Ugly Kid Joe Guaranteed Pure Bloodstock Rock Party Perfection

Bloodstock Festival 2023 – Sunday. As Ugly Kid Joe walk out onto the stage, frontman Whitfield Crane announced to the assembled masses, “We’re from California, and we’ve brought the California Sun.” And yes, at that moment, with perfect timing, the clouds parted to let the sun shine out and spread the warmth and the subsequent good feelings that go with it.

Bloodstock – Ugly Kid Joe

Perhaps it was just meant to be. With the rays shining out, the band opened up on a good-time rock ‘n’ roll set.

Ugly Kid Joe - Bloodstock Festival 2023.
Ugly Kid Joe – Bloodstock Festival 2023. Photo: John Inglis/MetalTalk

The great thing about Ugly Kid Joe is that they always enjoy themselves, and Sunday was no different. With big grins on their faces, they opened with That Ain’t Livin’ the opening track from their latest album, Rad Wings Of Destiny.

If the punters were concerned that there may be more new material, they need not have worried as the rest of the set was taken from the first album America’s Least Wanted [5 songs] and the 2012 E.P. Stairway To Hell [3 songs].

With Ugly Kid Joe, you know that the show is going to be full of irreverence, an opportunity to let your hair down and party like it’s the 1990s all over again. Their style of mainstream west-coast party rock was the perfect antidote to the heavier, thrashier, hardcore moments of the last few days, and it was soaked up in bucketloads.

Hit after hit followed, Neighbor and Panhandlin’ Prince from America’s Least Wanted got the ball rolling. Before a dip into the Stairway To Hell E.P. brought us No One Survives and Devil’s Paradise.

Ugly Kid Joe - Bloodstock Festival 2023.
Ugly Kid Joe – Bloodstock Festival 2023. Photo: John Inglis/MetalTalk

After a frenetic start, it was only time until they slowed matters down and as Whitfield stated, “This was thirty years ago. Some of you might remember it.” The familiar picked opening notes of their greatest hit, the cover of Harry Chapin’s Cats In The Cradle rang out.

Twenty thousand arms went up in the air in a mass wave, and voices were raised to the skies in the obligatory singalong. This has always been such a telling song for the band. Though in many ways, it is quite untypical of their usual brand of rock, it is completely synonymous with Ugly Kid Joe, and no show would be complete without it.

Ugly Kid Joe - Bloodstock Festival 2023.
Ugly Kid Joe – Bloodstock Festival 2023. Photo: John Inglis/MetalTalk

Then after that short breather, we were back to the manic good time kick-ass rock ‘n’ roll. With Crane orchestrating a bouncing crowd, they tore into I’m Alright, rapidly followed by Goddamned Devil. Fists punched the air, heads banged in a row, others bounced and leapt around, and the circle pit came to life.

Could it get any better? Well, actually and unsurprisingly, yes, it could. Welcoming Andreas Kisser from Sepultura onto the stage, Crane motioned to the t-shirt he was wearing. “Who’s this?” he yelled, and the obligatory “Lemmy” response was roared back.

“Okay, you might know this one,” and the band tore into a cover of Motörhead’s Ace Of Spades. Whether we consider it to be the obvious cover or a track from the Uglier Than They Used Ta Be album is irrelevant. The Bloodstock crowd lapped it up, bellowing the lyrics along with the band.

Ugly Kid Joe - Bloodstock Festival 2023.
Ugly Kid Joe – Bloodstock Festival 2023. Photo: John Inglis/MetalTalk

And that was it, well nearly. “Sorry we gotta go, but we’ve got one more for ya,” and Everything About You sent the audience into a further headbanging frenzy.

With Whitfield stopping the song at the end so the masses could yell back that they hated everything about Ugly Kid Joe, and with big grins plastered across faces, band and audience alike, they were gone—pure rock party perfection.

Bloodstock Festival 2023 is held over the weekend of 10-13 August 2023. MetalTalk’s Paul Hutchings and Adrian Stonley report from Catton Park.

All Photography: John Inglis and Paul Hutchings

All MetalTalk Bloodstock Festival 2023 coverage can be found at

Weekend early bird tickets for Bloodstock 2024 will be available to purchase at the box office on-site for £165. This is the cheapest way to buy a 2024 ticket, minus any online booking or admin fees.

Bloodstock 2022 can be relived at

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