So, finally in my coverage of the 2012 Chaos here is my full review of the weekend.
A shortened version appeared in The Guerney Press on Saturday 21st July which you can see here, but my extended cut featuring all the bands I had a chance to see is below along with links to videos and photos of the festival.
Last weekend a load of bands and bikers headed to a field up at Pleinmont for three days of music, motorcycles and mayhem at the 8th annual Greenman MCC Chaos weekend.
With more the 50 bands, DJs and solo acts (and countless other goings on) I tried to take in as much as I could but, inevitably I missed some things, so here are my most memorable moments of Chaos 2012.
Playing only their second proper gig as duo, they nailed the tone for The Peace Tent on the Friday afternoon as people just arriving at the festival relaxed on the sofas with those who’d been there all week setting up.
The duo combined a Stevie Nicks-esque like vocal style with some unique guitar playing to create a sound unlike anyone else in Guernsey at the moment, mixing chilled out acoustic sounds with a hint of 70s soft rock.
Things shifted up several gears as the Discharge Stage kicked off with young metallers Distant Shores later in the afternoon.
Their brand of modern thrash with a hint of classic metal has been something I’ve admired for a while and they instantly seemed comfortable on the bigger stage blasting through an impressive set.
They attracted a large and enthusiastic crowd, despite their early set time, and started the weekend’s heavier music with style, at least until a power outage cut the set in two somewhat unceremoniously, but this didn’t seem to deter anyone and soon power was restored and the set continued.
The power outage also effected The Peace Tent briefly but led to a fantastic moment as Mark, aka Songs In The Key of G, performed a couple of songs in pure acoustic style up close to the audience in the tent which really suited his Against Me meets Frank Turner sound.
In the Beer Tent the first band I caught were Skid Rue whose glam rock covers seemed to go down well in the early evening, but, it was singer Stace Blondel who stole the show as he wielded a sledgehammer and then made his way up the lighting rig, despite the organiser’s protestations, as ever putting on a show and, remarkably, keeping the singing going throughout while the band played away below.
Metal was the order of things for the rest of the night with Brutus Stonefist delivering a solid, if slight disappointing, performance compared to their usual outings and then The Peppered Ant Legs bringing their heavy set to Chaos with Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Metallica all getting an airing and getting quite a few headbanging along.
Out on the Discharge Stage the night was rounded off by a double header of visiting bands as French act Bloody Mary gave us some excellent heavy blues-infused metallic rock and Jersey’s Stan Smith once again proved why they are one of the Channel Islands best Metal bands; storming the stage in a non-stop assault that left everyone watching enthusiastic for what was to come, despite the somewhat wet and windy weather.
As I returned to the site on Saturday lunchtime the weather had turned and the mud was drying up as Phil Capper kicked off the music on the Discharge Stage, and as ever he sounded great, despite playing to possibly the weekend’s smallest audience.
New band Twelve Ton Trouble started things in the Beer Tent with some blues-rock sounds.
Led by Robert J Hunter, who has been playing this stuff solo for a couple of years, the addition of a backing band has really taken his material into a new realm and suits his style even more. The band’s mix of previous experience in pop punk and blues bands also adds an extra element to their sound which makes for something a bit different to a standard blues-rock outfit.
Southampton’s Grant Sharkey provided a great mix of music and comedy banter next, armed only with an electric double bass and a mic, and got the weekend’s most unlikely cheers out of the phrase “Higgs Boson”.
Back in The Peace Tent and Lydia Pugh was on stage proving her versatility at bringing great music and a great atmosphere to another festival. Much like her set in Sark a few weeks ago, Lydia was relaxed on stage and interacting with the crowd making her performance an always enjoyable experience as she mixed original songs with relaxed covers and helped build the already fantastic atmosphere The Peace Tent is known for.
Relaxed was not in order on the Discharge Stage though as Jersey’s Pirate Party Brigade did their best to get the mid-afternoon crowd bouncing with their ska-gypsy-punk (maybe it’s pirate-punk?) sound. Having never seen this band before I had no idea what to expect but was instantly drawn to them and when they let off a confetti cannon mid-song I knew these guys not only had the music but the show to really be worth catching properly in future.
Next up was the bike show, which saw awards, handed out for the best bikes on the site and the obligatory burnout contest. While, personally, I still don’t really get the whole thing with burnouts it always draws a big crowd and if nothing else reminds everyone that this is a bike show as well as a music festival and without the bikes and the Greenman MCC we wouldn’t have this great little event, so thanks guys!
As the bike show was still going on Tantale had the unenviable task of playing the Discharge Stage. While they may have been fighting the burnouts as their set started they still sounded good and despite the crowd being small they still seemed to be enjoying themselves on stage and those who did stick around to watch seemed to be enjoying the music too.
Soon after The Peace Tent was the place to be as people packed in to the witness the two-man riff machine that is Heave play only their second show in Guernsey, and they weren’t disappointed. Steve and Neil’s brand of sludgy riff driven metallic rock ‘n’ roll is unlike any other in the island and proved a major highlight of the weekend for many.
