Charisworth Farm, Blandford Forum

At our ripe old ages, we don’t usually camp out any longer and with us all living a short distance away each night, we have been travelling back and sleeping in our own beds. Returning refreshed and still a little bleary-eyed we are faced with a day of sunshine and showers. As usual, the organisers are laying down gravel and straw on the main walkways to prevent things getting too difficult to move around and for that, I wholeheartedly thank them for their efforts. This afternoon there are just three of us to start with as Ross, a big AFC Bournemouth fan/season ticket holder is off to see the big relegation battle versus Leeds United at the Vitality Stadium and plans to join us afterwards.

On to the music, the first band of the day is a group of 4 lads from South Wales that I saw on Thursday at Hangover Hill’s “Live & Unheard” gig at Poole Lighthouse. In the review I wrote for that I claimed that The Now were one of my new favourite bands. Their performance on the Big Man Stage just cements this opinion. Their rock n’ roll swagger and creative abilities have me in awe of what they have to offer. With songs like the melodic “Devil Inside Me” and the utterly infectious “Friendly Fire” their modern take on classic Rock impresses all that have made the effort to be there early to see them.

The Now
The Now 1234

Today over on the Vocalzone stage “We Broke Free” promoters Tor Byrnes and Adam Fox have arranged a full day of bands from the roster of acts they have crossed paths with over the years. The first of these are upcoming, hotly-tipped act Opalites. A three-piece featuring Emily Howells on guitar, Taya Minchington on bass/guitar and Josh Robertson on drums. After seeing them a few times on smaller stages, this bigger stage definitely suits them. There is loads of energy and a host of creative influences to enjoy. With fuzzed up guitars, unpredictable rhythms and a host of great tracks, the band put on an impressive show for their decent-sized audience.

The Opallites
The Opallites 12345

On the main stage today, the line-up of Rock bands is mouth-watering and to be honest I’ve been looking forward to seeing them from the day the line-up was announced. The first of these is Dorset’s South Of Salem, an act who have certainly been growing in stature since forming just a few years ago. The five-piece with their horror themes captivate the audience with their tracks from the well-received 2020 debut album “The Sinner Takes It All”. Frontman Joey uses every inch of the stage to whip up the enthusiastic crowd. The band’s twin guitarS create a big atmospheric sound and are ably accompanied by their huge rhythm section.

Big tunes like opener “Let Us Prey”, “Pretty Little Nightmare”, and “Cold Day in Hell” are interweaved with pyrotechnic effects, warming the audience in this wet weather. Sadly they only have a 30-minute set, however their impact in that time is significant.

South Of Salem,
South Of Salem 123456

Next up all the way from Glasgow are Mason Hill, a band who have been down this way a few times before with gigs at Nozfest and Winters End already under their belts. All dressed in black these five guys ably deliver a top notch performance full of highlights. With some creative excellence, they perform songs from their debut 2012 album “Against The Wall” including the powerfully melodic “DNA” and one of my favourites “Broken Son”, with its huge chorus; along with an epic guitar solo. There are plenty Mason Hill T-shirts in the crowd today and for those first timers I’m sure they have made themselves a host of new fans with a great performance like this.

Mason Hill
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Kid Kapichi from Hastings are a band that I am yet to see live and from the pre-festival research I have done they have a really unique vibe going on. There are a host of KK fans in the audience today and they can be highlighted by the amount of glitter on their faces. Today is guitarist Ben’s birthday and before they even play a note, a tray of Jägermeister courtesy of their fans is delivered up to the stage to help them celebrate.

The band kick off and from the start, you can tell that they mean business. From their larger-than-life attitude; coupled with this cleverly put-together, relevant lyrical content that delves deep into social consciences. They are far from the usual Rock band and feature influences from a wild variety of areas, making for a wondrous melting pot of creativity. Songs like the powerful “Five Days on Two Days Off”, “Glitterati” and lockdown classic “Party at No. 10”, dedicated to that parliamentary merrymaker Boris Johnson.

A highlight is the track “New England”, which the band originally recorded with Bob Dylan; a tune with some great social commentary and one the audience wholly embraces. The band’s attitudes remind me of the early anger of The Specials who took on subjects other bands stayed away from. The Teddy Rocks crowd drink in all that the band have to give and I for one can’t wait to catch up with them in June at the Download Festival. I could write so much more about them, they are such a fascinating act to watch.

