Stick Stock 2017

After being harangued by curator Harv (Hark) for the past 3 years to come to his event; the aptly named “Stickstock”, I took the plunge in 2016 to see what all the fuss was about? After staying for 2 days and nights last year I decided this year I would sample the whole weekend. In a different location, this time around it has lost none of its flavour; the “The Cross Keys Inn” in Mannington is the setting for this wonderful yet low key “friends and family” festival. I arrive early enough to pitch my tent and catch the first act of the evening. Despite my concerns, the location was easy enough to find and I straight away see some familiar faces. Tent pitched it’s straight to the bar and a good catch-up with old friends and acquaintances.

The Tokamaks
The Tokamaks 1

The outside bar has 2 ciders on offer so I chance my arm with the most orange of liquids ever seen! It’s tasty enough so I head for the stage to catch openers The Tokamaks who opened proceedings last year too. They seem somewhat better than last year with many choice covers and seemingly more comfortable on a larger stage. “The Kids Are Alright” and “Hangin’ Around” are their standout covers but they are the perfect way to start a balmy Summer evening’s entertainment.

The Mistakes
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Poole’s most prolific Punk band “The Mistakes” are up next and hit us with a classic set of original songs. “Sin City” is an early highlight and again the band make full use of the space afforded them. Ross (vox) really finds his voice on “Never Be Quiet” before they play new single “Democracy”. Following them are London/Bmth trio “Snail Chasers” who rock the joint (quite literally)! They are a hard rocking, bass heavy band with pounding drums and an all round heavy sound.They increase the volume somewhat before setting us up nicely for tonight’s headliners D’Ska Assassins.

Snail Chasers
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Tonight is the debut of vocalist Ryan, and I have to say it shows. However, once he finds his feet (or moreover) his voice, he settles into his spot at the front. All the usual Ska/2 Tone classics are played along with one or two of their own compositions. Their hour long set gets people on their feet, which I suppose is the idea after all. Long after the live music the “chillout tent” is playing some choice cuts of a dancier nature to keep the “all nighters” happy. I retire to my tent early but it’s a good 2 hours before I finally get some shut eye!

Saturday begins with boiling hot sunshine beating down on my tent. I skip a pub breakfast through laziness and finish off the rolls I made for my post-gig munchies! 1pm sees the first of today’s acts, Ben Clift Williams open’s for us on the acoustic stage-I say stage, more a garden umbrella (minus the bench) but you get the picture! His Sheeran’esque vocal and heartfelt songs are the perfect opener for the bleary eyed among us. Most of his songs are storytelling, originals of personal experience. “Stranger” is a set highlight from this youthful talent who ditched the day job in favour of a career in music. It’s a well-trodden path these days and I wish him well. Ironically he leaves us on a song entitled “Start”!

Ben Clift Williams
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Kill The Colossi are next to take to the main stage. With such intense heat every shaded space is taken as the band trawl through an explosive set. “196 Wars” and the Ska-tinged “Lions Roar” are early highlights from a band whose stock is rising. Latest single “Fuck the Taxman” gets added applause from this appreciative crowd while they debut a new song, the rather apt ‘Outsiders’ which is great. Kill The Colossi for me are much improved since they opened “Oxjam 2016” back in October-meaner, leaner and tighter! They depart us on The Ruts “Jah War” which drops the tempo perfectly.

Kill The Colossi
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Pompey workaholic Punks 5 Go Mad are up next. Today’s gig is just one of many they have secured over the coming months. For those who have seen them a few times now, most will recognize the majority of their set. They start well enough before descending into the usual chaos with one or two sound issues. Some notable inclusions like the anthemic “Sid Mankini” and the brilliant “Shit Town Rat”; written about a certain “world famine saviour” sound fresh, despite the wall of noise. Today sees Missile’s Martin (Weaver) depping on drums what with “Wozza” missing in action. No time for learning songs here, oh no-Martin admirably steps up to the plate and does a sterling job; proving himself to be the engine room on today’s performance. A somewhat disjointed set is improved slightly by late highlight “Punk Police”, but at the end the band just look happy to get off stage. Let’s hope the cobwebs are well and truly blown off before their date with destiny up at Rebellion in a few weeks time-we will see!

5 Go Mad
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“The Chime” strip things right back with a hammond infused “Garage/Blues” sound, just perfect for following a noisy UK82-style Punk act. Graham (keys/vox) has a great voice, as does Jimmy (guitar/vox). Some of their songs are delivered tongue firmly in cheek, yet they are altogether tight and the sum of their parts. “Boscombe California” is their best song-bettered only by an impromptu encore of “Jacqualine”, written by none other than local songwriter Richard Castle.

