Gig review: Breaking Bands Festival – 22-24 May 2015

Stoke Prior Sports and Country Club, Worcestershire

Haerken - Breaking Bands Festival - 22-24 May 2015

With the glut of festivals out there at present and certainly those of sub-1000 capacity you have to wonder is there space for more? Well, whilst the few big festivals continue to charge mortgage price tickets fees for so-so line ups and dubious facilities, more and more punters are going back to those grass roots festivals where the people come first rather that the profit margin.

Sure, you still have to get it right and there have been a number that haven’t and had to cancel for various reasons. Breaking Bands Festival, though, seems to have hit the nail on the head with cost/lineup/venue and were sold out of weekend/camping tickets some four weeks before the event and it easy to see why! For £25, that will buy you 5 pints a the big festivals, we get 45+ sets over 2 stages over 2 1/2 days that includes headline bands Breed 77, Monument and Voodoo Vegas.

The range of bands goes from basic hard hitting rock and roll through metal and hardcore to punk-rock and a number acoustic sessions which means there is something for everyone.

Speaking to Jason McGuire one of the festival organisers he mentioned that one of the main principles behind the festival was to give as many up and coming and independent established bands the exposure to fans and media that in this somewhat swamped market can be awkward to obtain nowadays.

As we all see the so-called big bands grow old it’s easy to see that unless we have festivals like this – pushing and promoting the best of upcoming British rock/metal – there will come a time when we are struggling for quality bands to make any of the larger festivals viable.

Friday night is party night and already a great atmosphere brewing with the campsite already ¾ full.  The main gig room was a decent sized area with a well-stocked/cheap bar and plenty of seating for those who had taken the afternoon drinking a bit too far. The band on everyone’s lips tonight was ‘Haerken’ and the swords were already on sale for their slot later!

Thirteen Shots - Breaking Bands Festival - 22-24 May 2015

Before we get there we have what must be the hardest slot of the weekend, but festival openers The Thirteen Shots stepped up to the mark and made it their own.

Hammering out a hard hitting set which takes its basics from the early dirty punk-rock sound but mixes in their own elements of rock and a bit of fun pop. With most of their set coming from their debut album ‘Black Smiles’ they revved the crowd up and set us in good stead for the rest of the night.

HAERKEN: A blistering set of the hardest death/battle metal…led by the formidable Laird Logan, the Scot who tells tales in tongues of old before rallying the troops to take up arms and divide and conquer until no man, woman or drunkard is left standing.

You would think it was headliner time by the amount of people on the barrier for Haerken, they are known far and wide as purveyors of the finest death metal and their sets usually end up with an all-out battle amongst the crowd.

Haerken - Breaking Bands Festival - 22-24 May 2015

Tonight will be no different as they are led onstage by the flag waving Baron and the staff wielding Reverent Benjamin. A blistering set of the hardest death/battle metal from their album ‘Of Warriors and Kings’ led by the formidable Laird Logan, the Scot who tells tales in tongues of old before rallying the troops to take up arms and divide and conquer until no man, woman or drunkard is standing. Crowd participation at its best.

Voodoo Vegas - Breaking Bands Festival - 22-24 May 2015

The battle-torn crowd got barely enough time to recuperate before another onslaught from The Heretic Order and then final band of the night Voodoo Vegas and a great set of hard riffing balls-out Rock and Roll. As opening nights go, this has been truly epic.


THEIA: It’s young bands like this that still give me faith in UK rock music!


So Saturday comes around quite quickly after a few hours’ sleep, those up with enough energy can wander over to the venue where a full English is being up served at a very reasonable price, with a beer if you can face it that early.

The line-up today really shows that at this festival the time slot is irrelevant when it comes to the quality of the band and in my eyes two of the best bands of the day are midway through the running order.

Breaking Bands Festival - 22-24 May 2015

Also today sees the acoustic stage kick into life with slots from some of the main stage bands and some pure acoustic sessions. The standout set for me was Tone Tanner who accompanied by his trusty foot drum kicks out some amazing slide blues from the likes of Rory Gallagher and Son House as well as mixing it up with the odd pop number. A very welcome change of pace as the crowd chill in the glorious sunshine.

With such a wide range of music styles today there is something for everyone, apart from maybe the ABBA fans!. There is the punkier feel from The Idol Dead and Headstone Horrors, kick-ass rock and roll from The Senton Bombs and Black State Highway, hardcore from Obzidian and classic heavy metal from headliners Monument amongst others.

Early surprise band for me were Theia; a no frills rock and roll band who packed in a great crowd, many clad in their trademark T-shirt with the logo ‘Whoop De F…k.. Doo’. An energy packed set ensued and front man Keith Lamley led the way with his many jaunts running round the crowd mid-song and still ripping out the lead licks. It’s young bands like this that still give me faith in UK rock music!

Black State Highway - Breaking Bands Festival - 22-24 May 2015

Black State Highway have been getting some rather good press lately and after seeing them last year at HRH I can totally understand that. Musically they have a great bluesy rock sound that has just and swaggered out of the 70′s but what stands them out from the rest is their vocalist Liva Steinberga who packs an awesome vocal range with a great raspy ballsy delivery.

