SOS Festival

Manchester 17-19th July 2015.

HERE COME THE GIRLS… or so it would seem, but there were in fact a very equal mix of acts at this years festival which is in fact in it’s eighth year, unknown to me, as this was my first year attending this remarkable weekend of fun and frolics!

I’ve written many a gig and festival review over the years and in a bid to keep it fresh, I’m going to try and paint a picture of the weekend as a whole, for people who may be thinking of attending next year and I strongly recommend you do, as 2015 was so much fun that I’ve already bought my ticket for 2016!

This year was the first time the organisers (Rocksector Records) had decided to include the Friday night which I believe was to ensure the same number of acts got seen by the fans who usually left for home early on the Sunday – as many poor sods (like me) had to work on the Monday! Some, of course book the Monday off to recover, I wish I had, I will do for next year!

SOS festival gives Rocksector Records an opportunity to showcase some of the bands they have amassed to their ever growing label which was set up in 2007, and also to showcase some of the bands they are feeling creatively that work with the acts they already have on their roster. Or simply just because they love the bands, as these guys, like me love good live music!

This year featured several Rocksector acts, such as Knock Out Kaine (who were the last band I managed to see on Sunday) who are such a great band and I’d strongly advise checking out their music video “Set the Night On Fire” as it features a guest appearance by non other than Bruce Dickinson (Lead vocalist for the band Iron Maiden, you know who they are!) I managed to talk with Dean Foxx (Lead Vox) before they went up onstage to ask how they managed to get Bruce to appear in the video, to which his reply was “we simply asked him if he’d be interested in appearing and 48hrs or so later, he came back with a yes, we was well chuffed”. I then went on to ask, who produced the video for you, as it’s very well made? “We asked a bunch of Uni guys studying media if they’d be interested, they jumped at the chance!” Having seen this band play before, I was familiar with their style of sleaze rock & roll and I love it! These guys are heading to Bloodstock Festival, this weekend and play the Jägermeister stage, on the Saturday, the lucky b*st*rds!

Knock Out Kaine

On the Saturday, label mates, Die No More played the main stage, which was my first time seeing these guys play – which was great for me, although many in attendance have seen these guys play many times before, lucky them, but now I know what all the fuss is about and I’ll certainly be paying a lot more attention to this bands goings on in the future! If you ever get to meet Marc Farquhar, the bands lead singer/guitarist, he has to be one of the nicest guys in metal! Great band, fans of Metallica check um out!

Die No More

Triaxis headlined the first ever Friday and rightly so as their new album “Zero Hour” has been getting some major praise by all the main stream media outlets since its release and we love it! We managed to obtain an interview with CJ, Becky and Krissie, which won’t feature in this review, because it was such a great interview we are going to run another feature on the site solely dedicated to it so keep your eyes peeled for that one! The band are also heading to Bloodstock this week where they will be playing the Sophie Stage at 11am on the Sunday, I’d strongly recommend you get out of your sleeping bags early enough to catch their set as it will be one you won’t want to miss!

Triaxis

Garagedays were a real highlight for me personally, both on and off the stage (if you were there, you’ll know what I’m talking about) All I will say is Marco, the bands lead singer/guitarist does a great impression of a wild animal however, I’m still trying to figure out which one! Hahaha! Musically, they reminded me of bands such as Destruction, Kreator and Sodom.

Garagedays

Other bands on Rocksector Records, that featured ay SOS this year, were Black Whiskey, Obzidian, Wizz Wizzard (acoustic set, with both Chris and Luke Appleton), Captain Horizon, Avenger and Secret Rule, all great bands but just not enough space to talk about them all I’m afraid!

SOS Festival has a great family feel about it, which isn’t too far from the truth. With the quality of bands on the bill year after year, they have managed to attract quite a following from music fans both domestically and abroad, who make their way to sunny Manchester (the weather was actually very nice this weekend) every year. I was meant to attend this festival in 2014 (when Savage Messiah played) and for the life of me, I can’t remember why I didn’t attend so I’m kicking myself now like!

