DogFest is a one day mini festival organised by folk-punk band Ferocious Dog. As it happens in December it is thankfully an indoor event and it is held at the Black Market, a music venue in Warsop Nottinghamshire. I didn’t mange to get to last years event so I was eagerly anticipating this one.
As people were travelling from all over the country the venue kindly put on a night of free entertainment on the Friday evening but as I had other commitments I unfortunately missed this. The event was priced at just £25 a head started at Midday and ran to 1am, considering the strength of the line-up this was an absolute steal. Over the course of 13 hours we were treated to 13 bands with a DJ covering the short intervals between sets. With two stages running there was never more than a few minutes between acts.
Due to my engagement on Friday evening Saturday saw an early start with us leaving home at 8am for the near 250 miles drive from Dorset, thankfully on this occasion we were in the car rather than the camper Van and despite a stop for a ‘fat boys’ breakfast we were in our hotel at midday for long enough to drop off our bags and grab a taxi to the venue. We had a bit of a delay as the dispatcher sent the taxi to the wrong place so sadly we missed One Eyed Gods set and arrived just in time to catch the last few songs of The Star Botherer’s set. I am glad we did because frankly my day would not have been complete had I missed the brilliant ‘Bad Guys’, a song I simply can’t stop singing. It must be said that a slight delay with the taxi was the only glitch from a brilliantly organised day.
The devils prefects were next up on the second of the two stages. These guys were new to me but I really enjoyed their tongue in cheek take on Country & Western Music. This was followed up by an unbroken run of fantastic acts, as always with these things it is difficult to keep up with all the bands and to catch up with friends. When you are part of the ‘Hellhounds’ set up, you really are part of a family and during a one day event you could easily spend the day just catching up with friends. I did my level best to catch up with as many people as possible but of course I wanted to take photographs and see enough music to ensure I could write a review. As a result I spent the day rushing around like a lunatic and boy am I paying for it today.
The music came at a breakneck pace. Funke and the Two Tone Baby was absolutely freaking brilliant. I freely admit that I am not usually a huge fan of technology based music but Dan is such a brilliant exponent of it that you can’t help but love it. His use of loops to augment and layer his songs is amazing, the energy makes you tired just watching him and he plays with such mad abandoned enthusiasm that you can’t help but love him. By the end of his set he was quite literally on his back on stage exhausted. If you saw Ed Sheeran’s set at Glastonbury this year you would have seen him make very creative use of loops and drum machines. Funky (Dan) does the same, but he does it better. He didn’t even blink when he broke his D string. He must have been shattered at the end of his set but he wasn’t about to get a rest because Hobo Jones was up next on the second stage and they called Dan up to play harmonica with them.
I am sure that many of my readers will have seen Hobo Jones & the Junkyard Dogs at festivals across the country. You know what you are going to get, great fun high energy skiffle based versions of punk songs. No matter how many times I see these guys I never get bored. Pure quality fun entertainment. Next up on the main stage was Gaz Brookfield who has established himself as a firm favourite at festivals up and down the country. Gaz has built up a very dedicated group of followers and this was made very obvious when he played to a packed hall who sang the words of every song along with him. Gaz played a great set full of crowd favourites, including, ‘Under the Table’, Diabetes Blues’ and ‘When the East Winds Blow’.
Les Carter was up next with Abdoujaparov, Les rarely disappoints and he certainly didn’t on this occasion. He drew a large crowd as he played a set packed with tracks from the bands new album, I was particularly interested on this occasion as it was announced last week that Les will be replacing Kyle on guitar for Ferocious Dog. Roughneck Riot were next up on the main stage. I recently reviewed their latest album and was very taken with it. I must say though that the album hadn’t prepared me for their live performance. This was the first time I had seen them live and I must say the totally blew me away. The energy and passion from the stage is totally absorbing, they deliver their songs with total belief and in a style that takes you right along with them. Brilliant stuff.
By the time Roughneck Riot had finished their set I was exhausted and needed some food I spent the next hour or so grabbing a bite to eat and catching up with friends so only managed to catch parts of the sets by ‘Attila the Stockbroker’, ‘The Stiff Joints’ and ‘Rev Hammer’. I enjoyed what I saw of all of them. By the time Levellers frontman Mark Chadwick arrived to play his solo set I was just about recovered. Mark played a fantastic set which was, somewhat to my surprise, made up mostly of Levellers songs. We were treated to a couple of songs from each of Mark’s solo albums but favourites like 15 Years, One way of Life, Beautiful Day, ‘Just the One’ and ‘Another Man’s Cause’ had the whole place bouncing and singing along, it really was a blinding set thoroughly enjoyed by everyone in the room.
As you might expect the evening was closed out by the now customary madness by our hosts ‘Ferocious Dog’. The venue went nuts with the usual mosh pit madness, crowd surfing and an hour long sing-a-long. I never cease to be amazed by the energy and antics of the Hellhounds, the sight of dozens of shaven headed, tattooed middle aged men mashing like madmen really is a sight to behold. The band played their usual live set, with a run through of their debut album with the addition of ‘Raggle Taggle Gypsy’. The songs are well known to all who have seen them on numerous occasions through the last year and beyond. It is of course the enthusiasm and commitment of the band and the Hellhounds that makes a Ferocious Dog gig special and long may that continue. The set closed out with a second encore with ‘Slow Motion Suicide’, a song which in my humble opinion is the best they have written. It was a very fitting end to an amazing day.
The last word must go to two sets of people. The first is the barstaff and stage crews at the venue. They were amazing, once a few teething problems were overcome the sound was excellent. The barstaff worked themselves to a standstill keeping us all supplied with copious amounts of ale and cider. Lastly the ‘Hellhounds’, the fantastic group of crazy people who love nothing better than to come together, whether in a music venue or in a muddy field, to celebrate great music together. This assortment of Punks, Anarchists, ‘New Age Travellers’ and Crusty’s are the most amazing people you could ever hope to meet. Often these are people that others jump to conclusions about, that some will look at and attach a label to. These are often people who don’t have much but what they do have they will share with you gladly, quietly and unobtrusively, seeking neither thanks nor recognition for all they do to help out others, their friends, their festival family. Believe me when I say these are the kindest most genuine people it has ever been my pleasure to know. Bless you all!