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Reviews / Rockers old and young feast on second buffet

Crowdsurfing at the Legion during English band Hope of the Hated's set. Photo: Chris Brown

THE ORGANISERS of this weekend’s Shetland Rock Festival have hailed the event as an “incredible success”.

Local promoters Heavy Metal Buffet held their second annual shindig at the Lerwick Legion on Friday and Saturday, with hundreds of tickets sold in total.

The two-day festival saw headliners The Revellers and Nomadia complemented by a supporting cast of top Shetland talent and groups visiting from England and Scotland.

Over 20 acts performed and slots from the likes of Spoothawk, Hope of the Hated and Troppo Funk were warmly received.

Witch Charmer singer Kate McKeown. Photo: Chris Brown

The Saturday was boosted by the addition of a second stage in the Legion’s public bar and all of the main stage sets were streamed live online via an impressive multi-camera broadcast from 60 North TV.

Heavy Metal Buffet co-founder Jamie Hatch said he believes the moshpit-fuelled weekend was enjoyed by one of the best Shetland audiences in recent memory.

“It was an incredible success,” he said of this year’s festival. “It was a bit daunting to begin with knowing we were clashing with the Big Bannock, but we sold out the weekend and all of our crazy ideas paid off. It was the best crowd I’ve ever seen in Shetland.

“My highlight of the weekend was seeing the amazing reception all of our visiting acts got. It’s now post-festival and they all very much feel as much a part of this community as the local bands. Also, with the quality of the stream and the addition of the second stage, it all paid off.”

Rock fans in the isles will be pleased to hear that the team are already thinking about to hosting their third festival next year – and the event looks set to become a staple in Shetland’s music calendar.

“We were actually contemplating whether there would be one next year as the organisation has crushed us mentally and physically,” Hatch admitted.

“Now we’re sitting here post-festival though, and we wouldn’t trade any of it for anything. It was the best weekend of our lives and there will be one next year, the year after and the year after…”

Chris Cope 

The Heavy Metal Buffet seems to only get bigger and better: the first night at the Lerwick Legion on Friday was phenomenal, writes Iwan MacBride. 

Beef Cleaver doing their thing on the second stage, a new introduction this year. Photo: Chris Brown

To call local rock group Hoygir’s opening set relentless would be an understatement: 20 minutes of solidly classic rock with no break was electrifying. Their chugging groove and blistering guitar solos gave merit to their claim as Shetland’s heavy rock band.

Indie-rock trio Dig Deep were next on the stage. A combination of popping melody lines and heavier riffs were the basis of the infectious sound, and good interplay between the three had the crowd moving. Latest single ‘Thick or Thin’ closed their set.

The night took a dip into the surreal when the floor cleared and the Pivot Dance Squad began their performance. Dressed in tattered clothes and makeup (looking similar to how many will post-Buffet), the youthful troupe were deft and synchronised their routine to a mix of rock tunes.

Newcastle metalheads Tombstone Crow changed the tone of the night on their return to Shetland. With a bludgeoning display from a powerful band, the intimacy of the Legion played into their hands as they were able to send many into a frenzy with colossal sounds and entrancing heaviness.

Laden with doom and an unquenchable groove, Witch Charmer provided a truly riveting performance. The Sunderland stoner rock quintet were on fine form with spectral vocals and riffs cutting through the Sleep-esque heaviness.

Kirsty North's harp brought another dimension to proceedings during the band Trow's debut set. Photo: Chris Brown

A year after their rebirth, local act Beast Head wowed the crowd. From ground quaking to starkly clean, they were able to crescendo and rise the audience as many took to the dance floor. Soaring melodic vocals topped off the machine gun-paced playing, and the quintet performed as solid unit.

One of Shetland’s pioneering metal bands, Bitumen River, played tunes with a swaggering menace and confidence, all of which were driving and unrelenting. Joined onstage by Dave and Gary of Ten Tonne Dozer and Semperfi fame respectively, the veterans thoroughly impressed a rabid audience.

Dave Kok coming on stage in a silver mask could not disguise one of the most recognisable and famed acts on the scene in Shetland. An animalistic and blistering performance from Ten Tonne Dozer was delivered, complete with terrific solos, guitar-smashing antics and an encore.

For their last gig in the foreseeable future (but with an album on the way), metal instrumentalists Nomadia were on incredible form. Changing from mind-bending to bone-crushing on the flick of a switch, their triumphant riffs and fantastic interweaving of multiple ideas had all of the Legion buzzing and moving.

It was definitely a night of contrasts: rockers old and young combined for a fantastic night of heaviness and fun. It was the end of a week-long tour for Ten Tonne Dozer, Witch Charmer, Tombstone Crow and Saturday night act Semperfi, as well as the end of the line for Nomadia. 

But regardless, the feeling around the Legion come closing time was one of jubilant excitement for what the future holds for the Buffet. There are few areas HMB can branch out further into in the music scene, but have no doubt – they will not stop growing.

Starting young: proudly sporting a Ten Tonne Dozer t-shirt is Holly Smith-Gibson, pictured with her mum Jerry Gibson. Photo: Chris Brown