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Amplified

Live review Saturday 22nd July 2017.

Some called it biblical, some called it apocalyptic, either way, I can confirm Friday evenings weather messed everything up but that didn’t stop us from having a great night though, even if things there after didn’t go to plan.

Saturday’s proceedings saw the main stage playing host to a combination of bands from both the Very Metal Art Stage and the Red Stripe Stage, as the VMA stage basically closed for the rest of the festival but thankfully, the guys who ran the main stage managed to get it back up and running safely, and allowing us to continue enjoying ourselves.

Bands who were scheduled were contacted and asked if they still wanted to play and if so, Amplified would try and slot them in, on either the main stage, or the newly adopted second stage over in the beer tent. Sadly, with the pit in the beer tent being very small, access was restricted to the official festival photographers only so I was restricted to the main stage only for today.

That said, there was a great days entertainment to be had on the main stage and first up are a band I have some seriously conflicting emotions with. Outright Resistance are made up of some very talented, yet on stage, very angry young individuals which helps make Outright Resistance, who they are. During today’s set, Paige, the bands lead singer gave several rousing speeches about equality, mental health and other aspects of society and mentioned that if anyone was feeling down, they were free to contact the band, or them personally and talk freely to them about issues they may be experiencing which I though this was commendable.

Press to MECO were up next – we love a good three piece here and these guys didn’t disappoint. There is no question that 2016 was a pivotal year for Press To MECO, building on their unconventional take on riffs, pop hooks and 3-part vocal harmonies that have become a trade mark. PRESS TO MECO have released their new single “If All Your Parts Don’t Make A Whole”, the first track to be taken from the band’s forthcoming album “Here’s To The Fatigueout on 17th November 2017.

Scarsun, a female fronted band, ticked all the right boxes. Jessica’s vocals reminded me of Floor’s – the whole band, in fact had a very similar feel to that of Nightwish, which was enjoyable to listen to. Matt, the bands guitarist, who I’ve known of for a while, appeared to be concentrating very hard, yet the bands bassist, Paul appeared to be a right character, playing up to the cameras, to great effect! I will try and catch this band again!

Welcome Back Delta recently supported Lionize at The Flapper in Birmingham, which was probably a great gig as from what I saw of the in between rain falls, they appeared to have all the right ingredients for an accomplished rock band – antics, great songs and riffs, plenty of riffs and that is always good. Unfortunatley, trying to operate a camera through a plastic bag is in fact a very hard thing to do – so I didn’t!

When an apocalypse is upon you, there’s only one band you need have play and to get you through it and they are Anti-Clone. I simply love this bands music and their live performances which I got to mention to Con, one of the bands guitarists, who said the bands energy and persona on stage was a conscious decision that the band made back when they first formed, as going to shows before hand were boring and lifeless. Yes – a band that gets it as a live show needs to be just that, entertaining! Take a bow Anti-Clone and speaking of which, at the end their set the band played out to a Linkin Park track and whilst doing so, they revealed their true identities for the first time ever out of respect for the recently deceased Chester Bennington. RIP sir, you’ll be greatly missed. Many bands, over the course of the weekend paid tribute to Chester, in one way or another, which was great to see.

Firm favourites, ‘Rain’ of Fury’ brought a little light humour to their set by wearing some super ‘sunnyHawaiian shirts, which made us all feel as though we were somewhere sunny and hot. No such luck, but their set was terrific as per usual. I must say, this bands drum kit reminds me of a porn film though, what with the leopard print on it. ah, the laughs!

Time for a break, so I jumped on over to the Motley Brew tent for another of many cups of tea that I had here, over the course of the weekend. Phil, who runs the best tea stall at any and every festival going is a great bloke, he also makes a mean cuppa! Thanks dude.

Back on the main stage we had Krysthla, who were my surprise find of the day. I’ve received their press releases from Stampede Press over recent months, so I was keen to check these guys out live. Today’s set was a powerful display of metal, which followed on nicely from the previous two bands we’d just witnessed! The bands new album, released earlier this year, titled ‘ Peace In Our Time’ appears to be doing very well, in various music charts and has been well received, by the critics. Be sure to check these guys out, if you can – you won’t be disappointed.

Having spoken to Barry, the lead singer of Massive Wagons, prior to their set in the beer tent, I’d told him of my disappointment at missing photographing their set due to pit restrictions and thanks to his powers of persuasion, he managed to sweet talk the stage manager into opening the pit up to all of us non-official togs wanting to shoot Massive Wagons. I, of course was first in line, no second, no third, well, I eventually got in the pit to shoot these phenomenal rockers, from Lancashire! I love this band and the guys who make it so awesome are the biggest reason why I love them so much, they are all great guys and very entertaining. Some would even go as far as calling them sexy….ppfft, behave, have you seen them with the lights on? HAHA!

