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Solfest 2011 Review – The Extra’s

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Solfest 2011 Review – The Extra’s

Posted on 25 October 2011 by Mizzle

Dogs In Space aka the Chill Out Tent has become my second home over the years, and this year I seemed to master the zen of getting a sofa space regularly, which means that the dawn is often clearly on the horizon, or past, before you feel like moving from this ambient, psychedelic and comfy heaven. The highlights this year were Celtarabia, who I first saw in Hebden Bridge about 15 years ago, and the fusion of high energy world music with that most awesome instrument – the hurdy gurdy – never fails to lighten the soul. An early morning stumble upon in Dogs was Kava Kava at 3am Sunday morning. Three saxophones, guitars and drums were squeezed onto the tiny stage in front of the Dogs hypnotic video screen and we were treated to Pat Fulgoni and some serious 21st century James Brown-esque funkjoy for an hour or more.

Dogs is open from Friday morning to Monday and once ensconced in that huge carpeted tent, hung with fabrics and lit with psychedelic mood lights with huge AV screens, snuggled deep into a sofa, with fantastic food and music, you will find it extremely difficult to leave. Saturday morning found a huge group of us outside around a roaring fire, playing giant Connect 4 and watching the sunrise as DJ Michael Dog and the Solfest Djs kept us entertained. Bliss!

Solfest has many perambulatory artists, from jugglers, fire poi and fire eaters, to processions, storytellers, and fairies on stilts. The absolute highlight of this year was the 20+ strong sideways drumming group Boom Dang /Ting Tang. Energetic, enthusiastic and with melodic rhythms, this was a must see/hear covering merengue, drum and bass, bhangra, drumline etc. Check them
out, or go try a drumming workshop with them, you won’t regret it.

The Kids Area is lively, and tinies through to teens will find plenty to keep them occupied here. As will adults wanting to play. Pushchairs abound at Solfest, showing just how family friendly this festi is, and I hear the Baby Chill Out Tent was popular with those who just wanted a chillax with their little uns. Personally, I love the tribes of kids who are gainfully employed recycling all the beer glasses from the drinkers for 10p each – saves giving them pocket money and these sprogs fulfill a useful in keeping Solfest green. It’s a frequent sight at Solfest – a pair of little legs sticking out of one of the massive wooden recycling boxes trying to grasp that elusive plastic cup someone has thoughtlessly thrown away, rather than leaving it out for them to cash in.

Saturday is Fancy Dress evening and so a massive thank you to all those who get in to this part of Solfest with such enthusiasm and provide enormous entertainment over and above the organised offerings. The most notable this year were the 15-20 toy soldiers from Toy Story, who must have spent all evening re-arranging their poses for photos, but there were literally hundreds of other amazing outfits. Some of the performers even got into the spirit of things – it must be strange performing to smurfs, gnomes, Lego men, Wallace and Gromit, Tetris pieces and crayons!! Hat tip as well to the Peggers – a group of kids who had literally hundreds of handwritten clothes pegs, and went round sneakily pegging unsuspecting festival goers.

The Damned began their 35th Anniversary Tour here at Solfest – it will end in Tokyo next year – and they headlined on Saturday. However, for me, nothing can surpass their set last year
when thousands of people attempted to cram into the Bar tent and I managed to see them whilst standing on a chair not 6ft from Captain Sensible, who I got a chat with afterwards backstage. The Stranglers played a rousing set on Sunday evening, but they were the first headline act I ever saw at a festival, so, for me, top of the headliners this year have to be the SawDoctors, who I had never seen live before and who deserve far more acclaim for their charisma on stage – they had the whole hill rocking!

All in all, the meagre ticket price is worth every single penny and it is hard to remember how many bands we saw over the three packed days, but we still missed a few notables who we will be
looking out for elsewhere having heard rave reviews from other Solfesties. The weather even stayed fine, apart from Saturday afternoon, and a lie in on Saturday morning was out because the sun was cracking the tent pegs! Solfest really is one of the best of the smaller festivals, and obviously I am not alone in thinking this as ticket sales were up again this year.

The friendly atmosphere, great site, decent toilets, tasty food, and the fact you are treated as responsible humans rather than potential criminals or idiots means that, whilst there are always going to be a minority of morons at any gathering, Solfest manages to bring out the best in people and, for me, stands head and shoulders above larger festivals, reminding me of Big Green Gathering in its early days.

On that note, many thanks to the organisers, stewards, Wellfairies and all the other volunteers who make Solfest a unique, highly enjoyable, and unmissable date on the festival calendar. And
to all our new friends, see you next year!!

