Upload Festival 2016

Before I start my review I would like to say that the UK needs more festivals like this one. It is rare that you will see such a great line up on a festival bill, especially one that has some of the best unsigned / DIY bands in the UK, so with anticipated excitement I took the long drive down to Wakefield for the first ever Upload Festival at Warehouse23.

Before I start my review I would like to say that the UK needs more festivals like this one. It is rare that you will see such a great line up on a festival bill, especially one that has some of the best unsigned / DIY bands in the UK, so with anticipated excitement I took the long drive down to Wakefield for the first ever Upload Festival at Warehouse23.

Starting the proceedings of the day was Paul Stead from The Darker My Horizon. Paul was overseeing the proceedings, introducing all the acts that followed him. Paul was not actually down to play and stepped in at the last minute to save the day like a true hero. He played acoustic versions of The Darker My Horizon songs and was a great opener to the show. His strong vocals had everyone listening intently to every enunciate.  ‘Dear Olivia‘ was a stand out track and I would recommend you go listen to it.

Up next were Hell’s Addiction who came out and hit you hard with heavy drums and guitar riffs aplenty. The singer had a vocal that reminded me of old school 80’s metal but, he had this way of holding a note way past what I thought was possible. You should go and listen to it live. They had a good change of tempo between their songs to keep you interested. The lead guitarist knew how to work the stage and seemed to be the energy of this band. The same could not be said for singer Ben Sargent who unfortunately suffered from stand in the middle syndrome and didn’t make use of the stage. They dedicated ‘The Rocker’ to Lemmy and it was a fitting tribute.

All the way from Swansea were the more traditional rock band on the bill, Orangefall. Their music reminded me a lot of watching late night wrestling when I was young and I could see their songs being used to introduce the show at the La Coliseum.  The guitar playing was on what I would call the softer more ballad rock side than the riffs galore side, something I enjoyed. The drumming had a good toe tapping feel. In their song ‘Brand New Morning’ there was a great bass beat that felt as a wave of sound just hitting you, which I do think was intended and had nothing to do with me standing next to the speaker. Singer Jason Morgan had a nice rounded sound and at times could go for the high notes. They introduced a synth (which is gaining popularity in a lot of live rock sets) which gave a modernized sound to the set. Again Jason suffered from stand in the middle syndrome and didn’t really move about. You should go and check out there song Social Vampire.

Coming out next were Closer from the fair city of Verona, Italy. Before they started I looked at frontman Simone Rossetto and was a bit perplexed. Had someone made a mistake and booked the wrong Closer? He stood there with a scarf on looking like he was going to pull out a long black cigarette holder and recite French poetry. This was until the music kicked in and the scarf went and the jumping started. Great mix of modern rock and metal. Very melodic but, they could change it from that and go for speedier guitar and thrash-like drumming. Simone’s vocals were a bit too old school metal for my personal taste but was great none the less. They spent a lot of time working hard at getting the crowd involved during their set and even had me clapping along. You should go listen to ‘Disappear’ as it covers all they do in one song.

Up next were Alt rockers City of Ashes. They started their set out with bundles of energy which nearly ended in disaster as signer Orion Powell when jumping from the stage to the barrier nearly fell head first into it. This did nothing to stop the energy on stage, and did not stop him from doing it again a moment later. Orion’s boundless energy drew the crowd in and had everyone involved in the set. His vocals are strong and he really isn’t afraid to let his accent creep in. I loved the bass line they produce as it was in sync with my pulse beat. The drums just got straight into my head and I could not help but nod along. They played a good mix of old and new songs with ‘Masks‘ to ‘Battles of my Youth‘ from their latest album Rise.

A Mouth Full of Matches came to the stage and provided a little more heavy alt rock sound but, with Tom Buxton’s vocals able to switch to a more poppy tone when needed leads them to the more pop rock side of the spectrum. For today’s performance however, Tom was very quite, whether they were the victim of the dreaded line check with the last minute change of drummer maybe having something to do with this. Steven Hall their former drummer having only re-joined the band a week before the festival did a good job, nonetheless. They have some great riffs and some nice switches in their set, ‘Demon Days‘ is great and you should go and listen to it. As a band they have great stage presence and know how to use the space provided (big or small). The did have some guitar tech issues during their set but, Skarlett Riot and City Of Ashes came to the rescue and they were able to finish on a high!

