Blind Cat Gives You Wingies. S. Wingfield. 4-5 May 2018

Just to explain the complicated title, for the uninitiated. The South Wingfield Social Club is host to the ‘sister’ festival of the Blind Cat Festival. Sadly, the organisers of BC had to cancel early due to poor advance ticket sales. But to their credit (and financial loss) they did it early enough to give full refunds. So to ‘Wingies’

Friday. Entertainment started just before 6,00pm with the hardy annual BB Blackdog. Featuring the full trio, the opening number sounded a bit like Morrisey backed by the Velvet Underground. The next song ‘Groupie’ wasn’t the Delaney and Bonnie song though. Third one up had a Stranglers-ish bass sound plus obligatory female cosmic gyrations and there was a Bo Diddley feel to the encore. They always go down well, although the adjective ‘jolly’ doesn’t spring to mind.            Red Electra 69. 5-piece outfit with an insistent throb and distorted guitar. Two keyboards but suffer a bit from lack of vocals. They did however get some vocal assistance on the final ‘Little Green Men’.                   Not ON.   I seem to remember them at Blind Cat starting out with seven on stage and finishing with even more. Loads of big block chords and there were two bassists. ‘Dirge’ was written by one of them.  Was it the one who stood up and played something we could hear or the other who was seated and seemed to spend the whole set looking down at his box of tricks and occasionally moving his hands on his instrument. I wasn’t the only one in the audience who couldn’t perceive any aural contribution from the latter. The song sounded as though it could have come from San Francisco about fifty years ago, no bad thing!                    Monkey Trial.  Keyboards/percussion/guitar/FX.  Again, lengthy instrumentals . Vocals FX-laden.  Audience very appreciative.                   Deviant Amps. Psychedelic power trio, thirty seconds in we reckoned they were best so far.   OK, not exactly Paul Rodgers on vocals but fine for this. The guitar sound was very Fender and they were the only people to generate some audience movement other than closed-eyed nodding. Might the original Pink Fairies trio sound like this nowadays?   So first night’s music was over, but 1.30am bar closing meant the night was still young for some…but not us!  There had been plenty of Kozfest t-shirts, men with long grey beards and that sad tw*t who tells all in earshot that he is/was a teacher, Thankfully the two a*seholes from Blind Cat who plonk two of King Canute’s bloody thrones in the venue and bugger off for six hours weren’t there.

Saturday. Pretty much 12 hours of music in store so we slipped into FDM (Festival Drinking Mode, one pint per hour, starting at 12.00pm sharp then strictly hourly).     Line-up reshuffle meant Automatone opened up proceedings.  Some improvised instrumental stuff allowed a stand-in drummer to help out while the regular man was en route. It actually sounded not unlike the wonderful 1975 reformed Spirit trio, but with a chunkier Gibson (R.I.P.) sound.  Guitarist’s ‘Do Not Panic’ t-shirt was a warning for some Hawkwind . I probably preferred the earlier instrumental numbers though.               Sonic Trip Project.   Some familiar faces and not unfamiliar instrumental sounds.  Bassist got two yellow cards for not turning down , but avoided being sent off.  Interesting that an abbreviation STP reminded me of the Hendrix B-side  ‘Stars That Play with Laughing Sam’s Dice’. It was generally assumed that ‘STP LSD’ had drug references.                       3rd Quadrant. We went to sit outside in the sun, sorry lads!             SpacedOgs.   One of many groups here featuring members doubling/trebling/….up in other outfits. Another 100% instrumental set but it seems the norm for these type of events. Surely there are some bedroom poets out there who would add to some of these combos?   There was some very dodgy slide guitar on occasion.   Wasn’t too bothered about SHOM or Dubbel so went back to the tent.  Came back for Electric Cake Salad. I find the need for some people to categorise groups irritating. Where do they put these lads?  ElectroMetalDisco would be my suggestion if pushed but who cares? We love ’em! We absolutely love ’em!! We absolutely f**kin’ love ’em!!!  Non-believers should check them out via YouTube and if you live within twenty miles of Birmingham there is no excuse for not seeing them live. Set list at the end, cheers Steve!                     Capt. Starfighter and the Lockheeds. Name derived from Hawkwind’s Robert Calvert’s first solo LP, we are treated to ‘Spirit of the Age’, ‘Master of the Universe’, ‘Quark, Strangeness and Charm’ plus more. There was an ‘interesting ‘ second appearance for ‘Little Green Men’ with vocalist Mr Smith changing the title words for a less-than-complimentary phrase aimed at a certain someone whose ensembles he used to feature in.  I can’t comment any further, I don’t know any details.

And Wingies was at an end. Is there any group who has spawned so many festivals based on their music other than Hawkwind? I can’t think of any.

Any festival has pros and cons, so here goes…

  1. Venue. Very like the Stoke Prior set-up (Sonic Rock Solstice and Onboard the Craft).  Her Ladyship was close to wilting on occasions as it wasn’t possible to leave big outside doors open.
  2. Camping. As above, although one of the conditions was that we moved our cars after pitching tent, We did so and had to be towed out of a foot of concealed bog! I hope the many who ignored the moving of their cars haven’t spoiled it for the ones who did.
  3. Beer. It seems like the club kept the prices as normal, ie less than £3.00 a pint. Well done
  4. Staff. All very polite. The lady steward seemed pleased with the general decorum of the punters.
  5. Food. Only one outlet, but capacity of the venue only 199 so too small a crowd to warrant loads of vendors. £1.00 for coffee, £2.00 for egg sandwich puts some of these burgersheds to shame. Small but adequate veggie option.
  6. Toilets. None on campsite, One of each on adjacent bowling green premises, similar in the club. Maybe more luck than judgement, but could have been a big problem if any had become ‘out of order’.
  7. Sound. Very good as is anything under the jurisdiction of Dave Lowe.
  8. Security. There seemed to be lots without wristbands!  Probably a few ‘locals’ in attendance but no problems apparent.
  9. Noise. Dave L had indicated there were going to be warnings from the stage about noise on the campsite, one reason why the bar stayed open until 1.30. There was only one barely-audible comment at the very end, but nothing before. (To keep those wanting to carry on drinking INSIDE!) . There were plenty of ‘notices’ around the venue though, to be fair. The lads camped next to us were still ‘socialising’ in the early hours though on Friday.
  10. Value for money. £30.00. Excellent value.

A good , if short, weekend . Hopefully the Committee here will give the OK for next year. And, re a future Blind Cat Fest, remember the importance of giving the organisers some advance ticket funds. It is vital for this scale of event.

Footnote. I inadvertently accused Automatone’s bassist of not turning down. It was. in fact, Sonic Trip Project who were guilty. I have updated the above review. Thanks for pointing it out, sorry .

Footnote 2. I also mentioned ‘Black Cat’ in the final paragraph instead of ‘Blind Cat’!  Duly amended, thanks for alerting me!




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