A Joke Review of the Hippy Haze Get Together @ The Full Moon, 29.4.2012

A Review Less Ordinary.

The Full Moon was totally eclipsed tonight as Richard Buxton’s Hippy Haze army took over for this reunion for staff members, press and acts from the Easter Weekend Festival, where ‘artists’ showcased their worthless talent once again, and the crowd once again pretended to listen with passion and excitement whilst necking back whatever alcohol they could to numb the pain their ears were put through.

Opening the open mic night was, of course, Hollie Vee, minus the hubkaps (probably stolen by Radical’s Rising’s Scouse photographer Daniel Rowlands), and next up on the Full Moon stage went Brains For Breakfast, and it would seem he had actually eaten his brains for breakfast, as he stumbled up on stage and proceeded to stumble through a few songs he clearly had never rehearsed, opting to mumble as fast as possible during one particular Irish folke song in the hope people would mistake his petty slurs for quick-witted lyric. Slanderous. He then took up his final song by playing some crazy guitar several sizes too small for him- a Makelele or some such French footballer sounding name.

Emilio Pinchi then realised his name was far too destined to be famous and so rose to the stage probably wearing his favourite colourful socks- which are in fact black(??) to show off yet again, after already spending half an hour in the 6 Towns Radio studio boasting about his place in LIPA by singing songs about fruit pastels, daytime stars and ghosts. That boy’s got a shock coming to him, however, when his beautiful hair gets stripped and sold for parts by those lovely Liverpudlians.

The boys from Six Towns clearly turn up just to ‘show their faces’, (though heaven knows why as they are one ugly bunch) and couldn’t even be bothered to play any songs before they make a swift get away. Fair play to them, though, they have got work to do in finding a new drummer (he was obviously not all that ugly and realised he was the poster boy stuck behind the drum kit). Being a lover of mum jokes, it becomes frustratingly difficult to stop oneself from letting loose on 3’s A Riot guitarist Toby Simcock when he declares that his dear mother is hanging around Newcastle for a bit so he can have a lift home. Apologies Toby, but I’m bet she…. No, be a good little reviewer.

As the Radical’s Rising team hammer their way through the full set list of cocktail pitchers available at The Full Moon, good old Aaron Mobberley takes a place on the stage so he can play folke boy yet again. Aaron mate you can’t even sing, just stick to root notes on bass yeah. Giving that same old excuse of having a croaky throat- you’re going to have frogspawn in your throat if you don’t get rid of that frog soon!

Some guy in glasses- which he swears are prescription- keeps hanging around and pretending he’s Columbo or summat in a rather fetching raincoat, but this particular Columbo opts not to play any songs, funny really, you would think he would be happy to just Get Along singing his song.

By this point, the Radical’s Rising lads are cruising through their last pitcher on the menu, and go full hog and purchase another two more; you know, to be on the safe side when last orders are called. Amy Parker and Ben Steele sneak into The Full Moon at a rather late hour, and thrash out a few tunes in their cunning, extremely out of harmony harmonic tone, and then proceed to play in the corner of The Full Moon unplugged- crimes does that pair ever shut up?!

Some band going under the name Ruby Dukes hop on stage to play out a final rehearsal set before their debut gig supporting Columbo on Friday May 4th. The Star Wars joke will not be used here, rest assured. Though guitarist Josh clearly thinks he’s Luke Skywalker, prancing about the stage as though his guitar is a light saber.

All in all, it was a terrible waste of time. And to top it all off, this is one hell of a hangover. Bad times, man.


The English | Holy Esque | Camp Stag @ Fat Cats Cafe Bar. 26.04.2012

2012 has already been a successful and promising year for local music in Stoke-on-Trent, with April being a great month. After their stomping hometown gig 24th March, All The Young released their debut album 2nd April, and Easter Weekends Hippy Haze Festival was a huge success for Richard Buxton and all inlovled. And now, before the year even hits the darling buds of May, could we find ourselves on the cusp of something special? For months now the hype surrounding Camp Stag has been building towards boiling point, and finally, tonight at Fat Cats Cafe Bar, they are unleashed to the public eye.

Supporting Camp Stag was local band The English, taking to the stage around eight pm in front of a modest crowd. Front man Will Abercrombie dons a fancy sailor hat for the gig, a rather stunning fashion accessory to say the least, and the boys open their set brilliantly with new track Less Is More. Stage presence is something the band perhaps need to work on as a unit, as the set seemed to lack energy and raw passion that you might expect from The English, and a stronger use of dynamics would severely heighten the feel of energy and intelligence which is clearly already in the songs, but perhaps hiding timidly at the moment.

There is a clear vibe within The English, a beast waiting to be unleashed; it’s just a matter of finding the right bait to coax the best lurking within. The bass reverb used on Will’s microphone gives added effect to the trippy and addictive sound of The English, and their cover of Be My Baby worked very well into the set. This song highlighted, however, the band need to work on backing vocals to give added depth to their set. Though The English produced an extremely tight set, the songs seemed to glide into one another a little too easily, with each song sounding not unlike the previous song.

Scottish band Holy Esque did their fan base no harm with this fresh set, putting in a well worked performance with tight drum beats and soft synth tunes, and a vocal range echoing that of WU LYF front man Ellery Roberts. Certainly a band to get into.

