Category Archives: Recommended

Amplified Festival 2018

Quarrydowns Gloucestershire – Sunday 8th July.

Sunday, so soon! I was having so much fun as well! Still, I do have almost a full day ahead of me! Sadly I couldn’t stay the whole day but thought I’d stick around long enough to immerse myself within the bands who were scheduled to appear today. Out of the line up, there were one or two I definitely had to see and maybe some surprises, I never knew existed! Glad I stuck about to be honest!

As I sat, basking in the sunshine, enjoying my morning breakfast cob, I got a message, asking me If I wanted to interview Doyle, from his UK PR agent! I sat there and pondered for a minute, then thought, ah, why not but more on that later!

The first band over on the VMA stage who really grabbed my attention, were King Leviathan. These guys play blackened thrash metal, so no surprise they appealed to my senses then, is it! These guys hail from Brighton and were founded in 2014. In a very short space of time, it would appear that they are making a lasting impression – one gig at a time, on the people who go to see them at a live show. Thankfully, I managed to see them at Amplified Festival although I’m aware they are appearing at another prestigious metal festival, in a couple of weeks. Someone, far more intelligent than me, proclaimed that these guys are three gigs away from entering the stratosphere within their genre! And the best of luck to them as from what I saw, they’ve certainly got the potential – go for it!

It just so happens, that the far more intelligent and undoubtedly better looking person I previously referred to, features in the next band I’d like to speak about and they go by the name of Resin. Yes, you guessed it, it’s Simon Yarwood I’m speaking about and I love this human being! Not only does he play guitar within Resin, he himself is a pioneering figure within the music community, as he is one of the organisers behind Uprising Festival. He also does a lot to promote other bands through his promotion company “Resin Events” but I think that’s enough sucking up for one review, so back to todays set!

The band have just released their new album ’The Cycle of Need’ after having successfully reached their pledge campaign target. I’ve managed to listen to it and can confirm it’s very good. It’s well thought out musically and you can hear that a lot of work has gone into producing this album, which is very clear from the off! Dave’s voice has a striking resemblance to Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam, as does their music but that is by no means a bad thing! Emma, on the violin, helps to give a very unique dynamic and sound to the band, which I loved hearing today! All told, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Resin today, despite failing to get certain members to smile!

The next band I caught up with over the main stage today were Tequila Mockingbyrd and these gals genuinely blew me away! It’s hard not to comment on the fact that Louisa, Jacinta and Josie are absolutely gorgeous but equally as important, is the fact that they are VERY talented as musicians too and given the right opportunities, like Amplified Festival, I can’t think of anything that will stop Tequila Mockingbyrd from going on to become mega superstars!

Whilst on the subject of female superstars, I also managed to see the super talented Soap Girls over on G’s bar stage today. These ladies are beautifully bizarre and also have the kind of approach to their post punk/rock that makes them stand out from others. Sure, they’re racy and yes, they do play semi naked, which isn’t to everyone’s liking but they don’t bow down to hateful opinions either and I applaud them for that and not letting the reactions of some, spoil it for the rest of us.

As the day went on and time drew ever closer to meeting up with Doyle, I received a request from Doyle’s manager for The Soap Girls to join us for the interview. Well it’s safe to say that my interview didn’t go quite as I’d planned……. so if feeling awkward is your thing, then you’re gonna love this interview for sure. (https://youtu.be/5tgG8Pp2Kps)

Thankfully, I did get to see the legendary guitarist play his set, which was kinda weird yet super exciting all at the same time. Doyle was everyone’s main focus – I think I looked over at one point, whilst photographing the rest of the band and there must of been about twenty photographers stood in front of him, twenty photographers I hadn’t seen all weekend, to be honest! There is a core bunch of us who try to see every act throughout the weekend, or at the very least, cover as much as possible like in my case (little old me) all on my own. It’s hard work, but we do it because we love it!

Alex, the bands singer, was clearly zoned into his own little world, yet coherent and loving life and this stance awarded me with one of my most favourite shots from the whole weekend! It’s just him perched on the end of the stage looking into space – most likely seeing dead people dancing around but I love it, it’s a real moment!

After seeing Doyle, I had to leave to save my family from the In-laws house, which disappointed me greatly as it meant I had to miss so many other amazing bands, like legends Therapy!

There’s always next time, I guess, providing I get invited back and by all accounts, Amplified Festival 2019 is already looking very likely, which is ace news and I will be buying a ticket for next year, to show my continued support for the festival, as I believe it’s one of the great summer events of the festival calendar! I’m glad to see so many others share my sentiments as well, as the pre-sale tickets which went on sale straight after this years event, sold out in record time. So fast in-fact, they released another 50 more!