Radcliffe Community Hall, which is situated on the outskirts of Greater Manchester, is a great little venue with great facilities. There is a nice little press area, for us media whore types to conduct our interviews, we were even supplied with biscuits so take note other festivals lol! Along side that we had a nice selection of both hot and cold food that was prepared daily as well as your usual snacks. I found it interesting as over the 3 days, everyone seemed to get hungry at exactly the same time, so the poor kitchen staff struggled a little during peaks times, but they got there in the end so everyone went away happy, eventually! I especially enjoyed the chilli and rice. The bar was very comfortable, the staff were very pleasant, however the selection was limited and expensive (expected these days) but that didn’t stop many getting wrecked all weekend! haha! There are plenty of space for stalls around the edge of the main hall for bands to peddle their wares, the organisers even provide a trusted member of staff to sell your stuff for you, whilst you’re on stage!The best part about this venue though has to be the stage set up a both the lighting and the sound on the main stage were fantastic, best I’ve ever seen at a festival of this size and even better than some well established venues, that appear on many tour posters, my mind boggles! The acoustic stage, operated between the acts that featured on the main stage sounded great, but because of its lower position, visibility was restricted to the first 2 rows and the lighting was a challenge, but we got through it. I especially liked the 60’s style swirls that were projected onto the walls behind the stage…..I certainly felt my mojo coming on, yeah baby, yeah!

My opening statement is dedicated to the next three bands that I’m about to mention, as they really stood out at this years SOS festival and are a testament to the quality of bands this festival features!

Collibus, are a female fronted progressive metal band with classical elements, who played the main stage before the headliners on the Friday. The band hail from Manchester and took the music world by storm in 2014, having played pretty much every major festival going, largely contributed by their success in winning the Parliamentary Rock the House Discretionary Metal Award in 2013. Being personally endorsed by Brian May (Queen) goes a long way too! Tonight’s set was powerful, to say the least, I don’t know what Gemma’s vocal warming up process is before a gig, but they must be intense, as they are powerful and only got better as the set went on! I’m loving their album “The False Awakening” that got released in 2013 too, as it helps to remind me what a fantastic set at SOS was.

The Amorettes played the main stage on the Saturday and are a band I’ve interviewed at HRH8 and seen play, when they supported Europe and Black Star Riders on their tour this year (Rock City). Consisting of three rockettes, who hail from Scotland, who aren’t afraid of hard work and they’ve been doing a lot of it these past few years which shows (in a good way) and is starting to pay off. These ladies are going to be big, mark my words! Similar to Motorhead in style, yet more aggressive and young, fit and ready to rock!

The Amorettes

Having attended the rock industry seminar ROCKCOMM.com this year, I’ve learnt a lot about what the music industry are looking for “The whole package” springs to mind. If I was to ever see a band that had it all, it would have to be the band “Chasing Dragons” from Leeds. Playing on the main stage on the Sunday and having never seen them before, I didn’t quite know what to expect. After the first song though, I was hooked! I can’t explain exactly what it was that drew me to this band, as there were a number of factors that attracted me, but If I had to pick I’d have to say the musical content these guys have produced is brilliant, along with its execution, they prove to be a formidable force. I’m certainly counting the days to when I can see this band play again, hopefully in September, but they have many dates booked, seriously, check um out!

Chasing Dragons

I can’t leave without mentioning Saturday’s Headliner Mr. Blaze Bayley though, who seemed rejuvenated at SOS Festival, possibly thanks to the likes of Chris Appleton (on guitar) and others in the band. Having seen Blaze at HRH8, tonight was a whole different matter. I managed to see the man conduct several interviews throughout the day, where he seemed in high spirits and I’m not surprised after arriving on his lovely Triumph motorcycle! I never thought I’d get an inspirational pep talk from a rock-star, but some of what Blaze said during his set at SOS really struck a cord with me, personally! Tonight’s set was dedicated to the album “Silicone Messiah” which was played in its entirety and sounded every bit as awesome as I’d hoped it would!

Nor can I leave without mentioning the young lad who allowed SOS Festival to cut off around 12inches of his precious hair and all in aid of a charity who produce hair pieces for young children who have lost their own hair through illness. For his efforts, I believe the total so far is around £1000, so well done son, what a great thing to do. Before his hair was cut though, he did manage to have a final head band, to Lamb of God, accompanied by Luke Appleton and his big sister!

Thankfully, SOS Festival will return in 2016 and they haven’t wasted any time in announcing the first crop of bands that will feature at next years event and they are as follows, Babylon Fire, tHE iDOL DeaD, Lord Volture and Aonia, with many, many more bands yet to be announced. If you’re quick, you can grab yourself a ticket for 2016 at this years poultry price of just £15, for a whole weekends entertainment, this is an absolute bargain and an absolute must! I for one cannot wait!

Words and Photography By Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)