Festival Review: Wilkestock 2019

Wilkestock 2019

Frogmore Hill, Hertford, 30 Aug – 1st September 2019

Words & Photography: Amy Butcher

Festival season always comes around much quicker than I anticipated and passes at the same rate too. But what I really love about it is how I always find a new exciting festival or band at some point. This year’s new find is Wilkestock festival – a charity festival displaying some of the best new and old acts in the music scene. It felt like such a privilege to be a part of just one day of the Wilkestock community.

Starting our day with The Pearl Harts set the bar for what we could expect for the rest of our time at Wilkestock. Gutsy, titillating guitar riifs, head-nodding drum beats and Cranberries-esque melodies during Hurt created the perfect welcome for me to this new and exciting festival in the deep Hertfordshire countryside. 

Roaming the festival site only takes about 30 minutes if you want to see everything in detail, which I think is rare to find at most festivals nowadays. It’s safe to say Wilkestock is more of a community than a festival and the fact that it’s all for a good cause is the cherry on top. After our adventures across the site, Para Fiction stepped onto the main stage drinking coffee out of a Caffé Nero mug and raring to go. I had never heard of this band before but was thoroughly impressed with how they mix hip hop and punk to create their finessed sound. Pacing around the stage and passion pulling on every word, I was constantly transfixed on this fascinating band. I wasn’t the only one either – everyone sat in the large soft sofas that were spread around the arena was watching with intrigue. 

Clambering onto the stage to an onslaught of cheers and screams from the crowd, Lady Bird’s set had officially begun. I’ve been a fan of this band since their very first single Spoons and it’s been amazing to the increasing growth not only in their fan base, but live performance. 

Gripping guitar riffs, tight impactful drums and a sheer energy I’ve not seen from a band in a while was continuous throughout their set. During Reprisal guitarist Alex grinded into his guitar as he played, drummer Joe was hitting the drums so hard I was surprised the sticks didn’t go through the skins and with vocalist Sam pushing his whole body into his keyboard playing; Lady Bird were so tiring yet enjoyable to watch. 

 

If it wasn’t the band’s performance that got your attention (which would be strange if it didn’t), the ultimate chaos ensuing in the pit was enough to get your attention for the 30 minutes the band were on. I was astounded at how many people were moshing and laughing along as Lady Bird performed; it was addictive to watch and my eyes were bouncing between the crowd and the band, as if watching a game of tennis!

We took a break from the grunge and punk sounds to witness our hidden gem in the rough of Wilkestock: Tor’s. I was in awe of the soft, folk vibes emanating from Bella’s stage – the three-piece wrapped us up in the pleasant warm melodies and intricate harmonies. I’m so glad we managed to catch such a talented bunch of guys in the mesh of hard brash punk bands playing throughout the day. 

Running from Tor’s set, I managed to watch the latter half of LIFE on the main stage. Panting and out of breath, I was unable to catch my breath the whole time – they were truly alive and present on that stage. Singer Mez’ confident strut and frantic dancing kept us busy as the rest of the band gave a calmer but still energetic performance. Having recently released Hollow Thing, it was amazing to experience the real track live. 

LIFE - Amy ButcherI find you get those bands who you come across, become obsessed with when listening to their recorded releases and can’t wait to see them live. LIFE were one of those bands for me and I was not disappointed. Ferocious guitar riffs, addictive bass lines and some crashing drums merged with Mez’ infamous vocals to give me what is hands down one of my most enjoyable festival experiences for 2019. It cannot be emphasise enough how thrilled and enthusiastic I am about this band and their potential! 

Another fantastic addition to my new finds at Wilkestock was Willie J Healey. His name has floated in and out of my radar and I’ve never really had the chance to sit down, listen and absorb his music, but this festival gave me the chance to do that live. Not only has he created some of the finest smooth guitar melodies and crooning rhythms, the way he carried himself on stage was remarkable. It’s clear Willie J Healey is at home on the stage, sauntering across it casually, playing as if he’s at home practising and it’s incredible to watch such a talented musician play so effortlessly. 

Slaves were the headliner to our fantastic day at Wilkestock. Unfortunately, I was unable to catch most of their set, however the first few songs were enough to leave me reeling all the way home. The intense energy exuding from both Isaac and Laurie was infectious and the members of the crowd were bursting out of the barrier to get closer to the two-piece. Walking out to Venga Bus by The Venga Boys, they launched into The Lives They Wished The Had and it was like the band had an echo. The whole audience sung/screamed the lyrics at the band with so much passio and it was clear to me Slaves loved every minute of it. 

Wilkestock, you have officially won me over. If it wasn’t obvious from the above, I had an incredible experience at this little festival and I cannot wait until next year. From the delicious food stalls, community feel to the plethora of the best modern punk (and folk), everything about Wilkestock festival is what you could want and more. If I were you, I’d go to this festival as soon as you can – it’s not going to be long until it’s not Frogmore Hill’s secret anymore. 

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