If you have not heard of Wilkestock, a small festival held in fields of Watton, Hertfordshire, then it is certainly worth checking out. Wilkestock began its life as an outdoor party for a few friends in 2006 by brothers Tom and Olly Wilkes.
Who would have thought that 30 people in a field with a small stage made out of milk crates borrowed from the local milkman and some scraps of plywood would grow to such an extent that it came runners up behind 2000 Trees, in the Live Music Business Awards for the Best Small Festival last year.
Each year it has become bigger and better, whilst still keeping it real by donating all of the profits to charities close to the family’s hearts, Leukaemia Research (Beating Blood Cancer) and Keswick Mountain Rescue.
This year’ line up is bigger and better than ever, whilst retaining a diverse mix of genres, local bands, up and coming acts and exciting established bands. Top of the bill on the Friday are New York based rockers, We Are Scientists.
On Saturday Kent’s very own Punk Rock duo, Slaves top the bill. Sunday’s bill is topped by The Dutty Moonshine Big Band, who are a 14 piece big band fusing heavy UK bass with Jazz performing a high octane energy live show fronted by Grime and Hip Hop MCs. Now how is that for diversity?
One of the most exciting aspects of Wilkestock this year has got to be securing the UK festival outdoor exclusive appearance of We Are Scientists. This is a massive coup for a small charity festival, and shows how this festival has grown from its humble beginnings.
Bands are being attracted to the festival from far and wide, and there is a strong Scottish contingent with Fatherson, an alt rock band formed in Kilmarnock, who have toured with the bands Biffy Clyro, Frightened Rabbit, Panic! at the Disco, Feeder, Twin Atlantic, Enter Shikari and Idlewild. Two of Scotlands hottest tipped bands, The Snuts, a West Lothian indie band and Glaswegian Punk Rockers The Dunts are also performing over the weekend.
Festival goers will need to be well prepared to expand some energy on Saturday as it promises to be an epic. Before Slaves there are bands that can blow an audience away. The Pearl Hearts are a duo, who look like as sweet as sugar, but their Blues driven Rock grabs you by the throat and keeps you in a choker hold until they have finished with you. Avalanche Party will be bringing their feral garage-punk from the wild North Yorkshire Moors.
Their sets are noted for boundless energy that will leave you thrilled and breathless. If this is not heavy enough for you, Blackpool’s Strange Bones are also on the bill. With their now legendary performances, it will be amazing if there is anything left of the festival when Slaves play, let alone Sunday!
Other bands to look out for are Vigilantes, Lady Bird and Red Rum Club. I am particularly looking forward to seeing Liverpool’s Red Rum Club, whose debut album, Matador, is still in my opinion, one of the best and most original releases of 2019. It takes you to a world of Spaghetti Western Rock ’n’ Roll like no other.
Packed with swashbuckling song narratives, gripping guitar lines and the trumpeting trademarks worthy of Tarantino’s finest film scores. I am looking forward to hearing them live as the best way I can describe them is Ennio Morricone meets Echo And The Bunnymen.
The magic of this festival is not only the energy on the stages, but the fact that local bands, such as Fiende Fatale and Thousand Thoughts are showcased with the bigger names on the bill. There are also DJ Sets from Goldie Lookin Chain and Dub Pistols. A non profit festival with a great vibe and great bands, with this line up, I would not bet against it winning the Small Festival award this year.
Wilkestock Festival takes place at Frogmore Hill, near Stevenage on 30th August-1st September 2019. Limited tickets are available here.