Universal Thrift Club must be given credit for tonight’s gig, as well as Sleep In Music, who more than live up to their claim of supporting and promoting up and coming musicians with talent that stand out from the crowd, and now, with both support bands doing their bit entertain the growing crowd, Fat Cats had filled up pretty much to its capacity as they waited for Camp Stag, the band that without even playing their first gig, already stand out from the crowd. The crowd itself was full of faces from the music scene; Andy Gower, Emilio Pinchi, Moral Panics, The Sport, Dead Format, Sworn To Oath, even half of All The Young had turned up to watch the four lads take the local music scene by the scruff of the neck. Opening with Matilda Please, a song already featured on WrongPops charity album, Camp Stag immediately tell Stoke-on-Trent they have arrived. And these guys mean business. Rich Dooley proves that music really is in the genes with his seamless, unique drum patterns, and Ade Harrison’s keyboard skills are already becoming a trademark sound for Camp Stag, with just the introduction of current single Sirens causing a stir in the crowd, as this eagerly anticipated band finally unleash the song everyone was waiting for. Dan Nixon produced an eerie, pulsating performance on guitar and vocals, with the crowd hanging on every word he said, whilst Chris Wilson brought great energy to the stage with his well thought out bass play.

This band have clearly put in the effort to make sure their live music was at a great standard before being given to the music fans of Stoke-on-Trent- fans which went home feeling the buzz and excitement of something new, something that’s about to happen. Amongst a plethora of talented acts in Stoke-on-Trent, it is Camp Stag who seem to have the talent and ability to take Stoke by the scruff of the neck, and take her from the hidden depths of the national music scene to quite possibly the forefront.

3’s a Riot @ The Underground | 20th April

A healthy collection of Stoke’s local music devotees came together on the 20th of April to witness a line up local acts down at The Underground. Toward the end of first band on the night The Haze’s set chants of ‘3’s a riot’ could be heard filtering in from the smoking area outside at which point it was clear who the majority of the crowd where there to see.

And so it begins, possibly the most anticipated band of the night Stoke-on-Trents 3’s a Riot take to the stage to raptures of whooping and a hollering. By now the swathes of fiercely loyal 3’s a rioters had engulfed the floor while the four piece, who like every other band, had not been able to soundcheck made their final changes to their monitor volumes. Kicking off with an instrumental to get their levels right you’d think wouldn’t ignite the riot their name suggests but you would be someone who has not yet been to a 3’s a Riot gig. Barely a bar had gone by when the crowd got their own vocal chords in gear kicking off the chanting. A quarter of the way through the first song the moshing begins. Ale goes flying, girls are toppled over and Dan Aydon’s dad arguably their most fanatical fan gets deep in the pit, lapping up the testosterone filled atmosphere. Sensing things are getting wild they slow things down with ‘The Wanted Man’. Tomasso’s voice reminiscent of Meighan slash Gallagher seems to connect with the fans as he flows through the chorus. Stirring some thing in the audience they join Tomasso in belting out tune after tune. By now the people on the fringes are rocking back and forth on their toes to the infectious swagger the band reverberates. A song to end any set ‘Not Going Home Tonight’ signals the end of the 3’s a Riot show. Grinding and purposeful riffs filling the room act as a rallying cry, inviting the masses to get involved. The invitation is welcomed and the crowd ‘go absolutely fucking mental’ as Tomasso asked prior. The song crescendos and the crowd ask for more. The bands deeply ingrained philosophy of making sure the fans are happy implores them to play a cover of Pigeon Detectives. They finish their set, the moshers untangle checking their pockets to see if they’ve lost anything and head the bar for much needed refreshments.

Energetic and engaging, the band are next out in Stoke on the 26th of May headlining The Sugarmill. The band are doing that thing that many other bands are guilty of not doing, getting out of the city. They’re playing the world famous Cavern Club next month too, taking a coach load of the fanaticals down with them as well as me.

3′ A Riot Facebook 3‘s A Riot Reverbnation 3’s A Riot Soundcloud

Radicals Rising @RadicalsRising

Review of 3’s A Riot Album ‘Tonight the Sun Comes Up’

2.The Unknown
3.The Wanted Man
4.Tonight The Sun Comes Up
5.Not Going Home Tonight
6.The Bottom String King
7.The Hypnotist
8.I Don’t Like Your Tune
9.A Song For The People
10.Last Man Standing
11.True Illusion.

Oplo opens with a stunning guitar riff and follows through into a powerful chord progression, making an effective introduction. The song then progresses into a powerful lad-ish ballad, with superb use of dynamics throughout the song keeping that fresh vibe from start to finish. Listening to this song, you can fully feel yourself on top of the world, strolling down the street on a hot summer’s day, with your Fred Perry T-shirt collared up and shades covering your eyes.

The Unknown again kicks in with a brilliantly simple yet extremely effective guitar riff, a trademark sound which made The Arctic Monkeys famous and could very well happen for Stoke four piece 3’s A Riot. The song includes chanting styled backing vocals, the perfect sound to go with the gritty music of 3’s A riot. The lyrics, passionately voiced by singer Joseph Tomasso, are quite the relevant display of angst, frustration and desperate need to escape city life, and with such a form of release could see Tomasso become not only a voice for the people of Stoke-on-Trent but quite possibly the country, should this band have the right pushes in the right directions.

Track three on the album takes off with a slight resemblance to Noel Gallagher’s Talk Tonight, but that is instantly wiped out with a beautifully timed guitar riff followed up with a cool, laid back drum pattern. The Wanted Man has great use of echo and reverb on the vocals, and with such lyrics as “the people, they don’t understand” highlighting the bands potential to become voice of the people.

Title track could possible become the band’s trademark song from this album, with hard-hitting riffs pulsating though your very veins and drum beats hitting you where it hurts. One trait 3’s A Riot certainly have is their ability to calm things down and pace things up dynamically with great affect, as is shown in Tonight The Sun Comes up. Just one listen to the cleverly written tune leaves you feeling like you’ve just been a one hell of a roller coaster ride, and if you’re watching the band perform it live, expect to finish that song with a ripped shirt hanging off your back as you escape the mosh pit.

Tomasso is on vocal peak form in fifth track Not Going Home Tonight, with a use of effects helping his voice project the perfect sound of lad-ish banter with an actual singing ability, something which can be quite rare on the local music scene when considering indie bands.

