For the past nine years, Cherry Bar has hosted Melbourne’s premier street rock and roll festival held in AC/DC Lane. Across two stages - one inside and one at the bottom of the laneway - 13 bands smashed out solid as brick, balls-to-the-wall rock and roll all day long.

First up on the street stage was Dr Colossus who claim to be a ‘Simpsons-inspired doom band’. This alone had this reviewer from the get-go. They had song names inspired by Abe Simpson and Whacking Day; for all The Simpsons fans out there, they would have got these references straight away.

Because of a late start on the main stage, The Ugly Kings kicked off before Dr Colossus had finished, so there was a bit of banter from the Russell 'Rusty' Clark the lead singer to get the outside crowd in. His tactics worked - the inside stage started filling up straight away.

The Ugly Kings’ blues inspired rock had the crowd thrashing along in no time. For an encore they did a killer mud-soaked version of Black Sabbath’s ‘War Pigs’. The crowd had no problem whatsoever singing every verse word for word. The highlight of their set was when the gorgeous Pierina O'Brien from The Love Bombs sparred with Rusty, as they carved up the stage performing The Ugly King's latest release "Goodbye".

Next up on the main stage was Geetroit legends Warped. One thing you can count on at a Warped gig is riffs, riffs and more riffs. Singer Ben Watkins rips them out over and over again, but in my opinion it’s guitarist Todd Trevor who steals the show. His guitar shredding and manic stage antics make this reviewer incredibly jealous that I didn’t tick the box of Rock Star when I was attending my career counselling classes in high school.

Since their reformation about 5 years ago they haven’t had much new material, but every now and then without any notice they might drop a new song into their sets. The Cherry Rock crowd were privileged enough to get to hear a new unnamed tune today. It certainly didn’t disappoint; it was riff heavy with Ben’s harder than hell vocals over the top.

I grabbed a cold beer and headed back inside to check out Sydney band, Los Hombres Del Diablo. I hadn’t heard of this band before so I was keen to check them out. Their unique brand of desert rock kept this reviewer engaged throughout their set. This type of music was a perfect accompaniment for the miserable weather outside; their long solos and bass heavy riffs were like a heavy meditation. Once the band grabbed hold, it put the crowd in a trance for the next 40 minutes.

The highlight of the set was a song called 'King Neptune' which the lead singer Luke Enright said was about surfing and panel vans; the cornerstone for any stoner rock musician.

I moved back outside to check out Child. In this reviewer’s opinion, Child are one of the finest bands Melbourne ‘rock city’ has produced in the last couple of years. Their hypnotic riffs are reminiscent of classic Aussie musicians such as Billy Thorpe and the legendary Lobby Loyde.

I positioned myself to the side of the stage within close proximity to the speaker, and as the band kicked off, it was like a big warm hug of riffs; the vibrations came up my leg and hit me hard in the heart.

As I looked to the far side of the stage I could see the Matt Hyde, lead singer from Beastwars in a deep meditative trance; the riffs had hit him hard as well.

Inside, the crowd jammed in hard to catch local legends My Left Boot, who were about to rip the crowd apart. It was to be My Left Boot’s last gig for a while so they were going to make it count. For added riff-age, they employed Redcoats’ guitar slayer Neil Wilkinson. Lead singer Matt Chapman has got the best rock wail in Melbourne, hands down no contest. When he hits those high notes you better not be standing next to a window otherwise you will be shattered by glass.

I stopped taking notes after a while because I was so transfixed on what was happening on stage. It was getting increasingly hard to concentrate, so after while I just gave in and obeyed the riff.

After I had woken from the riff trance I staggered outside to catch HITS.

HITS, as always, were messy and loose. Their lead singer Evil Dick Richards is brash and confident and his stage presence bleeds into the crowd. Their set broke the crowd into tiny pieces and they managed to score a legion of new fans.

The beers were going down way too easy by this stage of the day but that didn’t stop me from going back to the bar. Another new band to me, Horsehunter, managed to deafen a whole legion of new fans with their slow and heavy riffs, pulverising like a jack hammer to the head.

Last year at Cherry Rock, Beastwars destroyed the crowd beyond repair and this year they were back to sift through the rubble to see what was left. In full flight, Beastwars are like an exploding volcano and every word from the singer’s mouth is like giant drops of lava being spat out at the crowd. From any angle, where you were watching the band didn’t matter. They made their presence known and they shook the foundations to its very core. If your ears weren’t bleeding after their set you must not have been there.

Manic marauders Clowns always leave a trail of destruction no matter where they play, and today was no exception. From the get-go they ensured total anarchy; people stage diving, flailing limbs everywhere. When you’re at a Clowns gig you never know what is going to happen next. There always a sense of danger, like all the best such as Iggy Pop. A Clowns gig is always on the edge, and the crowd are with them 110%.

Towards the end, the singer Steve Williams scrambled through the crowd to the back and managed to climb onto the bar. He sang a few verses and then did the most spectacular dive into the crowd I have ever seen. Thankfully the crowd caught him and Steve carried on like it was nothing. When you’re a fearless rock star, the danger element doesn’t even come into it.

The crowd were well and truly pumped for The Shrine. The band have been here for over a week and played twice in Melbourne already, as well as a secret gig at a skate bowl in Fitzroy. It was easy to tell these boys love Melbourne - they were eager and itching to hit the stage. As soon as they did, it was on - with a monster sound that engulfed the whole of AC/DC Lane, you couldn’t help but move when they blasted through their set. Bands like this are what makes Cherry Rock great; they came to Australia relatively unknown and left with an army of new devotees.

Head honcho of Cherry Rock, James Young has the best job in the world. He part owns the best rock and roll bar in Melbourne and he gets to pick and choose all the bands that play at the festival. When bands like The Shrine come along, it is an awesome thing that they can get to play at a major festival on their first visit to Australia.

Headlining the bar stage were relatively new band Fuck The Fitzroy Doom Scene. This reviewer had seen them a couple of weeks previous so I knew what I was in for. This time around I positioned myself dead centre so I could be perfectly blasted from all angles.

It was one all mighty crushing set from Fuck The Fitzroy The Doom Scene. It might have been close to the end of the day but the crowd weren’t waning one bit. If anything they were getting more pumped up for Red Fang who were about to destroy the main stage.

Beer in hand I made my way back outside to catch headliners Red Fang. These blokes had been here in 2013 for Soundwave Festival, so they had built a solid fan base already. The crowd were heaving, from the back all the way to the front, to get a prime position.

Red Fang were the perfect headliner for Cherry Rock; they have the riffs and the solos in spades. It was such an awesome sight standing up the back and looking down on the crowd. With the illuminating lights from the stage, the crowd looked magnetic. With every unison head-bang, the band played heavier and harder. It had been a long day and this was the perfect end to it.

Cherry Rock is one of most well run festivals with a sludge-heavy killer line up every year. There is very little you could complain about; everything is reasonably priced, there are hardly any queues and all the friendly staff work their arses off.

It will be the tenth anniversary next year which is going to be something very special. I left with my ears buzzing and heaps of great memories always a great sign.

Rock hard and rock long - live long Cherry Rock!

Tune into our dedicated CherryRock015 TV Channel and relive all of the great bands playing the best rock'n'roll festival in Australia.
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