NozFest -, Southampton, 10 Aug 2019

GigPigs road trip this year was to Southampton, to attend the first NozFest. This one-day Festival was the culmination of many months of hard work by Jodie Harris. She managed to secure a great lineup, and at just £20 a ticket, and Massive Wagons at the top of the bill, it is no wonder the festival sold out.

First band up were Bournemouth based glam rockers ‘27 Days’. It was great to see that many people had braved the windy weather to arrive in time to see their great set.  All the bands (except the headliners) had a 40 minute set, and these guys used theirs well, promoting their own music, as well as throwing in a great cover or two. 

A great start to the festival!

As Si Genaro used his comedic and ad-libbing talents to keep the crowd entertained, the stage behind him was reset for the next band - The Wicked Jackals. They are a band new to us, and we were looking forward to seeing them.  They were worth waiting for! With Marty Venus, their guitarist throwing some theatrical moves, they proved to be hugely entertaining, especially with the alcohol filled water pistol getting fans into the party mood!

The Outlaw Orchestra are always ready to get a party started. With the four local guys bringing a banjo, a double bass and a lap steel onto the stage, you know you’ll get something rarely seen or heard in a rock gig. They have stories to tell - but not in front of the children ! - they are a great party band, with country influences, as well as a rock background, they give great set of foot tapping head banging music.

With the venue filling nicely, we take a short step outside too cool off. The is uncomfortably hot for a lot of people, including the bands. Just outside is a burger van, offering limited, but well priced and tasty food. Unfortunately, the condiments were sited in the smoking area, which was also outside the back door. 

After our break in the cool air, we returned in time to see Beth Blade and the Beautiful Disasters taking the stage. They have recently released their second album, which is well worth a listen. We have a great 40 minutes of Beth’s powerful voice supported by three guys who are anything but disasters! With Dan Rowe on bass, and Luke Gilmore on guitar, they work the stage well with some predictable, but well delivered rock.

Beth is a hard act to follow, but the Spanish (but now based in Birmingham) threesome ‘StOp! sToP!’  do justice to their slot. They appear on stage dressed as old men, but instantly shake off the act with some hard hitting and riff filled rock. As they discard their costumes, their own, hugely entertaining show has the audience begging for more. All too soon, the set draws to a close, with their eponymous track, (the bassist/singer) leaves the stage and joins in the fun on the floor. They were really well received by the growing crowd.

To get an international rock star, with the pedigree and status of Marco Mendoza to appear at your first festival is a huge coup for Jodie. Many people have seen Marco with one of his previous bands, including Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy and Ted Nugent, and he is currently rocking the world with The Dead Daisies- he is also a great solo artist.  When he has downtime from the band, he can be found playing small, intimate gigs entertaining fans with a fusion of rock, jazz and funk. Marco gets up close and personal- stepping into the audience as he sings some of his own music, as well as tracks from his previous bands.  Brilliant set, as always. 

The festival is hotting up, as we move into the final three bands. These three together could sell out venues nationwide, so to have them together in one place is enough to have the crowds banging on your door. Bigfoot are one of our favourite bands, and appear on stage to huge applause. They are 5 guys who work so well together on stage, and have no fear of taking the mickey out of each other, as well as the crowd. 

Their skill and talent as musicians is clear, and it is a poignant moment when they remind us that they are coming to the end of the band’s existence. With guitarists Mick and Sam giving us riffs and solos that are heartfelt and intricate, Tom ( Drums ) and Matt (Bass) underpin with a rhythm section any band would be proud of. Sean fills the  venue with the voice that has taken Songs written by others and made them his own. 

He, along with the rest of the band are hot, and picked up new fans, even though they are approaching the end. We will miss this band, and would urge anyone who can, to get to one of the shows on their final tour.

With just two bands left to entertain us, people move nearer the stage, in anticipation of the talent that is coming.

It is just a couple of weeks since we saw both these bands as Steelhouse Festival.  The penultimate band of the night, Those Damn Crows hit the stage first, and, as always, seem humbled by the cheers that greet them. 

Although they need no introduction, we get one, with Shane’s crystal clear voice echoing round the room ‘We are Those... Damn...Crows....'  they hit right into their set, starting with Don’t Give a Damn - which is often their set opener, and says a lot about the band, and what they stand for. 

With every riff and chorus, the crowd help - singing back the words.  The Crows have seen their fan base explode over the last year or so, and each live performance step up their game. The five Welsh guys gel on stage, and become more than the sum of their parts. They give a emotion filled show, including a couple of tracks due to be on their second album. The new album doesn’t have a release date yet, but if the rest is as good as ‘Who Did it’ and ‘Long Time Dead’,  we can see it being a chart topper. Get out and see the Crows, if you haven’t already... they are a force to be reckoned with.

Finally, the headliner, Massive Wagons get their show. In the last year or so, they have toured relentlessly, and supported bands playing in venues many other dream of. Baz (vocals) laughingly says ‘just pretend we are the Crows’ as recognition of the crowds reaction to them, and knowing that the Wagons would have to up their game - which they did. the Wagons are worthy headliners, and have the experience to take things to another level. They are full on, and only occasionally stop - so that Baz can catch his breath, although when he talks to the crowd, he still walks round the stage.

 The Wagons are a no-nonsense, tell it how it is band, but backing up the ironic, catchy lyrics are some highly talented musicians. They love every second they are on stage, feeding off the adulation from a massively vocal crowd. 

As they power through their set, it is hard to miss the irony of several people in the audience ‘going live’ as they reach ‘China Plates’ in the set. As the curfew approached, Baz thanked all the earlier bands, Jodie for organising the event, and the band left the stage, returning after a couple of minutes to give us ‘Back to the Stack’, as their encore.

Much to everyone’s disappointment, it was the end of the evening. The general buzz as the venue emptied into the Southampton street was that it had been a brilliant festival, and every band that had performed had been excellent. There are plans to hold a second NozFest in 2020. We’ll be looking forward to seeing what Jodie can pull out of the hat to top this years event.