By Amanda Cunningham, Photographer and Ciannait Fitzpatrick, Rock At Night London Correspondents
FIRST ANNUAL UPLOAD FESTIVAL: Warehouse 23, Wakefield, Yorkshire, England–May 14, 2016
Rock At Night was excited to be a proud sponsor of the First Annual Upload Festival in Wakefield, UK. Stayed tune for a TON of interview articles to follow!
Doors open at quarter to twelve, midday. Outside, the sun cracks through the clouds and our shadows stretch out before us as we make our way to Upload Festival.
We enter: darkness envelops us. Walls of black lead up to a lit stage, instruments stand alone, waiting patiently for the masters to take hold. We stand too, watching and waiting for the stage to come alive.
The Darker My Horizon’s, Paul Stead, opens the show with a delicate, emotional acoustic set. The lone guitarist’s voice, sad and melancholic, tells the story of our lives. Without knowing us, he sings of our pains and our hopes. His guitar strums delicately into the darkness while his voice, strong and powerful, fills the vast black room, touching each of us.
After the calm comes the storm. Enter, Hell’s Addiction.
High energy, high volume, high rock. This group know how to have a good time. With a new album out, Broken, 2nd July, they are not afraid to showcase their talent. The band is in a constant state of movement, and with heads banging, we are given fresh dirty rock. There is an underlying sound of Metallica running through their set, and their love for them is shown through ‘The Rocker’, a tribute to Lemmie. Listening to this band is good, but listening and watching them live blows you away. Ben, lead vocals, with a remarkable resemblance to Game of Thrones’ Jon Snow, head-bangs his way through all the non-vocals, a small smile on his face, he knows they are good, and they really are. Guitarists and bassist move about the stage, their raw talent exposed with some great solos. It is without a doubt that the drummer, Luke, is one of my favourite drummers ever to watch. He beats them mercilessly; a human ‘Animal’.
It is no surprise they have been asked to open at the Village for Download Festival. Catch them now, they won’t be opening for long!
Swansea’s finest are next, and with a lead singer with a voice Tom Jones would be proud of, Orangefall enter stage.
‘Brand New Morning’ plays out, the bass runs through your body, a haunting mesmerising sound. Jason, lead vocals, has an amazing range in his voice, a rough gravelling rock voice one moment, a strong powerful smooth one the next. His intensity and pitch are pretty amazing.
‘Jet Black Gold’, a high tempo song, sees a brilliant rush of guitars and the bass rumbles through us.
This band should really be a commercial success – why aren’t they?! Check them out on YouTube, their latest album, ‘Orangefall’, can be found on Spotify – have a listen.
The UK’s home grown talent makes room for some fellow Europeans, and it is from Verona, Italy, that our next installment of rock comes from: Closer.
We begin with a very bouncy lead vocals jumping across the stage.
The band are good at what they do. Guitars and bass get a chance to display their talent in a 30 second centre stage moment. The guitarist, Andrew, has other opportunities to exhibit his talent in solos – he is very good. The band has some great riffs.
It is ‘Disappear’ that brings them all together, with a clash of drums, guitars and bass, they rock the room.
A small break in the bands, and a time to visit other audience members. There is some big love for Hell’s Addiction and a lot of people looking forward to Jupiter Falls, Stone Broken and Skarlett Riot – a long wait, but one that is rock filled.
We return to UK bands, this one from the South of England: Eastbourne, England. City Full of Ashes.
The stage is plunged into darkness, white lights roam the stage, the band in shadows. The voice of Orion sings through the darkness. Their first song begins calm and slow and suddenly the drums, guitars and bass crash in. The band jump up and down and Orion takes centre stage. What a centre piece he is. His energy is immense. He never ceases to stop moving, trying constantly to get closer to the audience. His charm bowls us over, we’re eating out of the palm of his hand – he is a clear master at this.
The rest of the band have the ability to charm too; their individual personalities clearly seen on stage, encourage us to want to know them more. It is a high energy adrenaline fuelled set and we all love it, audience and other bands alike.
The songs we hear are from ‘Rise’ their current album, all very different, all share a story. It is ‘Sometimes’ that brings the energy down, a poignant story of a fan who suffers with depression and bulimia – clearly a very emotive song and Orion seems unable to contain the emotion in his voice.
