Monday, 11 May 2015

Something Else Somewhere Else 2015

When the end-of-season Something Else In The Dean festivals got too popular, rather than make that bigger, the organisers opted to run two other small festivals; one at the beginning of the season and another near the middle. Something Else Somewhere Else was launched in May last year in Essex and was our first experience of the Something Else way of life. We fell in love immediately and have been to all the others since, so this year's repeat was always going to be special.

The idea was for the Something Else event to move about the country and this year a lovely field in Oxfordshire was the venue. Spring Farm was an excellent choice; a gently sloping field with a barn, old farm gear and straw bales. Two stages were set up at the top of the slope, another was in the barn, which was also home to the well stocked bar, and the camping was close by at the bottom. A smattering of independent food and clothing stalls, a couple of kids entertainment areas and tents to chill in completed the scene. The pizza joint deserves a special mention. A trailer mounted wood oven turning out the best tasting pizzas that had loads of us addicted.

No mains power, water or other services meant this was totally off-grid with three solar rigs providing power and water coming from the spring that gives the farm its name. The loos were also great: there were plenty of them and they stayed clean, stocked and serviced throughout the three days. All a credit to the brilliant organisation.

Douglas (with Helen and Neil)
One of the (many) nice things about small festivals like this is you can hear and even see the stages from your tent or van and in this case we had a direct sight line to the main stage from ours - nice! The two main stages run alternately with one changing over while the other plays. So the music is uninterrupted and you've no worries about missing any of the main acts.

3 Daft Monkeys
Friday evening's frivolities were well under way by the time we'd arrived and started the long round of hugs and chats with friends from previous festivals. We'd missed one of our favourites, Firepit Collective, but were in good time for 3 Daft Monkeys, Inner Terrestrials and Gaz Brookfield. I've talked about Gaz and 3DM before but this was the first Inner Terrestrials show we'd seen this year and it was a great one. I'll not deny these are one of my favourite bands. I love the raw energy, I love the musical skill, I love the lyrics and most of all I love the other fans. This is a full-on, anarchistic, folk/punk/ska fusion with plenty of friendly aggression in the mosh pit.

Gaz took us all singing along blissfully up to the midnight curfew on the new solar stage after which we retired to the bar in the barn for a few songs, the odd drink and a lot of convivial chat. It was here I first encountered Gee of Small & Gold and formed plans to get together again with more than just our voices. The night that followed was a wild one with the wind getting up, tents flapping noisily and the odd gazebo taking a trip across the field but things were relatively intact by the morning.

I won't go over all the acts of the weekend; I didn't see them all and with three stages over three days it would take up too much space. Personal Saturdays highlights were Pyrates!, Devil's Prefects, Ratbag, KilnAboyThe BootHill Allstars and Funke and the Two Tone Baby. Pyrates! do a great fun show of mainly covers like Irish Rover, Haul Away Joe and the ultimate earworm, Chicken On A Raft with frontman Dave Gallows getting amongst the audience for a bit of dancing.

Devil's Prefects
Devil's Prefects are also a mainly covers band but setting 'alternative' lyrics to country and western classics which have the crowd falling about.

Ratbag were new to me and I was very impressed by Vita's individual vocals and accordion; I've no idea how she manages to sing so fast. Original material and an original sound.


KilnAboy are a Welsh folk/punk outfit with their own powerful anarchic songs played to dance and sing along to. Another personal favourite, they are veterans of many a protest and the songs speak powerfully to the anti-establishment cause. Their new bassist made a convincing call for support for a project helping displaced people isolated in northern Morocco (not sure the exact project but perhaps No Borders Morocco).

Boot Hill Allstars
The Boot Hill Allstars are another fun act hailing from Somerset and rocking the place with a fast country psychobilly madness. The audience have little choice but to get involved as the front-women chase around with feather dusters and spark limbo dancing and more. Funke I've talked about before and he had another crowd eating out of his hand at this one as he delivered his exhausting, high energy, pedal-looping, multi-instrument, one-man orchestra alternative blues routine.

Hattie Hatstar
I didn't see many of the acts from the Baarn stage during the day but did head in there for a jam session organised by the guys from Pyrates! Gee was there again, this time with her banjo and me with my guitar and it proved another incentive to meet up around the fire later on that night. With poet and songwriter Hattie Hatstar's funny, entertaining one-woman show closing official proceedings folk started gathering around the firepit and we were soon taking turns to entertain with popular and obscure covers and a few original tunes. Gee's original solo turns were nothing short of beautiful and I thoroughly recommend looking out for Small & Gold if you can. We were still going 5 hours later as the sun came up before I was beaten by a severe shortage of material and insufficient clothing to cope with the increasing cold, so retired to the van to cries of 'lightweight' - really!!

Folk The System
The firepit hardcore were still there when I headed back up to the stages around midday Sunday for the final day's staged music. There were a few treats waiting in store, the first being on the Baarn stage where Folk The System had the unenviable job of playing mid-afternoon to a still hung-over crowd in what had been up until then the least popular venue. Well they soon changed all that. As word got around of a great act going on, more and more folk poured into the barn to hear the quality fast punky folk and the place was soon packed. I've seen this reformed 90s band a couple of times recently and this was by far the best they'd sounded. Despite the hour quite a few of us were dancing and I heard several people after the gig remarking on the 'new' band they'd heard. With their new album Unrest In The Wolds ready just in time for the festival they sold loads of copies on the day and I can thoroughly recommend it. Get it here!

Cable Street Collective
The next great act of the day was Cable Street Collective. By now a strong and very cold wind was blasting the main stage and most of us were wrapped up in several layers, so it was impressive to see the lead singer in the skimpiest of summer dresses to match the band's sunny-sounding, carnival happy beats. The perfect antidote to iffy festival weather.

The Majestic
By now the crowds had started to dwindle as the real world of Monday morning drew inexorably closer. The reggae rhythms of The Majestic and the Sierra Leonean sounds of Two Man Ting drifted pleasantly over the late afternoon field fitting perfectly with the more relaxed vibe of the day as the remaining core of party-heads saved themselves for one last thrash later on.

Hobo Jones and the Junkyard Dogs
First more sing-along fun with Hobo Jones and the Junkyard Dogs. Skiffle gone mad and always a huge crowd-pleaser.

Then RDF provided the marmite in the sandwich between these and the last couple of acts. They attracted a good audience but I still don't quite see the appeal and when they seemed to overrun rather on a night with an 11pm curfew it pretty much put me off them for good.

A short while later we were all up again and tearing it up one last time to Leatherat. A relatively short set so they only had time for a few favourites and were missing guitarist James this time but were bloody superb. A brilliant moshy mess to finish off was followed by more singing around the fire with Skeg and a few others. A brilliant end to another brilliant Something Else experience that has us looking forward to the two more to come this year.

It's a testament to how much these events are loved by those of us who've experience them that before I could get this blog written all the early bird ticket and many full price tickets had already been sold for next year's Something Else Somewhere Else. Get 'em while you can!

For more (and better photos) see these from:
Pete Connor
Alan Ewart
Alan again


  1. Thank you for such a beautiful review!! <3

  2. Nice review Brian. We must catch up for a beer at one of these gigs if I can stop you dancing for long enough. Thanks for linking to my pictures. I will return the favour.