With over 70 bands playing over four days, there’s a lot to get your hard rockin’ teeth into at Call of the wild 2022.
This is only the second COTW; the first was back in 2019, which heralded fantastic reviews from the press and fans alike. The Promoters and organisers got kicked in the teeth with the pandemic when trying to put on the event in 2020 and 2021. Finally, resigning to the fact that to run the festival at full power and safely, the second coming was scheduled for May 2022.
The delay has also helped seal a top lineup of international, European and U.K. bands to grace the three stages over the festival, plus a wealth of up and coming talent. There are no colossal stadium acts, but there are no matching egos too!
First off I’ve got to say that this is, without doubt, the most friendly and relaxed festival I’ve ever been to, with not only the punters here but Staff, security and everyone here to help has been a joy to chat with and bent over backwards to make our stay at the festival the best it could be.
A good majority of the crowd are families bringing the young uns to experience their first and, in some cases, their second festival; yes, so many I talked to over the long weekend had also been here in 2019 and are back for another bite of rock ‘n’ roll pie.
Parking is just a couple of minutes’ walk from the large camping area, which is then just a minute’s walk into the main arena, so there’s no wasting half your day walking to and from your tent to the stage. Everything is within easy reach and easily accessed for those with wheelchairs with tarmac paths running the length of the grounds, including the toilets. Festival toilets can be a nightmare, but on-site, two large blocks are kept clean and stocked with toilet rolls, hand wipes, and plenty of soap. There are also showers available for the campers to use.
Rather than bringing a tent, we opted for the ‘glamping’ experience, which means a large tent is pitched all ready for you with a few mattresses for comfort, and when you’re done, you pick up your bags and leave. There is no deflating of beds and struggling to pack away; it’s a game-changer and highly recommended to the once in a blue moon camper like myself.
For press and media, there’s a perfect indoor space with WiFi and power, and this is also where all band interviews are held for those that are indulging. It’s a safe place to leave those laptops and power banks on charge to get you through the event.
The arena is set out perfectly with the two large main stages next to each other, so no traipsing miles to each one. Another plus is there are no clashes so as one band finishes the next comes on in 10 minutes on the other stage this way you can if you have the energy see every main stage band the festival has to offer. The arena also offers a third indoor stage with bands from Friday to Sunday with a chance to try out ‘Dead Skull’ coffees and coffee shots to keep the buzz going through the evening.
Hunger is kept at bay for the entirety with a good selection of food stalls and a large bar serving Call of the Wild’s pilsner, which seems a popular choice with the punters.
After a quick unpack, we headed to the South Lawless stage to catch The City Kids. It’s punk ‘n’ roll all the way with vocals that bring to mind Mike Ness. Switzerland’s hard-rocking Daxx & Roxanne make full use of the Kilmister stage space with a guitarist who spins and jumps through the set with a tasty looking Gibson Flying V.
Revival Black take me by surprise, ‘Wide Awake‘, the highlight for me. Gin Annie deliver a fine set to a welcoming crowd and as darkness descends on the festival, so does South Of Salem and my highlight of Thursday with their heavy rock horror show, ‘Cold Day In Hell’, stood out from a solid set. The Treatment ends the first day with some fist-pumping classic retro rock that gets the crowd singing along.
Friday brings the first full day of COTW ’22 with 20 plus bands gracing the three stages with Steel The City, Capulus and Twister entertaining the early crowd. The Suicide Notes hit the South Lawless stage and are pure class with bourbon drenched vocals over Stonesy guitar riffs with a punky edge.
We spend the rest of the afternoon chatting, eating, and drinking with old and new friends until Kilonova hit the Dead Skull stage. They are a female-fronted thrash punk rage from beginning to end and a band to keep your eye on in the future.
These Wicked Rivers blues-rock rings across the arena and gets my full attention, and I make a note to check out their recorded material. It’s not the first time I’ve seen King Creature, and again I’m impressed.
The belting Raging Speedhorn take things to another level with their twin vocal assault over blistering heavy guitars. Over on the Dead Skull stage, The Heretic Order deliver a fine set of pagan metal, debuting a few cuts from their latest platter ‘III‘.
Ricky Warwick and the Fighting Hearts deliver a set of crowd-pleasers from an immense back catalogue covering The Almighty, Black Star Riders and the frontman’s solo albums. ‘Over The Edge‘ and ‘Free and Easy‘ bookend an almighty show that’ll take some beating.
It’s left to Massive Wagons to close the second night, and they do in style with a set littered with huge sing-a-longs and highlighted with an incredible light and pyro show that I’m sure scorched the hairs of the front row. A mix of fan favourites, new tracks, and a spot-on cover of Twisted Sister’s ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ got every single fist punching the air.
Those still with fuel left in the tank headed to the Dead Skull stage, where MMH Rock Radio‘s Spin Sisters, Caz and Tina kept the party going spinning classic anthems to the early hours for one almighty sing-a-long.
Bristol metalcore merchants, Rxptrs kick off my Saturday morning and blow the remaining sleep from my eyes with the force of a blow torch! It’s fierce, creative music that goes in directions you don’t expect. Love them.
I stroll between stages for the rest of the afternoon, diving in and out of sets. Sweet Teaze, Bootyard Bandits and Shiraz Lane all get a lot of support from the gathered crowd while I make the most of the weather until falling upon the mighty The Middlenight Men taking residence on the Kilmister stage.
