Seven years ago Balstock was a quiet afternoon in the Hertfordshire market town of Baldock. Now it boasts the title of Hertfordshire’s biggest free music festival. From the 7th to the 9th of September over 130 bands took to 13 venues around the town, performing an array of music from different genres.
Balstock is free to attend, and the money raised goes to a local charity.
This year the festival raised money for the Baldock Town Hall Group, which aims to save the Victorian Town Hall and bring it back to life as a working venue. The Town Hall was built in 1897 and was a popular venue for over 100 years. Once revived, the Hall will be run as an Arts and Heritage Centre, showcasing professional arts and drama, alongside local talent from bands and theatre groups. It will also provide space for workshops and groups in the local community.
I went Balstock on the Saturday, which hosted a community event with dance troops and family entertainment in Baldock High Street. The festival offers something for all tastes, which for me meant checking out my favourite local bands on the metal stage. Unfortunately this had been pushed to the outskirts of the town, and consisted of what can only be described as a Boy Scout’s tent, situated in Brandles school field. Poor location and lack of publicity aside, there were some exciting bands throughout the day.
A big shout out goes to Stevenage based hardcore band Midnight Forever, who are influenced by acts such as Gallows and Cancer Bats. They took to the stage with an energetic performance of their original songs. I also caught Glass Artery, who regularly tour around Hertfordshire. They broke out of the tent and played through a set-list of new songs and fan favourites.
Over on the main stage one of the highlights of the day was Billy Skins 5th, who were clearly a well known crowd pleaser, with many joining in and singing along. Offering something a bit different they describe their music as a grind of “Course, alternative and beat driven puree.”
This lesser known event brought a generally quiet town to life and promoted the local music scene – all for free! I would love to see more events like this which support local communities and bring people together. Balstock was a brilliant opportunity for the bands which performed, and great entertainment for everyone who attended.