Lindsey Annison

Solfest 2011 Review – The Highlights

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Solfest 2011 Review – The Highlights

Posted on 23 October 2011 by Mizzle

The Safires played a hauntingly good set on Friday night, and then mixed it up with an incredible beatboxer who stopped people in their tracks – I can’t remember his name, but he was g.o.o.d. Then Rory McLeod filled the air with harmonica and quirky lyrics before Dogan Mehmet and the Deerhunters took over the stage and raised more than a few eyebrows. If you haven’t looked Dogan up yet, and like rousing multicultural rhythms, do so. Another band to mix the cultures and well worth checking out has to be the Balkanics, especially if you hate standing still at a gig, but it’s hard to top the Pikey Beatz for skanking rhythms either. I have a squidgy soft spot for the Pikeys and simply cannot get enough of them. Or Spoonfish.

The Drystone is the Pikey Beatz spiritual home, and this Northumberland band deserve a rousing review for making Solfest their own over the last few years. So much so that now people are looking to use the occasion of their set to make wedding roposals prior to the Pikey’s playing. Each year, the Pikeys have played the Drystone and managed to find another
space to play again for their hardcore and growing audience. That dedication was rewarded this year and on Friday night they totally owned the Main Stage.

It was heartening to see that there were possibly more fans there than for other far better known bands. On Friday we were treated to the likes of Spoonfish (definitely my favourite Solfest song)  and Pictures, whilst their Saturday set included old avourites such as Allendale, Marsupial King,  and Supercalifragilistic to an absolutely packed Drystone Hill. Rumours that they would be playing again, somewhere, on Sunday appeared to be untrue, but I for one will be gutted if it turns out we missed another chance to see them. If you book bands and want your audience to dance their hearts out, you need this north-eastern, footstomping, reggae/ska band on board!

Last on Friday evening on the Drystone was the simply awesome Dub Jazz Sound System. They are playing in 3 weeks time in
Manchester and I will be going! Talented jazz musicians, they had the whole of Drystone bouncing, and I hope that there is  more video footage and downloadable music of theirs online soon.

Camille O’Sullivan played the main stage immediately after the Pikeys’ Saturday set and her show was breathtaking, including lying on the front of the stage at one point, which must have made some of those at the front think they might be about to ignite. What a voice and what a presence! I dashed back to catch some of 3 Daft Monkeys set at Drystone before the Damned, and was extremely glad I had. Their reviews are, if possible, too modest and their awards well-deserved. Sadly, I missed the full set of Super Best Friends Club later due to the UK Subs playing the Bar Tent, but their psychedelic pop is going on the iPod, especially Sunshine.

The highlight on Sunday at the Drystone is always the Weird String Ceilidh – for example, enthusiastic “Stripping the Willow” from 2-300 festival goers, many still in fancy dress, is a sight to behold. And local band Room Full of Mirrors on Sunday evening will hopefully make it to the main stage next year, especially as apparently Jake the drummer works in our local co-op!

Right next to the Drystone is the MostlyAcousticCumbria tent which you could almost miss, but this was very much a space in which to stumble upon rare gems. The young lady on Saturday afternoon with the astounding voice to send shivers down your spine was one such, and reminded me of Nathalie Merchant of 10000 Maniacs. I suspect the MAC tent will gain more fame in years to come for those who are privileged to fall over those special moments that Solfest is fast gaining a reputation for.

Two new tents this year were House of Joy (24 hour reggae) and The Loveshack (a bit of everything) and this corner of the site was abuzz. Hopefully, these tents will become a permanent feature – thanks to the Wailers popularity last year and the overflowing reggae tent, it’s probably a given. Dr Huxtable of Axis Sound, who played the Wickerman Festival reggae tent, gave us a stomping set, as did DJ Jah Vis from Lancaster/Kendal. House of Joy covered everything from ska to roots, reggae to dub – something for everyone, and no-one who dropped into HOJ seemed to leave in a hurry! The Jamaican food stall next door added to the atmosphere with curry goat and sweet potato chips our top recommendations.

The unexpected highlight of the Bar Stage for me was UK Subs. A really tight set of short fiery songs, including Warhead, meant a kicking mosh pit which featured Elvis, a banana, and Where’s Wally pogoing madly! (Saturday night is Fancy Dress night). Bombskare blew the Bar Tent off its axis on Sunday night, and you can see why they deserve the title of “Scotland’s Premier Ska Band”. If you can stand still to this you must be superglued to the floor!

