THE big names may all be punk legends but the Undercover Festival II is anything but a nostalgia fest.
The three-day event at Bisley Pavilion over the weekend of September 19 to 21 will also be jam-packed with young rising talent, including several bands where all the members are under 18.
“This is a festival with a lot of punk bands but this is not just a punk festival,” stresses Woking-born promoter Mick Moriarty.
“We have loads of other genres like ska and reggae among the 60 acts.”
Undercover was born last summer when GuilFest was cancelled and Mick and the team behind the original event’s Vive Le Rock stage decided to carry on at a different venue.
“We needed to keep that buzz going, and we did,” he says. “Last year was fun so we thought why not do it again? But this time over three days and many more bands.”
The massive line-up includes legendary names like Spear of Destiny, UK Subs, Penetration, TV Smith, Chelsea, 999, and The Men They Couldn’t Hang – alongside new young bands like Gentleman’s Dub Club and The Dualers, plus lots of local acts like The Brompton Mix, The Sha La Las and Phoenix Chroi, all from Woking.
Mick says the bands have been selected because they’re “more genuine than the sanguine X Factor rubbish out there today”. He adds: “By and large punk and ska is from the streets and not the cheque book of music moguls like Simon Cowell.
“Many of the new punk bands and especially the ska punk bands reflect the difficulties in society today and that relevance strikes a chord with many.”
Undercover is obviously a passion for Mick and he enthuses while running through the line-up, declaring himself “pretty chuffed” to have landed Spear of Destiny, still fronted by Kirk Brandon.
He then adds: “Charlie Harper from UK Subs was 70 this year and he is just as good today as he was then. I’ve seen many a gig where a young band does a 45-minute set and they’re shattered – but Charlie and the Subs do a longer set and immediately after he’s having a beer with everyone.”
He’s just as enthusiastic about the young talent coming through, including When We Run, RISK, SkaCiety and particularly AMI from Brighton who are fronted by…Charlie Harper’s grandson!
“I could wax lyrical about all the bands but best not to,” he laughs. “My big hope for this year is that we keep the buzz that was special about 2013.”
But amassing such an impressive line-up has not been easy. Mick says: “A lot of agents were taking a liberty and some of the money being asked was ridiculous especially as we are a small festival, and if we paid what they were asking ticket prices would have gone through the roof, which is really not what we’re about.
“Some agents doubled their price from the quotes they gave us for 2013, so they were ignored.”
But with 60 acts across two stages and free camping and campervan spaces on offer, it should be a hectic weekend. Mick says he can’t decide who he wants to see most.
“That’s a difficult one to answer,” he muses. “There are a lot of bands I’d travel a long way to see, if I wasn’t working at the festival I’d be at the front of both stages for all three days…”