Escot Park, Devon
My third visit to this do in Devon. Spoiler: I seem to have watched lots of folk music.
Friday was dismally wet, probably the worst conditions I’ve ever had at a festival. We had the traditional Levellers acoustic set to raise the curtain, which was, let’s be honest, broadly similar to last year’s traditional Levellers acoustic set. l The only act I saw on the main stage all day was Seth Lakeman. My joke walking over was that the weather would suit his music, ie grey, wet and tuneless but he was actually really good. Seen him before and been bored stiff but I enjoyed him here, probably down to his new band – the new electric guitar added some classic Fairport kind of vibes. Give the weather, I spent most of the time in the tent, where the highlights were This Is The Kit – Kate’s a really engaging frontwoman, and the music was great – and the amazing Songhoy Blues. So energetic and upbeat, uplifting and danceable on a miserable day. The perfect closing act.
The rest of the weekend was mostly hot and sunny, meaning that after Bristol hero Gaz Brookfield’s rousing (and packed) midday main stage set I spent most of the afternoon falling down a “drinking and sitting on the grass” hole and then a “my friend’s kid has been in the craft area and made a wooden knife which he has promptly stabbed himself with so let’s hotfoot it over to the medical tent” hole, so I didn’t see much. Did rouse ourselves to watch half of Ash and then the lovely Kate Rusby towards the end of the evening who were both very enjoyable. Also came across some spectacular stilt walkers in bizarre make up and costumes who could have wandered off a Tom Baker era classic Doctor Who story.
Sunday kicked off at the unfairly early time of 11am with The Membranes & Choir – John Robb’s lot playing dark and powerful post-punk grooves with a twelve (ish) piece choir. It might sound like an odd combination, but they were brilliant. Some tracks began with choral chanting and slowly spiralled into Mogwaiesque noise explosions, while others came on like Joy Division playing Carmina Burana. One of the highlights of the weekend. After them, The Bar Steward Sons Of Val Doonican are one of those acts who are great at a festival when you are on the outside of several ciders but best left alone under normal circumstances. Banco de Gaia got me going in the dance tent, a DJ set rather than the live band set up but still good ethnodub fun, and then NOFX were appallingly pisspoor on the main stage. I’ve never been a fan of the generic SoCal pop punk sound, but this undercut my already rock bottom expectations. Then it all wrapped up with Levellers again, this time in main stage electric mode (it is their festival, after all). They were celebrating the 25th anniversary of their 1994 Glastonbury headline by playing that set again, which meant that they dredged up some songs I haven’t heard live for ages instead of their usual trick of regurgitating Levelling The Land plus the only four or five decent songs they’ve written in the last twenty years. I do get a bit cynical about their shameless nostalgia milking, but they are undeniably fun and we all had a great time with them.
Good festy, will go again.
Some old, some young, mostly hippies, pretty much all friendly and happy
It made me think..
Ferocious Dog must do alright out of their T shirt sales.