Hippy Horror Festival 2012 Reviewed

Friday, 26th October.

The stage is looking immensely and impressively horrific as the final touches are being made inside the marquee, the spider already has his eye on me before I’ve even begun playing any tunes, and the stage is rammed rather beautifully with pumpkins, no doubt giving the photographers a good challenge for the weekend. As the first of the festival goers begin to roll up, the chilly air simply isn’t enough to dampen the spirits of local music lovers as Sir Richard of Buxton – as named by The Clique – puts on his second big event to follow on from the success of Hippy Haze 2012. This time he is cunningly going for the scare fair, putting on some incredible local acts and going all out to provide great entertainment once again.

The Rat Race open the festival with pure energy and dressed to thrill with lead singer Grant posed as Jimi Hendrix. The band throw in a few cover songs, and their set on the whole suggests The Rat Race are still inexperienced as a band, but with the effect their energy and songs have on the crowd, that experience should soon come.

Richard Buxton was seen to be having a slight panic when he realised The Ruby Dukes were yet to arrive, all was well when guitarist Josh informs the Radial’s Rising team that he they are on their way, “just stuck in traffic.” Fortunately they arrive on time to get themselves on stage give out a load of free Ruby Dukes T-shirts before blasting out some top tunes with great energy, including former Hype Chart number one Elephant Dance. Front man Zak sends the crowd into a bit of a frenzy by calling his fans “beautiful maniacs” and the festival is then treated to an exclusive announcement as the indie rockers tell Hippy Horror that they will be supporting All The Young at The Sugarmill 23rd November.

Fat Mess. What to say about this band. Extravagantly different to say the very least. They stroll on stage fully clad in hotdog costumes and, to prove they are the most controversial act at the festival and indeed the whole city, Fat Mess have a set songs filled with lyrics most other bands would never dare to write about, proving that this secretive super group have the balls to stand alone in the music industry, as well as the craziness to smash pumpkins into pieces by head-butting them. If you haven’t seen Fat Mess live, make sure you do as soon as you possibly can. They will not disappoint, but be warned; they come with an 18 certified set.

All The Best Tapes have the pleasure of following the eye-opening act of Fat Mess, but they come to the festival fully prepared with well crafted songs, bags of energy and a heavy sound. As the first band of the festival to experience a power cut, the band are on hand to carry on entertaining their crowd, with the drummer playing a talented solo in the dark whilst the singer climbs one of the poles which holds up the marquee.

Translucid take to the stage with the crowd getting well geared up for headliners The Get Alongs, and this main support slot is very much justified by the set these psych-rockers give. Stephen Pye makes his first appearance on the stage, with his incredible talents on guitar certainly something worth watching on its own, let alone with the energetic sound of Translucid thrown into the mix.

Hippy Haze headliners The Get Alongs return to headline the first night of Hippy Horror and, as always, they don’t disappoint. Shane Davis is on top front man form as is expected. The boys throw into the mix an old song, Somedays, which, to listen to, sounds like it would not fit into a set by The Get Alongs, but it somehow does, both calming the fans down and getting them geared up for the next action-packed tune from these Libertines-esque rockers. As with the Libertines, The Get Alongs have a strong passion for their hometown, and this is very evident in Shane’s clever riot stirrer, Boothen End Boys. This tune goes down with the crowd better than any other in the set, though this was possibly helped by the band singing Stoke City’s anthem ‘Delilah’, before racing into the song.

Shane not being satisfied with headlining the first night of the festival, he then heads back on stage as the surprise DJ, hosting some great mixes So far so good for Hippy Horror, the only scary things so far are the costumes some of the acts are wearing, but surely there’s worse to come for the Hallowe’en themed festival. Haze

Saturday, 27th October.

With frost on the inside of tents, to say it was a cold and frosty morning would be an understatement, but David Jiminez-Hughes somehow managed to ward his fingers enough to wow the crowd with his sensational performance to open the second day of the festival. David is a unique artist to say the very least and only in certain circles will his talents be recognised. The Hippy Horror crowd, however, hear his set from the campsite and they begin to roll in after being intrigued what the exquisite Spanish music being played.

