by Hope Wisechild
The irrepressible UK festival scene produced another bumper crop of new events this year. While commercial ventures like Hop Farm flounder, it seems we Brits just can’t contain our enthusiasm for inventing interesting ways to combine fine music, inspiring environments and playful self-expression. We look back at three intriguing new arrivals, each motivated by a passion and distinguished by its own vision.
The inventive décor, installations, projections and theatre around the intimate woodland site of this Solstice gathering had been created or curated by talented volunteers who then hurled themselves into the resulting kaleidoscope. Robots, pirates and fairies flitted between quirkily-themed venues.
Wet weather, a sketchy programme and consistent musical quality encouraged everyone to surrender to the flow. A woodland stage presented a stream of talented new acoustic acts which many cheerfully watched from the shelter of nearby trees. There were also relentless, irresistible dance beats all weekend, with Hexstatic in particular inspiring mass delirium.
Soothed by unusually good toilets and showers and delicious, lovingly prepared food, those assembled put ego aside and the whole was a blissful, immersive experience. Imagine the vibe next year when the sun shines!Jim Wall
Ciro Romano’s Love Supreme was like Latitude meets Glyndebourne as imagined by JazzFM: A relaxed, diverse audience enjoying five stages of jazz and a fairground in the civilised grounds of a South Downs country-house.
The masterfully curated bill featured cutting-edge Brits and distinguished Americans, exploring the many permutations of jazz and sometimes venturing beyond. Both aficionados and the merely curious soaked it all up with the July sunshine.
The Bryan Ferry Orchestra delighted a generation, recreating their album The Jazz Age before becoming a superior backing band for the man himself, while fun-loving Chic had everyone from tots to pensioners jumping and waving. Soulful Gregory Porter and demented jazz-fusionists Snarky Puppy were among many delighting the jazz lovers.
With commentators variously calling it a jazz Woodstock or Glastonbury, this is surely one to watch.
The independents behind 2000trees created this August experimental noisefest at an eco-farm high in the beautiful Mendips.
The part-covered Arc arena hosted an impressive bill including blistering sets from Fuck Buttons and 65daysofstatic. Three smaller venues presented electronic noise, math-rock, post-rock and the frankly indescribable, with the strong Bristol scene well represented. Excellent sound and lighting and tight organization made for a seamless showcase of what performers Three Trapped Tigers joyfully described from the stage as “all the weird ones”.
The sounds had attitude but the punters didn’t. Friendly, serene music nerds, many from Bristol, eagerly engaged with the expertly curated, mind-opening programme but were also happy to relax on the grass and enjoy the range of delicious yet affordable local food and craft beers available around the welcoming rural site.
Look out for 2014 tickets for all these events, and don’t forget to vote for your favourite new festival at the UK Festival Awards 2013 before 1st November.