Ferocious Dog – Ruby Bridges review

Although I’m sure a lot of people say this about bands in their hometown, I think it’s fair to give a objective opinion and say that Ferocious Dog are one of Nottingham’s special gems. This year sees them play Glastonbury’s main stage, to coincide with their album launch on June 29th, a huge build up from their big break of playing Bearded Theory in 2009. For further trivia, note that they made history by being the first unsigned band to sell out Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms, and then do it again.

Ruby Bridges is the bands newest single, released earlier this month, a two minute blast of modern Celtic-folk. Don’t be put off by that niche description, this two minute belter is one that deserves comparisons to the hectic sound of Flogging Molly, from simple intricate beginnings launching into the clever chaos that is folk rock. My only criticism? I wish it were longer.

Listen to Ruby Bridges below.

Bearded Theory – our top ten

When it comes to a festival, there’s a little more than merely the line up to be keen on. At Bearded Theory, there proved to be all manner of intriguing stalls and corners that presented new delights, and here we give our top ten favourite parts of the weekend. You can read our full overview of the festival here, and our musical run down here.

  1. james
    After months of reading complaints on social media that the seven piece from Manchester no longer play their best known signal, Sit Down, which reached number 2 (second to Chesney Hawkes’ The One And Only) in 1990, it came as a massive surprise when they opened with it. With a setlist that also included fan favourite Laid, and a handful of songs of their most recent album, Le Petite Mort, featuring Curse Curse and seven minute long Walk Like You, it was a show to suit old and new fans equally. And if the music wasn’t enough, Tim Booth’s manic dancing should have been worthy of making james a must-see act at any festival they grace.
  2. Alabama 3
    Friday night managed to set the tone for the festival, with the penultimate act on the main stage proving to be one of the best of the weekend. We previously saw Alabama 3 play Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms last December to a packed crowd, and despite the less forgiving acoustics of an open air stage, Larry Love managed to lead the show as well as ever. With their “spare the rules” attitude – at one point speaking of the concept of drinking responsibly with “I’d like a glass of uncool-ahol” – they set the weekend in motion, with stand out track being Bam Ba Lam (Here Comes Daddy).
  3. Buzzcocks
    It would almost feel wrong to not note Buzzcocks as one of the highlights of the weekend, not least for their best known single Ever Fallen In Love. They also provided one of the tightest show of the festival, captivating a huge crowd at the main stage. Although they might have formed way back in 1976, a mark of a solid band with deserved success is one who can stand the test of time – and there’s no doubt that Buzzcocks have.
  4. The Woodland
    We touched on this in the overview article, but there truly was something special about The Woodland Stage. With a very high attention to detail, the place proved to be an enclosed dreamworld. Upon entry you’ll find yourself in a swarm of bubbles, and with an all day eatery opposite the bar by a stage providing all kinds of music, you’ve no need to leave. As dusk falls the area turns into a wonderland of colourful lights, beams dancing across the trees and fairy lights reaching into every corner.
  5. Kangaroo burgers
    Not one for the vegans among us, but around the side of the main arena were dozens (it seemed) of food vendors selling everything from doughnuts (very nice, albeit very small, with top notch sides) through Mexican, Texan and Chinese food to straight BBQ food. A little off the beaten track came kangaroo burgers, and despite tasting little different to heavily peppered beef, it was certainly worth trying.
  6. Rave tent
    Come the small hours of the morning, a tent just outside the main arena, home to the cinema, became what can best be described as an 80s rave tent. Still serving tea and cakes despite the late hour (I can recommend the ginger cake) in the front of the tent and with music blasting in the back, if the Magical Sounds tent was a little too intense for you, you’d be happy to find yourself winding up here.
  7. Market
    In the centre of the main arena you’d find yourself all but drowning in shops to buy all sorts of odds and ends from, ranging from hundreds of bracelets to choose between, henna artists and many bright and colourful felted jackets. The woodwork proved a particular artistic delight, and at the other end of the scale, a store selling bacon jam and absinthe marzipan (not necessarily together) showed the variety of the festival.
  8. Acoustic stage
    Beside the Something Else Big Top stage comes a bar (with an amusing sign about what will happen to your children if you leave them there), and with this bar comes a small acoustic stage, an open mic event. Again, a fair amount of talent passed across the stage throughout the weekend, and the atmosphere of the tent was a homely and enjoyable one.
  9. Electric River
    Although the final day of the festival was supposed to see New Town Kings open the main stage, for one reason or another there was a change of plan, and Electric River were brought in to do the honour. As they explained before bursting into Hold On – “when you’ve played a show in Manchester, driven down to Bearded Theory and had a party behind the merch tent to be told you’re opening the main stage at 12 you gotta hold on”. Despite this, they went on to play the most impressive set of the weekend.
  10. Drum Machine
    For those not feeling fully awake at midday from the night before, every morning saw Magical Sounds opened by Drum Machine, as is Bearded Theory tradition. Invigorating and the sort of act that demanded respect, there was no excuse to miss one of their performances over the weekend.

