Living in Hatfield for just over a year now, it has become a little obvious that the rock and alternative scenes are two that aren’t brilliantly represented in terms of live events. The likes of Arcane Roots, Silent Descent and the Blackout have graced the University town, though despite their visits and the occasional (and sparse) club nights, Hatfield’s heavy side has arguably been somewhat muffled. That hasn’t stunted the growth of a number of the area’s emerging acts, and the likes of Enter Shikari, Scholars and The Subways have all found a beginning in the near vicinity. While the present representation is a solid one, it’s the future that the introduction of a monthly Hatfield Rocks gig night aims to capture, and Sonic Boom Six would headline the inaugural date of a fixture aiming to fix the balance in profiling Hertfordshire’s musical spectrum.
The premise of the night would have two larger acts – on this occasion Sonic Boom Six and Rat Attack – share a bill with two local emerging bands, Fallow Fields and Supernothing. The reception to this night would hint a lot to the future of Hatfield Rocks, so to say that the bands had a bit of pressure on them wouldn’t be entirely false. Each act would play to the occasion well, however, delivering a strong few hours of noise to fill an evening.
Opening act Supernothing are perhaps their own harshest critics, and while a band in their amateur stages gain nothing from downplaying their own abilities between songs, it sets them up as somewhat of an underdog story that goes down quite well when they actually pull off a solid set. There’s a Dingus Khan-esque style of disorganised focus, making it clear that the night’s first band are there fully in the name of fun. In that sense, mission accomplished. (3/5
Fallow Fields follow with a tighter, more “eyes on the prize” kind of showing, dropping a cover of Blink-182’s ‘Dammit’ in to get a few more lungs working away during the set. The pop-punk quintet are exactly the kind of band that Hatfield Rocks should be backing fiercely, making their booking for the opening night not only to make sense, but seem inevitable. (4/5)
From pop-punk to party punk, and Rat Attack’s arrival is a step up in terms of showmanship on the stage. Vocalist Mike Hodges doesn’t seem to stop moving for the entire set, engaging the front rows with an irresistible back and forth. (4/5)
It’s a shame, then, that the crowd doesn’t truly get going until the night’s headline act roll in, and while in terms of on-stage energy Rat Attack are more than a match for Sonic Boom Six, when it comes to crowd reaction the penultimate band are blown out of the water. It’s not as if there’s difficulty in seeing how or why Sonic Boom Six drum up such a reaction wherever they go. The years have moulded the ska-punk outfit into a well-rounded live act with an insatiable following, and tracks like ‘Virus’, ‘Piggy in the Middle’ and ‘Bang Bang Bang Bang’ are as effective as ever in lighting a crowd up. The vocal combination of Barney and Laila are a lesson for the night’s emerging acts in how to get a party going at the drop of a hat, but beyond that it’s simply a raucous set from a band who remain on top of their game as focus shifts to what 2014 might have in store for them. (4.5/5)
The opening edition of Hatfield Rocks has, then, set the bar at a decent level for what’s to come next, with the night’s four bands successfully bringing attention to what is likely to be a staple of the Hertfordshire Forum for quite a while. The balance of musical power in the area is certainly being readdressed, and November’s showing has a tough set of acts to follow.
The next edition of Hatfield Rocks takes place on Thursday, November 21st and will be headlined by Kids in Glass Houses.
Words by Antony Lusmore