Kid Kapichi
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A quick dash over to the vocalzone stage to catch local Indie band Wave Chase, a band who until they arrived on stage were not sure if their drummer Charlie would make the gig. They did have a plan b though. Kicking off with “Second Time” with Charlie in situ, the band show off their infectious brand of Indie/Pop with jangly twin guitars and foot-tapping rhythms. Frontman George provides some fine vocals, coupled with some nice additional keyboard melodies. During one of their older tracks “Talk Tonight” stand-in drummer Paul (Formerly of Cherry Lotus) confidently takes over from Charlie in a wonderful gesture from the band. We are even treated to a rare cover of The Wannady’s “You and Me Song”, which goes down well with much of the crowd. These guys have come on leaps and bounds since forming and today have proved themselves on a bigger stage to a larger audience, this is something that they deserve to be doing regularly.

Wave Chase
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Back to the main stage for a band I have been excited to be watching once again after seeing them a many of times over the last couple of years. Those Damn Crows from the hotbed of Rock music talent in South Wales have been on quite a journey over the last couple of years and have climbed many obstacles to be where they are today. The band arrive on stage with a warm welcome from the Teddy Rocks crowd and they are certainly not strangers around these parts. Frontman Shane leads his band onto the stage with opening number “Fill the Void” from the band’s latest album “Inhale/Exhale”.

As the pyrotechnic flames reach high into the sky the band show that they are really comfortable in this setting and can really put on a show for any festival crowd. Older numbers like the epic “Skin on Skin”, along with the lyrically emotive reworked version of “Blink of an Eye” are mixed with some fine newer tracks from the latest long player. Ronnie (Drums) and Lloyd (Bass) provide the creative rhythmic foundations of the songs, while Dave and Shiner provide some melodic excellence with some blissful moments on their guitars.

Shane is a proper frontman and he uses every opportunity to get closer to the audience, however, today he also has some additional duties on rhythm guitar on some of the newer tracks. The set ends gloriously with the appropriate “See You Again” and along with more pyrotechnics the audience is covered with multi-covered streamers. The band humbly thank their crowd and leave the stage after putting in one of the best performances of this festival.

Those Damn Crows
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I’ve been on the go since midday and it’s now 6 pm, I’ve not had a chance to eat or drink anything but a bit of water. It is now time for some sustenance, but what do I have; there is a massive choice of food vendors across the site and you can choose from a host of different options.

Today my palate is treated to a duck wrap with spring onions and plum sauce, washed down with some Thatcher’s cider. Ross arrives back from the football game and is celebrating as the Cherries have beaten Leeds 4-1! He tells me that my next band needs to be The Reytons who he saw and reviewed when they played Bournemouth in April of last year. I was, to be honest feeling really tired and I was considering a sit down in the acoustic tent, but I decided to see what The Reytons have to offer.

One of the biggest crowds of the weekend have gathered in front of the main Ted Newton stage to see The Reytons. This four-piece Rotherham band who have already achieved so much in a short space of time formed in 2017 and their first album reached number 11 in 2021, their second album “What’s Rock and Roll?” astonishingly reached number 1 earlier this year.

These down to earth lads are the next generation of bands following on from the likes of The Enemy, Artic Monkeys and The Courteeners. They saw what these successful acts could do and gave it a go themselves and succeeded handsomely. The Teddy Rocks crowd all seem rather excited to have them here and the band themselves show that they are equally excited to be here.

The Reytons
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There are songs covering a multitude of relatable subjects and experiences that the band have come across while growing up. A mosh pit soon forms in front of the stage which includes remarkably two velociraptors, who both are seemingly friendly and seem to be enjoying themselves very much!

Frontman Jonny Yerrell bursts with pride about his achievements and explains that being up on this stage is an amazing feeling and he hopes one of our local bands gets to experience this feeling. The band have a multitude of great songs and the audience seem to know many of them and as I look around I am in the minority of not singing along.