Lindsey Annison

Solfest 2011 Review – The Beginning

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Solfest 2011 Review – The Beginning

Posted on 22 October 2011 by Mizzle

Solfest, in its 8th year, is held in northern Cumbria on a fantastic site overlooking the Solway Firth. It is a small, family friendly festival and numbers are kept deliberately low for a great community feel.

The camp site opens to the public on Thursday and the extra £10 for a Thursday camping pass is well worth the money to get into the swing of it early, catch up with old friends, make new ones, and enjoy the views across the Solway Firth to Scotland.

There are now established Thursday traditions including the Pink Floyd Division Bell sound check – which we enjoyed lying next to the sound desk by the main arena, which was a rare treat, followed by sunset-watching from the hill overlooking the Firth.

The main site opens on Friday morning and music is then continuous on one stage or another right through till Monday morning – rare at any festival these days and making the £89 ticket exceptional value for money. The four main stages – Main, Bar, Drystone and Dance Tent – have staggered start times for each set, meaning you can see some of every band who play if you try hard enough. However, there are also other tents with music playing at all hours – Weirdigans, MostlyAcoustic, Dogs in Space, House of Joy, LoveShack and the Information tent, so there are always bands you miss, however good your intentions!

Starting by the main gate, it’s hard to miss the Dance Tent, especially if you camp on Shoreside (the noisy field). This year the Dance Tent had managed to pull in some big names such as Utah Saints and Subsource, as well as non-stop DJs till 4am, meaning that if you needed to burn off some energy there was always some dancing to be done, and the nearby stalls sell luminous everything, just in case you feel you might not be noticed! My visits to the Dance Tent were spontaneous rather than planned and the place was, as ever, kicking with plenty of drum and bass, techfunk, dubstep, rave pop, techno etc. I think my fave was Karma Kanic of local band Digital.is, who I saw last year and who have played as a band and individually at northern festivals such as Kendal Calling, Ravenstonedale, Beatherder etc, to growing acclaim.

Dancing can bring on a raging appetite and there were food stalls aplenty at Solfest, ranging from falafels to curries, wraps to wood fired pizzas, doughnuts to chips, local sausages to homemade pies, Jamaica to the Seychelles, so no excuse for not eating well right through the night! There are several late night bars as well as coffee stalls, and Solfest is getting a name for the most yummy hot chocolate around.

The furthest stage from the Dance Tent is Drystone, which holds a very special place for many, and its eclectic mix of music means that if you didn’t move all weekend, you would hear a little of every type of music. This year the Sunday evening was given over to local bands, and it would seem it is time for Cumbrian bands to be given far more national attention. It’s ordering on impossible to pick out the best acts, so check out the rest of my review for the highlights.

Lindsey Annison

V Festival Sunday Shenanigans

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V Festival Sunday Shenanigans

Posted on 15 September 2011 by Mizzle

V Fest is a new experience for the senses, and festivals are certainly for the open-minded.

This, my first ever festival, was fantastic on every level!  Okay, loos are the exception but armed with VIP area passes my companion, Ava, and I managed pretty well.  It is deliciously noisy, food stalls everywhere serving almost everything, and plenty of it.  Expensive fast food, but soul food nevertheless.  Michelin it isn’t, but who wants that at a festival?

VIP passes for me are a must.  Cash bar, cocktails, sparkling wine, cosy cushions and no litter, a little bit of tranquility amongst the masses.  Having said that we did enjoy watching a bit of karaoke in the covered bar, whilst sitting comfortably on squashy sofas.  We spent much time in this area, just chilling out and chatting to people.

The music at V is fantastic, and includes four stages and a Glee comedy tent.  We spent Sunday morning packing up and carting it all to our car, a mile away.  Twice.  Lesson number one, pack light!

We watched some of our first gig of the day from our car park; Kassidy were first of the day on the 4Music Stage, and armed with a free beer from a generous fellow festival goer, we enjoyed the chillout whilst recharging our phones.

Next up, we watched a couple of numbers by Bruno Mars on the Virgin Media Stage, whilst mooching about for something to eat.  Good performance.

We actually spent some time in the Glee Tent which proved to be an entertaining escape from the hubbub, being thoroughly entertained by a Hypnotist and his ‘victims’.  Some of which were clearly not under his spell, but it all added to the escapism of the weekend.

The highlights of my day were Plan B and Olly Murs.  The latter played on the 4Music Stage and were surprisingly awesome!  Olly brought with him fun and frivolity and even the guys were lapping it up.  The audience were singing, dancing and generally having a great time.  I mentioned to a chap next to me that I was surprised the guys were so into it and in response he said “Yeah but Olly’s such a nice genuine guy, isn’t he”.  Say no more.

