Teddy Rocks Festival - April 2017
I had been interested in Teddy Rocks ever since I saw the original headliner announcement, three huge bands at a fairly new festival all in aid of raising money for children’s cancer, I couldn’t see a fault in it! As the lineup was added to over the next few months I became more and more excited at the prospect of heading on down to see what the people of Teddy Rocks had to offer.
Rocking up at some point on Friday afternoon, quickly found a space to set up my tent; then set out to find some amazing music to photograph. The first band that really caught my eye were Natives, a indie four-piece from The New Forest, their smooth and upbeat songs definitely brightened up the crowds day even if it was still pretty overcast. Their eclectic blend of tribal pop and funky guitar riffs are the perfect thing to listen to as it gets closer to summer.
Soon after Liverpool based Pop Punk hooligans WSTR graced the stage bringing their catchy angsty hooks to the patrons of Teddy Rocks, I’m surprised front man Sammy Clifford had so much energy as he looked like he’d just rolled out of bed still wearing a huge baggy t-shirt and what I can only assume were pyjama pants. Nevertheless WSTR impressed me with their array of songs, as I will admit not being the biggest Pop Punk fan, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute!
Took a short break to grab a stone-baked pizza and refreshing beverage before I was back at the main stage just minutes before The Xcerts took to the stage. A very impressive set from the Aberdeen boys, playing the perfect balance of songs from each of their three albums. A personal highlight being singer Murray’s more acoustic version of ‘Aberdeen 1987’. The Xcerts were also the first band of the weekend to include a fair amount of pyro during their set, which was widely appreciated by not just myself but the audience as well on the chilly April evening.
A quick wander over to the slightly smaller Vocalzone stage, I caught headliners Tigress, who lived up to their name and put in a fierce performance; drawing in people from the other side of the field to investigate what sounded so good. Tigress are a band to watch in the coming months, most probably playing a kickass show near you soon!
Closing Friday were the second Scottish band of the night , Twin Atlantic, to who I was extremely excited to see as they have been on my list of bands to watch for quite a few years now. Lets just say they didn’t disappoint. Smashing right out of the gate with powerhouse ‘Gold Elephant: Cherry Alligator’ the crowd erupted with screams of excitement as the lights blared and the pyro set the darkness ablaze. Twin Atlantic continued with their already great set by playing a lot of their most recent album GLA, but including enough golden oldies to keep us long time fans happy. The biggest reaction from the crowd was during ‘Heart & Soul’ which had everyone singing along and the finale of ‘No Sleep’ which ended with a huge confetti cannon to end the first day of what was shaping up to be a incredible festival.
As I arose from my tent on a foggy Saturday morning I was ready to see what else Teddy Rocks had to offer! First up were Pop Punk boys Weatherstate, who definitely woke up any festival goers who were having an extended lie in, blaring out catchy chorus’s on after another. Palm Reader were next on my list to see, they were by far the heaviest band I had witnessed so far, blending humongous riffs and breakdowns with some expert vocals from singer Josh McKeown. I would also like to shout out their long haired and beardy guitarist who was rocking a seriously cool Lana Del Ray t-shirt (by far the best piece of clothing I saw all weekend). During my considerable break between bands I took it upon myself to check out what was going on at the festival between bands, there was enough food stalls to feed an army who all wanted different cuisines, multiple inflatable activities such as Zorb football, a huge climbing wall and even a mechanical bull(which I didn’t try to not embarrass myself).
As it started getting darker in the Dorset countryside, melodic hardcore brutes Blood Youth took to the stage to once again bring the heavy to Teddy Rocks! Playing countless tracks from their recent debut album ‘Beyond Repair’ and getting the crowd to make pit after pit. Blood Youth also dived into their back catalogue by playing fan favorites ‘Closure’ and ‘24/7’ which made the crowd burst with even more energy than I thought was possible.
For the next two hours, I spent my time checking out the bands over on the Vocalzone stage once more, first up was Griever; a metalcore band that enjoy painting themselves with black body paint, looked like a gothic 60 minute makeover, but that didn’t take away from the fact that they put on a really good show Live! Their set was full of technical riffs, slamming breakdowns and expertly crafted solo’s, with frontman David Seymour switching between harsh screams and lighter sung vocals.
