Review: Station 18 Festival – Day 2

Station 18 Festival – Day 2

Hanger 18, Swansea

Review and all images – Rob Wilkins

Day 1 HERE

The joy of small festivals such as this is the possibility of finding new music that grabs you, but I didn’t expect that to come from the first band as Day 2 kicked off.

Winners of a local Battle of the Bands competition Puzzle Tree absolutely blew me away! Fronted by Rachel Thomas on vocals their set pulled everyone to the front from the first note. The class came from Rachel’s vocals, which were reminiscent of Amy Lee and a variety of other strong female vocalists. Their debut album “Every Broken Floor” is well worth a listen and “Oceans” in particular stood out. Definitely a band I will be watching out for!

The next two bands struggled to follow on in a similar vein. Ortario, another local Welsh band, whose music didn’t light up the room enough for me to truly get a feel for what they were about, and, surprisingly, Edit the Tide, who, on a play of the festival Spotify really appealed, but somehow struggled to live up to the expectation. Much of that was due to a very muddy sound mix that left their intricate layers lost in the background, but also demonstrated a need to put as much time into the presentation of their music in a live environment as the recorded one. I know there is a lot more to come from the band as they hone their craft and lessons will have been learnt.

The smiles returned with King Voodoo who simply went on stage and had a great time, infecting the audience with their smiles and energy as well as their simple rock-played-well sound. Pulling the poses and backing it with great musicianship you could feel the energy in the room return with a bang and their set absolutely flew by!

The first time I attended Station 18, the band that grabbed me was KinStrife, mainly thanks to Mike Hoskins’s wonderfully deep and powerful voice, so I was stoked to see them on the bill again. That anticipation was rewarded with another superb set. “Make Me” really should be played to a far bigger audience and received a great reaction from the choir! Sadly, not long afterward, Hoskins announced his intention to leave the band, pointing to a possibly uncertain future.

Sheer musicianship up next with A’Priori who I have caught at another small festival, Firevolt in Manchester. With an unusual lineup of drums, keys, and guitar they are based around a virtuoso sound and delivery that is complex and yet accessible. Hair flies in every direction and riffs dominate their set making their trip all the way from Blackpool well worthwhile.

Two to go

If ever a band changed members and completely changed how they are perceived, it would be Sons of Liberty. New vocalist Russ Grimmett brings energy and showmanship to the band and they deliver one of the best sets of the weekend. The thing that works when you see them live is the sheer joy they get out of performing! Every note is delivered with smiles and laughter and it is utterly infectious! “Rich Man Poor Man” is a swagger and strut of the finest order and this lineup now makes every song sound fresh and relevant and far less “tribute-y”. The musicianship is there too, with twin guitars taking the spotlight or producing glorious harmony alternately. By the time their set was over my face hurt from smiling so much and my voice was scratchy. Can’t wait for more opportunities to see them!

Finally to the headliners of their day The Virginmarys.

I have to be honest, I LOVE watching these two. I find myself trying to work out where that huge guitar sound comes from when Ally Dickaty fills the room and watching Danny Dolan play is utterly hypnotic. Broken sticks litter the stage as Dolan stands, sits, crouches over his kit hitting the constituent parts with huge power, and around him swirls that huge, thick sound. “Bang, Bang, Bang” as always the highlight of the set leaves the two dripping with sweat and sends the crowd off into the Swansea night looking for ways to re-energise for day 3.

Cracking day all around with some new finds, some old friends, and a LOT of great music.

Review and photos Rob Wilkins


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