The Clique turn up dressed to kill in harrowingly cool Hallowe’en attire, and race through energetic songs such as The Wonderer, Do You Believe and All Of The Time. The Clique have the image needed to get somewhere in the commercially ruled world of music, but they keep a firm hold of the stylistic indie rock tunes and swagger – a great recipe for success. On stage at Hippy Horror, as with most gigs, guitarist Luke Potter is completely transformed from the shy guy in the street to the hedonistic, loveable rogue on the stage. Luke is just another ingredient in the cauldron that is a boy band possessing everything but the cheesiness of pop, and after this performance at Hippy Horror, they have very much earned their support slot with Dingus Khan at The Sugarmill next month.

Playing main support of the opening night of the festival clearly not being enough for Stephen Pye, he returns today to front his not-so-side project band, Psyence. Walking on stage to one of the bands big idols, Pond, it’s fairly obvious where these psychedelics pull their inspiration from. Joe Walsh also returns as the Translucid drummer hits the beats with Psyence, romping home some incredible and mind twisting tunes, and the mangoes went down similarly as guitarist Ben and bassist Jamie fling them at each other whilst man-flu battler Stephen rocks out a sweet solo. One of the bands to look out for in the near future, Psyence have proven at Hippy Horror that they are no side project.

Audio Illusion enter the stage fully clad in extravagant costumes and bring to the table of Hippy Horror something completely different with their collection of heavy metal sounds. In what will be a classic moment of the festival, drummer Lee Wheeldon attempts some banter with the crowd by saying something funny, and a member of the crowd then shouts out “That’s why you haven’t got a mic!” Upon which Lee then grabs a mic and attempts to shout a come-back, but his microphone was in fact turned off, which seems to fit perfectly as if it were a sketch from a Laurel and Hardy comedy.

With their E.P launch coming up in just a matter of weeks, Twinkle and the Sluts bring some punk rock to Foxfields and without doubt gather themselves a new group of fans with this strong and tight set. The Stafford based four piece, fronted by female vocalist Twinkle HoneyBush Pert, give a fresh, raw and very much underground sound form a genre that is unfortunately too underground in current times.

Fresh from their headline slot in a new venue in Burslem on Friday night, Chasing Traits turn up to the festival that is Hippy Horror with a couple of tricks up their sleeves. Most notably, or to some, most unnoticeably, as was the cunning stealth involved, was bass player James Taylor opening the set by playing his wireless bass from the back of the marquee, with a lot of people having a surprise when they see him waltzing through the marquee up to the stage.

With a power cut half way through the set, you could have forgiven Troops of Mafeking for being a little down-hearted. But no, instead, when the power kicked back in, the boys kicked back in right in the middle of the song which had unfortunately been cut short. Talk about a great save. Troops of Mafeking have a massive following but are still surprisingly a little unknown in Stoke-on-Trent, which is a shame because they are one of the top bands, full of talent and top lads to go with it.

Well it’s fairly obvious that Emilio Pinchi doesn’t live in Blythe Bridge anymore. The solo acoustic artist arrived just minutes before his set after coming to Hippy Horror from his new home in Liverpool. The amazingly gifted song writer began a new chapter in his musical career after starting his course at LIPA, the world famous Institute for Performing Arts is based in Sir Paul McCartney’s old school and to even get accepted onto the course shows the extreme talent that is Emilio Pinchi. After releasing his second E.P not too long ago, Emilio entertains the crowd with songs from Popular Myths and Conflict, whilst also sneaking in a nice rendition of Foster The People’s Pumped Up Kicks.Emilio plays through his set sporting a Dirty Slut Clothing T-shirt, a big shout out for Emilio’s friend Andy Gannon who, in his own words, is the “head honcho” of the clothing label.

One band that a lot of people had been waiting anxiously to watch was The Motives, and they arrive on stage with full on swagger to boot. These guys seem to have been flung into the lime light of the local music scene very quickly, and following their slot supporting Underground Heroes with 3’s A Riot, the hype seemed to be well placed, but it at times at Hippy Horror came across like the hype had begun to go to their heads. These guys need to make sure they keep level headed in order to move forward and be the greatly popular band they could be. During their set at Hippy Horror, The Motives are hit with a power cut which luckily doesn’t last too long, and they squeeze into the set a couple of covers, one being from Arctic Monkeys, bringing in their own rapper dressed as Spiderman, and one from Kasabian, which has a number of errors in. The Motives have proven they have the talent, now they need to make sure they don’t sit on the local popularity they have built up.

