LIVE: Wilkestock Festival 2018 – Friday

By Yasmin Brown

With a weekend of perfect weather in sight, the cutest festival décor known to man, and a line-up of artists ranging from the totally unknown to Radio 1 favourites, Wilkestock’s 11th year was always destined to be three days of pure joy.

The Punktastic team are pleased to report that the festival lived up to all expectations, providing a weekend of great music, charity fundraising, glitter, and a lot of laughs.

Friday really kicked off at lunchtime on the main stage with Reading’s Echoic. The crowd was sparse, meaning the band acted as more of a backing track to the day as people started an ever-growing game of frisbee, while others sat and chatted on the number of sofas provided for our comfort. Those that did choose to sit could feel the bass in their backs as they watched front man Connor – donning funky chequered trousers – go red from straining his voice. While the sound was average at best, the band (especially bassist Sam), were putting their all into the performance, a valiant effort for one of the first acts on day one.

Echoic were followed by Funeral Shakes, all dressed in matching black and white shirts, again performing to a crowd that – for the most part – preferred to enjoy the show from the sofas rather than by the stage. Their performance certainly warranted a bigger and more enthusiastic response than they received, but again, with an early time slot, and with Wilkestock being fairly small as far as festivals go, the limited turnout was inevitable. Regardless, the band’s performance was impressive, with incredible vocals and continued attempts at interacting with the crowd, claiming to have brought the sun with them from the notoriously sunny Watford (please note sarcasm), and commenting on the lack of disappointment as they announced their last song. With the appearance of a one-man circle pit, Funeral Shakes truly peaked, and left the stage with a well-deserved bow.

When Gold Key’s main stage performance started, the crowd instantly picked up, although like each of the prior bands, not to the extent they rightly deserved. The band themselves seemed oblivious to this fact, as always putting any energy they could summon into their performance. With guitarist Laurent Barnard doing fancy tricks with his guitar behind his back, it made for an entertaining performance by this Watford rock band.

Assimilate were the first of many bands Punktastic were able to see at the Bella Stage over the course of the weekend – a small, sauna/barn type situation that was unexpectedly home to some of the best performances Wilkestock had to offer. With lead singer Jake Aston flat out refusing to even acknowledge that there was a stage, he joined the crowd with a circle forming around him as he screamed the lyrics directly into the faces of individual audience members. Assimilate’s heavy and confident sound filled the small room, and soon the whole band followed Aston’s lead, jumping into the crowd to form a circle pit with only the drummer left behind. Concluding the performance by climbing up the centre pillar, Aston showed his gratitude to the crowd for their uninhibited participation by blowing kisses around the room. They may just be a small metal band from Hertfordshire for now, but with performances such as this one they’re sure to grow in popularity in no time at all.

Back outside, the main stage still consisted mostly of crowds of people sat with a beer on the musky old sofas when the very cool Fizzy Blood kicked off their set. After summer performances at Reading and Leeds, Boardmasters and Dot to Dot festivals, this is a band that are no strangers to stages of all sizes. Their Wilkestock experience was quite different, though, as once again their indie-rock sound acted as background music to the day. Although this was a shame for the band, who are unbelievable performers and musicians, it set the tone of the early evening exceptionally well, contributing to the consistently chill vibe that seemed to define the festival.

Scottish quartet The Lafontaines followed and were, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the highlight of the weekend. Whether you had heard of the band or not, this rock/hip-hop inspired band easily drew you in with energy fuelled by their Glasgow pride and total confidence as performers. Front man Kerr Okan encouraged the still sedentary crowd to “lift [themselves] off the couch”, before jumping down off the stage and running towards those that ignored his request. The full set was outrageously fun, undoubtedly creating new fans with every minute the band graced the main stage, making it impossible to keep the smile from your face. With an unusual sound, that’s catchy yet complex, The Lafontaine’s live show rivals that of any band with far more touring experience and are worth keeping an eye on as they continue to grow.

The Lafontaines were a tough act to follow, but Trash Boat stepped up to the challenge with their pop-punk/post-hardcore, performing to the biggest crowd of the night so far. With a totally different sound to any of the previous performers, the band brought something a little edgier to the day. Fresh off the main stage at Reading and Leeds festival, the band have surely grown in confidence this summer, and with the crowd now sufficiently inebriated (happily supporting charities Leukemia Research and Keswick Mountain Rescue Team with every pint), they were ready to lap it up. Both crowd and band fed off each other’s energy, resulting in what can only be described as a monumentally fun and messy time.


Friday night headliners Mallory Knox have ample experience when it comes to live performances, but with the recent departure of original vocalist, Mikey Chapman, and existing member Sam Douglas taking over back in February, there’s had to be some readjusting. That said, the band’s set was nothing short of excellent, with the remaining four members playing together as though the line-up had never changed. It was hard to believe the packed out crowd had earlier that day been so sparse, as the space in front of the stage filled in and personal space became just a fond memory. If the fans had been at all upset about the new band line-up, they didn’t show it, dancing harder than they had all day, and truly making the most of the last main stage act of the night. The band themselves remain humble as ever, giving a shout out to clothing brand Bad Monday for dressing them that evening after all their own clothes had been stolen, and thanking the crowd for ending the day on such a high.