Take away Tomasso’s lyrics and you may be forgiven for assuming an instrumental half way through a 3’s A Riot album is simply just a filler, but that is not the case with The Bottom String King, as they seemed to have produced another atmosphere producing instrumental which would go down a treat in any crowd.

Hypnotist is the tune which proves 3’s A Riot aren’t just a fast paced bunch of guitar heroes, with this laid back tune featuring intelligent guitar play and cunning lyrics suggesting the boys have much more than floor fillers in their collection. Perhaps, however, the use of an acoustic may have even further enhanced the vibrant, emotional sounds of the vocals and guitar riff.

I Don’t Like Your Tune see’s the return of the catchy backing vocals which could be yet another addition to a sound that makes 3’s A Riot unique and memorable. Add into the mix the catchy melody from Tomasso and the powerful drum beats and bass play and this song becomes 110 seconds of pure and raw talent driven angst.

A Song For The People does exactly what it says on the tin. Fabulous drum play lends extreme catchiness to an already catchy tune. Though falling into the breakdown of the song may need some attention, it seems to fit a hectic energy surrounding the band and the build back into the song is flawless. This song possibly wouldn’t look out of place on Arctic Monkey’s debut album- a testament to the potential of 3’s A Riot, but also a warning not to repeat history.

Another catchy tune with Last Man Standing, with Tomasso again proving he has great vocal ability. He seems to possess the anger of Peter Doherty as well as the soft beauty of his voice, only with a dash of a potteries accent in place of the cockney one. The song also has another clever, catchy riff, which could become the main weaponry for this band should they take battle in the venues of England.

After a great opening to finale piece True Illusion, 3’s A Riot rip it up for two minutes of pure British rock and roll. True Illusion is a brilliant ending to an album showcasing a band with possibly the most potential in Stoke-on-Trent at the moment. A little extra work perhaps on bass riffs to further fill out each song, and a bit more work on melodies in one or two songs, and this album could be the start of something big.

Jim McShsee and Hollie Vee and the Hubkaps, Full Moon, 14.04.2012

The intimacy and warmth of the Moon certainly suited Jim McShee very well, cruising through a lovely set of addictive songs that stick in your head for days to come, After a sound opening, Jim takes the crowd through “the most depressing song I’ve ever written”, which is a song filled with heart hitting lyrics and guitar melodies that are somehow emotionally beautiful and tender. The cold Jim had picked up from his performance at the poor weathered yet excellent Hippy Haze Festival on Easter weekend was nowhere to be seen tonight, as he sang his way through the set with his trademark raw, husky voice on perfect form. All that was missing from this fantastic blues encounter was a spitting jar as Mr McShee effortlessly picked and strummed his way through intelligently written tunes. Jim McShee has once again showed why he is such a well respected musician in Stoke-on-Trent with this performance, and a crying shame it would be if Coffin Nail E.P song Bloody Knuckle Blues were not to be used to one day soundtrack a film.


The illuminous fifties style microphone is the perfect touch to Hollie Vee and the Hubkaps set, witht he trio racing their way though a classic fifties blues rock performance. All three members of the band are fully absorbed in their set,  working with great passion and enjoyment which clearly shows through in each song and spills over into the crowd, causing a brilliant fifties atmosphere. The band are seamless, creating perfect harmonies in very up-beat, enrgetic songs that use great dynamics to enhance the effect of each note played. You don’t even need to close your eyes to be carried away to 1950’s America- this band has somehow brought classic blues rock to 2012, and with an amazing display of twists and riffs, have the modernised sound of the 1950’s down to a T-Bird. Pardon the pun. Sneaking in well rehearsed covers, such as Brand New Cadillac from post-punk band The Clash, Hollie got the crowd on their feet with her great voice and passionate guitar playing. Taking an Amy Winehouse song and completely making it their own got more people up and dancing to the sound of Hollie Vee and the Hubkaps, and after a set filled with modesty, passion and enjoyment, Hollie Vee and the Hupkaps ended their performance on the very high note of Arctic Monkeys classic Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor. I know for sure I don’t look good on the dancefloor, but Hollie Vee and the Hupkaps most defiantely look good on the stage.

Sound Casino Re-Launch Gig 6.4.2012

Substance and Sound Casino, Fat Cats 06.04.2012


The crowd was in full bloom for the re-launch of Sound Casino, with Fat Cat’s Cafe Bar the venue of choice for the reformed band’s first gig as a new line-up clearly eagerly anticipated. Support band Substance got the music underway with their sweet blend of rock blues anthems. Though the crowd were still gathering as Substance took to the stage, they let rip with powerful guitar riffs and tight drum patterns and entertained their audience. Singer Andy seemed a little anxious before the bands’ set, admitting that Substance had found it hard to find enough time to perfect their set, though this had not seemed apparent during the gig but for the very rare occasion only. The band were quite seamless throughout their cleverly worked out set list, and though the set itself did lack new material, the songs they produced were to a high standard. Certainly one major factor in the lack of fresh material is the current financial climate, which rest assured, once the band becomes able to ease up from tough working commitments, amazing and new songs are without doubt soon to join the already addictive sound of Substance. Though Andy at times seemed to edge towards  showing off his front man potential, stage presence for the band as a whole is perhaps in need of a little homework, however, but then again with a full crowd the performance elements of Substance would most likely flow much more freely and naturally.