Next up, Plan B.  What can I say?  Totally brilliant!  We managed to get a pretty good pitch right in front of the sound tent in order to avoid as much as possible the cups of beer and lord knows what else being flung into the midst of the crowd.  Great place to be, we ended up next to a friendly bunch of people and had a great time.  Ben Drew’s (Plan B) playlist was taken from his album The Defamation of Strickland Banks album, which is one of my favourite albums, so for me this was music nirvana.

After which we were entertained by a chap who decided dancing naked was the order of the day.  Worked for me.

We finished up with headliners Arctic Monkeys, which proved an uncomfortable experience and not particularly enjoyable for either of us, so we ditched this to struggle through the scrum to enjoy the last couple of songs by Dizzee Rascal.  A much better end to a fantabulous fun weekend – can’t wait to go again!

Louisa Cockayne

V Festival Review

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V Festival Review

Posted on 01 September 2011 by Chris Knight

It was apt that it was the Virgin festival that took my festival virginity.  At the age of 25 I had managed to miss every festival going.  This was in part due to trepidation about the camping and portaloo situation, and partly because it wasn’t the sort of thing my friends and I would ever think of doing, but the festival time of life seemed to have passed by without me realising I was missing out on this rite of passage.

It was with great excitement I discovered that I was being sent by Smashed Music to my very first music festival.  So it was at Weston Park I arrived on Friday night, armed with far too much luggage, a tent I didn’t know how to put together, and a fellow festival virgin.  We hoped optimism would see us through.

Struggling with enough luggage, food and booze to last a month never mind a weekend, (we had been forewarned that prices were high and we should bring our own) we staggered from one campsite to another only to be told they were all full.  It was no room at the inn for this modern day Mary and Joseph, albeit with more alcohol on their person than the original duo.  But as with Mary and Joseph – a miracle did finally occur, when we found a spot and got the tent up, sometime around midnight.

Having erected the tent with a little help from fellow campers around us, we managed to slip into the festival spirit without even realising it.  Random people came and shared food, booze, and horror stories about their journey to this very spot, and soon we were conversing like old friends with people of all ages and walks of life.

Having dozed off around 5am, we woke surprisingly refreshed.  A bit of dry shampoo to the hair, and we were good to go and find out what this festival malarkey was all about.  Nothing could have prepared us for the sheer scale of V Festival, the seemingly endless youngsters, wellies, stands, queues, stages, and an atmosphere of spontaneous excitement that gave you the feeling all rules went out of the window for this event.

The layout at V resembles a music loving billionaire’s birthday party.  In fact with Branson at the helm, that’s perhaps what we are seeing, a replica of a party he wishes’ he had been able to afford at the age of most festival goers.  Now he does have the money he’s turned a fantasy weekend into a lucrative business, cashing in on the hearts and minds of teens (and not forgetting us older crowd who don’t want to miss out and will pretend not to be fazed by the questionable sanitary conditions…)

The first act we saw was Ellie Goulding, her harmonious voice rang out above the huge crowd as we made our way to the main stage.  She set the tone for what was to be a weekend of spectacular talent, and an eclectic mix of musical genres.  Ellie concluded her set with the iconic ‘Your Song’, and proved her version can even top Elton John’s, as thousands swayed in time to the music and sang along to the well known lyrics.

Scouting for Girls followed Ellie, and hiked up the excitement with their fast paced hits.  ‘This ain’t a Love Song’ was met with applause from the crowd and is a clear favourite.  With V having always been a mainstream event, Scouting for Girls seemed like the ultimate crowd pleaser.  The pace and lyrics of their music, coupled with the reaction from girls in the crowd could almost place this trio as the Oasis of the Noughties.  If these three really are scouting for girls they won’t have to look much further than the many thousands screaming for their attention at V.

Eliza Doolittle and The Saturdays made up the rest of our afternoon, as we tried the second largest stage at V, the Arena stage.  The crowd here was made up mostly of teenage girls keen to sample a little pop at this Festival which is seeing increasing numbers of Rock acts take over the main slots.  There was some confusion at this point about what time Rihanna and Eminem would be playing, as no one wanted to miss the main headliners, but similarly didn’t want to pay the £10 V charges for a timetable of acts.  It became a game of Chinese whispers during the acts preceding these two, as everyone tried to ensure they were back at the main stage in plenty of time.  Those lucky few with a £10 timetable hung on a little card around their necks became a prime source of information for others, who would invariably ask to take a photo of this cardboard necklace, to have the coveted information for themselves.