I watched as much of the ‘Massive Wagons’ set as I could but as I heard One Machine starting up over on the main stage, I made a mad dash to catch them as this was the first time I’ve been able to catch this band live. This band features non other than Stefano, on bass, who’s also another fantastic character in the music world, such a nice guy. When ever we’re at an event together, he always says hello and is happy to chat with me, which we do when ever we get the chance. I haven’t seen him performing live since his time in Savage Messiah, which was some time ago now! One Machine, remember this name, I dare say you’ll be hearing it a lot more, from here onwards! Great live band!

With Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons opting to deliver their headlining slot over in the beer tent instead of the main stage, this now meant that Evil Scarecrow would play the Red Stripes stage instead – Result! And as Evil Scarecrow are one of the best performing live bands around, who provide one of the best live shows in the music world today, it was fate. All their usual antics took place tonight, just as you’d expect and as a special thank you to the two contestants of the televised game show, ‘Pointless‘, who’d mentioned the band live on air, stating they’d spend their winnings on going to watch Evil Scarecrow, the band got them up on stage to say thank you and also to show off their winning trophies. The pair certainly appeared to be enjoying themselves, up on that stage, with the band for a song. After which, Dr. Hell stated “now get off my stage” in the nicest possible way, of course!

Evil Scarecrow have recently announced that to celebrate the fact that they started some 15 years ago, to the day (nearly) that they’re heading off to perform at Waken open air festival, which is a dream come true for the band and well deserved too. I wish we could be in Germany to see it, like we have for all of their other major milestones but sadly we’re not, however I know those who are there will have an absolute blast, as will everyone in the band. Enjoy guys.

I’ll now hand you over to Sue for her take on the Sunday here at Amplified Festival. It’s been a blast and I hope that we get to do it all again and see you back at Amplified Festival in 2018!

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)

Amplified

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)

Amplified

Live review Friday 21st July 2017.

Let The Good Times Roll – The sun was shining and as the venue started to fill with eager party goers and musicians alike, the first band on any stage were Dorja, over on the VMA Stage, a five piece all female band, from parts unknown. I’ve known of this band for some time, so was keen to go check them out. I also know their bassist, Becky, quite well, from other projects. These ladies seriously rock, but for me, the operatic vocalist seemed slightly out of place compared to the rest of the band. Great vocals though, not sure it worked with the bands sound but I was suitably impressed non the less. Their current tour ended with this show, but more is coming from these “soon to explode on the scene” rock chicks!

Knowing the Sponsor for stage 2 ‘Very Metal Art’, I know Andy Pilkington’s (the man behind this company) knowledge of the underground music scene is impeccable, mostly because he’s the ‘go to’ man for anything band art or video related these days. As this is common knowledge in the music industry now and because of his fairness, bands recommend him to other bands and quite rightly so as he does a lot for the music scene, so all credit to the man. I also know he’s done a lot for charity over the years, the best one was getting Simon Hall to do a barrel roll live on the Sophie Stage at B.O.A last year. I both witnessed the event and gave money in aid of a great cause. People like Andy are a much needed resource, yet a rare commodity in the music industry these days! I know, after speaking with him, he did in fact hand pick all of the bands that were to feature on this stage over the weekend, so this was looking like my favourite stage.

Bleed Again’s set was great, I really enjoyed these but the band Codex Alimentarius, which is a bit of a mouthful, kinda blew everyone else who featured on this stage, off the face of the earth with their performance today! Having seen this band perform at Beermageddon in 2015, I was aware of what these talented musicians were capable of. Elliot, one of three guitarists in this band, I’m aware of from other projects and is a very accomplished musician. Ray, the bands vocalist though, gave his all and that was evident with his whole persona. He kinda freaked me out a bit, with the way in which he approached the crowd, it was reminiscent of something out of a horror movie! After speaking with Ray after their set, I’m aware the band have a charity all dayer coming up, but I’ve forgotten the full details as I’ve slept since then!

