The ever popular Bristol festival kicked off with its huge 20,000 people capacity. Thrown by the Team Love Gang who have built themselves up as a Bristolian Party makers, this city festival has the recipe for a fun May bank holiday with its strong line up and good lay out without all the crammed conditions many inner city festivals usually provide.
After the slow but steady wait with the sea of glitter faced, unitards- wearing hipsters first up to mention was the up and coming DJ, Fatmina Yamaha. Set on main stage, the Netherland DJ pulled in an impressive crowd of eager dancers. Although still early and the sound still rather low when ‘What’s a Girl to do’ came on it was clear the party had truly started.
Up next was Bristol based ‘Crazy P’ who never fails to get the crowd going. It is hard not love the underground disco group who have been apart of Bristol’s party scene for the past 15 years. Always one to work the crowd, front woman- Danielle Moore had the crowd dancing and smiling away.
After what seemed a long and anticipated wait as the sun got lower and the crowd filled up Mura Masa entered with his awesome track ‘Love$ick’ featuring A$ap Rocky. As the beat dropped the crowd exploded into a sea of roaring and dancing fans. From first song to last Mura Masa had the crowd glued.
Up next in Paradiso tent was electronic DJ’s ‘Bicep’. These house hero’s are known for throwing the ultimate sets and clearly from the sardined tent it was one everyone was eager to party to. Escaping the crammed atmosphere of Paradiso, the finale of Main stage was the Swedish electronic band, Little Dragon. In comparison to the quiet set of Fatima Yamaha, the sound quality was at its best. With the crowd engaged, Little Dragon delighted everyone with the new gems from their new album.
Sunday brought in a slightly bigger crowd, with queues of festival goers snaking around Eastville park in anticipation of getting in.
First to see main stage was grime artist ‘Nadia Rose’ who this year had been upgraded to a bigger stage and longer set after her hugely successful year in music. Spitting her lyrics as well as ever and engaging with the crowd it was easy to see why this 23 year old UK rapper is breaking through the grime scene as confidently as ever.
Next to lead was the hugely popular Shy FX. With the best stage presence that I had seen all weekend their was not one track which had the crowd at stand still. With hints of the popular ‘feelings’ track coming on festival goers were bouncing and screaming higher than ever.
Escaping the heat of the popular main stage was the fun of Shambarber tent which had drag queens and gorillas dancing on the stage while partygoers boogied to disco music. A hugely fun and warming crowd this hidden gem was heaven to the partiers who were looking for an escape from the heavy jungle and grime beats of the other other stages.
To close the night was the legendary Kano. Pleasing the lively crowd, the beats for P’S and Q’s came on the crowd exploded. Mega fans near the front went wild and the night ended with thousands of pumped partygoers making their way into the town.
Yet again another fun fuelled party hosted by the Team Love Gang. Despite its ever growing size, this huge 48 party located at the side of the M32 still has the magic of bringing people together in a true Bristolian friendly fashion. The atmosphere for me still remains as fun and strong as ever.
Wychwood festival returned for its 11th year in the beautiful Prestbury Hills of Cheltenham. Set on the famous Cheltenham Racecourse, the location boasts great transport and parking facilities, while still being on acres of well maintained luscious land. The friendly atmosphere brings in a mix of all ages with its main priority focusing on a family feel. With activities including arts and crafts workshops and improvised comedy, as well as an eclectic range of music on offer it is easy to keep every member of the family happy. Although it is family friendly Wychwood does not compromise on the festival experience. With headliners from the funk and soul Craig Charles to the legendary UB40 there is music for all tastes.
Friday kicked off to a dreary start, but the rain and grey clouds soon settled into a delightful afternoon of blue skies with the occasional cold wind. This gave people a chance to seek shelter in the smaller tents which hosted a range of entertainment from acoustic sets to clay modelling classes and comedy. The biggest bar of the festival was inside the Hobgoblin tent, where americana/ folk band, Loud Mountains gave a stellar performance on the Friday afternoon. With awesome guitar riffs, catchy rhythms and clever harmonies, Loud Mountains gave the crowd a heartwarming performance which all ages could sing along to and enjoy.
With a huge selection of drinks, local ales and food stalls on offer- there was plenty of choice for all tastes. Tasty pulled pork, nutella smothered crepes, ostrich burgers and Mr Whippy ice creams were a few of the many popular choices that Wychwood had to offer. Despite the festival being well tailored for families, the Pimms and Real Ale was also flowing, with adults enjoying themselves as much as the children.
