Live Music Review: Blast Off! Festival Day One at Rough Trade

Words: Gav Squires
Photos: Gav Squires
Friday 10 November 2017
reading time: min, words

The four day Blast Off Festival started on Thursday at Rough Trade, bringing garage-rock bands from all over the world. Our Gav went to check out Leadfoot Tea, Kings Of Hong Kong and The Hipshakes...


Nottingham has a great garage-rock scene, from I'm Not From London's regular Fuzzbox nights to local band Thee Eviltones. Blast Off takes it to the next level with two venues and four nights of live music and DJs. Things begin with three bands live at Rough Trade. 

Kicking off the festival is Leadfoot Tea from Sweden, a one man band, who sings, plays guitar and also plays the bass drum and the snare drum, all at the same time. I've never seen this before although I have seen The Gorgons do the thing where a tambourine is attached to the front of s bass drum. It's all very 1950s toe tappin' rock 'n' roll with songs about shakin', girls and cars. Get Off My Back is introduced as 1959 psychedelia and as "the song that kicked off Pink Floyd" but this is all very tongue-in-cheek as it’s still very much a rock 'n' roll tune. Leadfoot Stomp sounds like it could have been a Slim Harpo song while penultimate song The Underwear Hop demonstrates that we might have run out of subjects for "hop" songs. His pleas for someone in the audience to remove their trousers and join in with the underwear hop initially fall on deaf ears but by the time the song has finished, one gentleman is dancing around with his jeans round his ankles.


Next up are Kings Of Hong Kong, a rock 'n' roll cum rockabilly four-piece with the confidence to start their set with an instrumental. This is followed up with a cover of Ed Cobb's Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White before the band have to remove their jackets, revealing sleeveless shirts. Speaking of dress-sense, I'd initially assumed that the masks were a callback to Zorro but after introducing a song as a cover of a Japanese surf punk track, it dawns in me that they're clearly the Crazy 88s from Kill Bill. Towards the end of the set the bassist complains of cramp in his hand - one of the dangers of playing double bass. For me, the highlight of the set is an instrumental about halfway through, which sounds just like Link Wray. 


Headlining the first day of the festival are Blast Off's first hatless band, The Hipshakes from Bakewell. Following the two proto-garage bands, this four-piece combine the energy of punk, the musical skills of post-punk and the tunes of new wave. As you'd expect from a band with a guitarist wearing a Neu! t-shirt, there are also elements of motorik too. While I really enjoyed the first two acts, The Hipshakes were the most interesting band of the evening and after I got over the fact that one of the band looks like Sean Lock, I really enjoyed them. Calling back to Leadfoot Tea and the Kings Of Hong Kong, they even introduce songs about hot rods and Brylcream.

That was a fun first night, roll on the rest of the festival. 

Blast Off! Festival 2017 took place 9 - 12 November 2017. 

Blast Off website

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