Eventually, having played the timetable information game, we made our way back to the main stage where it seemed all one hundred and thirty thousand festival goers were descending to catch a glimpse of Rihanna.  Arriving twenty five minutes late, the pop sensation was bordering on having irritated the crowd by the time she made an appearance, but she managed to pull them back on side and gave flawless performances of her hits including ‘Don’t Stop The Music’, ‘Only Girl In The World’, ‘Pon De Replay’, ‘Rude Boy’, ‘What’s My Name?’, and of course, ‘Umbrella’.  All the top songs were there, and the iconic red hair, which could be seen emulated by fans across the crowd.

Rihanna sang as the sun set on the first evening at V Festival, and so it was in darkness, and with the full impact of well orchestrated stage lighting that Eminem made his appearance.  Most of the crowd stood dedicated, to see his act, despite cold temperatures once it was dark, but no one who saw him will regret their perseverance, as it really was Eminem who got the party started with his mesmerising performance.  In his first UK appearance since 2003, Eminem set V Festival alight, blasting out 28 brilliant tracks over 90 minutes, from his first hit ‘My Name Is’, to all time favourite ‘Stan’ which the crowd sang along to during the Dido parts.  Even Eminem looked impressed at the reception he received, and when he asked the audience to hold cigarette lighters and mobile phone lights into the air for his hit the aptly named ‘Lighters’, it was a spectacle to be remembered.  The biggest cheer of the night, and probably the entire festival, came when Rihanna joined Eminem on stage for their recent number one ‘Love the way you lie’.  The chemistry on stage between the pair was tangible and as the audience sang along to the infamous lyrics no one wanted the first day at V Festival to come to an end.

Like all good things, it did come to an end however, and just in time, as revellers had about 30 minutes grace to make it back to their tents before an  almighty thunderstorm broke which no one had predicted.  It was listening to the thunder and heavy rain, coupled with Eminem’s lyrics repeating in our heads, that myself and thousands of others fell asleep that night, looking forward to another fun filled day which didn’t disappoint.  My fellow festival virgin will cover the second day’s events here on Smashed Music during our next review instalment to follow soon…

V Festival was my first festival experience but now I’ve caught the bug it certainly won’t be my last.  Festivals seem to bring out the best and worst in people – circumstances drive girls who’ve spent 2 hours applying makeup in a tent, reduced to squatting in full view of everyone to go to the loo.  How did we avoid this fate?  What happens at V Festival stays at V Festival toilet wise, it is an issue best forgotten, but for those who need tips for next year’s event let’s just say there was a bucket in our tent we named Johnson.  If there is anything that could come close to the portaloo situation in terms of shock factor it is the rubbish on the floor at V Festival, which is unbelievable.  At the end of three days the site resembled a fly tipping zone.  Venture anywhere close to the stage and you are certain to get cups of what you will hope is beer thrown over you.  It is one of those rare occasions in life where you sniff your hair to check whether that is wee in it.

However if you can live with these factors for a short time, you will find the amazing side of festival life.  Everyone is carefree and wants to forget their troubles and just enjoy themselves.  Social barriers are removed at these events, where the factor everyone has in common is a love of music.  Festivals are the perfect opportunity to escape for a while.  Although in reality Weston Park was only about 45 minutes away from where I live and work, mentally it was a million miles away, because it was such an extraordinarily different way to spend a weekend.  There were a few goosebump moments during the very best acts, which will stay with me for years to come, and if you embrace the festival atmosphere you can laugh off even the most gross of situations.

I’m eager to experience different festivals now, in particular of course the Godfather of all festivals – Glastonbury.  But bigger isn’t always better, and as with another rite of passage in life, you always remember your first and compare everything that follows to it.  For me, that will always be V.

The Journey to Solfest begins!

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The Journey to Solfest begins!

Posted on 25 August 2011 by Mizzle

Our lovely Lindsey begins her journey to Solfest:

“Giving a lift to another ticketholder so as soon as that person shows at 10am on the bus, we are off. (Otherwise, we’ll just take their 6 bedroom tent that is here already and leave ’em behind!)

We’ll be there and entrenched, via a massive supermarket shop for beer, food, jelly, vodka, party poppers, conifers, and a sandy beach with deckchairs, by 12. Camping next to your car is the biz, you can take *everything*!!

Huge debates here about fancy dress, even at this hour. And even bigger arguments about which teddies we are going to take to do the parachute jumps LOL

We’ve made the most awesome stove in the last few hours – photos will be incoming via instagram if I can get a signal onsite, and now I am going to see if the rocking chair will fit in the car!!!”

