LIVE: Merthyr Rock 2014

By Lais

Last weekend, after some of the Punktastic team ventured to Hevy Festival, we hit Merthyr Rock hard. After a year off in 2013, the festival came back with a bang, bringing in Taking Back Sunday, The Blackout and more to really prove how great this festival is.

Downsizing from three days in 2012 to just the one day this year was a good idea: packing a multitude of great bands into one day instead of spreading them thin over three is much better. Starting off the day in style are locals Save Your Breath, who are always good to get the party started, and then The One Hundred, who are fairly new on the UK scene. There’s a reason they’re making waves already and it’s this: they’re an incredibly exciting live band. Stand up and pay attention, because they might just get big.

Next we have Northerners Blitz Kids, who have been around for awhile, but have really started gathering hype since the release of their album ‘The Good Youth’ last year. Today they play a solid festival set, and their songs are starting to sound like bonafide festival singalong anthems. They go down a treat with the crowd, and soon after, the legendary Anti-Flag go onstage (to the sound of Blitz Kids guitarist Jono Yates exclaiming that they’re “the best band in the world”). Β It’s a strong set from a band who have gained legendary status in the punk world.

Sadly Kent’s Feed The Rhino have had to pull out due to ill health, but luckily Surrey’s Polar have stepped in to take their place at the last minute. They fill most of the quota for headbanging today by playing a storming set, before Reel Big Fish come on and ensure that the whole crowd are doing their best skanking to some classic ska hits.

At the same time Reel Big Fish are bringing the ska sunshine, South Wales’ En Garde are ripping up the tent. For a new band, they are incredible to watch, and their sheer energy and general sound can only be compared to the electricity of The Bronx. These are definitely the ones to watch from Merthyr Rock this year. Make sure you check them out if you haven’t already.

Next up on the second stage are the only true Merthyr locals of this festival, The Blackout. It truly wouldn’t be right if they weren’t here, and they put on a fantastic set as always. One thing you can always say for The Blackout is they can put on a damn good show, and tonight they whip out all their hits: from opener ‘Higher & Higher’ to their fantastic ‘Start The Party’ finale, the energy is neverending, and the crowd absolutely love them. Bravo.

And to finish the festival: cult favourites Taking Back Sunday. Although this set doesn’t seem to be tailored hugely for a festival (a lot of new songs), they do throw in a good amount of hits, and frontman Adam Lazzara is on top microphone-swinging form. Tonight’s highlights are the wonderful ‘Timberwolves At New Jersey’ and, of course, the one and only ‘Cute Without The E’. Although tonight could do with some more of those older hits, there’s no doubt that Taking Back Sunday have ended an already fantastic day with style. Excellent work.

Merthyr Rock, we hope to see you next year.