All weekend there have been rumours of a secret gig on Sunday afternoon and, at around 1:30pm, those in the know gather upstairs in the Tiki Bar to witness tremendous, Astronauts-themed sets from both The Kilaueas and Surfer Joe and his band. In the absence of Jacques, JonPaul guests on bass for The Kilaueas. He later tells me that, with little time for rehearsal, he was extremely nervous before playing; it doesn't show. The Surfer Joe set features the debut of Lorenzo's new Blue Sparkle Custom-Shop Jazzmaster, which he purchased from GAK in Brighton following his visit to the UK last December. I'm very familiar with this guitar, having lusted after it many's the time, while it hung on the wall in the shop, but in Lorenzo's hands, it looks even more spectacular; shimmering as he moves around the small stage. As for the sound; I don' think I've heard Lorenzo's tone any better than this.
It's almost impossible to see everything that takes place at Surfer Joe, at least if you need to eat and have any rest at all. Thus it is that we miss JonPaul's bass clinic, the seminar on physiotherapy for guitarists and bass players and the set from German band Los Apollos. I'm very glad that we catch Stories From Shamehill, however. I enjoyed their recent EP and they deliver a fine set here, despite the bass player's on-stage admission that she is very nervous (what is it with nervous bassists today?). One song features a trumpeter, who has travelled by car across the Alps to join them and, as listeners to HangNine FM probably know, I love a trumpet. The band have also brought along half of their home village from the Netherlands and they are in fine voice supporting their local heroes. I look forward to hearing more from this band in future.
Over the next couple of hours, we are treated to a kind of heavy-surf/trad-surf sandwich, with the trad filing being provided by The Stingrays, from France, and The Volcanics, from the USA. I am chatting with JonPaul, live on North Sea Surf Radio, for much of The Stingrays' show, but greatly enjoy the part that I do catch, while I love the verve and panache of The Volcanics, who remind me of The Untamed Youth in their prime. Either side of these two bands the audience is treated to something altogether heavier, starting with French band, Demon Vendetta and their horror-show surf. They look terrifying , but the sound, while undeniably heavy and aggressive, is tuneful and I really like their use of samples, both during and between numbers. Brazilians, The Mullet Monster Mafia are even heavier and somewhat less melodic, but this doesn't prevent a sizeable portion of the crowd from moshing in front of the stage and, as their set ends, they are called back for an encore.
Earlier in the day, the threat of further rain has prompted the decision to abandon the use of the main stage for today and all bands play on the Tiki Stage, with the contingency of moving inside to the Tiki Bar, should it prove necessary. Although in the event it remains dry, the change of plans seems sensible, but does have the side effect that proceedings fall somewhat behind schedule as the night progresses.
Bang! Mustang eventually take to the stage sometime after midnight, but it proves to be well worth the wait. The play fantastically well and get a great reception from those of us still standing. Boris plays his customarily spectacular drum solo, but, as he moves in front of the kit to beat out a tattoo on the front skin of the bass drum, Lucas slips into the drum stool and takes over for the remainder of the set. Patrick later explains that Boris is leaving the band to become a, "fucking rich surf musician". This fact doesn't prevent both Payrick and Sven giving the departing drummer a huge hug as he leaves the stage and, in any case, he returns a few minutes later to rejoin the band on percussion, while they are also joined by the guitarist from Los Oxidados for a stunning version on 58 Degrees.
As the guys leave the stage, I really can't take any more. It is 1:00 am on Monday and I can hardly stand. Reluctantly, I admit defeat, and while heading for bed, miss The Charades and the second show of the weekend from El Caminos. For me, The Surfer Joe Summer Festival of 2016 is at an end. Arividerci Livorno. I will be back.