The Chime
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The sun is still beating down and everyone is simply chilled and relaxed, the numbers now swelled by the late risers. Another acoustic pairing (whose name escapes me) deliver a Country-tinged set before my new favourite band Meat Sweats take to the stage. Buoyed by an excellent sound today they deliver early with the excellent “Do It” and “Psycho”. We even get treated to a new song in the form of “Braindead”, which is what we’ll all be after what comes later! They confidently deliver more originals and end on a Lou Reed cover (I Can’t Stand It), but unlike last year there’s no time for “Is Vic There” so they just plug the merch/website/info etc and exit stage right.

Meat Sweats
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Keeping the largely Punk theme local veterans of the scene C30s take to the stage. They are power personified, opening with “Sleepwalkin’ Sleeptalker”. Again; those of us who follow them regularly will know most of their set, yet there is simply no let-up. One or two new songs to me get an airing including “Badpenny” and “Casady”, but it’s the classics that keep us entertained. “Beachbum Baby” and “Wake Up” are loud and tight in equal measure and they depart in typical fashion with a rip-roaring “Neat, Neat, Neat” (The Damned). Another fine set-follow that Missile! The weekends hardest working drummer sees Martin Weaver (5 Go Mad/Missile/Vultures) take to the stool once more. Missile deliver yet another eardrum pummelling with their anthemic, hard ‘n’ heavy Punk sound. Event organiser Harv (bass/vox) gets his first taste of today’s action and they too don’t disappoint. “Fat Cat” and “Be Real” are the real deal as they continue to delight.

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Following them are local (soon to be) legends Electric Shakes. Despite seeing them a few times their set has changed markedly with the release of new LP “Electrohypnosis”. The dirty RnR/Garage sound they so excelled at has been virtually replaced by a new straight up Rock ‘n’ Roll style. And they have the songs to back it up. Basha (drums) is producing a thumping drumbeat while Eric (bass/vox) throbbing bass hasn’t gone unnoticed. They preview virtually all of the new release to decent applause and Steve (guitar/vox) looks ever more confident with each gig. It’s another festival highlight which sets us up nicely for the headliners.

The Electric Shakes
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Harv (again) and Martin (yet again) take to the stage alongside the other two Vultures Mark (vox) and Jon (guitar). We always know what we’re gonna get with The Vultures; a host of classics covers and plenty of madcap antics. Mark (lead vox) is once again doing his only show of the year, (due in part to his recurring throat issues). He relishes the moment and cajoles all into dancing and singalongs. Yes, it’s the usual trawl down memory lane but they are the perfect end to a long day and get us all on our feet. Mark exclaims “we’ve got a new one tonight”, cue Pulp’s “Common People”. I’m not sure Jarvis Cocker needs to hang up his microphone just yet but it’s decent enough. I’m reliably informed guitarist Jon recently had hip problems, but you wouldn’t know it as he clambers up onto a picnic table to play a solo. A good mix of Rock/Punk/Pop covers are played but my memory isn’t great so I won’t try to recall many. The energetic Martin (drums) is showing no signs of fatigue as he continues to bash those skins with power while Harv (bass) just looks on. After an hour of this frivolity and an 11pm curfew drawing ever nearer Mark asks ‘who wants a Christmas song’? After some deliberation, we get a rampant “Killing In The Name” (Rage) which gives everyone a chance to sing/shout/swear. It’s the perfect ending and for me means time for sleep. For many others, however, the night is young. Over in the camping field, dead centre, in fact, is the “chill-out” tent. Although I wasn’t there I am reliably informed an impromptu jam took place, courtesy of Messrs “Nazar and Upchuck” – now I know why I couldn’t sleep! It’s anyone’s guess how long this “after party” lasted but everyone who attended said what a great end to the day it made.

The Vultures
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Sunday saw many a late riser, crawling from tents looking far from awake. Luckily for us all, it’s an early afternoon start. Dead Lettuce start the afternoon’s entertainment off in muscular fashion with some good ole Stoner/Grunge Rock. It’s loud and heavy and could wake the dead-which is apt considering how some around me look. These guys rock hard with a capital R but they are tight as well. They play their latest single “Lady Luck” which gets a great response. Their strong musicianship here proves a good warm-up for the final act of the day “The Pick Ups”.

Dead Lettuce
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Inbetween, local acoustic artist Tony Bryant does his take on some well-known classics – kinda “reverse acoustic” if you like. It’s unique but totally lost on me so I retire to the camping field for a sunbathe! On letting down all the windows in my car I leave the ignition on and drain the battery. Mark Pay (Vultures) comes to my rescue with a jump leads pack and I head home, thus missing the final act.

Tony Bryant
Tony Bryant 

Stickstock has been another resounding success. The new location really seems to have worked and judging by the comments on the FB discussion, most if not all enjoyed their weekend and will return next year. With the new location secured I’m sure preparations are in place-roll on Stickstock 2018! This years funding raised £300 which will be donated to a school of Harvey’s choice in most need of funding for musical instruments etc. The previous 2 years festivals raised the same figures which were donated to High Mead Farm. The overall plan would be to help youngsters with music; which I suppose is the best way to spend the monies raised, being that they are raised by a musical event.



Review, Videos, & Pictures by Ross A. Ferrone

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