Teddy Rocks Festival started as an all-dayer back in 2011 at The Greyhound in Blandford, Dorset. The festival was established as a fundraiser by Tom Newton after his younger brother Ted passed away from a rare form of bone cancer, and has grown and grown since then into one of Dorset’s best-loved weekends of music.
The 2019 edition set a lofty goal of raising over £100,000 for the Teddy 20 charity, which it not only reached but surpassed, complete with a weighty line-up across its three days, a bunch of whom we caught.
PARTING GIFT – 6/10
Parting Gift make a great impression for their relatively fresh years, having only one EP to their name to date. They’re sure to pop up more and more over the next few years as they step up the gears, and they’re well worth checking out based on this performance.
CLOCKWORK CAROUSEL – 7/10
A quick trip into the “Merry Woodland” (aka the acoustic-ish stage) for New Forest indie rockers Clockwork Carousel is an unexpected treat. The stage is a beautiful backdrop for their Coral/Ocean Colour Scene-esque indie rock, and the band are in their element. It’s the sort of set that makes time disappear a little, and exactly the kind of discovery that Teddy Rocks is great for.
CHUGGABOOM – 5/10
Self-proclaimed “Greatest Metalcore Band on Earth” Chuggaboom deliver a tongue-in-cheek, head-in-mask breakdown laden pastiche on the Vocalzone stage. The joke goes above more than a few heads on the night, not least because the vocals are lost a bit in the tent, and it’s a bit too ridiculous to get to into or worked up about.
DREAM STATE – 8/10
Far more impressive are the ever-rising Dream State, who have gathered a great crowd. They’ve been present on the UK’s “Ones To Watch” lists for ages, and this year is all about them holding their own. CJ Gilpin leads the South Wales band with a solid vocal performance, and there are few around at their level who can do a better job at commanding an audience.
It’s easy to forget that they haven’t even released an album yet, and this performance sets them up well for appearances at 2000 Trees Festival and Reading & Leeds Festival later this summer.
OUR HOLLOW, OUR HOME – 9/10
As Our Hollow, Our Home charge onto the stage to close down Friday night on the Vocalzone stage, you know that they mean business. Their set is loud, confident, captivating, and provides another example as to why they’re one of the best prospects in UK melodic metalcore/hardcore at the moment.
Their live show is ferocious, and they’re playing to a packed out tent as they perform songs from across their catalogue. Their confident hour is the big highlight of the Friday night, and a brilliant way to close down the first day of the festival. They’re another band that’ll be appearing across more festivals this summer, and there’s little doubt they’ll just keep playing to bigger and bigger tents over the next few years.
DEATH BY SHOTGUN – 7/10
Day two of Teddy Rocks kicks off with some punk rock courtesy of Death By Shotgun. The band are a relatively fresh addition to the South Coast scene, but are steadily making fans with performances just like the one kicking the Vocalzone stage off today. It’s early in the day, but that doesn’t bother the band or the early comers gathered to check them out.
THE STAYAWAKES – 7/10
Although it’s a little by-numbers at some points, The Stayawakes get together a great set for the early afternoon, and deliver some power pop/indie punk to get Teddy Rocks’ Saturday afternoon into second gear.
WOLF CULTURE – 6/10
The emo/pop-punk with breakdowns thing has been done and done to death at this point, and it takes quite a special band to bring something new to the table. Bournemouth’s Wolf Culture don’t quite manage to do that on the Vocalzone Stage, but they’re giving it their all regardless and the gathered crowd are having a great time.
RAIDERS – 8/10
Raiders frontman Sean Smith hasn’t been seen too much since his days in The Blackout (podcast aside), and here he returns more maniacal and intense than ever. Today he’s dead-dropping to the floor, spitting into his own mouth, and kicking a largely confused crowd out of the tent, causing raised eyebrows and smiles throughout.
They’re tight, focused, and on-point, channeling the likes of Glassjaw, Refused, and The Used in a tightly delivered package. This is Raiders’ first festival set, but it won’t be the last considering the personnel involved and tunes on offer here.
SEAN MCGOWAN – 8/10
Over on the main stage Seán McGowan, enjoys the fruits of his recent labours. He draws a solid showing for a relatively early hour, and dishes out tracks from his early EPs and debut album with the help of his band.
McGowan’s having a great run at the moment, and his folk infused indie/punk feels right at home on the biggest stage at the festival. The Xtra Mile Recordings man is getting very used to these bigger stages now, and there’s little doubt that his graft will continue to pay off over the next few years.