Marking a year as a band, Lifejacket hit the Discharge stage in the early evening and tore through their set of original hard indie tunes with aplomb.
As well as the now tried and tested originals they debuted a new song with the killer chorus line of “I love celebrities, celebrities are better than me!” delivered with the bile filled ironic sneer that marks out Andy Sauvage’s performances from many others.
Ending on their now customary cover of Mclusky’s Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues left their set on a high and, as ever, I’m very much looking forward to their new material and the recording they are threatening to make.
Heading into the evening Thee Jenerators unveiled their new line up, now featuring Dom Laine on bass, and delivered one of their best performances in some time mixing new and old material, which got the crowd dancing from the start, as frontman Mark Le Gallez, now freed up from behind his Vox Phantom bass, took the opportunity to join the crowd for a few songs, and be the second performer of the weekend to scale the lighting rig.
The first of the evening’s visiting headliners were up next in the form of crushing metal band Godsized.
Combining a comparatively ‘radio friendly’ style of metal with a crushing southern stoner style the band delivered an impressive and powerful performance filling the stage in a way only a band of this sort can and attracting many headbangers to the front.
On the Discharge Stage there was a double whammy of metal to round off the night, first were local southern metalcore quintet She Haunts The Roads who played one of their most enjoyable and engaging sets yet, with Jack Fletcher clearly relaxed and comfortable on the large stage and delivering a more varied vocal performance than usual which complemented Tom Domaille’s more hardcore vocal style excellently.
They were followed by Viking Skull who, from what I saw of their set, showed why they have become one of the most celebrated live acts on the UK metal circuit.
Closing their set with a barrage of crushingly heavy and groovy songs my only criticism of this year’s headliners was that I wanted to watch all of them but ended up missing bits of each trying to see them all.
It was down to The Roughneck Riot to headline in the Beer Tent and they did it with superb style, mixing folk and punk rock with banjos and accordions alongside guitars and rabble rousing vocals, the Manchester based band got the crowd going for the whole of their set including the creation of a human pyramid and, ending on a rendition of I Fought The Law, left Saturday night at Chaos on a high.
Quite often Sunday at Chaos has been a more relaxed and loose affair, but this year the stage in the Beer Tent was handed over to Mark Guillou for a day based around his Rock of Ages events.
Highlights of the afternoon came from The Black Vote who trod the fine line between control and all out mayhem in one of their best sets I’ve experienced yet. And So Cold, The River and Elmer Henley took things to an extra level of heavy in fine style with both bands showing Guernsey still has a strong extreme metal edge.
While the Beer Tent was rocking The Peace Tent continued it eclectic ways as The Id Shade and Tonight The Skies played a great set of semi-acoustic chillout sounds to an audience clearly in need of a little R&R.
Later in the afternoon things got a little bit more energetic as compere Jonny O led some of the inhabitants of the tent in some games, including how many people can we fit in a Wendy House (apparently its 5 and the house explodes on 6) and hunt the Gollop (staring Guernsey’s most recognisable and ‘game for a laugh’ politician John Gollop).
This energetic approach was well complemented by the lighthearted sound of The Ukuladeez. While I will admit I didn’t quite get this group of ladies with ukuleles when I first saw them at the Vale Earth Fair last year, they have found their niche within Guernsey’s music scene and in an environment like The Peace Tent fit in excellently.
Back in the Beer Tent and, for me, the day really belonged to the veteran headliners Pete Frampton’s Badge and The Risk, following an outing from No Paparazzi.
This was my first chance to see the ‘new look’ No Paparazzi and while they were still a great band they seemed to lack a certain something that they possessed when Lucy Hill was behind the mic.
None-the-less, new frontman Shaun nailed the rockier material the band are now playing, particularly the Led Zeppelin numbers, and lead guitarist Gordie Liu proved himself still a demon on the six string.
Pete Frampton and his band of familiar faces played an excellent set based around Eric Clapton’s back catalogue next, which showed just why people still get excited about seeing the man who began his musical in Guernsey in the late 1960s and headliners, The Risk, stormed the night in stripped down three-piece mode which tore through their back catalogue and wasn’t even derailed by a bass string needing replacing mid set as drummer Ozzy took over with an extended drum solo.
As the set continued Mark Guillou and Steve Lynch joined Mark, Colin and Ozzy on stage to provide some ‘air brass’ antics before The Risk were joined by Pete Frampton for a cover of Born To Be Wild (Mark Le Gallez: “I think it’s in E and we play it a bit faster than usual, but you might have guessed that”) and a suitably noise drenched encore of Twilight Zone, which rounded off yet another great weekend of live music.
It’s weekends like this that prove how spoilt we are for great music on this island as this is our third festival in less than a month and we still have the Vale Earth Fair to come.
For anyone who thinks Guernsey doesn’t have good original local live music, or that’s there is nothing to do over here, I defy them to say that after a month like we’ve just had!
All photos by Tom Girard and all but “Games in The Peace Tent” courtesy BBC Guernsey