Bearded Theory – an overview

Just over a week ago, Bearded Theory festival in Derbyshire came to a close for the eighth time after a weekend of madness in Catton Park, also home to Bloodstock Festival. What began as a birthday party has now stretched into a three day event filled with all manner of live music, food and intriguing attractions. Before we get down to the best bits and the must-see moments of the festival, allow me, dear reader, to sum up the sheer eclecticity of the weekend, and how there’s nothing quite similar to some of the features Bearded Theory provided.

Though the festival only boasts four stages, it’s none the lesser for it, especially considering the size of the festival. Across from the dance tent, Magical Sounds – one filled with strobe lights, fairy lights, hanging butterflies and anything else whacky you can imagine – comes the festival’s main stage, which over the weekend saw the likes of Alabama 3, New Model Army and james play (more on that later).

Something Else Big Top provided a wide range of music, including 3 Daft Monkeys closing the stage on Thursday night, one of the festival’s traditions. Around the corner and out of the main arena came The Woodland stage (again, more on that later), which really is one of the gems of the festival, and one that saw artists from Mr Motivator (if he can be considered an artist) to Cara Dillon play.

Forgive my use of the nonspecific and vague term, but one of the coolest parts of the festival came from the fact that it had a small “Tipi Village” – as it says on the tin, you hire a tipi and stay there instead of in your usual camping area. Alas, we didn’t have the luxury of these lodgings, and perhaps camping in a separate area to the majority of the festival goers reduced some of the communal aspects to the weekend, but it’s fair to say that both the tipis and areas of public camping were quirky enough to be representative of the festival.

Whilst the music continued to three in the morning, the festival was equally equipped to look after the younger generation, with a children’s village and teen’s section, and a small cinema showing films throughout the weekend. This gave the festival a somewhat mixed demographic – catering to both extremes of over excited five years olds and overly drunk sixty years made Bearded Theory a family-orientated deal, which left a bit of a gap for a pair of adolescents.

Having been told good stories of Bearded’s food (and having prepped myself for the weekend with little more than cereal bars and several bags of Doritos), it was a huge relief to find I’d heard almost nothing but the truth. With all manner of vendors offering anything and everything, if you pay an almost totally consistent rate of £7.50, you’ll find yourself with either an ample meal, or (in the case of noodles and chicken) most of the way to one. And I’m not exaggerating when I stress the variety.

The most all round feature of the festival came in the extensive market. An absolute plethora of assorted gifts spread themselves across a dozen or so tents around the campsite, with food stalls offering some intriguing samples of blends you’d not expect. From glow sticks to silver jewelry, from beards for the World Record Attempt to some of the weirdest hats I’ve ever seen, you name it and someone was probably selling it. I wish I could say that I’d not spent hours looking around the shops, but, well, I’d be lying if I did.

Now, there’s a noticeable absence of music reviewing here – we’ve not forgotten what we do, you can read a full run down of that here, and check out our top ten picks of the festival here.