By Tom Belshaw
We, the ever plucky Brits, are fully prepared for a bit of sky water. I’d make a relatively educated guess at us being the worlds number one umbrella consumer.
The English word for ‘sky’ originally meant ‘cloud’. If that isn’t enough proof of the millennia of overcast suffering we’ve endured I don’t know what is.
Since the advent of the British outdoor festival, being prepared for sodden celebration has been as important as packing your own bog roll. We’re used to being moist. Some people even revel in it.
You could say we never let it ‘dampen’ our spirits, but let’s not.
So up rolls June 3rd, and the most anticipated music event in Bristol this year, coming as no surprise then that even though the weather went off on one, thousands of people were still prepared to get on it.
With more buzz than a bee at a Toy Story convention and a line up that gave pricier events a literal run for their money, this was always going to be a hit.
While for the most part they got things right they also got some things very wrong. With an entrance queue that boasted a wait of an hour and a half, stories of people waiting nearly the same to get a pint and a distinct lack of places for people to go number one, many people’s moods were absolutely sodden.
These gripes were all heard with attentive ears and are issues that hopefully won’t rear their ugly behinds next year.
But who’s interested in having a wee when there’s bare musics to behold?
Even on the journey towards the queue, the excellent ‘Red Bull’ stage made it’s presence very much known and was the home of some excellent disco bootlegging courtesy of Greg Wilson and a true highlight in the form of Bonobo. The latter consisted of a bunch of songs my friends and I were aware of, mainly the first outing of absolute belter ‘Can’t See Higher’ by Brighton bass music badman, Lorca. With a slew of tracks from his latest album of remixes, Bonobo did a grand job of making the sporadic downpours unleashed upon his listeners seem like a minor distraction, or more aptly, an excuse to zip your hood up to your eyes and dance in a circle while your mates egg you on.
It was at this point a real game changer occurred. Through the sea of sodden dancers, a beacon of hope appeared. It’s orange and black hue, a vision of splendour. It’s moniker as noble as those in the tales of yore.
Finding a brolly amidst the soppy masses was almost as day brightening as convincing people Annie Mac had been cancelled.
In hindsight, the area next to the portaloos was never set to be the greatest stage for the inception of musical awakenings but damn it we tried and at least 5 vapid tools were told to “watch something good” when asked what they should do instead.
The ‘something good’ in question came in the form of sickeningly young, stupidly talented, brotherly duo, Disclosure.
Unequivocally the absolute highlight.
It could have been the fact we were stood right in front of the speaker, it could have been that we’d actually managed to get a drink or maybe it was the half naked, dewy bird dancing around in front of me, but everything about that performance was epic.
Not simply content with playing their tracks and lapping up attention, they held a quasi-live performance which included on the fly bass playing and keyboard wizardry and even the addition of the real life Jessie Ware providing the vocals for ‘Running’.
Everyone danced. No-one slacked off. Wondering where you could see them next was in the collective conscious almost as prevalently as noticing the queue for the bar had gone down.
After winding down the evening with Eats Everything, Maya Jane Coles and Jamie Jones on the brilliantly positioned Just Jack stage, thoughts turned to the after party. With the promise of Oneman and Joy Orbison until the wee hours we were more excited than my metaphor writing skills allow me to portray.
After another painfully long queue at Lakota we secured a cracking spot on the balcony and danced our little behinds off to an absolutely banging set from Joy O. Filled to the brim with Swamp81 belters, classic house and two showings of Joy’s ‘new’ track Ellipsis.
If it wasn’t for the fact the building was very clearly well over capacity it would have been a perfect evening. Queueing to get out of a building is not the one.
This was a great festival that suffered from a few minor teething problems and is definitely sitting pretty at the top of Bristol’s Summer music offerings.
Next year cannot fail to draw the same amount of enthusiasm if feedback from the punters is taken constructively and I will most definitely be getting a ticket nice and early to avoid the mad rush that plagued this year.
If you were lucky enough to go this year you’d be fooling no-one if you said you weren’t excited for the next installment.
Be prepared to get moist again…