Tracks like hard-hitting “Cash In Hand & Fake IDs”, “Billy Big Bollocks” and the band’s own urban anthem “Kids Off the Estate” get the crowd totally whipped up into a frenzy of dancing. So I confess, I was sceptical about this band; however once you see them perform and realise how humble they are, it’s very easy to warm to all they have to offer.

Tor, the local Award Winning Promoter has previously warned us that we must make time for the headliners on her We Broke Free takeover in the Vocalzone tent. These are Cardiff’s 4-piece Punk band Panic Shack, a sizeable crowd were there to greet them as they strode out confidently onto the stage. The band feature Sarah Harvey (Lead Vocals), Meg Fretwell (Guitar/Backing Vocals), Romi Lawrence (Guitar/Backing Vocals), Emily Smith (Bass) and lone lad Ed Barker on the Drums.

Once seen you will never forget this outfit. There is so much going on to enjoy; their songs are sometimes relevant and sometimes quite random with a large element of fun. “Meal Deal” is just a fantastic observational number and “Jiu Jits You” with a dance routine, with the band looking like a Punk version of the Spice Girls. It’s alternative entertainment and the Teddy Rocks Crowd love it, they even demand an encore and we are treated to a reworked version of Electric Six’s classic “Gay Bar”.

Panic Shack
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As you can imagine by now a 50-ish-year-old man like me must be getting a bit tired after watching all these bands. Well I’m in training for this year’s Download Festival which is four days and a whole load of walking around five stages. I’m doing ok to be fair, but it’s time for a sit down and have something else to eat. One of those massive super-hot burritos and another pint of Thatchers is what I opt for and to my horror, the acoustic tent is absolutely rammed as my friend pianist/comedian and all round-top bloke Matt Black is playing. Just as I was about to consider my next move my new festie bestie (and amazing scone maker) Maria Primmer from Vocalzone waved and said there was a spare chair next to her…..hallelujah! I get to rest these aching legs and eat my food in comfort with some entertainment thrown in.

Now I’ve seen Matt Black perform many times and to be honest I already know many of his jokes, but no matter how many times you have heard them they are always funny with his unique delivery and it’s difficult to keep a straight face. His 5-minute version of the Titanic movie is just brilliant and his endless funny observations will have you in stitches. He’s a very funny man and he deserves all the accolades that the crowd give him at the end of his set.

Matt Black
Matt Black 

The final band of the night and indeed of my weekend are another favourite of mine…..Ferocious Dog. A Celtic/Folk-infused Punk Rock band that mixes political and domestic issues to create some true to life hard-hitting material, with some creative instrumentation.

The band’s protagonist Ken Bonsall surrounds himself with a revolving selection of top-notch musicians who always deliver on any stage they are given. As the familiar sound of “Haul Away Joe” starts, the packed Big Man tent springs to life and the audience starts bouncing enthusiastically. Acoustic guitars with fiddle, banjo and infectious rhythms lead the way for a host of hand-clapping and foot-stomping tunes.

The potent “Broken Soldier” details the effects of Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) while the “Punk Police” takes a dig at those cowardly keyboard warriors who are always quick to critique. The best is saved to last and one of my favourite tracks in recent years is “Slow Motion Suicide”. The emotive track tells the story of how alcohol ruins somebodies life; the lyrics, the melodies and the powerful fiddle section just blow me away every time I hear it and it’s a perfect way to end what has been a fantastic weekend.

Ferocious Dog
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Teddy Rocks Festival is undoubtedly one of my favourite festivals of the year by far; it is really well organised, it’s really friendly and the line-up is always so eclectic that you will always discover something new. Personally this year I have been fortunate enough to bump into a whole heap of people from the local music scene (and beyond) and do what I love – chat about music. I’ve actually missed a few acts that I wanted to see because I was so deep in conversation. Above all, it is a great cause and I’m sure by the time Tom and his team get to count up how much they have raised, we will all be celebrating that a huge amount of money will once again go to this great cause for these children’s cancer charities.


More Videos from the weekend can be found on our YouTube Channel here.


Words & Media by David Chinery (Chinners)
Words & Media by Ross A. Ferrone
Photography by Lynn Burt
Photographs & Video Content by Becky Crothall-Brown

Teddy Rocks 2023