The festival started on the Thursday with just the Something Else Big Top stage operating but what an outstanding lineup it was on that stage. It would have been better to take the afternoon off but work commitments are a fact of life and combined with the parking issues we had to listen to The Bar-steward Sons of Val Doonican and Mark Chadwick while waiting outside the arena - very frustrating. From the cheers it sounded like they went down a storm.
We were sorted in time for 3 Daft Monkeys though. One of the best festivals acts around and they did not disappoint. It's always a dancy experience but not sure anyone was prepared for the lively mosh that ensued - not sure the band had ever seen it before even. Children and others at risk from flying bodies were thoughtfully and quickly moved stage side of the security barriers and a great time was had by all.
Disco Shed and three under-cover music venues. I won't comment on the funfair and food as I didn't really use them but this clearly provided a very family friendly area and focal point for the festival.
The final zone had the Woodland Stage at its heart. This was a simply joyous place to be. The stage itself was a beautifully lit wooden construction with a great sound. Catering by Nana's Kitchen and a bar completed the picture (although we didn't use it we heard great things about the pre-booked Sunday roast from Nana's Kitchen). The woodland area was colourfully decorated and lit and even when no bands were on people were choosing to hang out there. If it had been wet I can see this and the approach path would get a bit muddy (last year's festival at the same location was extremely muddy across the whole site).
The way to the Woodland Stage had more stalls and, near the entrance to the main arena, a last minute addition to the attractions, the rather lovely Floating Lotus Stage. We'd seen some great acts on this last year at Boomtown and sure enough, despite having to fill their slots with suitable artists from those at the festival at short notice, this was once again entertaining. There's a relaxed, hippy feel to the venue and a selection of hot drinks and cakes made it a favourite place for many to chill.
There was far too much music to be able to comment on all of it and with 6 stages you inevitably miss a lot. So I'll just mention a few highlights which tended to be away from the main Pallet Stage.
|Blind Fever Band|
|Gaz Brookfield feat. Ben Wain|
|John Player Specials|
|Jaya The Cat|
To finish off the second day we were back at the Woodland Stage for some reggae from The Netherlands. This was a great opportunity to catch Jaya The Cat in the UK as they are mainly touring Germany for the rest of the year. Another first for me and I liked the relatively laid-back, mildly punky ska performance. A good way to round off an amazing day of fun and music.
Another act that could well have been a headliner followed. Skinny Lister are an amazing festival band with some original gimmicks. The huge stoneware flagon of rum went down very well and a crowd-surfing double-bassist playing on his back is not an everyday sight. Not that we got to enjoy that as we left the set slightly early to get back to The Woodland as rumour had it The Leylines were going to be on early due to a prior act pulling out.
The Leylines have one of the great festival anthems and what's more are raising money for charity with it so why not - buy it here.
Another peek at the main stage revealed The Mahones then we were back in the Something Else Tea Tent for one of the funniest things I've ever seen. The Bar-steward Sons of Val Doonican are funny enough anyway but with sign language interpreter Sarah involved as well it was side-splitting. Check out this video of "Zipper Caught Me Balls" (to the tune of Winner Takes It All by Abba) and I'm sure you'll agree. The rest of the set was also hilarious.
I've talked about KilnAboy before so I'll just say I had a great time at their Woodland stage gig and particularly enjoyed Joe Yorke's involvement.
|with Joe Yorke|
|Inner Terrestrials feat. Joe Yorke|
|Please Y Self Skiffle Band|
Sunday. A day of sore heads and slow starts and we both had bad colds by now. We made the effort for Ushti Baba but the rest of the day was taken very carefully. The Please Y Self Skiffle Band were good (Woodland Stage again) but nothing was really grabbing us until the late evening. Big acts like The Beat, Misty In Roots, The Buzzcocks, Quercus Burlesque, Skewwhiff passed by while hanging out with friends and checking out the shops.
|The Neville Staple Band|
|The Neville Staple Band|