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Undercover Festival – Day 3

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!

Sunday, the final day of the festival, and it was just as exciting as the first two! The sun shone and lovely home-cooked roast dinners were on the menu – enjoyed by many festival attendees – as the live music resumed with two acoustic performances.
Opening was Shell the Alternative Folkie, a solo performer, who blends her love of melodic pagan folk music with strong gothic looks.  A fairly gentle start for everyone’s ears, Shell’s beautiful songs are full of love for Pagan deities and seasonal celebrations.
Shell the Alternative Folkie - Undercover Festival 12 - photo by Jim Creith

Next, another solo performance, this time from Noel Martin from Menace. Starting on harmonica, playing the theme from The Old Grey Whistle Test, then switching to acoustic guitar for some new songs from the forthcoming Menace album, Noel interspersed his set with witty stories and engaged the audience with his cheeky banter to participate in some classic Menace favourites to end a rip-roaring set!

Noel Martin - Undercover Festival 12
Noel Martin - Undercover Festival 12 - photo by Ruth Rae

The pace picked up, as Undercover favourites Wyrd Sisters brought in lively Folk music with their own twist, which soon had many of the crowd jigging along! Audience participation on percussion was encouraged, as coconut shells were handed out amongst the crowd to tap together in time to the music.

Wyrd Sisters - Undercover Festival 12
Wyrd Sisters - Undercover Festival 12 - photo by Ruth Rae

The colourful Ambition Demolition turned up the volume with a set of their Punktastic bangers. Easily winning ‘best hairstyles by all band members’ for the weekend, the day-glo trio’s short but fast set of hard-hitting, observational songs went down a storm! ‘Slave to the Phone‘ and ‘Us Against the World‘ had us nodding our heads along.

Ambition Demolition - Undercover Festival 12
Ambition Demolition - Undercover Festival 12 - photo by Ruth Rae

Next up, a band who have been making big waves on the Punk scene – Eryx London! Actually hailing from Nottingham, their synergistic blend of psychedelic guitar, groovy bass, alternating jazzy / rocky drums and dark, cynical vocals dripping with emotion sound like they shouldn’t work so well together, but they totally do! I loved them, and going by the numbers flocking to buy their merch afterwards, I wasn’t the only one. Most certainly a band to see again!

West London Punks The Satellites made a welcome return to Surrey. Fronted by original vocalist Dr Strangelove (Derek Gibbs), who took ‘dad dancing’ to a whole new level, the band pumped out a set of very good Punk ‘n’ Roll tunes. From ‘High Rise Hillbillys‘ to ‘Windscale Boy‘ and ‘Vietnam‘, their social commentaries from the late 70’s onwards are caustic and insightful, backed up by hard-hitting drumming from Mannie Zerafa. (Just before they went on, I advised him to check the skins were still intact after the previous drummer’s mighty efforts – he may have taken this as a challenge..)

The Satellites - Undercover Festival 12 - photo by Ruth Rae

The drums got no rest as next band up Diablofurs (another Undercover favourite) took to the stage. Percussion heavy modern New Wave, complete with swirling synth, they like playing this venue and always pull in a good crowd. To me they sounded like a faster version of The Cure, and they are deservedly popular, with everyone enthusiastically enjoying their set!

Diablofurs - Undercover Festival 12 - photo by Jim Creith
Surf Rock ‘n’ Rollers King Salami and the Cumberland 3 brought their unique style and sound to the stage next. Very much up for fun, in a mock-serious way, King Salami likes to engage with the crowd. “What is so funny about the word ‘sausage’? ” he enquired. “Sorry ladies and gentlemen, but I am a sausage!” The singing sausage and his band got the crowd jumping to ‘Pineapple Mama‘, ‘Oofty Goofty (Wild man of Borneo)‘ and ‘Barracuda‘ (complete with audience sing-along), before encouraging everyone to lift their arms up to do ‘The Pulpo Dance‘.
King Salami & the Cumberland 3 - Undercover Festival 12
King Salami and the Cumberland 3 - Undercover Festival 12 - photo by Ruth Rae

Much anticipated headliners and hometown boys The Vapors had the crowd taking up their positions early to get the best view! Original members Dave Fenton (rhythm guitar and vocals) and Steve Smith (bass) were joined on stage by drummer Michael Bowes and Dave’s son Dan Fenton on lead guitar for a storming performance of a career spanning set of songs.

The Vapors - Steve Smith & Dan Fenton - Undercover Festival 12 - photo by Jim Creith

Drawing a very reasonable crowd for a Sunday night, who had a great time dancing along, The Vapors  belted out many favourites including ‘King L‘, ‘Jimmie Jones‘ and ‘Waiting for the Weekend‘ A mosh broke out in the crowd for their biggest hit ‘Turning Japanese‘ which suprprisingly wasn’t played last, as the band had more up their sleeves to conclude a very enjoyable hour and a quarter long set.

Closing the live music played at this year’s festival, The Fanzines rocked the crowd with a fabulous selection of Punk and Ska covers, plus a few of their own songs. Shenanigans with a misbehaving mic cable (which hastily applied gaffer tape didn’t fix) was soon sorted out by the very capable audio engineer, who worked tirelessly through the weekend to ensure that everyone was happy with the sound.

And so concluded another fantastic Undercover Festival, save for some final partying to the top tunes brought in by DJ Hillsy!

The Fanzines - Undercover Festival 12
The Fanzines - Undercover Festival 12 - photo by Ruth Rae

A massive thank you and congratulations to the Undercover Team; Mick, Keith, Jen, Tash, Jamie, Gordon, Jerry, Ian, Sam, Henry, Michael, Trev, Zak, Sean, Jane and Darren; Hillsy and Lisa and the brilliant staff at the Holroyd; Joe Barnes the incredibly hard working sound engineer; all the bands who made it such a wonderful weekend; and of course the friendly festivalgoers who kept up the brilliant atmosphere! A special thanks to Jim, Steve, Richie and Gail, without whom I couldn’t have produced these reports x

Undercover Festival line up

Main Photo – The Vapors – Credit: RUTH RAE

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