By Woodrow Whyte
As I type, I’m currently experiencing something of a cognitive dissonance. My challenge is to find some of the best summer music festivals across Europe, yet sharp crystals of snow are cascading horizontally outside my window. It’s -2°C and I’m in my bed with a scarf and hat, doggedly waiting for winter to piss off. Is the festival season really only round the corner? It may seem but a distant dream, yet Glastonbury is only 100 days or so away. Oh how I long to be sat in the Stone Circle being sold NOS balloons by dodgy looking men in dinosaur costumes whilst being persuaded by a discerning Goddess of Avalon named Zen about the holistic curing properties of camel shit. *sigh*
I’ve always found the concept of romanticising or caring for a chain of high street shops absurd. To me, they are a faceless pickpocketing point for things we desire, and much more rarely, need. The (ongoing) national mourning for the collapse of Woolworths is possibly the most ridiculous example of them all. It seems like every day somebody with nothing better to say will still recount the time “I used to go with my Nan and buy the pick ‘n’ mix every Saturday”. Implying that if it wasn’t for Woolworths, childhood as we know it would have ceased to exist. Not that they would have gone to another shop and that would have been the end of it. Or that, in truth, it was just a really shit shop.
Bestival, Isle of Wight, September 6-9 2012
By Woodrow Whyte
Bestival, like a good prostitute, is anything you want it to be. There is simply so much going on that anyone will find their cultural fetishes thoroughly satisfied if you look hard enough.
If it’s the big hitters you’re after, look no further than main stage behemoths like Stevie Wonder, New Order or Florence and the Machine. Or if you fancy a bit of academia or poetry, then the Amphitheatre in the Ambient Forest will play host to your itching intelligentsia needs. But maybe you like nothing more than taking a few pills and pretending melodies never existed, well the Bollywood, Roller Disco and Arcadia stages will keep you raving almost all day and all night. But if your me, perhaps its waking from a red wine coma at 4am to discover your dancing topless in a tiny, sweaty room with Sink the Pink, the most outrageous group of drag queens this side of New York.
WOMAD Festival – Charlton Park, July 27-29 2012
By Isabel Bedford
This year’s WOMAD at Charlton Park marked the 30th anniversary of the festival. To mark such a momentous occasion you might expect a knock-out line-up, but to be honest this year’s programming was a little underwhelming, despite being as eclectic as ever. Performances by the big names were a little too safe for my liking, but there were still a fair few musical gems to be heard over the course of the weekend.
There is always a very pleasant, good-natured atmosphere at WOMAD, which makes it a comfortable event to be at. What’s more, the crowd really listens to the artists, which means you can actually hear them. The weather held up this year. I managed to get away with not bringing wellies, although it did get pretty chilly overnight. Woollen blankets and colourful Mexican ponchos were certainly out in force on both Saturday and Sunday evenings.
Top 10 Acts @ The Great Escape – Various Venues, Brighton, May 10-12 2012
The Great Escape is now widely seen as the premier festival for new music in Europe. Or at least that’s what it claims on the snazzy tote-bag I was given.
Located on the sometimes-sunny south coast in Brighton, anyone with even the most tenuous link to ‘the business’ descends for three nights of music and three days of very intense hangovers. Musika sent me on a mission to find the best 10 bands I could find. Not only did I discover some awesome bands and renew my love for others, I also got shat on by a seagull. Now, if that’s not a festival selling point, I don’t know what is…
A Report on All Tomorrow’s Parties (ATP), Minehead, March 9-11, 2012
By Charles Agar
This was my first ATP, and in case you’re not familiar with the format there’s a few factors that separate it from your run-of-the-mill British summer festival circuit. First off, it’s not held in summer – it’s held in early December (although this one was delayed until March for reasons that are still unclear.) The wintry calendar slot is partly because it takes place at Butlins, and you can leave your tents at home folks, since accommodation is an upgrade to the comparative luxury of a shared chalet.
The Watershed’s 1st Birthday Celebrations: ‘Sheding Festival’, March 23-25 2012
“A Dirty Little Art Hole” is how Newport Pagnell’s The Watershed describes itself, proclaimed in big letters on a sign over one of the doors. Proudly.
A year old and, having cut its first teeth and learned to stand and toddle, its personality is coming to the fore. Watch out for the ‘terrible twos’!
This weekend, there was more than birthday cake on offer as The ‘Shed played host to a fine array of bands. The venue may be small; not all would say it was perfectly formed, but its certainly more than capable of punching above its weight when it comes to booking acts. Toy Horses have recently been here and Carter USM’s Jim Bob and New Model Army are on the way. But I’ve just had one of the best festival experiences of my life. And I didn’t even have to so much as look at a tent.