What an exciting start to what sounds like an amazing weekend!

V Festival Checklist

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V Festival Checklist

Posted on 19 August 2011 by Chris Knight

Those lucky few with a ticket to this weekend’s V Festival will be busy packing over the next 24 hours.  With huge names in the line-up, and the promise of good weather, this year’s V looks set to be an unforgettable event.  However, there are certain items you should be bringing with you to make the experience as comfortable and practical as possible.   Most of us aren’t used to roughing it in tents on a regular basis, we make an exception for an event like V, but bringing a few essential items can make all the difference:

  • A waterproof tent

Most festival goers will be camping in a tent, and it is essential you have a waterproof one without holes.  The weather forecast might be predicting sunny skies but in the UK we can never bank on it staying dry, so make sure you aren’t cold and damp at night, by packing a decent waterproof tent which includes a floor sheet to keep you out of the mud.

  • A waterproof coat

We’re not trying to rain on your parade (ha) by going on about the possibility of bad weather, but if you want to avoid being a soggy sad sack shivering in time to the music, bring a waterproof jacket just in case.

  • Wellies

Wet or dry, you’ll be getting muddy spending the weekend in a field, so forget shoes of any type other than wellies.  They’ll keep your feet dry, bottom of your jeans clean, and teamed with a cosy thick pair of socks, you’ll be as comfortable as in our old faithful slippers at home.

  • A torch

For midnight walks to find food or toilets, a torch is essential.  Think ahead and bring extra batteries as it’s bound to get a lot of use.

  • Wipes and Hand Sanitizer

We mentioned the T word just then.  Toilet.  The dreaded domain of any festival goer, but at some point over the weekend you’re going to need the loo.  Think portaloo.  Well if you want an accurate picture think something out of SlumDog Millionaire (but with better music in the background!)  It’s true that the loo’s will be pretty dire but it’s all part of the experience so get some tissues or wipes ready and hand sanitizer too.  Our advice – get in and out as quickly as possible and try not to look around.  Or breathe.

  • Your own food and drink

To cut costs while at the Festival bring as much of your own food and drink as you can carry – prices are notoriously expensive at the event.  You will be allowed to bring food and drink to the camping area but not the stage area so plan ahead what to bring.  Paper plates and plastic cups are another good idea.

  • A flag

“But I’m not that patriotic” I hear you cry.  This isn’t a God save the Queen moment, this is a god where’s our tent moment, as yours is likely to become lost among thousands.  Those who are smart will bring a flag to mount to theirs and enable them to spot it from afar.

  • An umberella

Rhianna’s going to V, and she said you can stand under her umbrella, but you’re not all going to fit under there so bring your own.  Be careful not to poke anyone in the eye with it in the crowded area in front of the stage.

Now that you’ve ticked off the essentials from our checklist, you can relax, set up your camping spot and enjoy the weekend safe in the knowledge that you’ve got everything you need.  Now where are those tent pegs…. Tent pegs anyone?  The list didn’t mention the pegs… damn.

Smashed Music Goes Global Part Two

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Smashed Music Goes Global Part Two

Posted on 14 August 2011 by Mizzle

Friday night at Global was going to be tough to beat, none the less bleary eyed clubbers emerged from their ovens also known as tents in the blistering hot British sunshine. Breakfast was easily available and not too overpriced. I managed breakfast, tea and a fruit smoothie for under a fiver, showers were not bad either!  In that heat we needed them.

The day began and the festival began to fill up, by mid afternoon it was much busier than the Friday night, every tent was pretty much packed out as well as the main stage. Brookes Brothers were one of my first points of call and it turned out to be the highlight of the festival for myself. Simply put, they were incredible! In eleven years of DJing and clubbing I have never heard a more energised perfectly timed set to keep a crowd in the moment of euphoria and sadly I probably never will again. The tune selection was perfect as well as the mixing and interaction with the crowd. For one hour, the Hospitality tent was probably sending local Geiger counters crazy given the amount of jumping and bass pumping out of the sound system.

The Brookes Brothers were going to be a tough act to follow, later I ventured to see the amazing sounds and visuals of the American Dub Step heavyweight, Skrillex. He did not disappoint. Just about the most jaw dropping insane visual display, flashing and moving behind him as he played out his usual Metal influenced Dub Step sounds. I recall a version of La Roux – ‘In For The Kill’ accompanied by a 3D skellington and weird morphing shapes with the crowd, me included singing along.

