I was particularly excited about Sunday night because not one, not two but three
of my favourite local bands would be playing: Off Beat, The Julies and Jackdaws. All the people who had attended both nights of Beta Fest so far were looking a little bit worse for wear (I know I was) but that didn’t stop them from giving all the bands the same enthusiastic reception.
I got there just in time for ska band Off Beat
, who I’m more impressed by every time I see them. There was skanking galore, and it was great to hear their new track Ganja Smuggling
live. Lead singer Charly’s melodic voice really complements their sound and it’s always good to have something a bit different from the norm in the local scene. Go see them headline tomorrow at the Wrey Arms for Black Hole’s gig night! Detached
, ska-punk from Wales, won me over with the use of a trumpet AND a trombone in their lively six-piece band which got the crowd moving, jumping and flailing. I just wish I’d had more energy to dance... The boys appealed to the crowd for a place to sleep that night and ended up on the floor of Vampyrouss keyboardist Rejon’s flat. Nice to see local bands helping others out...
Then there was The Julies
, rocking out with a shiny new P.J. Harvey cover of 50 Ft Queenie,
and there was their usual swapping antics when drummer Mark took the mic for She Don’t Use Jelly
(by The Flaming Lips) and bassist Steve got a turn behind the drumkit. They still have some rather snazzy merch up for sale, offical The Julies bags and mugs with original artwork from Mark. Take a look on their Facebook page.
The penultimate band was Scholars
, indie-rock from Hemel Hampstead, who The Dead Betas supported at The Exeter Cavern not too long ago. These guys are definitely on the rise: they’re touring all over the UK, their merch display was pretty impressive, oh and they can totally rock out. So it was pretty exciting to have them in the Palladium. My sister made an apt observation that how much a band is fancied is proportional to how many/how enthusiastically girls are dancing. There were lots of girls dancing at the front for Scholars...
, for that matter! The final band of the epic three-day extravaganza closed the proceedings in style. I was intending to go up to the front to take a couple of pictures but I ended up staying and dancing for the entire set, despite my tiredness. These boys have become a bit of a local treasure; everyone sings along to their songs and shouts out requests.
Well done to Tobias of Black Hole Promotions
for organising such a brilliant festival and providing a place for bands to showcase their music as well as have a damn good time. Bring on January: Beta Fest 2012.0...
Chapters of Eden
Night two of Beta Fest 2011.5: I got home from work, put my glad rags on and headed straight down to the Palladium where Acoustic Dispute
were just setting up. A three-piece ‘blues-infected’ rock band, I’d seen them at previous Beta Fests and really like their stuff. Would definitely like to see more from them.
A slight change of scene came next in the thrashing, screaming riot of a band that is Chapters of Eden
. As soon as they came on, people flocked to the front to throw themselves around and generally cause mayhem. I had to sidle up, take a few pictures and then keep a safe distance. I’m not hardcore enough for hardcore. Rock band Cry Raphael
from Wales played afterwards; this was their second Beta Fest. They ended up inviting half the crowd on stage by the end of their set, due to their impressive dancing.
2 Sick Monkeys
2 Sick Monkeys
, punk rock from Swindon, continued the pulverisation in the mosh pit with their frenetic sound and irreverent lyrics... Number One Retard
and F**k Off
were just a couple of songs in their repertoire. Very impressive sound for two people, a set of drums and a bass guitar! Apparently they last played in Bideford two years ago; it was good to have them back. Room 4 1 More
continued the punk vibe of the night with their ‘melodic punk rock’ which seemed to down well with the already-pumped up crowd. It was nice to see bands from further reaches of Devon come to Bideford to play; these guys hail from Torquay.