Sound Casino strolled onto the stage with an air of confidence and excitement, fully clad in the odd pair of converse and leather jacket, and even Sound Casino balloons at either side of the stage, very flamboyant. The boys immediately ripped into their well groomed set, with front man Sweeney not yet harvesting his acoustic guitar. Bass player Chris roused the crowd into moving closer to the stage before the band had even started, which at once gave a sense of intimacy to the gig. Sound Casino ripped pieces out of their older songs, carving a new freshness to songs such as their opening tune Wasp, and they also brought to the table new material to show off the fact that this new look band mean business. They seemed to flow through their set with ease, and dropping in a few cover songs such as ‘Ever Fallen In Love With Someone’ going down well with the crowd. During one song, guitarist Elvis found himself a seat on the edge of the stage, causing a dramatically intimate atmosphere for the song, and highlighting the bands confidence to impress. And impress they did. Sound Casino have had a revamp and are quite clearly hitting the music scene on the rampage in 2012. And with a good bit of loyal management behind them, Sound Casino have the potential to cause some ripples, or rather waves, on the ocean of music in Stoke-on-Trent. Looks like Sound Casino have hit the jackpot. Time to cash in.

Reviews of Every Band from the Hippy Haze Festival 2012

Hippy Haze Fest 2012.

Saturday 7th April.

Saturday 7th April, midday, and we are about to find out if six months of Richard Buxton’s hair being pulled out by his own hands has been worth it all. Sleepless nights have no doubt been frequent of late for The Hippy Hippy Shake Company owner, and now, with the Clockwork Owls taking to the stage to open the festival, Richard seems full of confidence that this quick paced, quick-witted three piece could deliver. And his confidence was not misplaced, as the Owls flew into their set with an energy and excitement that you would expect from members Aaron Mobberley, James Tildesley and Josh Morris. And perhaps it’s a coincidence, or perhaps the fact spell check fails to recognise two of the lads’ names highlights how unique the Clockwork Owls are.

This their final gig for the foreseeable future (the band are taking time out from gigging to concentrate on penning new material and perfecting their sound), the Clockwork Owls gave it their all, with James on guitar seeming like an Owl freed from his cage to produce solo’s close to being flawless. Aaron performed greatly on bass and vocals, straining at times to hit the hard notes he tortures himself with, but hitting them nonetheless, and Josh played beats as tight as ever, even with a kick drum which was seemingly reluctant to be kicked: jumping away from Josh with every bet it took. Opening band down and Richard’s look of sheer concentration had not relented, but there was already a glint of pride in his eyes.

For such a young band, Wired seem full of maturity and professionalism, and their technical ability is certainly far too advanced for their years. The band’s rocky sound is evidently well-rehearsed, with catchy bass riffs from Jonny Gosling and steaming guitar solos from Duncan Hurst a plenty. Though the nerves of the band were visible at times throughout their set, the four piece are clearly confident in their ability and potential, and, given time to find their own unique sound, Wired could have a very bright future.

Third band of the day From Within are a band clearly packed with potential. A young band, they do have their flaws, but these are the kind of flaws you grind out over time, and time is certainly something four-piece rock band From Within have on their side. Nerves did seem close to be getting the better of the band as a whole, but as individual musician’s and as a band, From Within are hard to knock, their musical ability being visible throughout the set. Tight and well organised, From Within have already come a long way since their founding in 2010, but Anthony Holland chose well in his hunt to find his band members Jordan Bates, Craig Cairns and Brad Casey, who all justified their spot on the stage with their catchy hard-hitting tunes, and with this set at the Hippy Haze Fest proved they are a band to keep an eye on.

Stafford based Platypus Duck played their pop-punk set with bags of energy, the classic guitar pop punk jump even being thrown in from time to time just for good measure. The songs, happy go lucky sounding as they may be, have a purposeful anger rooted within, creating a sound the Hippy Haze crowd clearly enjoyed. After a slight mix up on vocals from Michael Jones, he comically shrugged his shoulders and carried on with the rest of the set, an act proving the band are on the stage purely because they love to be there, and a mistake is easily forgotten when a band such as Platypus Duck put in as much energy and effort as they do.

Cruising towards late afternoon sessions on the opening day of this superb festival and already the crowd had begun to gather, and already everybody at the festival was beginning to feel part of a great event. With the truly awesome prices on alcohol, fast food and of course the gorgeous Hippy Hippy Shake milkshakes, attenders of the Hippy Haze Fest were already making the most of the event, in typical Great British ignorance of the harsh weather that was upon Foxfield Railway. And as the clouds loomed thicker, heavier, a sparkling ray of sunshine sprang to life on the stage. Six rays, in fact. In the form of Stafford based Sea Based Turtles. Meeting and forming at university, this band clearly enjoys wowing the crowd with their funk rock beats and fine blend of well thought out tunes. With an amazing ability to effortlessly entertain, Sea Based Turtles clearly have as much fun on the stage as their fans do off it, and their unique sound left the Hippy Haze crowd wanting more. And why would they not? After guitarist Sam Biggs managed to break not one but two strings on his guitar, bass player Joe Stainsby and drummer Joe Rushton instantly and cleverly jumped straight into a drum and bass ‘interlude’ until Sam had sorted the problem. And sneaking in a cover of Gorillaz track ‘Clint Eastwood’ only caused the crowd to enjoy their set even more, with Whippz ruling over the microphone and his audience after giving a flawless, energetic performance that is now expected form the hip hop rapper.

Third rock band of the day Nameless graced the stage with their presence for a passionate affair full of bird flipping from hectic front man Josh Sutton and hard fought battles between Adam Broadhurst and his guitar, which, after the loud and powerful set, the crowd were probably left still wondering who won the battle. Hardcore rock anthems seem to be high on the agenda for Nameless, who made the most of the space on stage and interacted well with the crowd in a manner you might expect from a rock band. They have the sound, the definitely have the look, and it seems they also have the attitude- A concoction leaving Nameless quite high at the table of rock in Stoke-on-Trent.

