Teddy Rocks – Review

If you ever need an antidote to the world of cynicism, dishonesty and deceit then Teddy Rocks provides it in spades

As I sit and write this, politicians are busy ripping chunks out of each other, Theresa May is telling the Europeans what awful people they are and an American fund manager is explaining to the BBC how he systematically buys up distressed companies and 'looks for value' (breaks people's lives up for money).

You may think that I am downhearted but not a bit of it for I spent the weekend at the oasis of goodwill that is known as Teddy Rocks.

Our first festival of the season, Teddy has moved to a new site at Charisworth Farm not a million miles away from our front door but undaunted by the fact that it has suddenly turned cold we decided that it was a smart move to camp.

Having experienced local festivals many times before I kind of expected that allowances would need to be made for somewhat amateurish organisation - a view that proved to be as wide of the mark as a North Korean rocket launch.

Our press pack arrived in the post several days before, the car park was easy to find and well marshalled and the site was perfectly organised with  pretty much everything we needed.

What was noticeable was that the excellent organisation was achieved with the total absence of any Hitleresque stewards in high viz telling us that it was more than their job is worth. We pitched where we wanted, mooched about where we wanted and had a laugh with security and no-one told us we couldn't.

Kicking myself for getting bogged down at work and missing Colt 45 I was consoled by obtaining beer tokens and exchanging for liquid at the woodland Badger Set ale bar. Using the ground well and fallen trees as seats and tables it featured a smallish stage that hosted many excellent acts throughout the weekend. At times it sounded like the gig list for any Bournemouth pub with local legends Tim Somerfield, Chris Payne, Matt Black and Tom Clements all appearing at some point.

We explored the site and I was struck by something - the sums didn't add up. 4 stages, hundreds of bands, loads of amenities and a big name headliner. How on earth could they achieve all that and still make money for the charity? 

The main stage was very impressive. Large with good acoustics and an excellent light show it proved to be the perfect focal point for the festival. Friday headliners Twin Atlantic certainly made the most of the occasion with an excellent set and for me Tigress, appearing on the Vocalzone stage was also a highlight.

Saturday started relatively early for a festival and it was just as well given the large amount of bands to pack into the day. We collected tea and wandered over to The Origin Stage tent to see young local band Waiting for Earthquakes. One of the enduring pleasures of local festivals is to see new bands being given their chance and younger musicians in particular getting exposure and experience. The lads and lasses of WFE did a creditable job with some excellent tunes and engaging chat between songs. For a band that has been playing together properly for only 6 months it was an impressive appearance.

Having spent an engaging 20 minutes with Chris Payn and Grimshaw Endea the night before in the drinking up tent we naturally had to include an encounter with the Endea on the Vocalzone stage.

The local lads did a fine job with energy and passion infusing a seriously fun set. Excellent music combined with a more theatrical style performance was a great starter for the day and the guys deserve credit for bringing their A game to the dreaded first set of the day.

Mooching about we came across photographer mates and spent too much time sitting around and shooting the shit in the Charlie Raven executive suite (tent) before finding more excellent music to capture. about this time I found myself with a cold head and went in search of merch. It was then that I learned that all of the people working on site were volunteers, most of the facilities has been provided free or heavily discounted and the bands were also playing for free or for less than usual fees. This satisfied my curiosity about the money side of things and suitably impressed I bought an expensive hat which was very warm.

You can find out more about the back story to Teddy Rocks here. They say it much more eloquently than I ever can. It's a moving story and one that deserves all our support.

Highlights of Saturday for me were Jack Grace, The Bottom Line and an awesome appearance by Griever. Also of note has to be the set by The Foo Forgers. Surprising though was the amount of bands that were enjoying a beer and taking in what proved to be an excellent tribute band. Sadly they'd let the work experience kid on to the smoke machine with an unlimited amount of liquid which made getting any reasonable pics difficult to say the least.

The weather forecast for Sunday was this side of appalling with persistent rain from 11 so we packed up the tent, discovered I'd forgotten my waterproof and then looked for more music.

First up again was the Vocalzone stage and the irrepressible Deltorers. Great band and nice chaps who I'd enjoyed a chat with in the coffee line earlier in the day.  As per usual I wasn't disappointed with their set with original rocky grunge tracks old and new belted out turned up to 11. As we stood in the piddling rain the quality of the set was proved by the crowd that grew around us and the chaps did a cheeky little swap with lead Nathan going onto drums and drummer Zoot taking on lead guitar. It turned out that due to the growing precipitation this was to be the last band on the Vocalzone stage for understandable safety reasons so as Zoot from the band pointed out later they were indeed the headliners.

There followed a time of confusion as Vocalzone bands were shoehorned into other stages and I was determined not to  move out of the origin tent given the rain and aforementioned lack of waterproof. That said after enjoying Jawbone I was tempted back to the main stage to see the awesome Saints of Sin.

With their new axe lady in place they set about grabbing the lunchtime crowd and giving them a glam rock based treat and the crowd responded accordingly.

Again Sunday was a feast for music lovers with too many great bands to mention but I'll single out The Decatonics, Palms and Pelicans and Fort Hope as standouts here.

The pyro company was having a blast (literally) with huge plumes of flame warming the crowd even when stood at the back and massive confetti cannon explosions to entertain the punters.

Second headliners Vant were the ones I'd been looking forward to and again I wasn't disappointed. The boys were on top form despite being regularly roasted by the pyro and they received an excellent reception. These guys are making waves and I'm expecting a good festival season from them followed no doubt by a hootenanny appearance!

Headliners Scouting for Girls were as good as you'd expect and it was clear that there a lot of fans in the crowd. Roy and the chaps did a good job of bringing an excellent festival to a close with new stuff and of course favourites from their eminently singable back catalogue.

Before the SFG encore there was the appearance of organiser Tom who was able to announce the total raised.

Bear in mind we have here a festival that was started in a pub in Blandford that has grown over a few short years to the point where they have four stages on a farm, loads of excellent bands, great food, quality beer and really good organisation and still they managed to raise a whopping £76,659 to help families affected by children's cancer. It's money that will be used to make the lives of people in a really crappy situation just a little bit better and as such the organisers need to give themselves a massive pat on the back.

So overall then Teddy Rocks faced some real challenges this year with dodgy weather and a steep learning curve with the move to a new site but boy did they do a good job. Sure there may have been a few teething problems but that's all part of the charm. This was just an early chapter in a great story that will run and run.

And my hat is still warm.

 

Tigress on stage at Teddy Rocks festival in Blandford Dorset April 2017
Twin Atlantic on stage at Teddy Rocks festival in Blandford Dorset April 2017
Oas-is on stage at Teddy Rocks festival in Blandford Dorset April 2017
The Bottom Line on stage at Teddy Rocks festival in Blandford Dorset April 2017
Endea on stage at Teddy Rocks festival in Blandford Dorset April 2017
Foo Forgers on stage at Teddy Rocks festival in Blandford Dorset April 2017
Deltorers on stage at Teddy Rocks festival in Blandford Dorset April 2017
Saints of Sin on stage at Teddy Rocks festival in Blandford Dorset April 2017
Vant on stage at Teddy Rocks festival in Blandford Dorset April 2017
Vant on stage at Teddy Rocks festival in Blandford Dorset April 2017
Scouting for Girls on stage at Teddy Rocks festival in Blandford Dorset April 2017

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