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Undercover Festival – Day 2

Guildford rocked and skanked to bring in the Spring with Undercover Festival XII - Ruth Rae reports on all the action..

Returning to Suburbs at The Holroyd, Guildford from 5th to 7th April for its twelfth consecutive outing, Undercover Festival  brought a fantastic variety of alternative music to the town over jam-packed three days!

Punktuation’s Ruth Rae was present throughout to capture the atmosphere of  this friendly festival, where both fans and bands all enjoy great music together in the pit and over a pint or two!

It’s Ska-turday – with a lively mixture of Punk, New Wave and Ska on the bill, I made sure to put on my dancing shoes for today! 
 
Up from sunny Brighton, Family Of Strangers were first on stage this afternoon. It’s hard to believe this is only their third live public gig – they are tight, fun and played a set of rip-roaring original Punk tunes! Their final number ‘That’s Not It Yet‘ (what a good title for your set closer!) enthralled us with beautiful waves of sound from the bass and the guitar.
Family of Strangers - Undercover Festival 12
Family of Strangers - Undercover Festival 12 - photo by Ruth Rae

Following on, Punk band Matty G & Li’l Winter who had travelled from the wilds of King’s Lynn, Norfolk to be with us. A band of two rappers / singers, plus guitar, bass and drums, their tongue-in-cheek lyrics had us all grinning from ear to ear. Their song ‘Beer’ – about beer, oddly enough! – very much appealed to the crowd with its melodic guitar lines which morphed into a Ska beat. They weren’t afraid to get political either – ‘Brexit’ being a serious diatribe about the disaster this has been for the UK.

Matty G & Lil' Winter - Undercover Festival 12 - photo by Jim Creith

Taking us into mid afternoon were The Shakespearos, a New Wave covers band featuring Steve Smith (Vapors bassist) and Beautiful People members Du Kane and David Maskrey with Nick Horton on drums. These Guildford boys treated us to a fine selection of songs including Buzzcocks‘ ‘Ever Fallen in Love‘, Gen X’s ‘Dancing With Myself‘ and this Sex Pistols classic:

Followed by Angry Itch, Brummie Grunge Punk rockers with a lot to shout about! Having recently releaesd their new self-titled album, the trio took to the stage clad in matching monochrome Angry Itch football shirts to blast out a stunning set. ‘It’s the Children Who are Wrong‘ had a very Nirvana-esque feel about it, then the band played a Nirvana cover in homage to their heroes. “We’ve blasted through our 40 minute set” exclaimed guitarist John. “I’ve blasted through my fuckin’ beer” replied drummer Luke!
Angry Itch - Undercover Festival 12
Angry Itch - Undercover Festival 12 - photo by Ruth Rae

The irrepressible Max Splodge was up next with Splodgenessabounds. Playing their classic set including ‘My Socks Gone Down My Shoe‘ and ‘I Fell in Love with a Female Plumber from Harlesden NW10‘ which Max introduced as “The best song off our album from 47 years ago, which shows how shit the album was!” The comedy continued as he tangled his mic cable thoroughly around the stand, tipping it over, then bashing the guitarist with the end as he picked the stand up again.. Fortunately it’s easy to get your ‘Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps‘ at the Holroyd’s bar!

The evening’s Ska entertainment kicked off with New Tonic, a band formed from the ashes of naughties skangsters 2Tonic. My dancing shoes were put to good use as their cheerful set of tunes had all of us on the dance floor skanking along! Covers such as ‘Johnny Too Bad‘ interspersed with their own great material made for an uplifting early evening – these guys are well worth seeing!

New Tonic - Undercover Festival 12 - photo by Ruth Rae

Arriving only just in time, Paranoid Visions (who I last saw at Rebellion Festival with TV Smith, replaying hits from TV’s old band Cheap!) travelled all the way from Dublin to play at Undercover Festival this year. Their set was an interesting blend of old school Irish rebel Punk given a modern twist with background electronics. Powerhouse drummer Jay Bagnall was particularly good, throwing out colourful flourishes while making it look easy!

Paranoid Visions - Undercover Festival 12
Paranoid Visions - Undercover Festival 12 - photo by Ruth Rae

Tonight was one of the last opportunities to see The Trojan Beats, before its members disband to focus on their other projects. Of course I needed the dancing shoes again for their brilliant selection of Ska covers, all done exceptionally well! The good news is that singer Aaron ‘Twotone Malone’ Beard joined by several members of the band will be performing in their new band The Malones at live venues across the country soon. Ska-tastic!

Dirt Box Disco brought us back to Punk with a bang, these guys have to be seen to be appreciated with their crazy costumes and hilarious songs! Taking inspiration from strange dreams and even stranger people, this Alternative Punk band don’t take themselves too seriously, yet have an astonishing musical output. It’s easy to see why they are Rebellion favourites!

Dirtbox Disco - Undercover Festival 12
Dirtbox Disco - Undercover Festival 12 - photo by Jim Creith

The always outstanding Menace finished the evening in grand style, the late finish no deterrent to the Punk faithful who wasted no time in getting a mosh pit going! Noel Martin‘s voice gets better and better (see the video below for new song ‘Death and Taxes‘) and the brand new songs in their set blended perfectly with the older ones. Our traditional stage invasion by we Menace Party Animals for riotous group renditions of ‘GLC‘ and ‘Last Years Youth‘ topped off another fantastic day of live music at Undercover Festival!

The hardy souls who partied on into the small hours were bolstered by a fine selection of tunes from DJ Jerry Lunn‘s extensive vinyl library. I headed out into the night, heart still singing!

Undercover Festival line up

Main Photo – Menace ‘Party Animals on stage’ Credit: RUTH RAE

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Popes of Chillitown - Rebellion 2023 Photo © Ruth Rae
Popes of Chillitown - Rebellion 2023 Photo © Ruth Rae

Following on, Punk band Matty G & Li’l Winter travelled from the wilds of Norfolk

Popes of Chillitown - Rebellion 2023 Photo © Ruth Rae
Popes of Chillitown - Rebellion 2023 Photo © Ruth Rae

Following on, Punk band Matty G & Li’l Winter travelled from the wilds of Norfolk

Popes of Chillitown - Rebellion 2023 Photo © Ruth Rae
Popes of Chillitown - Rebellion 2023 Photo © Ruth Rae