Been to a This Feeling night? Normally 4 ace bands for 5 quid (which is a bargain) followed by a few hours of banging indie anthems, quite simply a great night out. Now imagine this was multiplied by 10, transported over to the Isle of Wight Festival and you’d have the MEGA zone, a festival within a festival. Some already know, they’re the enlightened ones who never leave the zone. They all know who the headliners are but would rather watch the future headliners right here, right now.
Hosted by Jack Daniels, the Jack Rocks Stage had 49 of the best new bands from every part of the UK playing over 4 glorious days. Mostly underground bands you’ve probably never heard of, all of them capable of blowing your mind with how talented they are, as musicians, as song writers, as entertainers. And as people, well they’re some of nicest you’ll ever meet, when they’ve finished playing their set, you’ll find them with you, watching all the other bands at the front. Then later you’ll end up dancing with them and singing ‘Wonderwall’ together as the DJ’s play into the early hours. It’s like a family, the support for each other is what make it so special and to be part of it truly enhances a live music fans life. Join them and start watching and listening to the best underground music scene since the 90’s.
Bands I’d seen in small venues over the last year stepped right up and pulled out stunning performances, completely off the scale, many wouldn’t have looked out of place on any size stage. False Heads, The Blinders, The Strawberries, The Americas, and The Assist to name just a few who you need to be keeping an eye on, all of them could and should be gracing larger stages next year.
Then there’s bands I’d never seen, take The Surrenders, opening on Saturday morning at 11.20 (never an easy slot) who were outstanding, straight talking, no nonsense rock ‘n ‘roll with one the best male rock vocals I have heard for a long time, like a modern-day Joe Cocker. Or Yonaka who headlined Thursday night, full of dirty, grungy, distorted guitar and an early evening encounter with Strange Bones, their energetic heavy punk rock had the whole tent in awe, mesmerising to watch their energy filled set.
A chance encounter with Sheffield band, Sheafs on the ferry set the tone for the whole weekend, a short conversation ended up with me grabbing a lift with them, wonderful people both on and off the stage. They were already on the list to see after plenty of recommendations and they did not disappoint. A raucous set of indie rock, current single ‘Mind Pollution’ sounded superb, expect bigger and better things from them as the year goes on.
I did venture further afield on a couple of occasions, mainly to see bands who’d played This Feeling before and the main man, John Giddings, had given his support to. Firstly, Bang Bang Romeo at the Big Top, how big? Massive! An incredible band who are going just one way, up! How on earth they aren’t playing the main stages at some other festival is beyond me. Then Paves, playing The Hard Rock stage, who looked and sounded completely at home. As much as I love the intimacy of the small venues and stages, these bands deserve the largest of platforms to showcase their talents.
I wouldn’t have strayed too far from the Jack Rocks Stage though for anyone else. These bands are the future, and the future is happening now. Get to a zone and see it for yourself.
*** Words and Photo’s: Alan Wells