Cherry Rock Festival
Cherry Bar, Melbourne
10 May 2015
Review by Callum Doig
With the annual Cherry Rock making its return, Mr James Young, owner of the iconic rockstar landmark of Melbourne, brought back the festival with an all new lineup for 2015.
With Cherry Rock’s past lineup of acts such as Unida, Truckfighters, King Parrot, Fu Manchu and a lot more, this year featured bands from all over Australia, as well as New Zealand’s Beastwars and America’s The Shrine. With 12 bands on the lineup, Cherry Rock welcomed from Portland, Oregon stoner quartet Red Fang as the headliners of the festival, who also made their debut two years ago at Soundwave Festival. I decided to go and see what this year’s Cherry Rock had to offer, and I can honestly say that it was one hell of a gig that has topped just about every gig I’ve been to so far this year.
First up on the bill were The Simpsons themed doom duo known by the moniker of Dr. Colossus, taking the shot as the first band for the day on the main stage. Of course, a Simpsons-themed band was far from what I had expected to witness, but overall, what I heard from the band, not being familiar with them in any way shape or form, sounded great! The Ugly Kings were the second group of the day and the first to perform inside of the venue. The band incorporated a more groovy blues rock persona, with a fair crowd inside of the venue. Seeing Warped in 2013 with Helmet was a real blast and I forgot about the quality of their onstage performances until Cherry Rock. The crowd was slowly packing in, as the band electrified many throughout the audience. Warped are not like every other usual band from Australia’s rock scene, as they got a large round of attention from just about every Cherry attendee within the length of their set. Hell, their guitarist looks like Steve Harris, for god’s sake! I guess that can give you a good hint as to why they’re quite the band!
Sydney group, Los Hombres Del Diablo, were another unfamiliar name to me. However their set was another that seemed impressive, as they got themselves a new vocalist named Luke, who has taken the place as the band’s new full time vocalist. I have yet to learn more about this band, as they had a set that sounded promising in quality. By the time Child came on, the venue was just about packed. Child were one of my highlights of the day, for the band displayed a more 70’s vibe in reminiscence to Blue Cheer and Led Zeppelin. Seeing them for the second time since their supporting show with Torche last year was but another beautifully psychedelic experience from the band. As if I could say anything bad about Child, as they’re one of many Aussie bands that carry a certain amount of quality in music that a lot of other bands should take note of.
Brisbanian natives HITS were introduced to the stage by throwing beer stubbies into the crowd. Another new name to me with a great onstage reputation as a quartet. HITS were another big hit of the festival (ba-dum-tss), as their guitar and drum beats had that groovy tension that would give all the confidence you need to dance without the use of tinnies full of beer or two rolls of choof. Horsehunter – a big favourite of mine brought their set to a maxed out capacity inside the bar. The band pulled off yet another incredible show, presenting newcomers to the world of Horsehunter with a half hour of sludgy doom metal. Introducing themselves with a short jam opener, the band dug straight into ‘Stoned to Death’ from their EP ‘Caged In Flesh’, bringing everyone in the venue to full attention. While observing Horsehunter, standing in the crowd towards the end of the set, looking pleased with the results of the band was Red Fang drum John Sherman. Without sounding like a total douche, I can’t say that you’ve witnessed perfection at its absolute best until you’ve checked out a Horsehunter gig. Every time they put on a show, they do nothing but blow the fuck out of your minds.
Next up were Wellington sludge wonderers, Beastwars, who were another new name to me at the gig. The one thing that kept crossing my mind was that Beastwars frontman Matt Hyde, looked like Neil Fallon of Clutch’s long lost, kiwi older brother. The onstage presence and the beard kept me thinking that throughout their set. Other than that, the sound of Beastwars was hard-hitting and thrashy as hell. With many people talking about the band since the festival started, I had a feeling that a good set was to be brought by the band, and man, those people talking about Beastwars weren’t kidding! They were the epitome of sludgy riffs and brain-buzzing tunes that got Cherry Rock going crazy during their show. From Venice Beach, natives The Shrine were a new group to me. I never heard of the name, so it was going to be a new can of worms to open up. The Shrine‘s set was originally extended to an hour; however the band went on for a 40 minute set. I hadn’t a whole lot of expectation, but the show they put on left me in awe. The band finished with frontman Josh Landau throwing himself into the crowd schizophrenically slashing his strings with the crowd holding him on his back. I can honestly say that The Shrine have gained themselves a whole bunch of fans because of that one show.
When James Young came back up onstage, the man rocked up in a bunch of pink gear, announcing the final and headlining band of the evening; Red Fang, who brought an absolutely mind blowing 75 minute set, opening with ‘Birds on Fire’. The band performed a fair share off their three albums, with stoner anthems such as ‘Malverde’, ‘Blood Like Cream’, ‘Sharks’ and a whole lot more. Finally being able to see Red Fang was another band to tick off my band bucket list, and it’s certain that I’ll be there for their next round of shows in Australia. Considering AC/DC Lane isn’t all that big in terms of size, it was difficult for patrons to make their way from the Lane into the Bar. 800 people is hard to fit in those two areas, but it was incredible to see people dig a whole bunch of acts they had never seen or heard before. With me being a massive hater of cold weather, it wasn’t as intolerable as I thought it was gonna be. The music was the best distraction from the cold weather, particularly during the day, as it was freezing during the evening. Overall, Cherry Rock was an energetic and killer 9 hour gig, and I can’t thank James Young and everyone at Cherry enough, as well as the bands for all the hard work they put into it. To see a handful of bands I’ve known for a while and a set of new ones for me to check out was an incredible display of what many Australian bands can create in their time.
If you’re feeling bummed out on missing this year’s Cherry Rock, make sure you show up next year, as I guarantee, the festival will be back with another killer lineup.