I was both shocked and pleased to see Conjurer performing on this stage, in day light no less! The last time I saw these guys was at KOKO in Camden, as part of last years DessertFest, which was quite a dark and dingy affair, but that’s how they like it and lets face it, that’s the conditions you want for a doom metal band right? Dan, one of the bands vocalist and guitarists kept it real though, hiding himself away from the sunlight (yes there was sun at some point during the day) with his hoody pulled over his eyeballs, like Kenny from Southpark – he wasn’t gonna risk getting a sun tan, that’s for sure! DOOM BABY!

As I flitted between stages, I felt myself starting to gravitate towards the Shoot The Hoops stage more frequently as I was enjoying the youthful exuberance of the bands that were playing on it. As I love to discover knew music and like to think I’m down with the kids, I was keen to see who was coming up next. Out of the bands I got to see who were playing this stage, I really enjoyed ‘We Come From Ashes’, I, The Lion and Woes, which is where the day started to turn on it’s head but they’re from Scotland, so I can only assume the sight of rain made them feel at home! (haha)

Out of the bands we got to see on the main stage, I loved Rival Bones, who are only a two piece, believe it or not and consist of James on guitar and vocals and Chris on drums. I was seriously impressed with the volume and fullness of their infectious rock sound, despite the lack of instruments and musicians to play them. We were scheduled to conduct an interview with these guys, but that didn’t happen so we’ll definitely have to catch up for a chat next time!

In my experience, I’ve noticed their are two types of musicians in this world. The first are solely into the music and get on with it and the others are born entertainers and are very much in tune with the crowd. Although New Volume fall very much into the second category, they felt a very professional outfit and will appeal to a mass audience within the commercial music world. This is true of all of the bands that featured on the main stage today, such as Tess of the Circle, who appeal to the folk rock world, The Amorettes, who I have a love/hate relationship with. I love them, but they hate me, so I’ll go no further with them. Incidentally these ladies were the last band to feature on the main stage, sadly due to the weather. Puddle of Mudd, of course, are a massive success story from the 90’s. They, however, didn’t headline on the main stage tonight, instead they got moved to the beer tent, which was a much more intimate affair!

During The Amorettes set the heavens opened and caused some electrical issues, preventing any further performances to take place upon it. In fact, the weather was so bad, it caused the entire festival to grind to a halt and preventing any further performances to take place, on any of the planned stages for the rest of the day. The VMA stage never got used again, so many bands who were meant to play on it, didn’t get the opportunity to do so, although the organisers did try to accommodate as many of them as they could elsewhere. However, this meant organised time slots got moved to later times and as a result, some bands couldn’t play until later, so never played at all, but they were given the opportunity if they wanted it. Some called it biblical and at one point the rain was horizontal, but thankfully the water didn’t turn to blood or any fish die, but that didn’t stop the keyboard warriors from spreading malicious rumours about it on social media.

One such rumour was that someone got electrocuted and died at the festival, which was pretty stupid of them and forced The Amorettes to issue a formal statement to say everyone was fine!

Truth is, the organisers managed to set up a decent sound system within the covered bar area, where everyone was hiding from the elements. As there was no room for a photo pit, my work for the day had stopped, but that didn’t stop me from getting pissed and socialising with bands and party goers. The make shift stage enabled Acid Reign to perform, which some are calling their best performance to date and it was certainly one of the most fun, if that’s possible. If you’ve never seen this band perform before, then you may be unaware that unusual events generally occur, on a regular basis so they were probably one of best bands to have, in a situation like this. They certainly lifted everyone spirits on the night, along with a few free beers, which I know Gary is still talking about! haha!

Headliners on the main stage, Puddle of Mudd, also got to perform in the bar area, having come a very long way to be here, so it was only right and everyone was looking forward to seeing them play. It was a very stripped back and personal performance, which everyone seemed to enjoy. Before their set though and as Wesely, the bands lead singer and guitarist was walking to the stage, Ritchie of Witch Tripper stopped him and asked him if he was in a band and that he looked like he was in a band…….its safe to say, Wesely thought he was a nut job and walked off, to the stage, to perform with his band, Puddle of Mudd! Bonkers night, it’s safe to say, I got a little drunk, but we all got on with it and because we were all together, we had a great time.

At 2am, I thought it would be funny to conduct an interview with Witch Tripper, but I can’t even bring myself to watch it, as I know we were all really quite drunk!

I usually hate sleeping in tents but thankfully, my £15 bargain, from Tesco withstood what mother nature threw at it and remained dry. I even slept very well, but the amount of alcohol consumed probably played a massive part in that. I know the air bed didn’t, bloody thing!

If you was there, you’d know, but if you wasn’t…………….You don’t know man, you weren’t there! Roll on Saturday!

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)