I had been looking forward to Buckfest for weeks. I was slightly disappointed that due to responsibilities that go along with being an adult I couldn’t be there from the beginning, but it meant that when I arrived at 2.30pm the festival was already in full swing, with the sun shining, people enjoying their first drinks of the day and kids enjoying the various amusements laid on for them (especially the BUCKFEST colouring boards! Genius idea!).
The first band I managed to catch were The Goodges, something of a spinoff from Soulweaver as the latter take a break. Performing well-known covers by bands such as Iron Maiden and Jet, and a fair amount of Soulweaver favourites for their regular followers. I love that they got out into the crowd and that they were clearly enjoying themselves – that kind of passion from a band is truly infectious.
Hollowstar were, for me, one of the strongest bands of the day and I hope to see them much further up the bill in the future.
They are amazingly polished, and they absolutely knew how to work that crowd to everyone’s advantage. I loved taking photos of them as they were interesting, fun, photogenic and varied – they made my job very easy! I’ll definitely be looking these guys up and seeing them again.
Other levels of entertainment to fit every genre were provided across the three stages, from Dale Taylor with his relaxed country/indie rock vibe…
to the summery alternative calypso of Easydread…
to Big Lou’s Cradle of Sound and their good old fashioned jive music…
and everything in between. Each of the bands who played appealed to decent sized groups of the attendees, and there were always plenty of people watching, dancing and cheering appropriately.
In the ten or so minutes before The Expletives took to the stage as the penultimate band, there was a sense of anticipation and with it the gathering of a much larger crowd. Seeing a lot of folk with 70s punk rock t-shirts on was something of a harbinger for what was to follow once the band kicked in their set.
The Expletives are a niche band, offering a grandiloquent blend of late seventies punk and new wave fare. Frontman Sean Dunleavy even acts and behaves like Jonny Rotten, and grabs the crowd by the scruff of the neck whilst his tight as a tick band deal out a constant barrage of razor sharp punk standards.
Guitarist Richard Mackman has a ferocious sound and a never ending arsenal of poses; punk rock is a state of mind, and this man knows it.
16 year old Vincent Mackie on the bass looks cool as fuck, wielding his Fender Precision with the panache of Dee Dee Ramone, for one so young he already has the look and the prowess well in place.
The Expletives tease, insult and entice the crowd for 55 minutes; the spirit of 1977 is truly alive here this evening.
Even contemplating attempting a Queen tribute band demands particular skills, and a certain look and likeness.
Rock Q managed to pull it off, with an excellent Freddie impersonator, and a more than adequate Brian May, who not only had the guitar and the amp tone, but also the curly hair and curly guitar lead.
The rhythm section, however, sagged a little – the bassist called in plenty of bum notes and the drummer was no Roger Taylor, sounding rather wooden and unfeeling with his delivery at times. Overall, though, this kind of high level tribute covers act is a tall order, and they more than got away with it.
It’s worth noting that the singer was drafted in at very short notice when the usual guy was taken ill. He’d never met the rest of the band before, and the fact that he slotted in so flawlessly and without arousing suspicion is to be applauded.
The highlight for me was pulling off “Bohemian Rhapsody”, to the delight of an all ages and eclectic crowd – it’s not an easy song to produce live, and this lot nailed it. Nicely done.
All in all, Buckfest is at a mere £5 serious value for money family entertainment, perfectly and creatively organised and a heck of a lot of fun. I can’t wait until 2017!