Review by Jonathan Taylor
After a prolonged leave of absence from gigs and festivals, 100 Above Festival located deep within the Leicestershire countryside was the perfect starting point to kick start a return to live music. The home of the festival is Gopsall Farm and given the cancellation of many of this summer’s music festivals it is no surprise that this 1500 capacity affair was a sell out. Within the grounds of the farm, stages have been erected in barns and outbuildings and hay bales and farm machinery scatter the site which provides a wonderfully quirkiness and charm to the festival site.
Headliners for the weekend are Sports Team, The Amazons, Sundara Karma and West Lothian outfit The Snuts.
Though the main stages don’t spring into life until Friday afternoon, early arrivals to the festival were treated to some intimate performances from the likes of Bess Atwell, the incredible young talent that is Tom A Smith and a stripped back set from Amber Red.
Proceedings get under way on Friday with Birmingham based band The Clause who open the Elizabeth Stage followed by and likes of Andrew Cushins, Apre and Kawala play the Commune Stage. The fuzzy guitars of Black Honey and an incredibly energetic performance from Sports Team bring the day to a close.
Saturday sees amongst others, Pixey, Alfie Templeman and Larkins play the on the Commune Stage, whilst one of the weekends stand out performances comes from Liverpool based four piece, Courting who played The Old Town Hall Stage along with other acts including Weird Milk. Closing headliners are Fickle Friends and The Amazons.
Sunday sees some of the musical highlights of the weekend. A fantastic performance from the youthful punk inspired Bilk and a wonderfully melodic set from Jaws. The Snuts who are at the top of their game was just the perfect finale and an incredible way to bring a weekend of live music to a close.
During the weekend whilst watching Sports Team from the side of stage, an elderly gentleman dressed in wellington boots and red overalls appeared by my side. We get chatting and it transpires his name was John and the owner of Gopsall Farm. He tells me that the barn that houses the Commune Stage, which is packed with the joyous faces of the crowd in ten days’ time will be back to being a grain store after he has harvested his crop! I asked him about this year’s latest addition which is the larger stage in the adjacent field named the Elizabeth Stage. He explains that the stage is named after his late wife who passed away in recent years. The stage is set in a sloping field which makes for an ideal amphitheatre and a perfect legacy in his wife’s memory. The Elizabeth Stage is a clear statement of intent to drive the festival forward and catapult 100 Above Festival to the next level.
It can be said that the summer festival circuit has in recent years become quite predictable in terms of line up and generic standpoint. That couldn’t be further from the truth for 100 Above Festival. Musically some absolute gems were unearthed and new bands discovered. It was a joyous and intimate affair, incredibly easy to navigate and unique in both charm and character. An absolute delight of a festival.