Moral Panics began their set fifteen minutes late due to technical problems, but the quality of the bands set, including the very effective intro, made the worth all the while. MozPaz play the festival with a new bassist, who will officially join the band after their next gig, and the band turn into party rockers with a sneaky rendition of LMFAO. Front man  Dan then takes a photograph of the crowd before unleashing Voids and ending the set with Hold/Forever, with the crowd going mental for both songs, causing the stir of the festival so far.

Time for some more psychedelic music now with the sweet, sweet music of Electroshock Therapy. These passionate boys are adamant in their creativity and will not allow anything to come between them and their music, and this shows in the set as they race through songs from their debut E.P and a couple of new lovelies thrown into the mix for good measure. Tom Lockett, with his trademark crazy, hippy sounds from his Theremin, brings the festival into a new light and no doubt he secretly wishes with everything he has that the good people of Stoke-on-Trent will finally begin to appreciate the talent that is Electroshock Therapy.

As the sun fell during Electroshock’s performance, the night grew in with a fierce chill, but it was all warm and sunshine in the marquee after a great day of music, and it was about to get taken to a new height by MTV Award hopefuls Six Towns. The recently turned four-piece have completely re-arranged their set and have somehow managed to provide the crowd with an even more powerful sound than ever, throwing in a few covers as well as songs that got them put up for the MTV Unsigned 2013 award. Front man Liam O’Brien is on superb form, while the bands skeleton costumes making sure Six Towns still have a good image on stage even in fancy dress. Ending the set with new song Asylum, Six Towns give the Hippy Horror Festival goers plenty of reasons to get voting for them.

Time for a lesson in true rock ‘n’ roll now from Dirt Box Disco. The marquee was now rammed in eager anticipation for 3’s A Riot, and chants for the young four piece had already began, but Dirt Box Disco shunned them aside with ease as they burped down the mics, smashed up the Hallowe’en decorations and showed Hippy Horror what real rock and roll sounds and looks like. Dressed rather hectically random, Dirt Box Disco probably grab the award for strangest costumes.

Possibly not as strangely dressed, but still very harrowing, 3’s A Riot take to the stage to Faithless’ Insomnia wearing eerie white ‘painter’ outfits with hoods to further enhance the experience. 3’s A Riot have been looking forward to this gig for some time now and it showed tonight as they raced away with the crowds heartbeats, throwing in a few old tunes like ‘I Don’t Like Your Tune’ and slipping the crowd a great and very energetic cover of Titanium, during which drummer Dan has to change drumsticks which falters the bands tightness for a second or two. Rapper Lance joins the boys on stage once again, who then hangs around to end the 3’s A Riot set with new single and current Hype Chart number one Lose Control, during which the crowd, as ever, really do lose control. 3’s A Riot give Hippy Horror the mosh pit they had promised, and this time Richard Buxton isn’t left fearing for his life. Smiles all around.

Dressed as mummies, headliners The Control take their place on the stage in front of a crowd which has slightly depleted after 3’s A Riot, which is a massive shame as The Control give a performance to prove that they are still the most artistic and unique ban in Stoke. Joe Brennan-Hulme thrashes out lyrics such as “I spent all this money on flowers for the cemetery” which give a harrowingly expressive insight to the mind that is The Control’s front man and also subtly exhibit Joe as a highly talented poet and not just a front man.

After a great set from The Control, Jo-ee-T brings his Apple mac and sweet tunes to the Hippy Horror Festival and takes the crowd on a perfectly fitting journey through love and peace and beautiful music you can’t help but dance to. After 3’s A Riot were caught dancing on the stage by Richard Buxton, the boys continued to dance the night away with the rest of the festival. Once Joey had finished his top-drawer set, the marquee quickly emptied, the cold beginning to get to much now for the Hippy Horror faithful. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the originally planned camp fire had to be cancelled, but there was a feeling that most of the festival goers weren’t disheartened but quite possibly glad to huddle into their tents and drink the night away and look forward to more great local music in the morning.

Sunday, 28th October.

