Hastings Rocks delights the crowds

REVIEW BY Andy Gunton

Saturday, 4th September 2021, 8:05 am
Hastings Rocks 2021

The first ever Hastings Rocks festival certainly lived up to its name on Saturday with nearly ten hours of excellent locally sourced music.

Sam Wills summed up the whole ethos of the festival when he mentioned during his set on the main stage that this was the first time that he’d ever played a full set of his own original music in Hastings.

Anyone who has lived in this town for any length of time will know that we have an amazing music scene here & a wealth of talented musicians of all ages, across many genres. But they don’t often get the chance to play their own music on a big stage, in a festival setting.

Hastings Rocks was set up by the people behind Hastings Fat Tuesday, in association with Hastings Pride, to give those musicians a chance to spread the word about their music and to showcase their talent on a bigger stage.

But, it wasn’t just about the musicians. Hastings Rocks was a real local event, with the sound engineers, roadies, stage crew, sound & light technicians, film makers, DJ’s and photographers all from the local area. Plus bars and reasonably priced food outlets also provided by local companies.

After the disruption to the entertainment & hospitality industries caused by Covid 19 over the past 18 months, this was very welcome.

Of course the main attraction was the music, and there were certainly plenty of memorable performances to savour.

Hastings Rocks was, almost, bookended by crowd pleasing sets from Kid Kapichi, who then had to dash of to support The Specials in Margate, but who drew a sizeable crowd for an early afternoon slot, and Skinny Lister who closed the evening with their own brand of Folk/Punk which got the revellers jigging along.

There was plenty to choose from with over 20 acts spread over two stages, plus DJs during the evening on The Piper stage. But the highlights for me were Blabbermouth, showing how suited they are to a bigger stage environment; Sam Wills, who has come such a long way since I first saw him around nine years ago and who has now found his voice & his own slick sound which works so well; Message From The Ravens, who drew a capacity crowd to The Piper tent with their five piece female harmonies & stripped back sound; and Hot Wax, also on The Piper stage, who are growing in confidence & creating a bigger sound every time I see them.

It’s so good, and very encouraging, to see our young local musicians being given the chance to develop their sound & talents via events such as Hastings Fat Tuesday, and now Hastings Rocks.

Without events such as these, that local talent will have nowhere to grow up in public & start their own musical journey to, hopefully, a far bigger audience.

Acts such as Sam Wills and Kid Kapichi are now starting to do exactly that, but they couldn’t have done it without the support of the venues, pubs, supporters and festivals of Hastings.

With continued support, others will surely follow.

So let’s hope that Hastings will Rock once again in 2022.

If it does, I’ll be there.

Andy Gunton