Possibly one of the performances of the festival, and quite certainly one of the acts of the opening day, was from newly formed The Black Mirrors. After joining forces in early 2012, the Hippy Haze Fest went down as The Black Mirrors’ debut gig, and what a gig it turned out to be. With stunning riffs and outstanding stage presence, the crowd at the Hippy Haze Festival were left gazing in awe at the end of every song the band threw at them. Twelve months down the line, it would be hard to imagine The Black Mirrors playing anywhere but towards the top of the bill at Hippy Haze 2012. If Mr Buxton wishes to go for it again next year, of course. If you sense a slight hint of a plea there, feel free to assume it is one, as it would be only a fool who wouldn’t want to see this festival take a second year.

Neomantix put on a sound performance with their stunning, well produced sound of pop rock classic songs. Amy Star’s vocals blend gracefully yet powerfully with the instruments behind her, with Andy and Mike’s backing vocals providing a depth that many bands struggle to achieve. Hailing form Stafford, Neomantix did their hometown proud here at the Hippy Haze Festival.

Headgames. So much said with just seven letters of the alphabet. Such a crazy and hectic show from the classic punk reggae group. The band’s style quite possibly being the most eye-catching of the whole festival, lead singer Norman Headgames strolled and stumbled across the stage in a red Army jacket and torn up top hat, which somehow stayed on his bald head as he bowled himself over the barrier and into the crowd, before attempting to bowl back over the barrier, only to catch his foot and almost stumble to the ground. But even then the singer would have made it look cool, as this band seem to know nothing of anything other than cool.

With the darkness falling upon Foxfield Railway, the crowd suddenly began to gather in droves as The Paper Tigers set up their beautifully crafted stage props, layering colourful flowers around the microphone stands and placing their silky canvas banners either side of drummer Laurence Cooper. The banners, which had spent the day just outside the ‘green room’ where the Tigers had cleverly erected a gazebo, made for a very pretty stall from which the boys sold their merchandise. Talk about good marketing skills; they even had a kids’ tent which had the pattern of a tiger all over it. Man, you boys got it goin’ on. The band powered into their set with first song Summer On Blossom Street instantly grabbing the crowds attention. And ending their set with a fantastic and note perfect cover of When You Were Young by The Killers, The Paper Tigers certainly did their upcoming E.P, Safe In Words, no harm whatsoever.

The rock bands were coming thick and fast into the closing of this first night at the Hippy Haze Festival, and taking to the stage fresh from their impressive gig supporting InMe, The Hiding Place stormed through their set, with songs such as Snaketown and Popular Myths- taken from their current E.P- getting the crowd buzzing. As did most bands throughout the weekend, Dominic Webber made sure he took the time to thank Richard Buxton for all his efforts and hard work for the weekend, hard work which seems to have put Richard on quite a pedestal on the local music scene. And rightly so, after working out an awesome close to the first day of his festival. With a performance so thrilling as The Hiding Place’s, with Jonny’s extravagant roll around on the floor to end the set, you begin to wonder who could possibly follow on from that.

And then on walks Nick Pilgrim. Or should I say hobbles on. For the lead singer of Blue Origin puts so much into his sets that he actually damaged tendons in his knee at an Underground gig the week before the festival. But the show must go on! And in fairness to Nick and the boys, there is possibly nothing that would get in the way of them walking onto a stage and giving every inch of themselves to their audience. ‘Cus that’s what they do, they perform, it’s clear to see that, and it’s clear to see the love and passion they have for their music. Currently raising funds to make their debut album, Blue Origin cunningly had an ale at the festival available for all to drink. That’s perhaps not so cunning, fair enough. But then add into the mix the fact a slight percentage of each sale goes to the band’s album fund, and there we have a cunning plan, my Lord.

And then it suddenly became time for the first headline act of the festival. Sworn To Oath took to the stage with rapturous applause, the crowd instantly going crazy at the mere sight of the heavy rock three piece. Tom’s vocals seemed to be on tip top from, and Dave gave it everything on his stunning cream guitar. Hammering through rock classics such as Last Call and Leave You For Dead got the crowd moshing and wind milling in a fashion you know will be in at any STO gig. Throw in new single Stand Alone and the band blaze through an impeccable and seamless set, causing fires in the belly of everyone in the marque.

Headline band Sworn To Oath certainly stuck to their motto ‘DFA’, and left the stage to make way for DJ’s Sub Faction to get the silent disco underway. Hitting the crowd both hard and easy with their mix of garage and true dub step, the boys partied it hard into the night to bring the first night of the Hippy Haze Fest to a sweet close.

Sunday 8th April.

Aaron Mobberley arose to the stage for the second time of the festival to showcase his abilities as a solo artist, not that this guy needs to showcase his abilities, so highly respected is he in the local music scene. This lovely nineteen year old has a voice and a sense of style and song that was made for folk music, and his set was the perfect choice for the opening set of festival now into it’s second day, a day which is also Easter Sunday. You’d be forgiven for thinking Aaron had written his beautifully crafted Commitment E.P with this very set in mind, so perfect would it fit into its surroundings. But Aaron chose instead to take a break from his songs from the E.P, and instead gave the crowd (which had gathered impressively considering the start time of Aaron’s slot) some of his newer tracks, including his opening song Unison Harmonies, featuring such a wonderfully crafted guitar melody and matching vocals.

Staghouse turned out an impressive performance on this cold April morning. Perhaps the coldness of the day explains front man Adam Large’s stunning overcoat, or perhaps he simply is that cool. With the slightest of resemblances to Jarvis Cocker, in keeping with the great fashion sense but also with a geeky deftness of stage presence which seems to naturally burst with the word cool, Adam drove his band through an awesome set, including crowd pleaser Cherry Bee and a few well formed cover songs, taking the works of Kings Of Leon and Nancy Sinatra and blending them with the bands own creative flair to put the icing on the cake of a very fruity and powerful set.

