York Fake Festival at The Knavesmire

On a gloriously sunny Bank Holiday Saturday, York Fake Festival popped up on the Knavesmire to entertain music and sun worshippers alike. Five local acts, including Beth McCarthy, Minster Conspiracy, Blind Eye, RSJ and A Joker’s Rage, kicked things off before tributes to U2, Arctic Monkeys and Foo Fighters.

By Graeme Smith
Photos by John Illingworth


The marquee was already filling up nicely when Beth McCarthy started proceedings with an acoustic set. Joined by percussionist Joey Leyland, there was an extra depth to her ‘one woman and a guitar’ sound, all the better to fill the ample outdoor space. Appropriately for a tribute festival, she started with a lively cover of KT Tunstall’s Black Horse And The Cherry Tree, before a string of originals, old and new, including Mr Cliché, Pretty Lies and Penny Drop. The latter was a real crowd pleaser, drawing audience participation with gusto.


Next up were the five youngsters, Minster Conspiracy. Although still in their early to mid-teens, they have already developed a mature sound with a fantastic range of covers including Blink 182, Fall Out Boy, One Republic and Guns n Roses. However, they were in their prime during their originals, particularly the pop punk Why I Can’t Meet Your Parents. A highlight, too, was their heartfelt cover of The Kill by 30 Seconds of Mars.


Following were Blind Eye, who unfortunately were playing their farewell show. With members being scattered to the four winds (well, Manchester) for university, York will only be able to look forward to the occasional appearance of Blind Eye for awhile at least. To celebrate, Blind Eye played a set full of energy and charisma, featuring tracks for their entire back catalogue. New track Nightlife was wonderfully Kooks-esque, with a staccato rhythm. Their set closer was epic ballad And I, a beautiful finish.

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Beth McCarthy

The afternoon then took an unexpected twist when York hardcore legends RSJ descended on the family friendly festival. Although it was clear some of the younger members of the audience didn’t know what to make of the performance, the crowd nonetheless stayed to watch and even one little girl was seen dragging her mother into the tent to watch. RSJ played a typically lively set including tracks Together We Stand Tall and Gordon’s Alive, the latter from their new albumGiant Glenn.

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Minster Conspiracy

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A Joker’s Rage with Dan Cook

To finish the York portion of the day, there was funky rock entertainers A Joker’s Rage. These guys were a bit like the lovechild of Guns n Roses and Rage Against The Machine with faces painted in full clown makeup. Track Black Sheeptook a more hardcore, System of a Down-esque style before the party was brought back through audience participation laden Temptress and energetic closer Bounce, the latter featuring a guest appearance by RSJ’s front man Dan Cook.


The evening was handed over to touring tribute acts New2, Antarctic Monkeys and Four Fighters to begin the build up to the Big Fake Festival in September, but the takeaway from the day was that York has enough talent of its own to fill a festival marquee.


Beth McCarthy, Minster Conspiracy, Blind Eye, RSJ, A Joker’s Rage, New2, Antarctic Monkeys and Four Fighters played at York Fake Festival on The Knavesmire on Saturday 23 May 2015