Witnessing one of the towering guitar amps teeter and wobble from the booming attack of openers Stallions of the Highway was an apt indicator of what was to come at Oxjam Shetland’s dedicated rock and metal soiree at Da Wheel on Saturday.
It was an incendiary affair, abound with blitzkrieg riffs, astute solos, rambunctious mosh pits and, perhaps most importantly, a hell of a lot of fund-raising. It was up to the Stallions to open at 3pm, but their nimble-fingered panache and hi-jinx nods to the 70s and 80s deserved to land a higher place on the bill.
If you’re a covers band, you’ve got to do it right, and these five veterans of the scene certainly do, with the likes of Iron Maiden’s 2 Minutes to Midnight tapping expertly into Shetland’s seeming affection for classic rock. Hard cheese then to next act Brundlehorse, who failed to maintain the party spirit somewhat – but they didn’t care, with the cacophonous trio indulging in their own self-assured brand of punked-up noise, with aplomb. The group, glazed with the experimental thrashing of guitarist Tirval Scott, are perhaps one of the most misunderstood bands in the isles but they don’t sound like any other tunesmiths in Shetland – and that in itself something to be celebrated.
Next up were Høygir, who ditched some of their old covers in favour of a wholly original set, and their pedal-to-the-thrash-metal tunes quickly proved the song-writing potential of the four youngsters. Guitarist Rowen Thomson, a fresher-faced doppelganger of Megadeth axeman Dave Mustaine, was an engaging presence as he steam rolled his way through the likes of Hit the Gas with assured proficiency. You get the feeling, though, that Høygir are still waiting to reach that next level. Beast Head meanwhile, a feisty conglomerate featuring members from the likes of The Revellers, Bitumen River and Quantana, gyrated on the jagged guitar work of Jamie Hatch and snake charmed the growing audience into periodic spasms of moshing, flailing arms and loose limbs aplenty.
Newbies Deathstar Canteen bashfully admitted to quietening things down as they ran through a cocktail of original material and rock covers, with the Cranberries’ Zombie a notable highlight in a set which initially stuttered with technical difficulties. The twin female vocal attack is something rarely seen on the isles, and their acoustic leanings and grunge-pop sensibilities shone brighter than the dark undertones of the proceeding Christ Alive, who sledge hammered their way through their sludge-metal catalogue with typical bullish intensity. It was heavy, but with enough groove in the quartet’s arsenal to lure in any metal doubters who happened to drop by for a nosey.
It was up to Christ Alive’s spiritual brethren Ten Tonne Dozer to conclude the night, with the well-oiled machine showing once more why they are often regarded as Shetland’s top rock export. Fan favourite Roo Shooter elicited near delirium and singer Dave Kok prowled around the room like a madman let loose from a lunatic asylum, hitting his head with the poor microphone and spitting lyrics into the audience’s worried faces. The floor, meanwhile, dangerously sagged and bounced with the hefty weight of the pogo-ing crowd – a near terrifying end to a day of great music for an even greater cause.
• Venues across Lerwick drew big crowds for the second Oxjam Takeover yesterday.
Photographer Chris Brown captured the atmosphere at Da Wheel, Lerwick Boating Club and Mareel. To enjoy a selection of his images, click here. For extra reviews, more photos and an update from the event’s organisers, see The Shetland Times on Friday.