After a brilliant and confident opening, Nuclear Safari were rudely struck by a string breakage on poor George’s bass guitar, but the band battles on courageously until the string was replace, and from that point on the band sailed through their set, with George proving his much more than a string breaker by wowing the crowd with an absolutely jaw dropping intro solo on Play For A While. And on top of that, they snuck in a cover of Chilli’s song Can’t Stop, and song which Aaron Mobberley joked was a song George had begged the band to cover so he could show the fans at the festival just how amazingly talented he is on the bass guitar. If that’s true, then fair play to you George, fair play indeed! More interaction with the crowd, however, may do Nuclear Safari a world of good, as they have potential to win over any crowd they are put in front of.

They dress like Oasis. They play like Oasis. They swagger like Oasis. Fool’s Paradise might just have what it takes to take on Kasabian for their place as the Oasis successor. This band rocked up at the festival fully equipped with hard-hitting Brit-rock anthems, suave sideburns and one hell of a sexy guitar. Throw into the cauldron a bit more confidence and arrogance on stage and Fool’s Paradise just might have what it takes to go the distance on a national scale.

If you are not already a huge fan of Diamonds and Dynamite, then you have serious issues concerning musical taste. Durmot Jelves turns up to Foxfield Railway with a hand held games console, for chilling out with in the green room one might think. But no, this guy rocks up on stage and blows the minds of his audience with his crazily prepared collection of electronic mixes, featuring not only great well known classics but also local acts such as The Paper Tigers also. Diamonds and Dynamite instantly became one of the festival’s most inventive act, and most definitely capturing the attention of all in the marquee, including a photographer who, after taking a few good snaps, decided to sit back and marvel at Durmot’s set. Once finished, Durmot attempted to explain how he builds his set. “It’s like, one guitar, and a singer, and a bass, and then another guitar, and then erm, yh, it just kinda goes into erm, a box. Thingy.” Seems it’s so technical even he struggles to explain it.

The time had finally come for the beautiful voice of Sian Matthews to grace us on the stage, with her four piece band Faux Feet, and they were by no means a letdown with their cute, catchy bass riffs, cool guitar riffs played with an air of confidence, and tight, unique drum patterns, not to mention again the beautiful vocals of Sian, of which Mr Buxton’s daughter Gabriella said “Sian only has to open her mouth and I hear angels.” Luckily for Gabriella Sian might be gracing us for a second time this weekend. Faux feet, consisting of Sian Mathews, Carl Howe, Tim Cooke and Tom Harrison, seem well thought out, with precise, delightful songs not unlike The XX, perhaps only more on the heavy side. But only a tad more, and this band seems to distinctly lack any sign of an ego, but instead you may find modesty within each band member, a modesty which seems odd when considering just how impressive this band are and how much potential they carry.

In The Cards are a band who walk onto the stage knowing exactly what they are going to do. They give the impression that each song has been worked on and worked on until they can’t possibly do any more to the song, and the effort they put in off stage shows though in their performance on the stage. This set was very well rehearsed, and though at times the band seem to perhaps show off their talents, for example an extravagant bass solo with a bit too much extravagance, the band seem to bring their off stage efforts and energy onto it. Work needs to be done, however, on interacting with the crowd, as very little was said in between songs.

Running into tea time and the marquee fills up suddenly for what is to be the final ever gig from the Pretty Great Whites.  Fans of this band are not just fans, they are addicted fans, and they are all clearly gutted to see the band splitting up, but they are here in force to witness what is quite clearly going to be a memorable performance. The band stroll on stage passionately, and look every bit the fashionable icons a band should be, apart from a slightly odd pair of socks sported by the bass player. Two songs in and said bass player stops to make the crowd sing happy birthday to somebody who is watching the band perform, highlighting the Pretty Great Whites’ ease at being on the stage on how comfortably they interact with their audience. Musically the band play a great set and fantastic show full of energy, leaving the crowd extremely sad to see the band depart. As individuals, there is much more to come from this bunch of talented lads, but unfortunately the Pretty Great Whites are no more.

Next up Judah Carvanna took to the stage with an unfortunate lack of support. One thoughtless man moaned that the background music had been turned off, which was possibly the one and only disappointing occurrence of the whole festival. Judah reacted brilliantly, however, saying how he had travelled two hundred miles to play some decent music. The drunken man was quiet for the rest of the performance. A sound set from Judah, perhaps not appreciated in the way he maybe should be, creating sturdy, entrancing techno tunes on his Mac Book Pro.

Moral Panics had been anxiously gearing up for their set around the back of the marquee, most notably under the gazebo left by the Paper Tigers, which had now been coolly renamed the Tiger Tent. Guitarist Dan, as always, was having trouble tuning up his beautiful Squire guitar, splendidly white in colour with effective red tape around the edges of some of the guitar, so he was stood under the Tiger Tent hiding from the rain as he cheekily made sure his guitar was ready by playing a quick E chord. Once on stage, Dan’s floppy brunette hair keeps falling over one eye and he has to constantly flick it back to one side, until during one song in the bands hectic yet well organised set, he gives up and lets his hair hang over his eye as he goes wild in sweetly written guitar riffs. Drummer Eden lets rip on the kit, ruthlessly bashing at the kick drum with perfect timing all at the same time as playing crazy rhythms to get the crowd moving. After a brilliant cover of Ellie Goulding’s Stary Eyed, Moral Panics then go on to perform an amazing set, with songs such as Breathe going down well with the  impressed crowd.

