Marking the end of a rather tumultuous summer, Festival Nº6 provided a welcome weekend of escape from the real world.
Indeed, the disassociation from reality that comes with being in a field with a bunch of strangers for a weekend is amplified at Nº6. Taking place in Portmeirion, an Italian-inspired tourist village home to pastel coloured houses and picturesque views, it’s impossible to imagine anything bad happening at Festival Nº6. And it didn’t. While the weather may have had other plans, Nº6 persevered in a way other festivals have proved unable to do this ‘summer,’ making for a soggy, but perfectly wonderful weekend. There’s a lot to do at Nº6, and though it felt at points like there were gaping holes lacking good music, this only left room for exploration. Wander into the woods to discover those stages on the lineup that you spent the rest of the weekend looking for, walk around the village and stumble into a game of human chess, or, as you would have done on Sunday discover varying covers of Beatles tracks celebrating the 50th anniversary of Sgt Pepper. At one point I found myself learning to Charleston in a funny little room at the top of a winding staircase. It’s hard to convey the magic of Nº6 in words.
Championing new music, the weekend saw a host of the most exciting new bands take to the stages of Nº6. While arriving on Friday meant missing the likes of Kidsmoke, Honeyblood and Natalie McCool, PINS provided the perfect soundtrack to tent-pitching, and despite not being able to see it, their chants of “Everyone says we’re no good / we don’t do what we should” in ‘Bad Thing’ bellowing from the main stage sounded massively triumphant. The celebration of new music continued across the weekend, with Saturday seeing Ten Tonnes, Cabbage and The Slow Readers Club take over the festival. Plus, with a last-minute surprise in the form of Brighton’s Black Honey – frontwoman Izzy Baxter hypnotising the audience with her doll-like stare – Saturday was a definite highlight. It was, however, Superfood, who stole the show. As the sun finally squeezed its way through the clouds, the four-piece stormed through a triumphant set celebrating the release of their new album Bambino. With the likes of ‘Natural Supersoul’ Superfood showcased an infectiously danceable new sound to a willing audience.
It seems the smaller acts and tents triumphed at Nº6. Following raucous sets from both Jagwar Ma and The Cribs in the Grand Pavilion (both likely to have filled the main stage but only benefited from the atmosphere of a smaller tent) Bloc Party seemed to pale in comparison. Though inarguably better than Friday’s headliner (I’ve never seen a headline set quite so empty as it was for Mogwai), Bloc Party lacked something.
Sunday was the saving grace for the main stage. Rag ‘n’ Bone Man stole the entire festival with his vocals alone, before The Flaming Lips took to the stage for their show. I’ll put my hands up and admit I’ve never actively listened to The Flaming Lips; it didn’t matter. In fact, while their tracks aren’t bad, they seem to acts more as a backdrop for their showcase than anything else. With multiple costume changes, including a rideable unicorn, a giant ball and something that looked like tin foil, Wayne Coyne and co were in their element – “We feel like we’re in the exact place we should be,” he remarked mid story about a triple rainbow that had covered the village earlier in the day. Indeed, for a festival site so wacky, The Flaming Lips were the perfect closing to a wonderfully bizarre festival.
Words: Melissa Svensen / @MelYeaahh
Photos: Jon Mo / @JonMoPhoto