Teddy Rocks Festival review
Reviewing a music festival dedicated to the fight against cancer is like judging which one of your little nephew's crayon drawings will get stuck to the fridge and which ones go in the bin. Teddy Rocks has raised in excess of £350,000 since 2011 and the 2019 event alone achieved a staggering £107,000. The charity event came from tragic and humble beginnings as the family of 10-year-old Teddy Newton wanted to honour his short life after he lost his battle against Ewings Sarcoma, with a celebration of rock music in a restaurant in Blanford, Dorset. The location has changed regularly to accommodate the increasing crowd numbers, with activities, camping facilities and tantalizing food stalls adding to a true festival atmosphere. But throughout the growth and celebrations, it has been the music that has brought fans and families together.
Teddy Rocks is a uniquely inclusive and eclectic festival with many unknown, undiscovered and local bands and musicians given equal exposure and support alongside more established and revered artists. All tastes are catered for as ska and folk-rock share the same stages as heavy metal and glam rock. A t-shirt said it best with “Rock belongs to everyone” emblazoned across it, and a father and young son sitting together during a meal-break, headbanging in unison as the music echoed through the Dorset sky. There were no detached sub-cultures here, only the full embrace and inclusion that comes from a love of music and the desire to find our shared humanity in support of a truly worthy cause.
When artists give so much of themselves and volunteer their time and talent to a charitable event, it seems almost cruel to make any form of judgement on the performances. But the 2019 line up at Teddy Rocks makes this task easy as well. Fans got exactly what they wanted from the headliners, with The Darkness giving a staggeringly intense and polished performance as Justin Hawkins, wearing an ironic David Hassellhof t-shirt, showed why he is still regarded as one of the most entertaining and flamboyant frontmen in the business. Toploader and The Zutons also gave predictably strong performances that kept the fans going into the early hours of the May Bank Holiday Monday morning.
Dirty Youth, Saints of Sin and Press To Meco also gave powerful and varnished performances that would have won them numerous new fans over the weekend. But it was one of the smaller stages that truly showed the power and potential of these events. The Vocal Zone was the site of my top three performances of the entire weekend. Death by Shotgun is a local band from Bournemouth that may look like the stereotyped cast from Cabin in the Woods, but their toe-tapping inducing original songs drew in the revellers from every corner of Charisworth Farm. Bird Shoes, the duo of Robin Clark & James Gordelier from Hampshire, has been featured on Kerrang Radio and brought a tongue in cheek punk rock set that had many new fans smiling throughout the remainder of the day.
The ultimate performance that drew attention and awe was the introduction of Raiders. This South Wales four-man group brought raw and exhilarating energy to the stage that was unmatched by any other performance during the entire weekend. Frontman Sean Smith, in particular, oozed charisma and menace as he entered the growing crowd and battered them with lyrics of chaos and rage. Smith gave the type of performance that is underpinned by ambition and hunger that many established artists often fail to attain as they rest on the laurels of already achieved fame and fortune.
Teddy Rocks 2019 not only managed to raise an incredible amount of money for a truly worthy cause but also proved that rock and roll truly and utterly belongs to us all.