Skindred Mock Reef ‘Local Lads’ Comment At Excellent Bristol Harbourside

It’s a bright, sunny evening at Bristol Sounds Festival and no doubt it’s been a fantastic day. The doors opened for this open-air festival at 1 pm this afternoon. Unfortunately, I was unable to get to Canons Marsh Ampitheatre until around 6 pm, thanks to work commitments. I almost experience fear of missing out when I see A have taken the stage, but Reef and Skindred would raise my spirits.

Skindred – Reef

Bristol Sounds Festival – Bristol Harbour – 22 June 2024

Words And Photography: Georgia Brittain

Reef - Bristol Harbourside - 22 June 2024. Photo Georgia Brittain/MetalTalk
Reef – Bristol Sounds Festival – 22 June 2024. Photo Georgia Brittain/MetalTalk
A

Unfortunately, I’m too late to photograph A. I arrive as the lead singer demands a “walking mosh pit.” This is then followed by, “You know those bands that say get down and jump up? Get down, stay down, relax, enjoy this song. It’s been a long day.” I can’t help but find myself amused.

Though their music is a little slower than what I usually enjoy, I stay and watch for the banter and crowd interaction and can’t help but smile. The small but scenic waterfront is a little empty for these guys. You are able to walk right up to the barrier if you head in on the sides. I think these deserve a much bigger crowd.

As A finish, I wander around the place for a bit, fighting whether it’s really worth paying £6 for a plain quarter-pounder burger. Spoiler alert – I did, and it absolutely wasn’t.

I can’t help but appreciate this little set-up. It’s incredibly scenic with the harbour and hot air balloons, and there are plenty of rockers with their children around. I’m not much of a fan of Bristol these days, but it reminds me of why I fell in love with the city. I’m not sure if the whole event was successful, but I definitely hope they have it in the future.

Reef - Bristol Harbourside - 22 June 2024. Photo Georgia Brittain/MetalTalk
Reef – Bristol Sounds Festival – 22 June 2024. Photo Georgia Brittain/MetalTalk
Reef

It’s Reef’s turn to take the stage and the crowd has filled out significantly more, likely with people like me who couldn’t make it until now due to prior work commitments.

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I’m sat at the back of the venue. In my notes, I say I’m enjoying my £6 burger, but on reflection, I’m mad at that burger. Being hungry changes you. Something about festival burgers, I swear.

Reef - Bristol Harbourside - 22 June 2024. Photo Georgia Brittain/MetalTalk
Reef – Bristol Sounds Festival – 22 June 2024. Photo Georgia Brittain/MetalTalk

Admittedly, I don’t know Reef very well. Similar to A, they’re a little softer and more chilled for what I tend to listen to, but I find myself nodding along to them regardless. Once Place Your Hands begins to play, I realise I do actually know them, and I didn’t even realise.

Reef - Bristol Harbourside - 22 June 2024. Photo Georgia Brittain/MetalTalk
Reef – Bristol Sounds Festival – 22 June 2024. Photo Georgia Brittain/MetalTalk

Reef even throw in a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain, and the punters who weren’t paying attention can’t help but turn their heads. My apologies as an ‘I love a cover’ person, but this is the highlight of the set for me, as their harmonies on the song are a solid 10/10.

Reef - Bristol Harbourside - 22 June 2024. Photo Georgia Brittain/MetalTalk
Reef – Bristol Sounds Festival – 22 June 2024. Photo Georgia Brittain/MetalTalk

Plus, I don’t really know Reef, so to throw in a song I do know is a great way to grab my attention (sorry). Finally, we have some hype for our headliners, with lead singer Gary Stringer asking, “Who’s ready for Skindred?” This is met with cheers. Unfortunately, this is followed up with “local boys from just down the road”, which is met with a severely awkward silence. More on that later. It did stifle a giggle from me.

Reef - Bristol Harbourside - 22 June 2024. Photo Georgia Brittain/MetalTalk
Reef – Bristol Sounds Festival – 22 June 2024. Photo Georgia Brittain/MetalTalk
Skindred

Finally, the sun is setting. The seagulls are getting awfully ballsy, swooping down into the crowd. I find myself absolutely shitting myself, hoping not to get shat on.

