And so the homegrown hoedown finally hits the little Georgian market town of Lymington.
Upon arriving you can see it all in one glance across the lush green ground – first the Terrapin tent that makes room for hazy acoustics from bands like Little Giants and dreamy dusk rock from Dios Mio. The size of the tent provided perfect shelter for those seeking shade and a break from partying around the large field, as well as nods and dances from those just beginning to be intoxicated by the summer sun. By night, it becomes Le Disco tent which provides headphones for a silent disco that fits in with the curfew and goes on till 4am.
On Friday this let Handsome Dave Rocker and Late Night TalesDJ’s loose onto the mix, resulting in cheesy disco classics from the likes of Chaka Khan, Gloria Gaynor, and Wham and on the other channel post modern house tunes and more current material to satisfy the younger generation. Mixing between both made the age gap in the tent 18 to at least 20 years above, the combination of the two proved an odd hit with it’s audience.
Saturday makes for a milder more current affair with house and dance music, but any worries you have about losing the retro side of things the Monkey Bar is at hand. Playing artists from Jamiroquai to Route 94 the small orange tent had a chilled dancy vibe and featured a long colourful list of cocktails.
The camping is the next thing you see, from the sheer size of the festival it’s much easier to find your tent as everything is a lot closer than it normally would be, so no hiking miles to the main stage this year folks. Another tent in the festival you notice is The Owlery, which is made for the kids that families bring along, with arts, crafts, theatre, and dance workshops being done here – and did I mention that kids go free? What you notice next is Massive In China, a traditional looking tent with hay bale seats and exotic blankets draped over tables. And with artists that go from The Brass Funkeys with their swinging morose jazz tones on songs like ‘Just A Closer Walk With Thee’ that sway the crowd, to the hilarity of comedians like Atella the Pun and Cheeky Kita with her surreal sense of humour.
Yet of course it is the Main Stage which stood out among all, and it held host to some brilliant artists. Kicking off on Friday with the subtle bleeping grooves on ‘The Big Time’ by The Golden Boys, we progress later onto the Strand Brackets who delivered rowdy raucous post punk that proved an afternoon delight with the thundering drums and wholesome vocal by frontman Brandon on ‘Someone Like Me’.
Old favourites The Operators returned with a bang this year, providing an active set with songs like ‘Meet Me In The Morning’ giving the perfect blend of rock and dance with it’s shy guitars and thumping hook. They also performed an alternative re-invention of the classic ‘You’ve Got The Love’ which got everyone singing along. And what better old favourite to also bring up other than Skinny Lister, who provided a euphoric performance which got everybody moving, especially for ‘The Gaff Don’t Let Us Down’ which provided the usual connect with a random group and jump style dancing. For once at this point most of the hay bales at the bar were vacant – not that anyone would notice throughout the traditional country party Skinny Lister brought to the stage, as well as a wave of nostalgia from their previous and equally enthralling performances. Friday was closed by the sharp suited Cuban Brothers who mixed swirling house in with hints of ska in tracks like “The Finding” and “Misdemeanour”. It brought in a large crowd, and they proved to be the perfect shake up for the end of a long hot day outside.
Saturday brought more folk into the spotlight with bright eyed cheer from Farmageddon whose frenetic acoustics rocked folk out of it’s safety bubble. Although their cover of ‘What Do We Do With The Drunken Sailor’ couldn’t have been played at a better time, what with the tipsy yachters sitting nodding along with their various ales. Meanwhile Feldspar played a captivating set of mellow soft rock tunes of melancholy and melody. Cheeky blunt lyrics like “we’ll forget each other’s names and forget each other’s clothes” may very well summarise many peoples unplanned festival escapades this weekend. Yet ‘Beautiful People’ swept a brooding lull into the set which slowed the sitting families, friends, and couples down to a gentle sway. All the excitement for Reggae Roast DJ’s also was what I expected, blissful soul dub that enchanted the audience with it’s tropical twinkles and reggae flavour and the consistent vague but wise message to “bring down the barriers”. If Reggae Roast DJ’s were the calmer part of the day, Jus Now woke everyone up and kicked any remaining tiredness away. Jus Now’s performance was a dance ska throwback that was fuelled by an energetic crowd and thudding bongo bass beats that encouraged the braver dancers in the crowd, one whose enthused twerk would have put Miley Cyrus to shame. Mighty Oaks slowed down once more but all the same played a rousing show which soaring acoustic love strung melodies which attracted a large crowd consisting of mainly more happy dancers. Mausi got everyone dancing ever more wildly, thanks to songs like ‘Hello’ which glows with a camp summer sheen and hooks on like ‘Get Lucky’ as a summer anthem, along with ‘1997 Dream’ which storms ahead like The Naked and Famous at their poppiest. But what made the crowd become a lot closer and more packed was Hudson Taylor. If you weren’t jumping along to their biggest single ‘Battles’ you were waving along to anti war ballad ‘Weapons’. But what came as a real surprise was their cover of Eminem ‘Lose Yourself’ that was pulled off with much gusto from the band and met with unconcealed glee from the crowd.
In terms of catering, they consider pretty much everyone food wise; locally sourced burgers, hog roast, a Caribbean food stall, Indian chapati wraps, a breakfast van, and a vegan shop. In terms of families they have that covered with the Owlery. Generally there is a sense of community spirit at the festival as it is mainly people from Lymington and nearby surrounding areas, but even the majority of unfamiliar faces were just as friendly. So if you want quality live acts without the mud or overcrowding of Glastonbury, Festibelly could be your calling.