After the fiery ending to last night’s music, with 3’s A Riot taking the biggest crowd of the festival and The Control putting in a performance beyond the capacity of most people’s minds, Jim McShee took to the stage on this final day of Hippy Horror to welcome in the day. His set was warming as always, playing his trademark bluegrass on his Epiphone acoustic. Jim admits to not being the best dressed artist of the festival as he was at Hipp Haze, but his music more than made up for that, playing song that will feature on his new album which he is currently working on. Jim covers a song by Steve Earl who is very obviously a massive inspiration to our local blues legend.

Nicola Jayne took to the stage in frighteningly alarming fashion, kicking in with her acoustic beats on the back end of a well thought out intro piece. Songs from Nicola’s debut E.P featured greatly in this set, with the solo artist dressed in black and mask very in keeping with the weekend’s theme. Nicola plugged the Open Mic finals she is currently in, and rightly so judging by this lively set.

Dave Hannah adds himself to the list of artists to be returning to Richard Buxton’s ‘Hippy’ festival, after playing Hippy Haze with Pretty Great Whites. But this time there are no sharks to be seen, but rather two acoustic fellows known as The Alucinors. Dave, along with Jake Kimberley, perform a great duo set and prove that Richard’s choice to add The Alucinors to the line-up was a smart move. They play in perfect vocal harmony and play catchy tunes including songs from their debut E.P and an exceptional and emotional rendition of The Beatles’ ‘I’ve just seen a face’.

First full band of the day Proud Proud People start their set late after the band are short of certain equipment and things aren’t made any better when one of the guitar amps decides the weather is too cold and doesn’t want to play. Once everything was sorted, however, the band play a beautiful folk-esque set with a rocky twist, featuring trumpet and saxophone, and a vocalist who could be mistaking for The Editors singer in sound. The set is unfortunately cut short due to the technical problems, which was a genuine shame in the end as Proud Proud People played a stunning set.

Moving from Sandbach based Proud Proud People to Stone now, as Lost Scenes take to the stage. Boasting one of the highest ‘like’ accounts on Facebook, this band proved that they know what they are doing by ploughing through an amazing set full of indie classics in the making. Though the crowd was unfortunately lacking a little at this time, the Hippy Horror faithful were given a set worth watching to follow on from the great selection that had been seen already. Considering lead singer Daryl Latham is also working on some solo work on the side, this band are clearly still well rehearsed and fully deserved their slot at the Hippy Horror Festival.

Back to local lads now in the form of relatively new band Neon Rouge. A lot of hype has been surrounding this band since their debut at The Underground back in July, and for such a young band they have confidence to boot and a stylish, addictive sound to back it up. During the set Neon Rouge debut new song, Black Mamba, which is to feature on the bands next E.P. The song sounds incredible and could be a late contender to be song of the year in Stoke-on-Trent, but unfortunately front man Kieran Oakes’ acoustic was slightly out of tune. The five piece band are hoping to bring more instruments to their live sets, and if the Hippy Horror performance is anything to go by, the addition of more instruments will only heighten the quality of Neon Rouge and will no doubt make them one of the biggest bands on the local scene in 2013.

Folk hero of the city Aaron Mobberley returns to the Hippy Fest again after his popular performances at Hippy Haze, and this time he has his band with him to bring his recordings to life. Aaron opens his set by playing a few beautiful tracks solo, which he later tells Radical’s Rising he wasn’t happy with as he felt a little out of sorts at the start of his set, but to watch, you really wouldn’t believe this as the songs were all but flawless as you can only expect from Aaron Mobberley. He is then joined on stage by his band, who fill Aaron’s songs with even more quality and leave the people of Hippy Horror questioning why this extremely talented artist is not signed.

They were heralded as the performers of Hippy Haze, but they weren’t happy with that. The Black Mirrors, most notably front man Mark Mason, took performing to a whole new level with their set at Hippy Horror. Even Richard Buxton was left standing open-mouthed as the band tore the stage into pieces. Almost quite literally. Mason was at his all time best, climbing over the drum kit as he wailed through his songs and then removing his white T-shirt to play out the set topless. Joe Tomasso of 3’s A Riot joined Richard Buxton in being gob smacked at witnessing Mark pick up pumpkins from the stage and hurl them into the crowd before leaving the stage and attempting to climb the pole stood next to the crowd barriers. The Black Mirrors will by headlining the Radical’s Rising Presents gig at The Sugarmill 15th November (shameless plug there) and one thinks The Sugarmill might need to take out more insurance.

