It’s July 26th and that means the second of two festivals for me this weekend. It’s the third Coalfields Festival, since its rebrand from M-Fest. Word on the local music scene was that stage managers, bands and punters were worried that the clash with Tramlines festival in Sheffield would make for a quiet event. Worry not. It seems that this years was the busiest yet, despite having further competition from Underneath the Stars three day event in Cawthorne and Womfest’s two day charity event in yes… you guessed it, Wombwell.
Unfortunately for me, for the first time, I had to leave Coalfields midway through the day due to illness. Andrew Walker (AW) has kindly contributed a couple of reviews to help me, Jason White (JW) bulk this out a little.
Unlike previous years, there was not a hint of rain before or during the festival either. A per last year, Coalfields kept the advanced adult ticket price at a fiver and £10 on the door. For this bargain prize you get the can bar (John Smith’s for me), smelly festival portaloos, fancy dress stalls, inflatable fair ground and obligatory Barnsley fried food – though in amongst that there was a gem of a hog roast, with beautiful pork rind.
However, the reason everyone was really there was the music. For your fiver you got four stages of original music and the main stage, which I’d describe as the Working Men’s Club Stage. Here you’d find the cover bands. In front of that stage is where many of the visiting families pitched up for the day. Everyone else, was free to wonder from tent to tent.
On the way over to the Burn Down the Disco tent I hear Anaconda Vice, a new grunge band, dishing out a pretty solid and faithful version of Queen of the Stone Age’s Burn the Witch in the Noize Assault tent.
Over at BDTD, Euthemia vocalist Nathan is up on stage singing and playing Dear Chelsea from their debut EP on keyboards, backed just by bass. His voice was impressive. But where was the rest of the band?
Suddenly they run onto stage with the rest of their gear and he tells them to leave the rest and just plug and play as they were late. Rock n roll, ha!
I have no idea whether they are missing extra equipment or not, but what follows is fantastic. The band are tight and the songs are first class, taking reference from multiple genres, though early Muse and a great long-gone New Zealand band called Battle Circus come to mind. it’s the second chaotic but bang-on performance I’ve seen by them in as many months. I hope for a third soon. (JW)
From the beer tent we sat down by the main stage to watch Stellavision. They played really well and had a plethora of catchy tunes. I’ve wanted to check them out for a while at festivals, so I was glad to finally get to see them, and enjoyed their set. (AW)
Next up is the Mynas songwriter/vocalist/guitarist Del Scott Miller, with one of his regular ‘& Friends’ sets. He starts with a couple of covers, including That’s Entertainments. He also plays Throw Down Your Rope – a song which has been in his solo sets for a few years now, but has just been released on his second EP, and Never complete with loop pedal . Del’s songs are lyrically complex, often fitting as many words per song as the Manics do.
Del is often a go-to-guitarist for many singers out there and today it is Lee England’s turn to collaborate. Lee is more a pub/club-singer, albeit and extremely good one with a much better repertoire of songs. In fact, Lee has gone very far in a number of national singing competitions. He played London’s O2 with Del. And it is a credit it to him. There is as many people there to see him as there are Del. Here we get cuts from The Killers, Stereophonics and David Grey.
Del is then joined by Mynas drummer ‘Boothy’ to ‘bore your tits off with more original material’, starting with Repeat Myself, a number usually song by his Mynas co-vocalist Sarah Evans.
He saves the best two for the end though.
Sirens is a song I’ve never heard before and is dedicated to ‘our fragrant and almost unstoppable police force’. It incorporates all manner of classical and Spanish guitar trickery, making the guitar sound like a bloody police siren. Magic.
Closing with No One Here But Me, it is tinged with heavy psychedelia and would go down a treat with a full band. Great stuff. (JW)
Demographic singer Billy’s beard is now as long and wide as he is. These guys have been at it years now and have gathered lots of fans along the way. And I’m pleased to say even it’s taken a long time, after three years of watching them, they have finally won me over. It’s not something I’d listen to at home, but a cracking live band nevertheless. I really enjoyed their set.
Superficial is an early highlight, with more emphasis on the vocals and the beat. With a chorus of just two words – one of them being the title and the other being ‘la’ repeated; it’s easy to singalong to and damn catchy. The closing refrain of ‘don’t care what anybody else does’ is the icing on the cake. (JW)
I wouldn’t normally bother with the main stage is it is all cover bands and not what I’m really here to see. However, I was curious to see The Monotones, as their vocalist is the Everyone An Army gob, Martyn Hughes – a very fine and versatile singer. They played a great and varied set containing the likes of Roy Orbison, James, Pulp, The Buzzcocks and even Ike and Tina Turner. Definitely on their way to becoming Barnsley’s finest turn. (JW)
I’ve been wanting to see Bruja for some time now. I absolutely adore their debut album, Odium. The trio look like they’re Sub-Pop primed, but luckily their sound doesn’t start and end with grunge. Dissent wreaked of Joy Division-esque post-punk, Freak Show is all agitated rhythms and Old Mother has a very Sabbath groove to it – think Children of the Grave. It’s shame that the set was marred by sound problems. When either Del or Zach took lead vocals, neither were audible. Still… it didn’t put me off one bit and if Old Mother is anything to go by, I can’t wait to hear more new material. (JW)
We headed back to the Noize Assault stage to find the much hyped Fluffy Gremlins were about to take the stage. Intrigued, I waited around to see them, and was rewarded with a blinding display of musical talent from the very young lads. (AW)
I manage to catch the bulk of The Hearts’ set. They are part of an ever growing scene of indie bands in Barnsley but this one prides itself of its mix of indie rock and heavy blues. They remind me of the pub rock scene which spawned the likes of Dr. Feelgood and Wilco Johnson.
The band switch between lead vocalists, with Beef having more of a laid back indie drawl and Kal having more of a raw, rock edge. I’m yet to familiarise myself with their songs, but I like what I’ve heard so far and Bobsey Roberts really bulks out the band’s sound with lashings of licks and riffs. (JW)
Falling From Paradise took the stage next at the Noize Assault tent, and played a great set as always. It was there last ever gig and was thoroughly enjoyable, though it did seem like they didn’t get very long on stage, which was a little disappointing, though clearly, beyond anyone’s control. (AW)
Redmist Destruction should have been up next but due to delays getting back from Sheffield’s Tramlines festival their set time was changed. In the midst of waiting for Redmist to arrive I managed to catch some of Fiery Biscuits’ set. They sounded pretty good – definitely a band I would like to check out again at some point.
The Redmist Destruction lad lads battled through disappointing PA system issues and played all the songs you’d expect to hear from them, including the re-titled “Flipping Destroy”. All in all the day was a massive success, and once again improved on the previous year’s incarnation of the festival. (AW)
I’m closing with this video compilation of The Noize Assault Stage. About 7mins in, during the Redmist Destruction set, it shows William, the 11 year old drummer from The Fluffy Gremlins being given his very own circle pitt by Redmist’s fans. It’s quite cool and I wish I saw it, as I’m a massive Redmist fan.
This year’s Coalfields was the busiest and most successful yet, despite competition from Tramlines, Womfest and Underneath the Stars. Here’s to 2015! (JW)