COTW 2023 - Top 5 Bands (Festival Report)

COTW 2023 – Top 5 Bands

At COTW 2023, Call Of The Wild Festival in Lincoln UK, CGCM Rock Radio realized three contributors on site at the event. While every band delivered their best and performed well, not every act appeals to every person. So with absolutely no disrespect to bands not making these lists, here are the top 5 as chosen by each member of our team!


Watch for all our coverage of COTW 2023 including blogs and photo galleries all coming soon!

Rich “The Meister” Dillon – Co-owner/Radio Host/Photographer/Website Editor/Writer

Impressive mentions:

Kickin Valentina: always a top performance from one of the most energetic bands and best people!

Fury: great stage show, liking the album, stage made me appreciate them even more. Some high-register vocals from a big guy!

Mercia: being the first band of the day and even the entire festival is hard. These guys were quite engaging and pulled it off well.

#5-Hot One Two

Never heard of them before this and couldn’t tell you a song, but I loved it! Great punch to their driving songs, foot tapping, headbobbing rock n roll. Looking forward to hearing the albums!


The first time I saw (or heard of) Ransom was at an HRH event. That time I enjoyed it and said something like “better than your average pub band“.  The next time at HRH again, I realized they were much more than that with a charismatic and engaging frontman. This third time, I said “why the fuck” is this band not on the main stage! Ransom is a band to watch out for, with very insightful and lyrically impressive hard rock.

#3-Square Wild

The music of Square Wild may not be to my complete tastes, but what a performance! To be fair, I need to listen to the music as this was my first time hearing it, but I was completely taken in and mesmerized by frontwoman Lucy. She was everywhere on stage and including running through the crowd, all in bare feet! So infectious to watch!

#2-Sweet Electric

Holy crap did that frontman wake up the crowd! Turns out it’s Australian guy, Brad, from Massive (another top band). The music, filled with energy and punch was brought out even more so with Brad‘s stage presence. Highly entertaining!


Having been turned on to these boys approximately one year ago now by my friend Justin Cotchin, I love the music. Looking forward to my first time seeing them live, did not disappoint……in fact, I was basically speechless when they left the stage! Very commanding presence and energy on stage! New guitar player has only been in the band for 3 days and learned the entire set! Check out my Spotlight Review: Tailgunner at COTW 2023.

Ian “Roadie” Owen – Photographer/Writer

IanRoadieOwen had so much fun and loved so many bands all weekend long he nearly had an aneurysm trying to put them in order….so instead he just noted his highlights. Here’s what he said:

If you are pushing me for a top 5 in no particular order I would have to say Karma Effect, Terrorvision, Square Wild, Kickin Valentina and Those Damn Crows.

And then he added:

If you wanted a surprise top five of the festival I would say Karma Effect, The Dead Writers, Fury, Beth Blade and Ashen Reach.

Tom Cornell – Writer/Interviewer

So when the Meister, Rich Dillon suggested those of us involved with Call Of The Wild could maybe do a top 5 bands of the weekend I thought it a great idea. Folks love that kind of shit (apparently). I mean how hard could it be? Pick the 5 that made the best impression and say a few words on each (when did I ever say a “few words” on anything???)

So I hummed I hawed and then got my arse in gear and got down to it. Now the top 3 were easy. 3 bands for me were just utterly top-notch. That left 2 spaces and about 5 other outfits. I eventually picked 2… here they are.

The bands just missing out were The Karma Effect who are still in the 1970s, impressive as that was probably 3 decades or more before they were born. Bluesy, southern, funky hard rock, what wasn’t to like? The Reinforcements who are an Edinburgh band and aren’t on this list due to that! They played a blinder with a stand-in musician and fighting the odd bit of technical issues as well. Resolute, determined and terrific. Finally Leader Of Down who were Wurzel of Motorhead‘s band. They are still going as a tribute. They brought an air of professionalism and experience to the stage that shone through. Talk about “owning the stage”. Good songs played to perfection with an excellent singer. God, they were good!

Tom’s Top 5

5. Beth Blade And The Beautiful Disasters.

This is a band that bypassed me until this festival (sorry all) but now I am up to speed I want more. Great songs from what I heard (more serious or dark than I realized at the time, to be honest) with a singer with a shitload of personality who again like Matt from my #4 band makes eye contact with the audience. With the way she smiles and waves and nods at folks it seemed like they were playing to friends all around. The band are deliciously tight and in Beth the band have a frontwoman. Her tribute to Tina Turner was utterly magnificent. Well played!

4. Ransom.

These guys were entertaining, classic rock yes, but with a social conscience. The way they write songs that are easy to join in with yet actually say something without preaching is impressive. They mixed in a bit of punk attitude with the odd NWOBHM riffage for good measure. Singer Matt is in your face, not afraid to make eye contact with the audience and say what he thinks. They have been called a “pub band” like that is a bad thing. They own it. If this is what bands in pubs sound like I think I might go to the boozer more!

3. Sweet Electric.

This German band needed no introduction it seemed, well until singer Brad Marr decided to do one of his own! Brad the Aussie of the band (he now lives there) who is also part of Massive from Australia is a born entertainer, but it would count for nothing if the band didn’t have some old-fashioned noisy bloody rock n roll anthems. Some of it of course is very AC/DC in places but they also incorporate something akin to Sham 69 in there as well. They came, they rocked, they made folks laugh. Joyous.

2. Terrorvision.

I confess I have always loved this band (I even love Tony the singer’s acoustic shows) as they are fun, have songs as catchy as the common cold and have a frontman with great character and a cheeky chappy manner. Every song they played was one I knew and I sang to every last one of them. I believe the younger generation (about 2 or 3 down from me) call such songs “bangers”. They aren’t wrong. I was hoarse and knackered at the end. God knows what Tony Wright felt like as he never stopped moving for a second. Marvellous fun.

1. Square Wild

At top spot, numero uno are Square Wild. The absolute find of the festival for me. I had before the event tried to listen to a couple of tracks of every band I didn’t know. I only went half a song before starring the name. I loved what little I heard. So it was down to how they do live. Well, they blew me away. Between their music, their actual playing and performance Square Wild shook me up. They were announced as “gender-fluid metal” and I can see why. With a frontwoman who never stops moving, dancing, prancing and even running around the tent they are also a sight to behold. I said to Rich afterwards that they could very well be the band of the weekend for me. I was right. To put it succinctly, they were fucking tremendous!

Bet this is too many words! Sorry, but I liked all these bands and I get excited.


Watch for all our coverage of COTW 2023 including blogs and photo galleries all coming soon!

CGCM‘s Full Coverage of the whole 2022 event can be found here: CALL OF THE WILD FESTIVAL 2022