Up next were a band I have been wanting to see for a few years now and they didn’t disappoint. Chasing Dragons provided what I call scuzzy rock: it’s heavy, it’s energetic, it’s dirty and will definitely kick your ass. The heavy drums they provide just pound away at me like the beating of a heart, pulling me into the set. The guitar playing at times was a little too much on the thrashy side for my liking but the break down in their new songs really had me hooked. Add to that, the killer vocals of Tank and you can’t help and love this band. Her vocals are so enthralling, she could lead them into what ever she wants. As a band they could have been lazy and built their sound around her vocals and done doom metal but instead they show how good they are. Tank also nearly went tumbling into the barrier due to water spillage on the stage, but like the Goth Queen she is, she handled it with grace, poise and charisma.

Heavy rockers Jupiter Falls were up next and it was great to finally see these guys live. James provides a great sonically metal vocal that just pierces your ears. The drumming was toe tappingly good with heavy guitars over the top making them a great mix of metal and heavy rock. Their was a drum solo in the set that for me was a little too long but, it did lead to the crowd shouting back. They are not what I would call a band of my taste, as their music is too metal for my diet but they have great stage presence and know how to work a crowd and use the space on stage given to them.

Up on stage next was a band that I am really familiar with Altered Sky and despite the tech issue of their intro music not playing the band still hit the floor running. Starting their set of with ‘Livewire‘ and front woman Ana Nowosielska showing she has the energy of a firecracker bouncing around the stage like Tigger after eating a bag of sugar. Her vocals are extreme powerful and songs like ‘Song Bird‘ and ‘Waves‘ show you how talented she really is. With them being pop rock you may expect the drums to be soft and at times they are when it is need, however they can also be heavy and they pound at you making your heart beat in time to the beat. Added to this the meat of the guitar hooks and you can’t help but sing along and jump around when Ana asks you too.

Up next were a band I confess to not have known a lot about before today. Stone Broken soon changed that and are deserving of the praise they have recently been getting.  With heavy drums that I love and a bass beat hitting you in the chest, you can’t help but smile when this heavy alt rock band play. They are a band that knew how to use the stage and seem to be enjoying every moment up there. Real showmen.  With Rich Moss’ heavy vocals they are sure to be a hit with old school metal fans. Their songs at times did seem to sway into what I call wrestling music but thankfully didn’t stay there.  You should check out ‘Better‘.

Headlining the festival were Skarlett Riot. With heavy drums that entices you in and sweet guitar riffs that are as good as hearing your Christian mother swear for the first time. Adding to all this is the powerful and almost hypnotic vocals of singer Scarlett and you can’t but just love this band. Skarlett is not only a great singer but like Lizy Hale (Halestorm) is also a dual threat when she picks up her guitar for songs like ‘Riot‘. The band really use the stage well and you can tell they really want the crowd to have fun with them. No more so when everyone was singing back to them “One chance, one chance is all we have.” They played a good mix of their older classics like “Villain” and the latest single “Voices“.  This was the first time I have seen them play an hour set and they suit it more than the 40 minute set I have seen in the past. It didn’t seem drawn out and nothing was hand fisted in there to make it longer. They ended their set with Skarlett joining us in the crowd for one last head bang. A truly memorable end to a superb day of music.

Gareth Rooke

May 27, 2016

Hi I'm Gareth, A foolish Welshman that has found himself living in Scotland. I adore live music and this all started back in University when a friend dragged me along to my first gig and I saw Travis. From then on I spent a lot of time going to see bands from rubbish uni bands that had formed one drunken night to the mighty Blur. When I finished uni there was a 10 year gap between gigs (long story). Now though, on any given day of the week I can be found in the venues of Glasgow. With regards to my music taste I love anything with great lyrics and heavy drums. When I was younger (and still am) I was obsessed with a band called Alisha's Attic.
When not at a gig I will be found at my computer playing games like Prison Architect, Hearthstone and Wolfenstein.

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