I’m biased, I guess, but with very good reason as I know a good thing when I see it. I just hope I see you there in 2019, having a good time like me! BOOYA!

Be sure to visit us over on Flickr for more photos from Amplified 2018. https://www.flickr.com/photos/music224/albums

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)

Amplified Festival 2018

Quarrydowns Gloucestershire – Saturday 7th July.

After a traumatic night, feeling ill and having to take a shit in the woods, I kid you not, I started Saturday, rather jinjerly…get it! Yes, today is the day I get to see my favourite band on planet Earth, right now!

Before that though, we had many an amazing band to watch, before hand!

Sadly, the only band I managed to see, on the ‘Legendary G’s Bar Stage’ today was Pretty Addicted” as due to the continuing heat, I didn’t wanna melt. Bear in mind, this stage is in the marque bar which proved as the festivals saviour last year! This area has had an upgrade and now has a proper stage area which works very well, despite the heat. Having seen the only two band members, who bothered to show up this weekend around the festival all weekend, they looked like pretty interesting characters, so I wanted to check them out. Although not a full band, we had a vocalist and the bands bassist who gave us one hell of a show! Great to photograph too! Wonderfully weird and extravagant!

The first band I managed to see over on the ‘Very Metal Art Stage’ were the Derby lads, Fahran, who I haven’t managed to see since their show at Derby Theatre, when the pyro set off the fire alarms and cleared the venue during the first song! Haha! I love their energy, which they had in abundance during their Amplified Festival set today. I also love their sound as it’s very original! These guys are being tipped as the next big thing and mark my words, given the right guidance, they will get there! Someone said to me recently, “we all have a book to write, within us” and this story would most definitely feature within it!

Irish lads ‘Animator’ caught my ear this weekend again over on the VMA Stage. These guys play a great mixture of metal that I’d mostly class as thrash metal, to be honest! Not that that’s a band thing, as I personally love old school thrash. Think Anthrax and you’ve got these guys in a nut shell!

Sadly, X-Method didn’t mange to make it to over to play the festival, so Paul McMonnies, managed to send the band a personal and heart felt ‘Hello’ from all of us here, to make up for it!

I’m also disappointed with the fact that I missed Arron Buchanan as I believe I was interviewing the awesome Evil Scarecrow, at the time. As much as I hate interviewing bands, for this very reason, Evil Scarecrow made it worth while, as it was loads of fun! Check that interview out here – we think this interview was/is hilarious and really helps to give people an insight into the crazy minds, behind one of Britain’s best loved metal bands!

Back to thrash then, courtesy of the AWESOME Bull-Riff Stampede! It’s been a long time since we last saw these guys play a show, in fact I think the last time was when they supported Lawnmower Deth, at their Christmas show down in London at the Underworld! This is apparently only their second performance of 2018 and to be fair, family life is more important than music (but music is life). Certain members of the band are also performing in other bands, like Jay, who plays guitar for Xentrix’s and James, who has recently been announced as Onslaughts new drummer, which is awesome news! As much as I love both of those other two bands, for me, these five individuals ARE Bull-Riff Stampede and should remain that way and yes, that’s me being selfish! I hope to see more of these guys soon, as I love them. P.S, I’m still waiting to hear ‘Mask of Five Skulls’ live fellas, sort it out!

Headlining the VMA Stage today we have the ultra funny Psychostick, all the way from Chicago – America, to entertain us, with their unique style of metal! Funny hats, beards, songs about beer and boobs, what’s not to love! I’ve never seen these guys play before, so was intrigued to see what the Amplified crowd would make of them? To describe into words, if you threw Evil Scarecrow, Alestorm and Gwar into a room and they had an orgy, Psychostick would be the resulting love child and I think it’s safe to say, the crowd loved them! Thanks to the fact that their was no band clashes, between the main stage and the second stage, it meant that there was no excuse for missing these guys, or any other band that you wanted to see. If however, there was a band on the 3rd stage you wanted to see, you were screwed but the festival did try to schedule these bands sensibly. Well done, this worked very well!

Today on the main stage, there was a real mixed bag of music that didn’t follow any one genre or theme, it simply showcased the best in music, today and had something for everyone! It’s worth mentioning that last year, the main stage was on the opposite side of the field, facing the sun. Acoustically, I though this worked well but it didn’t appreciate or take into account the sun as it passed over. I’ll be forgiven for not factoring this in, as we didn’t see the sun last year! With the main stage in it’s new location, it worked very well I thought, ok, the sun was super bright this year, so photography was a challenge in the morning, but as the sun set we were treated to some super cool colours and even managed to capture some cool sunset images in the background, behind the main stage. Acoustics weren’t affected either! Bonus! Going forward, I can see the main stage remaining in this location for future years!