After such a performance, Sound Casino faced a challenged in keeping the crowd entertained, but they delivered with their fearless indie rock ‘n’ roll hard hitting tunes. Sound Casino launch their new E.P 9th November, and today’s performance at Hippy Horror showcased the quality of the songs that will feature on the record. Front man Sweeney had a hard task in following the crazed performance of Mark Mason, but each singer has his own style and Sweeney brings his to the Sound Casino set brilliantly if perhaps a little withdrawn on the odd occasion throughout the set. Songs such as Haze and Coca Rola, which will be on the new E.P, are songs which could see Sound Casino heading in the right direction on the local music scene, and certainly this performance at Hippy Horror did the boys no harm.

Sound Casino were given an extra song to play in their set as Stafford based Sea Based Turtles were minus a bass player, who was running late. Once the band were fully formed and on stage, they produced a set full of inspired songs very different to all but everything in Stoke. The combination of a ‘normal’ band set –up is enhanced by saxophone and rapping, and the band were enjoying themselves so much they almost had to be wrestled off the stage after going a song over and nearly beginning another.

The crowd suddenly seemed to double as mod-rockers Fools Paradise set up their equipment. The four piece deliver their usual tight performance with passion and vigour, showcasing their set of hard-hitting mod tunes which could easily see the band headline major venue’s should their sound fall on the right ears. Fools Paradise claim they play “raw, honest, REAL music” and this is most definitely what the crowd at Hippy Horror.

The crowd now began to dwindle quite noticeably, perhaps due to the weather taking its toll on the Hippy faithful, but Paper Tigers turn up ready to rock the festival and that’s what they do. After a slight delay for reasons concerning the effects the band want to use during the set, Paper Tigers then launch into an amazing set of brilliantly written tunes such as Back To You and Summer On Blossom Street, songs which are begging to be played in massive venues in front of yearning teenagers. Throwing into the mix a couple of covers to wrap up the show, Paper Tigers finish a set which deserved many more fans.

The same can be said of Dirty Money no5, who easily provide the most spectacular intro piece, using a speech from Pulp Fiction which ends in gun fire leading into the bands first song. Considering the band claim to have practised just twice in six weeks, Dirty Money no5 produce an amazing set, better than any band who practise twice in almost two months. This band is clearly one packed with very talented musicians, and a lead singer Marcus should think about a career in advertising after his gutsy performance plugging the bands upcoming gigs at the end of the set. These guys are always a real pleasure to watch, a pure moment of watching music for the music’s sake, where the music is being played purely for the music’s sake.

Speaking to Dominic Webber before The Hiding Place’s set, he seems surprisingly upbeat about playing in front of a rather small crowd. His reasoning for this being the fact that “Richard Buxton is a f*@#king legend” and he will happily do anything for the Hippy Horror organiser. The Hiding Place take to the stage dancing and are in high spirits considering the crowd and the cold. They blast through a set rammed with Hiding Place classics, and banter in between songs, claiming the mosh pit they had witnessed during one song to be the mentalist they have ever seen. Another band to be playing Hippy Horror who seem to be less appreciated than their music deserves, hopefully 2013 will be a year when music lovers realise The Hiding Place’s talent.

Psychedelic four piece Vellocet take to the stage suave as ever, un-perplexed by the weather and thrash though some brilliant, original tunes. Jordan Gifford has proven he is more than up to the task of taking on the front man roll of this ever changing band, and it seems Vellocet found their groove in good time for the Hippy Horror Festival, and ended their set with a fantastic, energetic cover of Fat Boy Slim’s Right Here, Right Now.

Sunday’s headliners and final act of Hippy Horror 2012 is The Rivalry. The three piece were joined on stage by several other musicians to add depth and personality to each individual song, and as the set progressed gradually from Madchester styled music to Ibiza club styled, they were joined on stage by Stephen Pye, making his third appearance at the festival after playing great sets with Translucid and Psyence. The crowd were small but energetic and clearly hung around just to see The Rivalry perform, and what a great end to another amazing festival from Sir Richard of Buxton.

Lee Barber, Radical’s Rising.

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