PRESS TO MECO – 7/10
Press To MECO follow big harmonies and plenty of confetti. They fit in well on a day with Darkness fans filling up the festival, and get a great response from the crowd.
THE BOTTOM LINE – 8/10
Local pop-punks The Bottom Line are a regular fixture at Teddy Rocks, and today their tent is packed out in response. Their set ends up being one of the absolute highlights of the weekend, and the band are rightfully earning their place as one of the UK’s finest up-and-coming pop-punk bands.
PHIL CAMPBELL AND THE BASTARD SONS – 8/10
Ex-Motörhead man Phil Campbell And The Bastard sons treat a swelling main stage crowd with big riffs, classics, and a lot of fun. Larger festivals and tours have had the pleasure a fair bit over recent years, but it’s a real rarity out in the sticks of Dorset to see metal royalty like Campbell and co. down here, and it’s well worth the wait. A great moment for the festival.
THE DARKNESS – 7/10
Closing down the main stage on Saturday night (which has sold out by the time they begin) are The Darkness. They’re a band that have been through the mill a few times (and Justin Hawkins has all the sarcasm that you’d expect from that), but they’re obviously glad to be here, and deliver their set to a supremely interested crowd. The chops and the wails are as well executed as when they topped the Reading & Leeds Festival bill back in 2004, and there’s no doubt that they’re still a headline act to be reckoned with.
The festival’s fundraising total for this year was £100,000 and by the (almost) end of The Darkness, it was announced that they’d managed to get £86,000 of that together so far. Plenty of it will have been down to the festival being able to draw in a band like The Darkness to pack it out, and the band have done their bit by making sure that decision was rewarded with all the pomp and pyro you’d expect.
LUICE – 7/10
After Laika start the day with a set that’s cut short for a medical emergency (hopefully everyone involved is okay), locals Luice have the job of clearing out the Sunday cobwebs for the Teddy Rocks crowd. They bring a solid melodic rock performance deserved of a slot far later on in the day, delivering fantastic harmonies and some great tunes.
WAVEBYE – 7/10
Another band based in the nearby area, Wavebye (a reborn Faux) are playing their first ever show at Teddy Rocks. They bring out tracks from their forthcoming debut album, and ultimately it’s a show that sets them up for a busy summer. There’s little doubt there’s plenty more to come from the band.
COLD YEARS – 8/10
The Vocalzone stage is then treated to punk rock from North of the border in the form of Cold Years. The Aberdeen band will probably be used to The Gaslight Anthem and Lucero comparisons by now, but both are absolutely meant in a complimentary way here. It’s a really strong set from a promising band, and there’s plenty of heads nodding along contently to their set.
INDOOR PETS – 8/10
Kent’s Indoor Pets (formerly known as Get Inuit) are one of UK’s finest indie band about at the moment, and the Alcopop! Records outfit are having a great time delivering Weezer-meets-Stagecoach-meets-Tubelord vibes in their glorious half an hour of fun. It’s one of the sets of the weekend, as the crowd get drawn into their bouncy, off-the-wall little world.
TOPLOADER – 7/10
Despite knowing what song they’re going to have to play today, Toploader’s hour long set doesn’t feel dragged out at all. There’s a few covers in there and songs that didn’t quite stick in the nation’s musical lexicon quite like ‘Dancing In The Moonlight’ does. Regardless, they do a fine job today, and it proves to be a fairly astute booking all round.
THE ZUTONS – 8/10
The Zutons also manage to prove themselves as a great booking. Tonight’s headliners are are a brilliant, brilliant live band, and still more than capable of closing down a festival in style. They power through a set that kicks off with ‘Zuton Fever’, and an early inclusion of ‘Valerie’ gets the crowd in the mood for a party. They close their set down with ‘You Will You Won’t’, and make a real impression on tonight’s bank holiday Sunday funseekers.
Tonight’s grand total countdown announces that the festival has raised over £106,000 this year, which is a fantastic result for a supremely well organised and executed little festival. That’s a huge number for a charity event, and there’s little doubt that the festival is going from strength-to-strength.
Teddy Rocks a great festival that’s pulling in bigger crowds and bands than ever before, and it’s a real gem of the early part of festival season.
Teddy Rocks returns in 2020, and you’d be really silly to miss it.
Written by Tom Aylott
Founder & Editor for DEAD PRESS! | Atheist and antitheist. | Judge of the quick & the dead since 1989.