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)