Big name act after big name act followed round all the tents, Global Gathering was in full swing, until I ventured to the main stage to see some of the Headline acts such as Tinie Tempah. I was greeted by people heading in the opposite direction and a change in atmosphere and tempo. It felt like a mis match and out of place. When he performed ‘Mosh Pit’ followed by ‘Love Suicide’ you could feel the mood change, a friend turned to me and said “Im not at Global anymore” which was greeted by agreement from numerous others. Another note was for a lyricist as good as Tinie Tempah, he was not very good at speaking to the crowd. A wide vocabulary? Every other word was an expletive and not much inbetween. I did not stay for the finale….

Feeling a need to get back to the more vibrant element of Global, we headed to the largest tent Metropolis, where Chase and Status were due to play live. Anticipation hung in the air and people were crammed in from all angles. A huge roar went up as they entered the stage from left and right accompanied by MC Rage for their set. The stage was set as they opened with ‘No Problem’ with the haunting image of Takura from the video glaring down from behind them dressed as some sort of ultra violet voodoo priest. The crowd responded singing every lyric and throwing hands in the air, a far cry from Tinie Tempah earlier. Their set contained all their big releases and remixes including ‘Heartbeat’, ‘Eastern Jam’, ‘Blind Faith’ and the awesome ‘Pieces’ which was accompanied by a dazzling laser display. Energy, great MC work from Hype utilising the whole stage, and an amazing visual and lights show with a great performance. This had been epic.

Nero were to follow an, at times breath taking set from Chase and Status. It was a tough act to follow, but follow they did. Not starting with quite the same energy though, this was a progressive build of big synths, wobbles and breaks to the grand finale – the unveiling of vocalist Alana. A great live performance followed of the three crowd pleasing tracks ‘Me & You’, ‘Guilty’ and the new track ‘Promises’ all greeted by elation and big cheers. Alana was pitch perfect with her vocals not missing a note as the crowd responded chanting back the words.

Over all Global Gathering 2011 was a great mix of all types of Electronic dance music from Tech House to Drum and Bass mixed and played live by some great artists and DJs. Others I encountered who also rocked the festival were Ferry Corsten, Ben Gold, Gabriel and Dresden, Erol Alkan, Fake Blood and James Zabelia.

My only gripe with the entire festival is that Angel Music Group might consider booking headline acts more suited to the rest of the festival but still give a live feel. Deadmau5, Daft Punk, Prodigy, Faithless, Chemical Brothers, Tiesto even David Guetta if they want to keep a commercial element. Over all though, well worth a ticket and a great experience.Roll on Global Gathering 2012

Check out the photos on our Smashed Music Facebook Page

By Richard Chapman

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The Big Chill 2011 – Festival Review.

Posted on 12 August 2011 by Glenn Tucker

The Big Chill 2011 – Festival Review.

If you are looking for a festival that includes Sunday night riots, toilet tipping and tent burning, kicking your way to the front of the crowd with an elbow or two in your face as you go along and trudging through a newly decorated field of plastic cups and condoms on your way back then The Big Chill is the last place you should go.

This isn’t to say I don’t enjoy a good rock festival with all the above but when I first thought of what a festival should be I imagined more of a family friendly, hippy approach with alternative treatments, niche bookshops onsite and strangers gathering around campfires in the evening. Lo and behold, The Big Chill 2011 had all of these.

Unfortunately we missed the Friday night performance by The Chemical Brothers, arriving around lunchtime on Saturday, but were lucky enough to setup camp and get down to the noticeably clean arena (thanks to the kids picking up branded cups in exchange for 10p each) with more than enough time to get our bearings and start the day off with a quality Mojito from the Bacardi tent.

The site itself was huge with plenty to see and do, including a separate area for families and children that was heavily guarded, and despite our best efforts to gain entry with our press passes we were turned away.

Instead we paid a visit to the Enchanted Garden, an area for alternate therapies including Reiki, Hypnotherapy, various deep tissue massage areas and even tea and sauna tents but most importantly they had a hot and spicy cider truck which was welcome treat as the weather was not the kindest with wind, rain and only small amounts of sunshine making an appearance. The Enchanted Garden also contained an Art Trail; open from 9pm till 2am which we explored much later in the evening and consisted of various audio visual displays and ambient lighting, clearly designed for those not just drinking alcohol but an interesting addition nonetheless. I can’t say it was not amusing watching people hang their thoughts on the tree that instructed them to share their mind apples.

The first performance we caught were Metronomy on the main stage (the Deer Park Stage) and next was Jessie J who performed brilliantly despite having to sit down for her whole set due to an injury. The sound quality was fantastic for both of these and for all other acts we caught too, including a newly gained favourite of mine, Kraak en Smaak.

