As the festival season gets off to an unusually sunny start, Cris Watkins donned his shades and sun-cream, picked up his camera, and headed for Lincolnshire's Call Of The Wild...
After revelling in the delights of what this family-friendly festival had to offer last year, it was only right to kick off the festival season again in the same company.
Three days of music over three stages, all within a stone's throw of each other, and zero clashes on the main stages. Call Of The Wild is laid back with a capital L. It's not the festival you visit for a mosh; it's more about getting the deckchair out, pint in hand, and soaking up the sun's rays.
Wars caught my attention on day one with their post-hardcore sound, reminiscent of Touché Amoré and standing out from the crowd. Anti-Clone delivered a fun, industrial-fuelled set, and Marc Valentine's set featured solid, catchy British power pop anthems, including the much-lauded 'Last Train Tonight'.
Alunah, from Birmingham, dropped a classic heavy psych/stoner rock set with beautiful, powerful vocals from Siân Greenaway. They stood out from the pack and gave off a Jefferson Airplane vibe layered over their Sabbath doom-laden riffs.
Troy Redfern delivered the finest Southern rock on this side of the pond. With epic slide guitar work on some stunning classic guitars with bassist Keira Kenworthy just adding to the cool.
Ginger Wildheart & The Sinners are far removed from The Wildhearts, delivering a set of exceptional Americana-infused rock and roll, with covers of Status Quo and Georgia Satellites sprinkled among self-penned tracks from their debut. Day one ended with the Kris Barras Band lighting up the night sky with a set of hard rock sing-alongs. 'Hail Mary' set the tone, but a stunning rendition of 'My Parade' stole the show.
Saturday was even hotter than Friday; the bands started early and came thick and fast. Shadow Smile did their best to wake the crowd with rousing metalcore anthems. Continental Lovers dished out a set of glam-punk, looking like the illegitimate sons of Johnny Thunders. The standouts were 'Tape Deck', 'Really Doesn't Matter' and a cracking cover of the New York Dolls 'Jetboy'. Circus 66 delivered straight-down-the-line hard rock and swiftly overtaken by the punk’n’roll of Nottingham's New Generation Superstars who channelled the energy and passion of those early Yo-Yos shows with some killer hooks and catchy tunes.
Desperate Measures bounded straight out of the van, cleared the green room of booze, then launched a punk rock rocket under the sun lounger with opener 'Scars & Memories'. New single, ‘Back To The Rats’, was an absolute barnstormer and the Stooges 'I Wanna Be Your Dog' got the crowd moving.
The Cruel Intentions kept the tempo up with their blend of the Pistols meets Buckcherry by way of LA, fronted by former Vains Of Jenna frontman Lizzy DeVine with his distinct vocal style. It was sleazy fun rock 'n' roll. All big riffs and catchy shout-a-longs wrapped up in dirty rock n roll tunes like 'Go Fuck Yourself' and 'Genie's Got A Problem'.
Rich Ragany and The Digressions deserve to play to thousands every night. The former Role Models frontman is supported by an incredible band, and Kit Swing's backing vocals elevate them to another level.
Shiraz Lane took to the stage as if the last 30 years never happened with their 80s-inspired soft glam rock. Atlanta's Kickin Valentina amped it up a notch or ten with their third visit to Call of the Wild, blasting through a set of hard and loose rock 'n' roll. It's all been done before, but KV doesn't just lift from the classics but are blazing their own trail and with killer tracks like 'Freakshow' and new tune 'Fire Back' in their armoury, their future looks bright.
Headliners Terrorvision are old pros and showed everyone how it's done with a set littered with classic tunes that got the crowd singing until the final note. 'My House', 'Alice What's The Matter', 'Tequilla', and the doo-wop tones of 'Oblivion' marked the close of the second day.
The clouds rolled in on Sunday, but Dead Writers did their best to brighten the morning. There's a romantic charm to their rock’n’roll, and 'She's All The Animals' is an absolute belter. Frontman Paul Shine has future rock star written all over him.
Tailgunner were on another level, delivering an incredibly tight set of metal with significant nods to Iron Maiden in both their look and sound. It's no bad thing, and they were an absolute hit with the COTW punters. Fury kept things interesting on the Kilmister stage. It was 4/4 hard rock but delivered with gusto, style, and a lot of heart. The twin vocals elevated the impact of the tunes.
Kent's Pryma hit as hard as a bag of spanners, with frontwoman Gaby giving it her all. Sweden's Sister delivered fun, horror-tinged rock’n’roll tunes with a punky edge and a lot of style.
The Black Spiders certainly have their followers, and they didn't disappoint with a ballsy set of tunes to party to. It was a hard rock with its tongue stuck firmly in its cheek. Those Damn Crows closed the festival in style with some huge anthemic hard rock that had the fans singing their hearts out.
If you want a damn good time with a friendly crowd, helpful staff, and a place to bring the kids to their first hard rock festival, then you can do no better than book your tickets for next year.
All pics © Cris Watkins