The final band on Teddy Rocks second stage for tonight was the melodic metalcore giants from the south coast Our Hollow, Our Home who had the biggest crowd I had seen all weekend at the second stage. They absolutely annihilated their forty minute set, turning the pit into a warzone full of swinging fists and fans singing their hearts out. Frontman Connor seemed to be enjoying every single second of it, especially when playing huge fan favorites like ‘Loneshark’, ‘Karmadillo’ and ‘Worms Wood’ which had every single person in the crowd singing back the lyrics word for word!
Tonight’s headliner were non other than London bass giants Modestep, who having seen multiple times before I knew that they were about to bring the party to Teddy Rocks and turn the crazy up to 11. Starting up slightly later than planned due to technical difficulties with the first track off their newest album ‘Damien’ the wall of bass and guitar riffs that exploded out of the speakers definitely took some people by surprise no doubt, with the added aggressive speech from cockney legend Alan Ford being layered over the top this was a great start to Modestep's set! The performance continued at this level of hype, with bass heavy tracks being accompanied by Josh’s iconic vocals and Pat’s drumming expertise; this was very apparent especially during single ‘Rainbow’ which got the crowd stomping their feet in approval and of course by far their most popular song ‘Sunlight’ which they ended a spectacular hour set with! My only complaint and most of the crowd would agree that their set should have been extended, because every song was extraordinary to watch and sing along to.
I woke on Sunday morning to the sound of rain on the roof of my tent, to my annoyance as I knew I would most probably be getting drenched on the final day of Teddy Rocks 2017.
First on my schedule was Luna Wilson, her huge vocals and tight accompanying band attracted a pretty impressive crowd, most of which either knew the words to the songs or at least did by the end of her short but sweet set.
Next on the lineup was Gospel Youth, who emitted some serious emotion through their wonderfully sung vocals to the catchy guitar riffs in every song. Their sound reminded me of classic Fall Out Boy or Panic! At the Disco, with clever lyrics and an extremely impressive vocal range. The Gospel Youth have converted me, I am 100% a fan now.
I unfortunately missed the first song of Fort Hope’s set, but got stuck in never the less for the rest. Sounding a lot heavier in a live environment than I remembered from listening to their tracks online, not going to lie I wasn’t disappointed! Getting increasingly excited whenever the SFX team let off a burst of flame, the band and crowd were loving every minute of Fort Hope’s set, especially during their last song when another confetti cannon was released into the air to everyone’s excitement.
Second to last band this evening were Indie juggernauts VANT to whom i had put in my top three to see this weekend as I had thoroughly enjoyed their debut album Dumb Blood and was interested to see how it transferred onto a live stage. Just before VANT were set to start the heavens opened and the rain decided to come down in bucket fulls but if you thought that was going to stop me you would be sorely mistaken. Smashing through a solid 45 minute set, VANT were everything I was expecting, distorted indie guitar riffs and clean cut and quirky lyrics throughout. It always a bit of a stretch comparing a band to Nirvana but listening to them live VANT posses all the aspects and charm that Kurt & Co. seemed to have back in the day, I am going to be keeping a close eye on this band as there is big things in store for this indie 4-piece!!
Teddy Rocks 2017 was closed by the spectacular Scouting For Girls who this year are celebrating their debut album’s 10 year anniversary and what better way to do that than helping such a noble charity event. The clouds parted just as Scouting For Girls took to the stage, smashing out hit after hit such as ‘Heartbeat’, ‘Elvis isn’t Dead’ & ‘I Wish I was James Bond’ all the while having the biggest grins on their faces as they attracted probably the biggest crowd of the weekend. Just before they finished, organizer of Teddy Rocks Tom Newton came out on stage to announce the total funds that had been raised this year for Children’s Cancer Research, a whopping £76,659 were accumulated over the 3 days of the festival, which is crazy to think about as last year they made just over £40k with an extra day. A huge congratulations to Tom and his crew for putting on such an amazing festival in aid of such a great cause! Scouting for Girls then came back on stage to close the festival with a huge rendition of ‘She’s So Lovely’ which got an eruption of screams from die hard fans in the crowd.
As I drove back home on the rainy Sunday night, I commend every band that played and every volunteer that helped out to make this festival the success it was! I cant wait to see what Teddy and his bunch of bears have to raise the bar even higher next year; I will most definitely be back Teddy Rocks, mark my words!
Our Hollow, Our Home
The Gospel Youth
Scouting For Girls
Photography and Words by Joe Dick