Another band that caught my ear today were King Creature and what a great sound, live. I’ve since gone back and listened to their recorded material but sadly, that same energy which I saw on stage today, appears to have been lost in their recording of ‘Volume One’, which got released last year. Coincidentally and in a conversation I had with Sean, Voodoo Bloods lead guitarist, he admitted many bands fall foul to the modern way of recording an album these days. He agrees that the live, musical element gets lost when each instrument is recorded separately, then layered over the top of one another and suggests, if/when Voodoo Blood get around to recording their debut album, they’d look to record tracks in one take together, like bands used to back in the day! Yes Sean, this will work very well, especially with a band like his, whose live shows sound phenomenal!

The next band that literally blew me away today were non other than Jinjer, who I knew would do just that after seeing them perform at Rock City’s Basement Room back in December 2017. So sure was I of this bands talent, I took a punt and shared one of my images in the Amplified Festival Facebook group, suggesting they book them for this year! Amazingly, Gary messaged me back 24 hours later, stating he’d booked the band and was just waiting on them to sign the contract! Since then, the music industry appears to have opened their eyes and their ears and have taken notice of these guys from the Ukraine, especially after touring with Arch Enemy in Europe and Cradle of Filth in North America!

Jinjer are already massive in Europe, as it’s easier for them to get visas to enter those countries. After speaking with Eugene, the bands bass player and voice, he admitted it’s the UK border control that makes life difficult for them when trying to enter the UK. This problem reared it’s ugly head again after driving from their own country and across Europe to Germany as they needed to get an approval stamp, granting them entry into the UK. Sadly, this process took a whole two days, which meant they had to cancel their appearance at Tech Fest and another show that they had planned to use as a warm up. They did eventually get permission to cross the channel and to enter into the UK, just in time for them to get here and perform for us. Although extremely tired, they put on one hell of a show which clashed with the England quarter final game, which sucked, as the crowd wasn’t nearly big enough for a band of this caliber!! Those that did bother to witness Jinjer’s first and only UK festival performance in 2018 were blown away by it! I know this, because I spoke with many people at the festival over the weekend, who said so! Fair play Gary, you did us proud!

Evil Scarecrow are now a worthy headlining band and after their impromptu headline set at last years event, Gary clearly saw their potential and granted them an official headlining slot for this year. To make their set even more fun, the band had upped the anti, going all out on their performance and features to enhance the spectators enjoyment of the show. Features include pyro, CO2 cannons, confetti and of course, people dressed up in various costumes, relating to their songs! Fair play to the person, who dressed up as Red Riding Hood and who ventured out into the crowd, during the bands performance of the yet to be released track off their fourth coming album due out this October! I thought they were going to slip and fall, but they managed to stay on their feet!

I love photographing this band – it’s true, but I enjoy watching the show even more these days! Although it was an open pit, which meant I could have sat there throughout, taking pictures! Instead, once I got the shots I needed, I raced into the crowd, found my friends and watched the rest of the set with them which for me, was way more enjoyable!

Sadly, after a very long day I made my way to bed so I missed Electric Eel Shock, who, by all accounts, were very entertaining and very funny to watch! Next time guys! Roll on Sunday!

Be sure to visit us over on Flickr for more photos from Amplified 2018. https://www.flickr.com/photos/music224/albums

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)

Amplified Festival 2018

Quarrydowns Gloucestershire – Friday 6th July.

We attended the first ever Amplified Festival last year and it certainly was a wet one but the spirit of the event couldn’t be dampened and Friday 6th July 2018 saw it return for another bite at the cherry and we’re glad it did as the atmosphere we experienced throughout the weekend suggested that everyone was right behind Gary and the team in willing this festival on to be a success. In contrast to last year, we experienced some of the hottest weather to be encountered at a festival in this country and without a doubt, Amplified can now being dubbed ‘The Extreme Weather Festival’ but this year will be mostly remembered for the killer bands who played there, aswell as the excellent atmosphere that was produced by the metal/music community that we’ve all grown to love!

Sadly, I was covering this event on my own this year, which filled me with both dread and excitement in equal measures as on average, I think I covered around 9 miles each day in the sweltering 31 degree heat and I still have bruises on both my big toes to prove it, but with some of the finest bands that the music industry currently has to offer performing over the three days, it was certainly worth it.

