the bands billed to play this weekend were. We had extreme metal, rock, punk, blues mainstream and everything else in between. This was a very exciting prospect as discovering new bands is a passion for me, so I was looking forward to seeing lots of different types of music over the course of the weekend.

Amplified Festival (in a nut shell) – The event itself took place in a superb location deep in the countryside of Gloucestershire, between two very small villages called Aldsworth and Eastington. The event website has a wealth of information available to help people find the place, they even supplied a post code which I used and managed to find the first car park relatively easily, although I took a fortuitous wrong turning and stumbled upon it. I arrived at 8am on the Friday, expecting to get stuck in traffic but a lot of people had already arrived the day before. Sure there were very few signs directing people but everyone has a sat nav now, right? I did hear one person say, the post code took them to someones house, if that’s true I bet they got sick of cars pulling into their driveway expecting to find a festival! Although I found the main car park relatively easily and at the time, there were volunteers helping direct people to the right place but I’m aware those same volunteers went home at the first sight of rain, leaving Gary, his brother, even his mum, doing most of the work. The fact this was such a family affair, warmed the cockles of my heart and reminded me of another family run open air event that takes place in August. They started at humble beginnings, now look at them – they’ve just sold out of tickets for this years event – that’s 15,000 people attending (give or take) and it’s taken them the best part of 10 years to get there! On arrival, I was greeted with a field which looked to have the makings of a festival within it, so I knew I was in the right place. The press/band liaison was present at all times, although I saw one comment saying anyone could rock up and swipe a press/artist/VIP pass to gain access but from what I saw, there was always a steady stream of people in and around this area, so they would of had a job getting away with it. Sure, security could have been tighter but I quite enjoyed the lack of security presence and to be honest, it seems if we go to anything these days where security plays a massive part, yes its because of these difficult times we live in and they do keep us safe, but they can also make us, the punters feel like criminals/terrorists and can spoil it for us!

The Site – Camping was a bit of a free for all, with everyone I spoke to getting told to camp somewhere completely different but there was plenty of space to choose from. For future reference, the ground is rock hard, so take a hammer, next year! The main campsite was a lot easier to find and the path that lead to it was nicely lit, which felt very romantic at night! Once camped, I set off to find where everything was, which is always the first thing I do because I know it’s useful, having attended many events, such as this. I even managed to use what I’d discovered on my travels, to help direct others to what they were looking for, most of which was to find the vip/media/artist liaison area.

Amplified’s main arena had a very familiar feel to it, with both food and drink stalls being dotted around the outskirts of a big field. The main stage (Red Stripe Stage) was in the far north corner of the field, which I felt worked well as it was well protected from the elements. The surrounding trees helped to retain the sound within the vicinity of the stage. The second stage (Very Metal Art Stage) was to the far south corner and was a sufficient distance away from the main stage to not have both of their sounds clash but I felt it was in the most exposed part of the site, so when the wind blew, the sound traveled along with it into the valley. The view was nice though! A short walk away between both stages and into a clearing in the woods, was the third stage (Shoot Ya Hoops Stage) I never did find out why this stage was given this name, was it the name for a charity or a sponsor? Either way, this was my favourite stage position. It felt very secluded and the sound was well contained. I’d love to see maybe the second stage in this area, to be honest. The fourth stage (Tavern Stage) was simply a truck with the side taken off, which was brilliant. I dubbed this area hippy corner as it felt like it’s own festival all together. Here we had incense burning (amongst other things), it’s own bar and food areas, hula-hoop girls dancing, it was great – just like a miniature Glastonbury. The bands that performed here fell under the quirky category and sadly, I only got to see two bands on this stage before the rains came. This stage then got moved into the Tavern itself with absolutely zero lighting, which makes photography very difficult! I’m aware, the band Healthy Junkies got moved to the main arena beer tent and went down a storm! (Pun intended) a female fronted punk/rock band who did a cover, or two, but their energy was superb and I enjoyed these very much, but sadly I couldn’t photograph them!

There was a VIP bar/food area, which was in a very secluded wooded area and was a beautiful location situated behind the main stage but no one could find it or knew it was there, so they moved it.

There was plenty of choice as far as food goes, I managed to try about 80% of the food vendors available, which is one of the most important parts of a festival for me. My top three were the Pie and Mash guys, who made all their own pies, which most days sold out, so that tells you something. The Smoke House was great food aswell but a bit pricey and I hate eating bread. Seriously, try going for a shit at a festival after three days of burger buns, it ain’t happening! My number one food of choice, which I didn’t try until the last day sadly, was the Burrito guys, jebus, that was some seriously good food and a lot of it for a reasonable price. I’m gutted I didn’t try the Chinese guys, but they went after the Friday. I also saw some seriously nice food coming out of the vegan place and wish I tried that, although I do like eating meat!

With the festival oganisers already making arrangments for a return next year, lets be honest, I’m so looking forward to it already. We’d also like to take the opportunity to say thank you Amplified for letting us explore and review 2017’s fantastic line-up..

Review By Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)