11 July 2011

Southport Rocks 2011 review

This weekend saw us doing something I never thought we'd ever do............camping in Victoria Park in Southport. The reason why, for Southport Rocks formely known as the Jedi Festival. This festival first began to raise awareness for SADS, (Sudden Adult Death Syndrome) and initially started off as a one day in door event to the 2 day outdoor festival we know today. Co founded by Steve Haw, who lost his son Chris to this devastating condition, Southport Rocks is a festival with a truly worthy cause fuelling it on and it'sorganisers company Vital Sounds Foundation are now in partnership with Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital to bring a screening programme to the young people out there to get themselves checked out for undiagnosed heart conditions.

With a lot of unsigned North West talent, tribute bands and some big names gracing the main and alternative stage as well as a dance tent on offer there was something here to keep all musical tastes entertained. If I was to write about each band I'd be on a par with War and Peace so here's my highlights of the weekend.

One of the first bands we saw in the alternative tent were, Ratty Little Fingers, a quirky modern folk ensemble, who came dressed in onesies comprising of a cat, flying squirrel and a raccoon. With a guitar, violin, and a wooden crate, they provided an eccentric little set that filled the tent with toe tapping folk tunes and with their character's bouncing along just as much as the bubbles from their bubble machine did, you couldn't help go away with a happy smile on your face after listening to them.

Another fab band who made it to the main stage were Catfish and the Bottlemen, from Llandudno, They provided a very slick energetic indie rock set on a sunny Saturday afternoon and had the crowd hooked from the first song. With their cheeky characters coming out and clear love of music, I can only hope that they soon become a household name, unfortunately, the "compare" didn't think so and decided to cut their set short to make way for a 12 year old singing Lady Gaga!! The crowd seemed as dismayed as the band, who carried on strumming away behind him in a refusal to move till there allotted time was up. Good on you guys!! Personally I'd have liked to hear a lot more from them as I have to admit they were the musical highlight of the weekend for me.

Friday's headliners, the Lancashire Hotpots provided a highly entertaining set and I don't think I've ever laughed so much in ages. With flat caps and waist coats, they entertained us for an hour with comical musical musings about getting lost in Ikea, their own version of YMCA entitled "CHAV", bringing beer drinking to the Olympics, and yes I'd be up for that one, and a drum and bass fuelled ditty which the crowd had to do the conga to, as instructed by lead vocalist, Bernard Fresher, who became alter ego "B Fresh" especially for it. With most of the crowd twirling round each other arm in arm, this was definitely a great way to end the first day.

Back to Saturday again and Kid British once again played a perfect set, with their ska influenced tunes sliced with a bit of rock, they had the crowd bouncing away to, "Picadilly Gardens" and "Our House is a Dadless House" plus many more hits.

The alternative tent meanwhile was witnessing Stagecoach, who seeing as there were only three people in the tent at the time, decided to invite them up onto the stage with them and some of the band took to the audience part. As people drifted in they too were invited onto stage, the band refusing to play until they had. With a rather manic ukelaili player balanced on any speaker he could climb onto the tent soon filled up once word got round. I have to say Stagecoach provided the most entertaining set of the whole weekend.

Newly signed to Universal Records, Luke Bingham provided an R&B set, which saw all the teenage girls enthralled as soon as he came onto the stage, especially two who stared goggle eyed at him and lapped it up when he sang towards them. With songs like "Baby come closer", a very Taio Cruz influenced number, I'm pretty sure he will soon be the next heart throb for many youngsters.

The final highlight of the weekend was closing act, The Futureheads, who blew the crowd away with a full on rock set including favourites, "Heartbeat Song", "Hounds of Love" and show opener "Beginning of the Twist". I saw them at Kendal Calling last year and was a bit disappointed but I have to admit that this set was amazing from start to finish and exuded a sheer force of energy throughout. Lead singer Barry Hyde's character flowed out of him on Saturday just as much as his vocals and the whole band looked like they were really enjoying it as much as the crowd.

Other acts over the weekend you might like to check out are Sly Digs, Matt Belcher and Picture Book.

Only downsides to the weekend, for me anyway, was the sheer lack of promoting the Alternative stage by the compare, a DJ from Dune FM, who seemed to like his own voice more than some of the acts and the sheer amount of tribute bands on the main stage. It would have been nice to see more of the unsigned acts, who actually write their own music and lyrics, instead of copycat bands, who some sound and look nothing like. I understand that, for example, The Blue Meanies, are crowd pleasers and to be fair, they do make an effort to look like them, but if more festivals took that small step to promote these young talented acts, then maybe some of them might just get that break that they so readily deserve.

Overall though this was a fantastic weekend, even when the rain poured, and it's a festival that helps to raises an awareness to an extremely worthwhile cause.

Review by Alison Goggin

Festival pics in full can be found HERE

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