Impavidus opened up proceedings on the Very Metal Art (VMA) stage today and to great effect. Michelle, the bands front woman was a Force majeure that few could match. Full of energy, smiles and some superb metal – what a way to kick off the weekend and they did themselves proud in more ways than one. I saw the whole band throughout the weekend watching their friends in other bands aswell as bands they admire, so credit to them for giving Amplified their all.

The first band over on the Red Stripe main stage, was non other than Torqued and having first spoken with Marc Cleave at last years event, it was good to see that they were invited to perform this year and honestly, these lads have some real energy and passion for both their music and the scene in general. I was impressed to say the least, as these guys are a credit to the industry. Marc also runs corrosive merch which offers some of the best music related items I’ve seen for a while!

I first caught Ashen Crown at this years HRH Metal event back in February and they too impressed me greatly. Over this weekend, I had an opportunity to share a hot dog with Kieran and friends, where he admitted that even he’s surprised at the level of interest and opportunities the band have received since their inception. Personally, I’m convinced it’s down to them having an amazing talent and being a great product that people will enjoy – it also helps that they’re managed by Rachael Harrison, who is one of the best in the business!

I can’t write a review of a music festival without mentioning Footprints in the Custard as these days, it would appear they are everywhere and for a very good reason too as they deliver the feel good factor where ever they perform and festival goers love watching them. They are just good fun and help to lift peoples spirits which is what live music should be about and they are pretty good musicians too, who knew! Today’s performance, saw Ward XVI’s guitarist step in at the last minute, which was greatly appreciated! I for one, love watching these guy – it’s true!

One band who are local to me, are Witch Tripper and these guys are always fun to watch. Great musicians, who also do have a love for the industry so credit to them for that. Whilst hanging with the band and grabbing a breakfast cob, one gig goer suggested the bands name reminded him of someone throwing a bit of wood into a chipping machine, which got us all a little puzzled until I clocked where he was going….wood chipper!!! HAHAHA You had to be there really! On the Saturday, they had to leave to go play a gig in Plymouth but they came back for Sundays antics, which saw me inviting Stoff to come meet Doyle for my interview with him, which he greatly appreciated but what a strange encounter that was – more about that later!

Dust Bolt also caught my attention today over on the main stage and it’s hard to believe that despite these guys having been around since 2007, I’ve only just discovered they exist! They hail from the small Bavarian town of Landsberg in Germany, so god knows who their influences are? It’s no secret, I love a good thrashing and have done so since I discovered the amazing Savage Messiah, who helped to reaffirm my love for this genre! Since then, I’ve discovered a wealth of underground talent within this genre, like Bull-Riff Stampede for example, who also played here this year! It’s not often I fall head over heals for a band these days, but when I do, I fall hard and love them instantly, I just loved the power of their music!

By the time The Dirty Youth came on to close the first day out over on the VMA Stage, the sun was going down and everyone was in excellent spirits, myself included! I don’t wanna take anything away from this excellent band but I honestly think I was high on vitamin D by this point, so these guys sounded even better than I remembered! I loved them so much so, I was screaming like a girl! They did have a very good ‘feel factor’ about them! Odd to see them on this stage, but they did do themselves proud!

SOiL headlined the main stage tonight and seeing them really was bitter sweet. The last time I saw these guys, I was given the opportunity to interview Ryan McCombs who then went on to have a heart attack two days later. Thankfully, he made a full recovery and was back up on the stage, which is great. I thought the rest of the band were great too and what’s more, the lighting tonight was much better than they are usually known for having which was also a bonus! Headliners, yes but in all honesty, not worthy of this spot tonight and this was also the opinion of many others who I spoke to over the weekend!

Strangely, people who witnessed Voodoo Blood play G’s Bar and bringing Friday’s event to a close, said that they should’ve headlined! Such an unbelievably talented bunch of musicians, who appear to be great to talk to as people, which was something I had the pleasure of doing earlier in the day. I just hope they stay grounded and not let fame ruin them as it has for so many others before them! Kim, the bands female lead vocalist is an absolute power house but to look at all 4ft 9inches of her, you wonder how the hell she manages to have such a powerful voice!!! Long will their set be cemented within the festivals archives, All hail Voodoo Blood! I’ve also managed to check out their new EP ‘Fresh Hell’ which offers four great tracks but what I really want to see is a full length album next, please!

Roll on Saturday…….if my stomach can handle it!

Be sure to visit us over on Flickr for more photos from Amplified 2018. https://www.flickr.com/photos/music224/albums/with/72157696032365062

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)