‘3’s a riot’ does almost hit the nail on the head when describing the effect 3’s a Riot had on the crowd. Almost is the definitive word here, as it would seem the added fourth member of the band  gave the crowd even more of an excuse to riot. 3’s a Riot are a four piece band simply bursting with enthusiasm and passion for what they do, and are easily capable of causing any crowd to erupt just from the mention of their name, as proven when Moral Panics singer Dan showed when he asked if the crowd were ready for 3’s a Riot. With hard hitting indie rock tunes, this band wowed the crowd great energy and certainly got the marquee buzzing and up for the headline band of the night.

The headline band, of course, being The Get Alongs. And it would seem only such a band could headline today’s festival after all bands before them seemed to have gotten the crowd more and more feisty and up for a raucous. And The Get Alongs did not disappoint, ramming their set with crazily hectic tunes right from the word go. Front man Shane Davis, fully clad in his Fred Perry T-shirt and dark tinted glasses- which “are prescription you know, I’m not just a knob head” as Shane himself tells the crowd- yet again puts on a performance which more than proves his worthiness on the stage. He is a natural born performer, with Doherty-esque actions in his reckless show, and just a few weeks after the bands support slot for All The Young, The Get Alongs now repay Mr Buxton for putting them at the top of the bill with an outstanding performance.

Although there was a slight communication mix-up between Shane and bass player Gavin, they somehow managed to make it fit into their manic set so well that the crowd quite possibly didn’t even notice it. As said above, Shane really knows how to entertain an audience, and after dedicating a song to all the lads in the crowd that have had their hearts broken by tanned-up tarts, and following that up to dedicate Somedays to everyone who has lost their mum, the front man brought a sense of romance and sentimentality to the set, to leave the fans wanting much more as always. And after harassing one particular photographer, Shane had finished the set being heralded as the most talented performer of the festival.

Possibly one of the most respected artists at the Hippy Haze Fest has to be Jo-ee-T, the inspired DJ ripped into the crowd who were clearly in love with the lad. All of the people at the festival had turned into the marquee to let Joey’s smooth yet hard hitting mixes float into their ears and take them to another place. Half was through his set, and a rather ‘tipsy’ Toby Simcock- 3’s a Riot guitarist stumbles himself onto the stage and starts the crowd into a chorus of “Jo-ee-T, Jo-ee-T”, and Toby and Jo share a friendly hug on the stage.  If there’s one thing you can always guarantee from Jo-ee-T, it’s a vibrant smile, and it was here in full force tonight as he bounced his way through this flawless set. Another visitor now, in the form of The Get Alongs front man Shane Davis, all wrapped up in his parka. Shane and Jo clearly spend a little time chatting about the songs Jo is playing and Shane becomes totally absorbed in the inspired set, until he forced himself to the front of the stage to further enhance Toby’s chant. Jo-ee-T, playing a two and a half hour set, was enjoying himself so much that he even snuck a couple of extra tracks in for the excited and respectful crowd.  And such a busy lad is Joey, shortly after his set at the Hippy Haze Fest he had to rush off to perform another gig until the very early hours of the following morning.

Monday 9th April.

Opening the final day of the festival was beautiful harmonic duo Amy Parker and Ben Steele, with their lovely blend of cover songs perfect for a rainy Easter Monday morning. Covering songs by artists such as Adele, Duffy, Amy Winehouse, Jessie J and Whitney Housten, Amy shows off her stunning singing ability by making songs by these artists her very own. And precise guitar play from Ben, as well as his acute ear for creating perfect and beautiful harmonies with Amy’s voice, this little duo were a lovely opening to the day,

And here she is again, the ultra-talented Sian Matthews, matching Aaron Mobberley’s record of two gig’s at the festival by taking to the stage with her band Heritage. Quite the busy bee, Sian seems understandably tired, yet she still gives an outstanding performance with this three piece band, playing tunes such as Young But Old, and Down, recorded originally with highly respected local artist Cult Party. Hopefully much more is to come from double bass and acoustic guitar outfit Heritage, a band full to the brim with potential and a set already full of classics.

Turning up at the festival armed with an acoustic guitar, a ukulele and a harmonica, when the rest of his band will turn up, but no, Brains For Breakfast actually is a one man army, combining great vocals with catchy guitar riffs and playful melodies and lyrics to create a very enjoyable set. Adding in his own version of an Irish folk song did nothing but get an already entertained crowd even more on his side, even if he did require a bottle of water to wet his dry mouth after singing so quickly in the song.

Budding musician Emilio Pinchi certainly did himself no harm with this brilliant and confident set. The already popular acoustic singer/songwriter rose to the front of the stage with seemingly not a care in the world, and gave the crowd a typically sound performance. Playing songs from his new E.P Kick Backs, Emilio showcased his material in front of a busy crowd, many faces of which were those of appreciative members of bands to have played at the festival or waiting to go on, showing that Emilio is greatly respected by his fellow musicians.

Who’d have thought that shouting into a microphone would sound really good? Apparently Something To Write About did, and it definitely works in their set. It’s not so much shouting, however, as the vocals are in fact disciplined and the harmonies between the band create an intense sound you can’t help but enjoy. The energy from this band, even on a rainy Easter Monday, is highly impressive.

The incredibly addictive blues band .44 Pistol threw in a professional performance full of catchy riffs and tight rhythmic sounds. A very refreshing sound from the three piece line-up, with terrific guitar play to match Ash Jones’ terrific beard and hat, you start to wonder as they cruise through their Mississippi Blues set if there are actually any faults with .44 Pistol. A cool name developing from an inspiring song, a cool image, and cool blues riffs make .44 Pistol a band very hard not to love.

After such an inspired performance from .44 Pistol, you’d think any band following them would now be feeling nervous, but not Swim Into Scarlet, the outstanding four piece from Nantwich. They bounced onto the stage full of attitude and a sheer passion which told the crowd ‘You Will Like Us.’ After an intoxicating guitar riff to open the set, the boys angered through their set, with a hint of WU LYF and The Foals about their sound, and with lovely use of reverb and eye-catching stage presence, Swim Into Scarlet will be leaving the festival with quite a few new fans. During last song, the guitarists clash passionately, pushing each other’s heads into the other’s shoulders, creating an angry vibe not unlike Pete and Carl Libertines.