Normally I would expect a festival site to quiet down after the main act but The Big Chill had plenty going after hours including a killer set by Kissy Sellout and a packed Bacardi stage. With the guest area tents open till 5am with fire bowls all set out to keep the chill away we thought we would be out for the rest of the night but even after a quick rest and recovery we made an unforgivably early retirement at only 2am.

Sunday morning brought some early sunshine and as we made our way back to the main arena we couldn’t help but notice how clean the grounds were looking once again. Not a single cup, can or bottle was left in sight and already families were out enjoying the day.

Unfortunately the weather did not hold out and the temperature dropped as we took cover in the psychedelic White Rabbit Lounge, a space for chilling and, by the looks of most people there, leaving your mind at the door and fetching it again on the way out.

Once the worst of the rain had passed we made one last brave effort to catch a couple more acts including British reggae group Steel Pulse. If the sun was shining they would have fitted in seamlessly but unfortunately I was finding it hard to identify with their upbeat groove as I watched the breath form in front of my face. The North Mississippi Allstars Duo were the final act for us, bringing a Southern Blues sound to the Malvern Hills which would have been a lot more enjoyable once again, in some sunshine.

Overall The Big Chill festival was a hit and delivered on every level. For families it was safe, clean and Friendly. For the individual it was engaging and exciting and for a group of three it was exhausting but exhilarating and is definitely on my list of festivals to visit in 2012.

 

The Big Chill – Back view of the Main Stage

Smashed Music Goes Global

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Smashed Music Goes Global

Posted on 06 August 2011 by Mizzle

With the UK festival season well under way, the last weekend in July 2011 meant it was time for the UK’s dance music centrepiece to get under way at Long Marston Airfield.

Global Gathering boasted another huge line-up, organised by Angel Music Group, was sure to please the 55,000-plus global gatherers tuning in their aural senses over the weekend.

This year saw the recognition of the rise and rise of the dub step and drum and bass genres, both breaking out of the underground over the last few years and into the limelight. This Global Gathering line-up offered big name UK top 40 regulars Chase & Status and Nero, alongside other acts such as Skrillex, Brookes Brothers, Doorly, Danny Byrd… the list goes on.

House music lovers needed no fear of a takeover though, with a plethora of house and trance DJs and producers gracing turntables, CDJs, laptops and whatever else DJs apply their craft with these days..

For once, a UK festival managed to avoid the rain – wellies were surplus to requirements, replaced by flip flops and pumps.

With the sun shining and the stages set, Friday began with me getting my bearings and stumbling towards the nearest tent from camp, Group Therapy.

This was a trip back in time, ten years ago, to the good old days of trance dominating dance music, with very similar floaty rises, sweeps and huge drops blasting out the sound system. Gareth Emery was in charge and had a three-quarters-full tent singing along to every word of his track Above & Beyond and Gareth EmeryOn A Good Day. Albeit the lyrics were displayed on the giant visual displays behind him.

With my trip back in time over, it was time to venture round the rest of the festival.

Five huge marquee tents were on offer, plus an outdoor mini-stage that Tool Room Records were hosting that night, and of course the main stage, where headliners Pendulum were playing live.

All in all, there was plenty to get your teeth into, even if that was not music based. There were plenty of fair rides to enjoy, and a wide selection of food outlets to fuel up at. The drinks selection was not quite as vast though, with Tuborg being pretty much the only lager on offer, plus a few spirits and bottles of VK Cherry in the boozy tents.

After grabbing a Tuborg off a wondering beer dispenser, the sounds of Fedde le Grande on the Tool Room stage were calling. This was dirty, big-room house, thumping out around 128bpm – which seemed slow at first compared to the fast-paced trance. Fedde was in the zone though, with crowd pleasing bloops, bleeps and bass dropping left right and centre.

With the sun setting, and time ticking on, after also experiencing an awesome dub step set from Plastician and P Money in the Rinse tent, it was time for WAX:ON Boys Noize, followed by Radio 1’s Annie Mac.

Both were on fine form, mixing some great records for a packed-out tent, the highlights being Boys Noize ending with his My Moon My Man track, and Annie Mac playing the Ibiza anthem by Stardust – Music Sounds Better! Then ending with a drum and bass and jungle mini-set with a few classics, M BeatIncredible received with a rapturous roar and lots of waving hands! Then into DJ Hype’s classic remix of the Fugees – Ready or Not.

Annie Mac’s five-star performance, coupled with Global’s stage and stunning visuals, meant this tent was jumping, and a great send-off to Global’s Friday night.

Richard Chapman