After the impressive set from Loud Mountains, it was over to the main stage for ‘The Undertones’ who played a set made up of more songs than many bands write throughout their entire career. It was a punk rock treat with the Derry band choosing to let their music do the talking as they treated crowd to songs like ‘Jimmy Jimmy’ and ‘Teenage Kicks’. The latter of the two songs brought almost a sense of relief throughout the crowd, as they played that ever recognisable riff. Once they had finished, it was time to prep the stage for the headline act, which left just enough time inbetween to check out ‘Darlia’ over on the second largest of Wychwood’s stages.
Darlia– the Blackpool based 3-piece were really impressive. Walking around between the crowd, the words ‘Nirvana’ and ‘Kurt Cobain’ were mentioned so many times by onlookers, it gives a good picture of their sound. Sadly this somewhat draws away from the fact that the band actually have their own nailed-on balance of gritty guitars and catchy melody lines, which is almost an evolution of the Seattle grunge sound of old, without being at all tacky or cliché. Their set was really impressive with the song ‘Candyman’ being a stand out favourite.
It was now time for the headline act for the Friday and much like the range of people who attended this fantastic little festival – it could not have been any more different! It was time for the crowd to go wild for ‘Boney M’. With their back catalogue of disco tracks, they entertained the masses with the likes of ‘Daddy cool’, ‘rasputin’ and ‘brown girl in the ring’ and at one point even played a rendition of Bob Marley’s ‘No Woman No Cry’. Boney M were 110% fun from the word go and played with the professionalism of a group that has been together for just short of 40 years. Maizie Williams was the only original member who performed in this line-up, her star quality such that she stood out like a diamond. A great choice of headliner from the festival and a job well done from Boney M.
The weekend’s sun continued to shine down on Wychwood festival as the family-friendly vibes started up for the second day. The afternoon crowd which gathered at main stage for the Electric Swing Circus was a mixture of all ages and the band was the perfect fit for a such a varied audience. The vocal double act of Laura Louise and Bridget Walsh’s energy was infectious, and Guitarist Tom Hyland entertained the kids with his ringmaster attire and killer dance moves. But the band were not all about the visuals, as their ‘Electro-Swing’ music was Saturday’s real show-starter; a sound to match the diversity of the crowd with heavily sample based tunes backed up by solid double-bass lines and swing rhythms – it worked really well.
A small break on the main stage was enough time for the crowd to multiply ten-fold for one of the most recognisable acts of the past 30 years – both visually and sonically! It was the turn of the Proclaimers to take to the Wychwood stage. Identical twins Charlie and Craig Reid played through their back catalogue as well as throwing in a few songs from their latest album. Their set was hugely entertaining and was a singalong from the beginning to the end. At one point, Charlie read out a dedication they had received before bursting into ‘Let’s get married’ – The dedication proved to set the scene for a marriage proposal on the front row and she said yes! The duo completed the song and wished the happy couple the best of luck before Charlie said (tongue firmly in cheek) ‘ Just the one time, I’d like someone to say no and for there to be a little fight in the corner.’ After many a classic, they courteously wrapped their set up with ‘I’m gonna be (500 Miles)’ before making way for the headline act – UB40’S Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue.
UB40 Hoodies seemed to be the clothing of choice for many throughout the day and this was reflected by the size of the crowd for the headline act. Accompanied by a saxophonist, trumpet player and trombonist, the band stormed through a set of their classics, whilst also throwing in some songs from their latest albums. Starting the proceedings with ‘Here I Am (Come and take me)’ they flew through a hugely entertaining set including ‘Red Red Wine’ and even an Elvis Presley cover!
Sunday brought with it a tiredness to the crowds, but this was in no way reflected in the music with stellar performances from DJ Craig Charles and Rusty Shackle. Justin Fletcher also made an appearance on mainstage for the children and was received with much jubilation by the crowd.
The highlight though for Sunday, possibly even the entire festival, was the South African male choir group, Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Formed in 1960, this band certainly lived up to its platinum disc honoured status. With the ravishing harmonies and joyful atmosphere- every child to every adult danced in awe as the sun set amongst the Prestbury Hills. Gleeful children on parents shoulders waved their arms in time to the flawless rhythms of the choir. The uplifting experience worth watching in the flesh was definitely the best way to end a brilliant weekend. Despite the bitter cold of night, Ladysmith Black Mambazo had defiantly left a warm mark of Africa on Wychwood Festival 2015.