Playing tracks from their self-titled album they turned out one of the best sets of the weekend, following up on Sunday morning at a more sedate acoustic volume.

Obzidian - Breaking Bands Festival - 22-24 May 2015

In a totally different vein from the earlier bands Obzidian are one of the many fine bands from the Rocksector label and WOW do they hit the spot, Hardcore Thrash Metal with a great groove going on and a sound reminiscent of Pantera and FFDP. Matty takes his vocals from ear ripping screaming that matches the shredding thrash guitar down to gut churning lows that rattle the bones of the hardest of metal fans.

Wildside Riot - Breaking Bands Festival - 22-24 May 2015

Sleaze rockers Wildside Riot are fronted by Rocky “Wrekkless” Shades one of the original glam rockers from way back in the 80′s as part of Wrathchild.  Their sleazy riff laden rock and roll, big hair and cowboy boots take us back to Sunset Strip of the 1980s.


Sunday started with a “Loud T-Shirt’ contest, a little bit harsh on eyes made bleary by the previous night’s drinking activity.


Headline band for tonight are the mighty Monument, I last saw them at SOS Festival in 2014 where they rocked the crowd, since then they have replaced the temporary bass player Nickel from FuryON with Daniel Bate from Absolva who fits the lineup perfectly.

Monument - Breaking Bands Festival - 22-24 May 2015

With the set coming almost entirely from their new album Renegades it is a full on heavy metal onslaught with plenty of twin guitar and frenzied guitar fingering all backed by the steady powerful twin drum bass beat.  With a hark back to the 70′s we get a great version of Deep Purple’s ‘Black Night’ before the set rolls to an end with ‘Rock The Night’ and ‘Omega’.

Breaking Bands Festival - 22-24 May 2015

Sunday started with a “Loud T-Shirt’ contest, a little bit harsh on eyes made bleary by the previous night’s drinking activity.

Kyrbgrinder - Breaking Bands Festival - 22-24 May 2015

Today throws a few wildcards into the metal melting pot and the first is the late announced Kyrbgrinder. With their funky hard edged rock sound, a well received and enjoyed set.

Electric Cake Salad add a bit of electro space pop to the procedings and are joined on stage by Neck bass player Guido McFister who looks slightly worse for the wear after his appearance at Bearded Theory Festival the day before.


Summing up the entire festival I can only say this was an absolutely awesome weekend with a combination of great planning, great bands, but most of all great people.


Following on from this, two great sets from A Tower of Crows and The Self Titled before another of my favourite bands at present The Texas Flood, an awesome trio from deep South Wales with a great vintage groovy rock blues sound.

The Texas Flood - Breaking Bands Festival - 22-24 May 2015

Recently signed to Off Yer Rocka Records thay have played a lot of festivals recently pushing their debut album, these guys are going to be pushing headline stages in the next few years.

The final band, and certainly the highlight of the weekend, Breed 77 were only doing two UK dates this year and this is one of them.

Breed 77 - Breaking Bands Festival - 22-24 May 2015

With the crowd hanging on the barrier this was an awesome set mixing metal with their distinctive Latin tilt. Vocalist Paul Isola had a lot to say about his disillusionment with the music industry which is probably why we don’t get to see them much now. It’s a great pity as their style and sound is a breath of something different in what can  sometimes be a static, samey-sounding music scene.

Summing up the entire festival I can only say this was an absolutely awesome weekend with a combination of great planning, great bands, but most of all great people. With next years headliners already announced as Reign of Fury, Evil Masquerade and Blaze Bayley I suspect it will be sold out well before the event date.

Review and Photos by Simon Dunkerley

Festival website

Lineup.
Friday: Thirteen Shots, Martyr De Mona, Haerken, The Heretic Order, Voodoo Vegas.
Saturday: Main: The Idol Dead, Mage, Quiet the Thief, Theia, The Senton Bombs, The Midnight Dogs, Black State Highway, Headstone Horrors, Obzidian, Ronin, Psycho Kiss, Wildside Riot, Death Valley Knights, Monument.
Acoustic: New Generation Superstars, Ian Bourne, Tone Tanner, A Tower of Crows, The Idol Dead
Sunday:  Main: Resin, The Loved and Lost, Kyrbgrinder Electric Cake Salad, A Tower of Crows, Cambion, The Self Titled, Defy All Reason, The Texas Flood, Autumn Ghost, Broken Jaw, Fury, Morgue Orgy, Breed 77
Acoustic: Black State Highway, Billy Brown, Craig Sheridan, Lost in Arkham, Dion Judge


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Power Plays w/c 31 July 2017


THE SPIRITUAL MACHINES Bubble (Would Work Sound)
CATS IN SPACE The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party (Harmony Factory Records)
KENNY WAYNE SHEPHERD Nothing But The Night (Provogue)
MISE EN SCENE Still Life On Fire (Membran)
MORRISSEY & MARSHALL Hangin’ Around (Mass Market Recordings)


Featured Albums w/c 31 July (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 LIONHEART Second Nature (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 MR. BIG Defying Gravity (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 CIARA SIDINE Unbroken Line (indie)



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