The Sonic Rock Solstice 2010



My first experience of Sonic Rock Solstice coincided with my first exposure to the good folk of the Salutation Motorcycle Club. One at a time might have been enough for most people, but both at once...

I have enjoyed Andy's company before however. On that occasion what should have been a regulation live music evening in the company of veteran Brummie rock greats 'Magnum', dissolved into beer soaked confusion, confrontation and ultimately three grown men barely hearing a note and splintering off in three different geographical directions.

And at the heart of that turmoil – the one man war against officialdom and authority Simon Banfield – was with us again at Penmaenau Farm, Builth Wells. So the direction things were going to go in was anybody's guess.

as is often the case with our northern-most cousins, it was hard to discern whether he wanted to buy me a drink or behead me with a broadsword.

On arrival Andy ushered us through and once tents were pitched Simon, his son Matthew and I met 'the team'. The first to grip my hand and unload a volley of unidentified vocal noises was Billy. My ear was not quite ready for or attuned to Jockish speech and, as is often the case with our northern-most cousins, it was hard to discern whether he wanted to buy me a drink or behead me with a broadsword. It didn't take long to recognise and friend rather than a foe though and it was just a shame that Billy and Pat's visit was a short one.

On Saturday Simon and I earned our entrance by donning the Marshall's vest and keeping an eye of the most relaxed bunch of festival goers you are ever likely to encounter. This however did not prevent Banfield – that scourge of Birmingham concert security and venue management – turning into a terrifyingly officious Stasi-like tyrant, stopping all and sundry including the legendary Alan Davey who was there to play with not one but three bands. And his threat to apply wrist band passes to dogs legs was not obviously a joke...

Fantastic weather enveloped the entire weekend and a variety of sometimes wonderful and occasionally weird music provided the often eccentric soundtrack. Jo, Kate and Alex were a pleasure to meet and took to the entire event like veteran festival goers, though I'm not sure if Gunslinger or Pre-Med are likely to feature on their iPods any time soon. Go on kids...prove me wrong!

Saturday's events - after a suitably idiosyncratic performance from Hawklords (how often can you get to see a lead singer with flaming red hair and red eyebrows with a bright blue painted face beating a cowbell with a sheep's tibia?) - concluded back in the communal tent with a iPod version of 'Name That Tune' (or band, or any related trivia at all...). Shitename (how shite does your name have to be before that becomes your name?) came into his own. Although we were in the grip of an intense heatwave, nights were cloudless and bitterly cold. This did not prevent Shitename from stripping down to his pants for the music quiz. This was either the act of a seriously hardened backwoodsman or that of an increasingly feeble-minded backwards man.

Although ultimately banished to his tent for excessive nudity he continued to bark answers from several yards away. “Jewel” being possibly the finest answer of the night.

Nige was great company throughout and probably delivers the word “Twat” with more elan and vigour than anybody I have ever encountered.

Wigan Paul seemed to exude a calm dignity and serenity throughout the whole weekend but it was noticeable that his musical knowledge, which started impressively (an early mention of Molly Hatchet should always be applauded) dissolved into blind ignorance by 4am. Nige was great company throughout and probably delivers the word “Twat” with more elan and vigour than anybody I have ever encountered. On a couple of occasions I was that Twat.

Lauren proved to be a very handy ally in whatever ball throwing, catching, child kicking (yes it did happen within the Banfield family), crumpled heap coughing and wheezing games were devised.

And throughout all the noise, fun games and confusion there was Ali whose calm, unperturbed demeanour can perhaps only be acquired through years of exposure to the confused, erratic and unreasonable.

And to conclude, this 'outsider' would like to say to the gentlemen and ladies of the Salutation Motorcycle Club that it was an entire pleasure to meet one and all. And, if invited and available for selection, I look forward to launching into further Space Rock silliness next year.

Guy Holland


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