It was a lovely sunny day in North Manchester, the sun was beating down with a sweet breeze to blow the cobwebs away… so what better way to spend your entire weekend than to listen to some of the most promising bands breaking through and throw in some legendary bands into the mix just for the fun of it. This was SOS Festival 2012 at the Civic Hall in Radcliffe for the 5th annual show. The doors were open, the audience inside and out (a perfect day with open doors to great music, what more can you want) as two stages were prepped ready to rock our worlds.
Trucker Diablo create a great vibe with their southern rock blend of metal with torrents of post-punk and grunge creating a flavoursome cocktail of fun and frolics. The Northern Irish quartet really get the party going on with the buzz of tracks like ‘Drink Beer, Destroy’ and ‘Voodoo’ showing great party anthemic songs to the festival so early on. This was a very promising set from the trucker boys. This unsigned band is something of a marvel, in truth it’s baffling they are still unsigned for such an incredible ‘let’s get the party started’ band.
As the main stage was set up for the next band, the acoustic stage welcomed an SOS staple of John Doyle, creating an amalgamation of relaxing acoustic cover hits from classic tracks throughout the rock and metal scene. John played brilliantly between the first few bands to keep the crowd entertained and the set of cover hits went down well with the crowd as they sang along with delight.
The southern rock theme continued with The Goddamn Electric, as influences start screaming out like Black Stone Cherry, Black Label Society and Pantera. The band are named after the aforementioned Pantera track; they kick out some rip roaring trendkill style tracks that the crowd really get stuck into. The foursome’s fantastic Kentucky, bourbon drenched, hard rock electrified the room with some shocking riffs and thundering lyrics which really complimented the bands before them.
Acoustic sets appear to be all the craze right now thanks to unplugged performances and bands such as Rodrigo Y Gabriella, who is still firing on all cylinders. Needless to say Breakdown decided to dabble into the acoustic setting and the clear rock unabridged sound reverberated with the classic sound of unplugged. They bring a new edge to the proceedings with a smooth, chilled out set that captures the enraptured crowd. This trio from Manchester, though only a duet for the acoustic show, played very well, and indeed looked very comfortable playing in such a slower paced style to their usual tempo.
Thanks to the acoustic stage the main stage is set up during the act and within minutes, the main stage is a buzz as Wizzard strut their stuff. Though only formed in 2007, the veteran rockers look as if they have been doing this since the eighties producing some classic sounds that wouldn’t go a-miss if you had a time machine and shot back to the best metal era of all time. Needless to say the Belgians put out a magical performance of god ol’ heavy metal lyrics that rings true and the crowd lap it up. Wizz Wizzard has not lost his touch, his cover bands of old and his DJ days have made him an iconic figure here at SOS Fest and with his own festival in Belgium, they continue their own tradition with a well-executed set.
If you could think of any way for the festival to produce an eclectic varying taste then Ten By Ten is your answer. The quartet brings their post-grunge, stoner rock sound with perfection. They’re a band that has built up some reputation before the festival with their new video and the crowd has gathered to see what they are capable of. They do not disappoint as they drench themselves in the Bolton boys’ dark, melodic progressive rock stimulus. With an EP and retro 90’s look to help them along, their sound travels through the venue as ‘Jesus Roadtrip’, their aforementioned brilliant new single and video is met with a bouncing crowd. It’s incredible that this band is still unsigned; just going off this performance alone there should be record labels lining up around the block to sign them.
It was back to the acoustic stage for the enigmatic and truly unique sound of Steel Threads; a band that is seriously on the up. The trio from Bolton and Coventry utterly blew us away with their power folk music. The mix of acoustic guitar, double bass and fiddle is a truly inspiring and genius move. The crowd have been enmeshed in their infusion of Irish and Wild West folk style, and they even involving the crowd with their stunning rendition of ‘Touch too Much’. Steel Threads are going to be hard to beat for the remainder of the bands to come after this as they will all have to bring their ‘A’ game. Get Your Rock Out have labelled them the next Jethro Tull, and we stick by this notion, seriously look out for this phenomenal band in a town near you, you will not regret it.
All the way from Port Talbot and Cardiff, the new sensation that are Triaxis are the first of the female fronted bands of the weekend. The quintet sports two stunning ladies and has already been classed as the female Iron Maiden, a high honour indeed. The expecting crowd seems to invigorate the band and their label shines through with the first notes. Singer Krissie reminds you of a young Doro Pesch vocally and the quality is beyond belief. With powerful vocals, rip roaring riffs and thunderous drumming, this quintet will put them on the map and give South Wales a band worth recognising since Lost Prophets of old. A cover of Iron Maiden’s ‘Wasted Years’ is just too good to be true from this beast of a band; absolutely legendary and without destroying the song, adds their own twist. It is a rare privilege to see band attempt to bring back the New Wave of British Heavy Metal but they have done it. We could well be looking at the new queen of heavy metal in Krissie, someone who is capable of knocking Doro off that perch.