They’re a band I’ve wanted to see since their inception after purchasing the album on day one. The set is delayed for around ten minutes as the sound engineers battle with this orchestra of a band featuring ten members, including four guitarists! ‘Rat Star’, ‘You (Getting Over)’ and ‘They’ll Be The Ones’ all sound colossal in a show all topped off with a fantastic pyro display. If you love hard rock soaked in melodies, then check them out!
I’d been told not to miss Kickin Valentina by my partners in crime for the festival, Trash and his son Ollie who caught them at the first COTW, and they were so damn right.
Coming on like the bastard sons of Guns ‘n’ Roses and Buckcherry, this four-piece blow us away with a hi-octane set of numbers culled from their three albums to date. There’s not a dull moment with ‘Freakshow’, ‘War’ and ‘Turns Me On’ all huge favourites, but ‘Heartbreak’ was an absolute killer. A band I’ll see, again and again, pure fire.
Not to be outdone, Crashdïet hit the South Lawless stage with a punk edged glam rock set that lights up the arena and ‘Together Whatever’ ‘Chemical’ and ‘Generation Wild’ stand out of a set full of highlights. The band are as tight as f**k, with vocalist Gabriel Keyes making the most of the large stage.
Finish rockers, Reckless Love are the Saturday night headliners, with vocalist Olli Herman and the band giving their all to the crowd’s delight. It’s a full-on 80s power rock show that does nothing for me, so I call it a night and leave a little in reserve for Sunday. The Spin Sisters keep the party going over on the Dead Skull stage, digging out yet more massive sing-a-long anthems for the party hungry punters.
The weather is still on our side for Sunday, and we make the most of it, catching early sets from Hell’s Ditch, who deliver a sweet set of pop-punk
and Hell’s Addiction, a hard-rocking five-piece out of Leicester, all big riffs with a hint of AC/DC in their sound.
Saints of Sin are pure 80s hair metal with a sound going back to the heyday of Van Halen, Warrant and Winger, and if you’re a fan of any of those, you’ll definitely dig this Bournemouth four-piece.
Next up on my schedule are Glasgow’s Anchor Lane, who offer a big bluesy rock sound for a three-piece, and Hollowstar, with some of the finest licks I’ve heard all day with nods to the likes of Slash and Black Stone Cherry in their sound
. Over on the Dead Skull stage, L.A.’s The Mercury Riots kick up an almighty riot blasting a packed crowd with a few catchy tracks from their recent Mirror Eclipse E.P. They make a big impression on me and are a band to keep an eye on in the future.
I take a break from the music for some well-needed food and a trip to the media room to catch up with the social media posts before kicking back to enjoy the late afternoon acts on the main stages.
The Dust Coda from London are NWOCR with a bluesy feel. The growling riffage of ‘Demon’ and four-four rocker ‘Limbo Man’ leave their mark on me from a solid performance. I only catch the first few numbers from Sister Shogun. They pull in a good crowd for the show with mighty powerful vocals and melodic metalcore backing that rocks the showground no matter where you are standing.
The L.A. Maybe take me a little by surprise on the Kilmister stage with some of the most incredible lead guitar work I’ve heard all weekend and an oh-so-sweet tone. The songs themselves are just as potent, real stadium rockers with a sound that infuses Guns ‘n’ Roses with the southern swagger of Lynard Skynard.
I miss out on Doomsday Outlaw’s set but arrive back just in time for The New Roses, they’ve travelled from their homeland of Germany just for this show at COTW, and I’m sure glad they did. They are a band that has as much in common with Aerosmith and The Black Crowes as it does with Tom Petty and Steve Earl.
Delivering a showcase show of pure hard rocking Americana from their four-album career to date. No wonder this band has shared the stage with Aerosmith, The Dead Daisies, Saxon and Kiss, to name just a few and even featured on the soundtrack of Sons of Anarchy.
Next up are Midnite City, an unashamedly pure glam rock band. It’s like the last forty years never happened. Their roots are so firmly set in the 80’s you’d need an excavator to dig them out. They’re great at what they do, but it’s not for me, and I’m left to get my kicks elsewhere until headliners Phil Cambell and the Bastard Sons take to the Kilmister stage and shake the shit up.
With a set so heavy, it’s a surprise the stage doesn’t give way. The Cambell family and new vocalist Joel Peters take the crowd through original material like the thunderous ‘We’re The Bastards’ and classic Motorhead standards like ‘Ace Of Spades’ and ‘Damage Case’, not forgetting an incredible run through of Hawkwind’s ‘Silver Machine’. They leave the very best to last with an incendiary ‘Bomber’ and by far the best version of ‘Killed By Death’ I’ve heard since the late great Lemmy was upfront.
It sure is a powerful way to close the four days at COTW, and as some punters head exhausted to their tents and camper vans, the resilient few head to the Dead Skull stage for one last party in the company of those tireless Spin Sisters from MMH Rock Radio.
The Call Of The Wild Festival has been, without doubt, one of the best run and ultimately the most fun festivals I’ve been to in a long time. I can now see why the first one in 2019 got such rave reviews and why so many punters came back in 2022. It’s so good to see an independent festival thrive like this, and I can only see bigger and better things coming from COTW ’23.
Tickets are now on sale, and you can get yours now from the link below.
or via the Call of the Wild website HERE.
All photos ©Cris Watkins Photography