Finally, the festival's eponymous Dead Betas
. This was their debut at a Beta Fest with their new line-up (Martin on synths and The Aidanator on drums). This didn’t stop ex-drummer Rich from getting on stage and singing along for the whole set, bless him. The Betas brought out all the classics: The Ego Song, 15, Predator
, with the favourite being guitarist Aidan’s turn in the limelight for A Night on the Town
. The whole crowd sang along to his manic-eyed, vein-popping saga about a night out gone wrong. By the time they cracked out Bideford College
as a final song, I had to stand on a milk carton to avoid getting battered by the seething, jumping mass of people. Good times indeed!
The Dead Betas
Flee Mt Fuji + Guests!
After months of hype, it was finally upon us: the long-awaited, hotly-anticipated Beta Fest 2011.5. A total of 28 bands were playing over three days in The Palladium Club, Bideford, courtesy of Black Hole Promotions, who know how to put on a damn good show. This musical shindig was no exception.
I arrived on Friday just in time to see Conflict Against
get the crowd going. I was impressed by their groupies: a legion of headbangers standing faithfully at the front and doing some skillful moshing. They played a couple of tracks from their new EP ‘Down in the Trenches’ (more on this to come!) and generally rocked out. Lunacry
came next: female-fronted metal with epic guitar solos aplenty. I might even have indulged in some moshing myself during their set. They played some new material too; you can see them again this Friday at the Old Bus Station in Barnstaple. Flee Mt Fuji
went as far as to cause crowd-surfing! When I was being knocked about in the crowd, my camera accidently got set to black and white, causing some awesome photos. I still haven’t set it back to colour. They played good stuff from their old and new EPs, including my favourite song: Findings
(those of you who’ve seen them might know it as the da da da da song) and ended up with two guest stars on stage by the end: Sam from No Half Measures
and Curtis from Conflict Against.
King Tuts Revenge
Rock antics from Nottingham came in the form of Severn
; really liked their stuff, and then there was ska-punk band King Tuts Revenge
, who you may remember from Black Hole’s Ska night earlier this year. There was skanking, a lively cover of Mad World
and a dance competition. (My sister won it incidentally, for doing the Macarena at a highly increased tempo). Was great to see these guys back in Devon again!
Finally, Gang of Thieves
took to the stage to headline, kicking straight off with Rock N Roll Queen
, rocked out to their adoring crowd and finished with Killing in the Name Of
(by popular demand). I got a tiny bit smooshed in the process... but tinnitus, light bruising and neck ache were really a small price to pay for a night of great bands and an awesome atmosphere.
Beta Fest 2011.5 was off to an epic start...
Gang of Thieves
A plethora of bands!
“Beta Fest 2011 sold out, and we're back and badder with Beta Fest 2011.5! Are you ready?
So says Tobias, the man behind Black Hole Promotions,
orchestrater of Beta Fest and lead-singer of The Dead Betas
. So what exactly does Beta Fest 2011.5 have in store for us?
“We’ve got 28 bands over three nights this time, because every time we do it it seem to get bigger. We’ve had over a hundred applications from bands, so we tried to keep it as local as possible, as well as getting bigger bands from outside Devon. There’s a couple of well-known ska bands: King Tuts Revenge and Detached, two from the punk circuit: Fighting Fiction and Two Sick Monkeys, and then we’ve got Scholars who are quite big on the indie circuit. We try and keep it as cheap as we can do it, with as many bands as we can get down, give them the best gig they’ve ever had, and give the audience the same thing.
Beta Fest began life in 2010 as a small local music festival in Shan’s Barn, Taddiport, where The Dead Betas showcased their music along with bands like Flee Mt Fuji and Gang of Thieves. As one of the people crammed into the sweaty crowd, dancing like a maniac, I can indeed testify that something electrifying was born that weekend.
Beta Fest 2011 followed in January; the Palladium Club became the shiny new venue to accommodate the ever-growing list of bands who wanted to play. Sixteen bands played over two nights, and the Saturday night sold out completely, prompting a Tobias to organise a second festival this year. Thus, Beta Fest 2011.5 was born. You spoil us, ambassador.