As the day turns to night, the second female fronted band is called forth in Obsessive Compulsive reignites the flames of post-punk infused metal. The four-piece look impressive and sound just as good too. Obsessive Compulsive continues to break boundaries with sound and performance and their intention to bring back post-punk to the country that invented it is inspiring. They are like a fusion of Alkaline Trio with a tweak of Guano Apes and Bif Naked, creating a UK fusion of American punk and British punk. With a new album on its way this band are ready for the world and the world better be ready for them before they blow them away.
The final act of the acoustic stage was ready, and it was none other than the fabulous trio Fantasist. The usually sharp dressed men entertain from the get go without even playing a chord as they don pyjamas and dressing gowns; clearly this is a band that do not take themselves seriously and if you have been lucky enough to have seen them before, this is not breaking news. Once again this three-piece show their quirky side as they explain their reasons behind their attire and its intended pun. They have been experimenting with acoustic sets for several months now and they bring forth a stellar performance yet again. The funk-tastic trio deliver a brilliant acoustic set to continue their local rise. Celebrating three years together as an official band, Fantasist do not disappoint, with typical staples from their debut album Giggle Juice as well as some great covers and some new material they have been testing out over the last tour from their upcoming new album due out early next year.
The evening just got better as the very entertaining Velvet Star grace the stage with their classic rock ‘n’ roll infused style. The colourful quintet are a clear reminder of that by gone era as the sharp influences of Stone Roses shines through with splashings of Guns ’n Roses, Stone Temple Pilots and the recent Velvet Revolver right down to the antics of vocalist Danny Jones. For what they do, they do extremely well – the ladies are gushing after them, and the men nodding away with pleasure written over their faces – it is clear that Velvet Star are in right now. They are energetic and eccentric, two very important attributes for the scene they are attributed to. The Mick Jagger strut of singer Danny certainly has the machismo to go far and the clear cockiness of the frontman brings in flavour like you’ve never tasted before. A great performance from an entertaining band, and they can’t be faulted for passion.
We get to the pen-ultimate part of the festivities tonight and the Manchester based ultimo band that is the enigmatic Exit State gave us a warm welcome. The uprising of Exit State is coming, you better believe it with their video of ‘Circles’ becoming the most requested song on Kerrang! T.V they certainly are becoming the band Get Your Rock Out has been touting them to be. Roy is in fine form on vocals as the quartet blisters through their set with stunning ability. It has been stated many times, this band is a breath away from greatness. They have some of the catchiest tunes in their field and it won’t be long before they will grace the majority of people’s CD collections. They won the stage, their presence was empowering and their craftsmanship was sublime. Singing hits from their debut album and the latest album ‘Black Veins’, Exit State are a joy to behold and the audience loved them. The future of British metal lives in Manchester and its name is Exit State!
For the final act of the evening, the veterans of hard rock and British heavy metal, Tygers of Pan Tang truly are the real deal from the decade that gave us Iron Maiden, Diamond Head and Saxon. Their high tempo metal is simply divine and something that really gets you to dance all night long. The veterans know the game and play it to perfection, with their mix of genres from their time from heavy metal to glam metal like that of Van Halen and Def Leppard puts Tygers on a very intriguing map of the metal scene. Clearly they knew their audience well to amalgamate the two biggest movements of the eighties; heavy riffs mixed with sexy high vocals create a vibrant sound to whet the appetite. They took control of the stage with great energy like the Glam metallers of the past. A band that time forgot, Tygers of Pan Tang seem to be reviving themselves with some great new catchy and uplifting material that integrates the classic eighties style with a sprinkling of modern melodies. Tygers are hunting in the shadows, ready to pounce on the world once again with a new album due later this year. They ended with classics like ‘Love Potion No.9’ , ‘Love Don’t Say’ and ‘Raised on Rock’ much to the delight of the dedicated Pan Tang fans, right down to the drunken fan leaping on stage to demand Love Potion No.9. It was a true pleasure to see a legendary band like Tygers revive their careers and take on the world once more and be a part of that.
The night was completed with a performance from the gorgeous Polefire girls, pole dancing to rock and metal. The perfect was to round off a great day!
Review: Aaron Emerson
Photos: Heather Mc