We are thrown back into upbeat rock, and their next song provides an almost tribal beat. The drums and bass vibrate through the audience; an animalistic vibe.
We are encouraged to sing, to put hands in the air, to speak to them after their set. We are mesmerised by this group. They are pros at live gigs.
They leave us with their final song ‘Battles of my Youth’, their new single.
This band is a must see. They will be snapped up soon and will be huge – watch them now so you can say you were there at the start.
After a quick break, Mouthful of Matches enters the stage.
Sadly, there is a technical glitch and they are unable to give us the set they would have. In fact, we end up playing ‘Name that song’ with the drummer! Tom, lead vocals, holds his own, giving us information of a new single to be on its way by the end of the year, and advises we can check out their music on social media!
Finally, the glitch is fixed and we are treated with a song, the audience are encouraged to raise hands in the air and commence clapping – we all do!
Next up is Chasing Dragons. Tank, lead vocals, has brilliant stage presence. Her voice is ridiculously powerful.
‘The Mutiny’ shows the band’s skills, an opening of drums, guitars and bass comes through. The opening chords are brilliant.
We are treated with songs such as ‘The Last Defence’, ‘For Kingdom for Glory’, and ‘Throw Down Your King’, the semantics of power and war shown through their music – delicate chords juxtaposed with an almighty voice and some amazing bass.
Throughout the set, Tank provides excellent audience interaction and her energy is second to none. With each song, she is bursting from her own body – each movement an expressive piece of art – she is the music.
Jupiter Falls, carries us into the evening. Jay’s massive voice booms through the warehouse. The audience are warmed up, hands are raised. The band work together well. Bassist and guitar clearly love working together and taking centre stage.
We are introduced to the drummer, the others fall into the shadows, and an amazing solo is beaten out for us. With each beat of the drum, lights flicker on stage. The beat gets faster and faster, lights move faster and faster – we are whipped into a frenzy. The drum beats slows, guitars and bass take the front of the stage, James takes centre stage and the audience resume hands in the air, phones furiously recording the live performance.
‘Chasing the Dragon’ showcases James’ voice – one made for rock and metal.
Their final song ends and the audience call for more. However, it is time for a brief interlude and the next band of the evening, Altered Sky. Sadly, I was unable to see these guys.
When I return, it is Stone Broken, from Walsall, West Midlands, who own the stage. There have been whispers through the audience all day regarding this band and after their set a member of the audience, Tracey who has followed them since first hearing them four months ago, exclaims, “They were everything I hoped they would be. Great entertainment.”
I had not seen them before, but had been told they were similar to Nickelback. Their sound is American, and there is a definite likeness to the American band.
The interesting thing about this band is their very low-key approach. There is no jumping around on stage. Their music leads them. The vocals are constant. Rich (lead vocals), has a strength that doesn’t waiver, ever.
‘Stay All Night’ has an excellent start, the bass is deep and reverberates through the floor.
‘Fall Back Down’ is their last song. The bass is amazing – a very dirty grinding one, with a drum beat that thumps throughout.
They are good and will surely do well commercially. Already picked up by Inglorious, they are touring as support from 2nd June 2016 in the UK – Nottingham, Basingstoke and Frome.
The headline follows. The stage is plunged into the shadows, a Luke’s (drummer) body, arms reaching upwards and outwards hangs ominously over the drums. He brings his hands together and the crowd follows suit. A methodical clap runs through the venue. Shadows of guitar (Danny) and bass (Martin) come on stage and then Skarlett runs on. The bass is hard and the drum beats fast. We are taken away. Skarlett spins, smiling, when not singing. We are watching her powerful love affair with music.
The band are powerful too. Danny plays guitar with accuracy and speed. ‘Adrenaline’ is played as Skarlett sings “…feel it drifting through your veins…” we do. It surrounds us. She is electric and the crowd come alive with her. Head banging together and jumping up and down, the crowd and the band rock out.
The playlist is hypnotic, there is a time the band leave the stage and a recording of them is heard before they all return and their live version crashes through the recording. Although there are some who are not fans of this, the majority of the crowd enjoy the teasing of the low and the high.
Towards the end of the set, they play ‘Villain’ – there is an undertone, in parts, of Placebo’s ‘Every Me and Every You’.
The night comes to an end. We are all well and truly rocked out. People are buzzing from the adrenaline the day has given. Now for bed, if only we could sleep!
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