The Dead Betas @ Beta Fest 2011, January
Headliners for this festival are rock covers band Gang of Thieves
on the Friday, The Dead Betas themselves on the Saturday and Black Hole favourites Jackdaws
on the Sunday. Other cherished members of the Black Hole family: The Julies
, Off Beat
, Flee Mt Fuji
and Conflict Against
will be doing their stuff, as well as some new faces: With Love From Humans
, The Beacons
and The Aurora Skies
. There is something for everyone; come along to bask in the atmosphere and throw a few shapes at the front of the stage!
And what does the future hold for Beta Fest? Tobias wants to see it getting better each year; with a big headliner playing one of the nights. (Bigger than The Dead Betas? Never!) With numbers swelling at the rate they are, he can see it moving outside.
Beta Fest 2012: coming to a stadium near you...?
Tickets are £4 a night or £10 for all three days. Go to Black Hole Promotions,
or The Dead Betas
facebook pages to reserve them. Doors open at 6pm on Friday 22nd and 5pm on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th. But hurry hurry hurry; they’re selling out fast!
People's Republic of Mercia
A bit of a change of scene from the screaming vocals and screeching synths of bands I usually review! I headed down to the Palladium last Saturday to check out People's Republic of Mercia
, a blues-rock four piece initially meant to be supporting Wilco Johnson, but who ended up being the only act, as Wilco had to postpone his gig until October.
Part of the Bideford R'n'B Festival line-up, PRoM valiantly stepped up to the task of being the sole band, and played an excellent 2 hour set of covers and original material, including 'Paradise' by Wilco himself, as a tribute to his absence that night. These guys enjoyed every minute of what they were doing, bringing some funky moves to their set (especially the bassist). My favourite song was one of their own songs from their latest EP, called 'Serial Fiancee' - not only was it a rocking bit of blues in its own right, but the sentiment made me chuckle - I think everyone knows of a 'serial fiancee' type. I also particularly enjoyed the use of the blues harp; if I shut my eyes it made me feel like I was in America's South, with a hot breeze blowing across my face.
There's more to come this week, check out Devil's Creek playing on Wednesday, with free entry. Then we have Woolly Bullies on Friday and the Eddie Martin Big Band on Saturday. Check out the event page on Facebook here
She Called Shotgun
Following the success of Black Hole Promotions
' first gig at The Wrey Arms, Barnstaple last month, boss-man Tobias decided to put on another one, this time showcasing new local bands. We were treated to SEVEN acts throughout the night, and the place was packed out.
Everyone person who came was asked to put their name down for who they came to see - can't exactly say it was a close one - four piece 'popcore' band She Called Shotgun
won by a long shot - securing a pound for every name they got, as well as a gig at The Palladium on August 26th. Well done guys!
All Friends Are Enemies
Frankie Baker started the night off with some acoustic delights, with Jeri and the Juggernauts
up next - my apologies to these two acts, my bus didn't get there in time to see you, next time for sure! More acoustic from two brothers in Screaming Pillars
, then a change of pace with alternative-rock band Fuzy Logik
who got the crowd going with their metal antics. She Called Shotgun
were a definite crowd-pleaser, playing a Jessie J cover and a little bit of Enter Shikari too - I had to fight my way through the sweaty, jumping crowd to the side of the stage to get pictures. Female-fronted band All Friends Are Enemies
thrashed out some more mosh-worthy music with added synth action.
Headlining: The Dolly Dagger Experience
Finally, the headliner The Dolly Dagger Experience
rocked out with their killer brand of blues-rock, carried on valiantly despite problems with the microphone AND managed to pull off sunglasses on stage. In the words of Jesse Hughes from Eagles of Death Metal: "It's never too dark to be cool."
Well done to Black Hole Promotions
for putting on a night of new and varied local acts; there was definitely something for everyone. If you want more info on any of the bands who played, click on the links to their facebook pages and give 'em a like - they deserve it.