Skindred - Bristol Harbourside - 22 June 2024. Photo Georgia Brittain/MetalTalk
Skindred – Bristol Sounds Festival – 22 June 2024. Photo Georgia Brittain/MetalTalk

It’s time for Skindred to take the stage. AC/DC’s Thunderstruck starts to blast out, followed by their iconic Imperial March remix. The band come out all guns blazing, soon followed by frontman Benji Webbe waving a Skindred flag.

Skindred open with Set Fazers, my personal favourite opener from these guys, and the crowd is singing along within an instant. Considering the boys landed from Holland and headed straight to Bristol, you might think they would be a little tired, but if they are, it doesn’t show.

Skindred - Bristol Harbourside - 22 June 2024. Photo Georgia Brittain/MetalTalk
Skindred – Bristol Sounds Festival – 22 June 2024. Photo Georgia Brittain/MetalTalk

The set is a great mix of new and old songs, and no one stops singing along right the way through. I’m stood at the back, and even those in the guest viewing area are headbanging and dancing along.

Midway through the set, we get an emotional talk from Benji, explaining how he was brought up by his brother as his legal guardian and the story of how Skindred came to be.

Skindred - Bristol Harbourside - 22 June 2024. Photo Georgia Brittain/MetalTalk
Skindred – Bristol Sounds Festival – 22 June 2024. Photo Georgia Brittain/MetalTalk

Naturally, it’s a sad story. But charismatic Benji manages to put a funny spin on it with violin music and pre-recorded “shut the fuck up” words blaring over the speaker. Webbe tells us of how he fell in love with The Specials, seeing a black man and a white man in unity through music, and that’s the moment he decided music was for him.

Skindred - Bristol Harbourside - 22 June 2024. Photo Georgia Brittain/MetalTalk
Skindred – Bristol Sounds Festival – 22 June 2024. Photo Georgia Brittain/MetalTalk

Of course, people around him told him to “shut the fuck up”, yet here Skindred are, 24 years later, with the same lineup, bringing people together in unity. Webbe tells the crowd to ignore everyone who’s got something bad to say, adding, “These days, it’s my kids.” I must have been standing next to them in guest viewing because a small crowd next to me started cracking out laughing.

Skindred - Bristol Harbourside - 22 June 2024. Photo Georgia Brittain/MetalTalk
Skindred – Bristol Sounds Festival – 22 June 2024. Photo Georgia Brittain/MetalTalk

Following this story, we break out into Kill The Power, which gets the crowd absolutely pumping. The crowd surfers started at this point, and I could see the mosh pit the entire length of the stage. I remember why I absolutely loved rock shows.

To end the night, we are met with Warning, with Kris Barras, who I unfortunately missed this afternoon (sorry, Kris). I can’t help but chuckle as he clearly doesn’t know the words, but Benji saves him by singing the chorus regardless. Reef’s Gary Stringer joins quickly, and I don’t think he knows the words either. But he’s partying onstage regardless.

While we’re revving up for the world-famous Newport helicopter, Stringer gets a telling-off from Benji. “Local lads from down the road? It’s 40 fucking miles away!”

Now, I did let out quite a chuckle at that. Saying we Welsh folk are local to England is a brave thing.

Skindred - Bristol Harbourside - 22 June 2024. Photo Georgia Brittain/MetalTalk
Skindred – Bristol Sounds Festival – 22 June 2024. Photo Georgia Brittain/MetalTalk

Ultimately, it was an incredible night, and although the genres are different for each band, even the ones I missed, Benji really managed to bring people together and unite them to enjoy music.

One of the things I love about Skindred is their passion for music, their charisma, and their down-to-earth attitude. It’s all on stage today, in probably one of my favourite performances from these boys. What’s even better is that there is absolutely no rain for this open-air show, and those who have a weekend ticket are excited to come back tomorrow.

Unfortunately, that won’t be me. I’ll be in bed after a long work week.

Skindred - Bristol Harbourside - 22 June 2024. Photo Georgia Brittain/MetalTalk
Skindred – Bristol Sounds Festival – 22 June 2024. Photo Georgia Brittain/MetalTalk
Skindred - Bristol Harbourside - 22 June 2024. Photo Georgia Brittain/MetalTalk
Skindred – Bristol Sounds Festival – 22 June 2024. Photo Georgia Brittain/MetalTalk
Reef - Bristol Harbourside - 22 June 2024. Photo Georgia Brittain/MetalTalk
Reef – Bristol Sounds Festival – 22 June 2024. Photo Georgia Brittain/MetalTalk

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