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Skinny Lister: had the revellers jigging along.

Inaugural Hastings Rocks festival lives up to its name

For a town steeped in music like Hastings, being deprived of live performance by the Covid lockdowns was particularly painful. Now it is returning, and the inaugural Hastings Rocks festival at the Oval on the August bank holiday weekend proved especially life-affirming, as Andy Gunton reports. Photos by Sara-Louise Bowrey.

The first ever Hastings Rocks festival certainly lived up to its name on Saturday with nearly 10 hours of excellent locally sourced music.

Sam Wills summed up the whole ethos of the festival when he mentioned during his set on the main stage that this was the first time that he’d ever played a full set of his own original music in Hastings.

Anyone who has lived in this town for any length of time will know that we have an amazing music scene here and a wealth of talented musicians of all ages, across many genres. But they don’t often get the chance to play their own music on a big stage, in a festival setting.

Kid Kapichi: a crowd-pleasing set.

Hastings Rocks was set up by the people behind Hastings Fat Tuesday, in association with Hastings Pride, to give those musicians a chance to spread the word about their music and to showcase their talent on a bigger stage.

But it wasn’t just about the musicians. Hastings Rocks was a real local event, with the sound engineers, roadies, stage crew, sound and light technicians, film-makers, DJ’s and photographers all from the local area. Plus bars and reasonably priced food outlets also provided by local companies.

After the disruption to the entertainment and hospitality industries caused by Covid 19 over the past 18 months, this was all very welcome.

Of course the main attraction was the music, and there were certainly plenty of memorable performances to savour.

Hastings Rocks was, almost, bookended by crowd-pleasing sets from Kid Kapichi, who then had to dash off to support The Specials in Margate, but who drew a sizeable crowd for an early afternoon slot, and Skinny Lister who closed the evening with their own brand of Folk/Punk which got the revellers jigging along.

Plenty of choice

There was plenty to choose from with over 20 acts spread over two stages, plus DJs during the evening on The Piper stage. But the highlights for me were:

  • Blabbermouth, showing how suited they are to a bigger stage environment;
  • Sam Wills, who has come such a long way since I first saw him around nine years ago and who has now found his voice & his own slick sound which works so well;
  • Message From The Ravens, who drew a capacity crowd to The Piper tent with their five-piece female harmonies and stripped back sound;
  • and Hotwax, also on The Piper stage, who are growing in confidence and creating a bigger sound every time I see them.

Tallulah Sim-Savage of Hotwax.

It’s so good, and very encouraging, to see our young local musicians being given the chance to develop their sound and talents via events such as Hastings Fat Tuesday, and now Hastings Rocks.

Without events such as these, that local talent will have nowhere to grow up in public and start their own musical journey to, hopefully, a far bigger audience.

Acts such as Sam Wills and Kid Kapichi are now starting to do exactly that, but they couldn’t have done it without the support of the venues, pubs, supporters and festivals of Hastings.

With continued support, others will surely follow.

So let’s hope that Hastings will Rock once again in 2022.

If it does, I’ll be there.

Happy to have live music back: an appreciative crowd.

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Posted 09:50 Friday, Sep 3, 2021 In: Music & Sound

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