Instantly lifting the atmosphere in the marquee were The Slippery Hill Boys, coming to the festival of the back of their performance at the Nantwich Jazz and Blues fest. They strolled on stage with beaming smiles, bringing with them their collection of classic bluegrass songs. The Slippery Hill Boys were possibly a band of the festival not many attending had much knowledge of, but the y left the festival having been labelled the most enjoyable performance. Their sweet blend of fast paced music- featuring banjo’s, mandolins, a bass guitar and acoustic guitars- and beautifully crafted harmonies provided the crowd with the perfect bout of quirkiness on this weather-wise dull Easter Monday. This band has gigs booked throughout the whole of 2012 already, and you can fully see why, as the crowd gather at the front of the stage for the opening song, and then by the end of said song the whole crowd are dancing joyfully around the marquee. When trying to describe the Hippy Haze Festival in terms of music, The Slippery Hill Boys seems to fit the bill perfectly- Fun, well arranged, harmless, and sealed with a sense of togetherness that this particular reviewer has felt at no other festival before.

Perhaps all that is needed to be said about the next artist to take to the stage is his name, so popular and respected in the local music scene is he. This local blues legend glided onto the stage and left it as the easy winner of the best dressed man at the festival. Turning up in shiny black brogues and an stunningly suave suit, well groomed hair and an even more well groomed moustache, soloist ­Jim McShee threw in an expected outstanding performance, pleasuring the crowd with his unique voice that could be recognised by anyone. The bitterness of the weather- and perhaps also the thinness of his suit- perhaps began to take its toll of Jim, who was clearly feeling the cold on this grey and rainy morning. Mr McShee’s fingers were beginning to freeze up towards the end of his set, and a couple of mishaps were quite easily understandable, but this blues hero still produce one hell of a fine set, bashing out songs such as Bloody Knuckle Blues and Coffin Nail Blues with his harsh, distinct voice proving to the crowd that there is indeed a reason why this man is so highly respected in Stoke-on-Trent’s music scene.

Classic indie rock outfit Wildfires seemed to swagger onto the stage like they owned the place and the songs they played would warrant them to take over the festival, so powerful and intelligent they were. The band seems to lack confidence on stage, however, which is something they should in fact have bags of. Their songs are all finely tuned, with anthemic vocal melodies and classic indie drum rhythms. And brilliantly bright and catchy guitar riffs, with amazing use of delay. Wildfires are a flower full of potential, and hopefully they will soon bloom.

Getting the errors out of the way firstly, and all that needs to be said is of Stefan Smith forgetting lyrics to one of The Way’s songs. And that was it. The Way had otherwise launched into a completely flawless attack of their classic songs. Their confidence on stage is staggeringly refreshing, and their passion for the band is at times overwhelming, Singer Stefan had split his finger at their Full Moon gig the night before their slot at the Hippy Haze Fest, and tonight it had caught and split again, but Stefan played on regardless, with blood splashing all over his guitar. A band which seems to enjoy playing gigs as much as the crowd enjoy seeing them, The Way deserve to be on the edge of breaking England’s music scene already.

The night is now upon us on the music is becoming more passionate with each set. Dirty Money provide the crowd with their typically up-beat set, excellently rehearsed and excellently performed. Not a note out of place from this bunch of reggae loving two-toners, Dirty Money show the crowd how to really have fun with a beer in hand, with singer Marcus gliding his way through beautiful melodies and bass player Nick cruising through fantastic bass lines that could often rival Aston Barrett.

Taking to the stage close to the headlining slot is the Cherry Counsellors, who were not afraid to mess around with the bands set up at all. Switching instruments frequently, the band were able to make the most out of their sound, using tambourine and trumpet to further enhance their already powerful and well organised set. At one point the bass player sneaks into the crowd and plays as he walks, an act highlighting how much confidence this band has.

Considering many people had given in to the bad weather and called it a day for the festival, Six Towns churning out a stunning set full of energy which literally got everyone at the Hippy Haze Fest into the marquee. A riveting set, extremely well rehearsed, this band have an awful lot of potential with a lot of indie tricks up their sleeves. Single Wasting Away- which as front man Liam announced is proudly at number two on 6 Towns Radio’s local music Hype Chart- was well received by the crowd, who clearly enjoyed the whole set. No note out of turn, this band evidently put heart and soul into each gig, with drummer Paul playing with so much vigour he ended the set on his third pair of drum sticks. Working constantly on new material, and with a pure ambition to succeed, Six Towns let all their hard work pay off on stage in front of the Hippy Haze crowd.

Headlining band Already Gone brought along with them a typically focused set, so well rehearsed that the band could simply enjoy themselves playing it. Their set was full of energy and stage presence to a professional level, and their songs impressed to crowd so much that the band ended playing an encore of almost an hour. More original material would perhaps be well received, as Already Gone have created a popular and entertaining crowd, yet seem to play more cover songs than their own material, but they do, however, produce an amazing set to end the festival on an extremely high note.

After the band’s set, the legend himself Richard Buxton is forced into making a short speech up on the stage. He swaggers humbly to the microphone, where he begins to thank all the people that have made this weekend what it is, not once mentioning the fact that he himself deserves one incredibly huge pat on the back. After months of hearing people tell him he would not be able to pull off this festival, Mr Buxton, and indeed his loyal crowd, took extreme satisfaction in being able to prove them wrong right now. Richard may have spent the last six months pulling out his own hair, but boy was it all worth it.

Lee Barber, Radical’s Rising, only on 6 Towns Radio.