Every festival suffers last minute withdrawals and for Blast Off's second day, The Fuzztones, part of the US 80s garage rock revival scene, pulled out of what would have been their only UK show of the year. Now, this can't be helped but the festival organisers could have done a better job announcing it over social media. Unable to draft in a replacement, day two of the festival reduced down to just three bands.
Local faves Thee Eviltones start the second evening with their brand of dirty garage rock and they show no sympathy for The Fuzztones' medical problems declaring themselves better. No Love gets dedicated to frontman Erikk's ex-wife while Life Goes On has lyrics that verge on the Nick Cave end of the spectrum. They also air two new songs, She Cries and Unkind, which is about the state of the world but cribs the 1-2-3-4 introduction from the notably unpolitical Ramones. It's a brilliant set and Tiago must be one of the most energetic guitarists playing today. The one slight quibble is the fact that they close with Stand By For Action, a song that sounds like the perfect opener. I'm pretty sure that the aforementioned Ramones would never close with Blitzkrieg Bop.
The Fuzillis have come all the way from London, bringing their Dick Dale/Quentin Tarantino soundtrack surf rock sound. Most of the songs are either purely instrumental or have just a few words shouted at opportune moments in the style of The Champs, for example the song Fish Gumbo, which involves shouting the title after the set-up line of "whaddya want?" There are a few tracks that actually have lyrics though, including a couple of very Little Richard sounding tunes - set closer Betty Lou Got A New Tattoo is basically Long Tall Sally - and a 1960-esque twist song. About two thirds of the way through the set it threatens to descend into pastiche - Fatman contains Neal Hefti's Batman riff, Burrito is a rip-off of Tequila and Topless slightly recalls The Stripper. Fortunately, they reign it back in with a cover of No Fun by The Stooges and Umanga, a song that sees signs similar to those that Joey Ramone would wave handed out to the audience. Then most of the crowd were invited up on stage, and there was me thinking that it was a song about a Portuguese footballer. Above everything else, they're really fun, if you don't have a big goofy grin on your face while listening to The Fuzillis then I really worry for you.
With the withdrawal of The Fuzztones, Kaleidoscope, on their 50th anniversary tour were bumped up to headliner. The only original member remaining is singer Peter Daltrey and a couple of his backing band look like they could be playing scissors for Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds. These are a proper old-school 60s psychedelic band as evidenced on Dive Into Yesterday with its dreamy vocals. They even bring out a sitar player but the first song that he plays on, Faintly Blowing, actually sounds more like 1972 David Bowie. (Further Reflections) In The Room Of Percussion has lyrics claiming that "spiders are everywhere" but this terrifying image is at odds with the actual sound of the song. I'm not really sure how I've managed to miss Kaleidoscope before as they have that sound of early Pink Floyd, which I love but I'm glad that I've managed to catch up with them now. While a few people on the audience call out for Jenny Artichoke, my favourite song of the set is Holidaymaker, the b-side to the band's first single. It doesn't have any of those time changes or slightly random middle 8s that often turn up on British psych records from the 60s but is instead a gloriously odd pop song.
Despite the fact that The Fuzztones pulled out, it was still another great day at the Blast Off Festival.
Blast Off! Festival 2017 took place 9 - 12 November 2017.
Blast Off website