Seriously, if Blissfields 2013 gets any better than it did this year, I will actually explode.
At Blissfields, the sun always shines on the righteous. But after a summer of write-off’s and constant rain, sun burn and flip flops were the fashion of the weekend at the 12th Blissfields. This year, for once, it did rain, but it was mainly when most people were tucked up safely in their tents.
The fun began (for the early campers) on Thursday, when Imperial Leisure closed the Bradley Bubble stage with Dennis swinging from the decorative lamp-shade, nearly bringing the roof down after SixNationState before them had done their best to blow it off. It was some performance by Gerry and co – probably the best show of their lives, making it even all the more sadder that they’ll no longer be performing as a band together.
After only their second year at the new home, Paul and Mel Bliss have turned the Woodmancott site into one of (if not the) best festival sites in the country. Although the site is bigger than Bradley Farm, there is still minimal walking needed – everything is still less than a five minute walk away from your tent – and this is a big win. Since last year, there have been a few subtle changes made. The Hidden Hedge has increased in size but been brought closer to the main action. The Bradley Bubble stage has moved next to the entrance to the camp-site and the Bubble Bus (where the DJ’s play), or The School Bus (as it was known this year) has been moved the the top of the hill. It’s the perfect location for the bus – you can look over the whole site and, if you’re in the right spot, can even see what’s happening down on the main stage.
The unique addition of a mini-golf course was a novel, and popular, idea – as was the sports area, especially designed for this years Sports Day/House Captain competition. Although I never took part, it was great fun watching people fall as they attempted space hopper long jumps and took part in gorilla racing. It would be great if the area remained next year (perhaps with some welly wanging, tractor tyre rolling, and some outdoor skittles – west country style? Just an idea!)
The baby Noel Gallagher lookalike (as I overheard someone say) Jake Bugg opened the main stage on Friday to an appreciative crowd – his Dylan-esque Lightning Bolt, a current Radio 1 favourite, being his stand out song, although new song “Two Fingers” also stuck in my memory. Whilst this was happening, one of our gang could not wait to tell me I’d missed probably one of the biggest treats of the weekend up in the Hidden Hedge, where Bebe Black had played a stunning set for Joel Ransoms curated Express FM slot. I Dream In Colour had also played and I’d missed them both. Balls. I immediately went to get myself a programme to make sure I never missed another thing (not that it actually helped).
Oresteia, along with Helen, their paper mache head prop from their latest video were next up (our Mouth Of The South review sums up their performance for me), followed by Seán McGowan – an act we have recently been accused of over-hyping. This singer-songwriter has only just turned 19 and it was his first festival performance – and after his performance, I truly believe we haven’t hyped him enough. He pulled in a great sized crowd, had a brilliantly entertaining merch team with him and got a huge sing-a-long for This Old Town (a song that has been in the Strummerville DIY Top 5 for 6 consecutive months. He (and his guitarist, Dean) are one of the biggest talents in the area and I’m going to hype him until I can look back and say ‘Told you so…’. Something tells me I won’t have to wait long.
The absolute highlight of Friday was the set by heath:ward up in the Hidden Hedge. They were already amazing with the help of special guests Lucy Kitchen and Sam Welstead-Wood, but when Dobi Kwe arrived on stage and started whispering “sex, you want some more” into the mic on Slow, she stole the show as every single person watching jumped around like loons.
Waking up Saturday, I momentarily thought about going home – Friday had been such a brilliant day that I thought it just couldn’t get any better. Of course, I was wrong. (Although, my big regret was missing the wedding of Simon and Amy – a million apologies to you both). Amy and Simon arrived at their wedding on a horse drawn carriage. How many festivals have a wedding? I mean, a real wedding? None. And although it may sound strange, it just added to the whole atmosphere of the day and just made everybody want to enjoy the party even more. Saturday at Blissfields was honestly the best atmosphere (or should that be “vibes… man”) I have witnessed at any festival. Ever. Everybody was everybodies friend.
Saturday tickets had officially Sold Out and it was up to Stone Them Crows to open the second stage with their mind-blowing fuzz (again, see our Mouth Of The South review). I desperately needed food so sneaked off for a pizza and caught a bit of The Mini Band. The Mini Band are a bunch of kids, aged between 8-10, and who are amazingly talented for their age. I’ve seen worse bands playing who are 4 times their age – but they never did it for me today. Too early maybe, or too big a stage. Pronghorn did it for me though,but they always do… and I truly hope the Kings of Cow Punk will now become part of the Blissfields furniture. In my opinion, they are an essential festival band – songs about cider, great stage choreography, all round bags of fun that just makes you want to dance, no matter how tired your legs are. This will be controversial, but I never got Bastille - so many of my friends bang on about how good they are, but they’re not winning me over yet. I opted for a bit of Smokey Bastard instead. Any band that boasts the lyrics “Do you think John McClane gets shy-cock taking a piss with other dudes?” has got to be worth a look, right? Right. Shame I only caught 10 minutes of them.
The rest of Saturday was literally highlight after highlight: Fleetwood Bac (Brett Summer’s highlight), Dub Pistols (the introduction by Matt ,”Come on Motherfuckers” did the trick but I think he forgot there were kids about), Cut Corners (who blew me away more than they ever have), Charlotte Church (who obviously has an amazing voice (and a cracking jar of chutney) but I think she needs to smoke a few more fags to fit in with the image she is going for), Science of Eight Limbs (wow), Spector and The Noisettes with possibly the best Blissfields headline slot ever. Beans on Toast closed the festival with his traditional 1am slot on the second stage as only he can. At 1.30 in the morning everybody loves a song about drugs and some old favourites to sing along to – don’t they?
Even though most people were back in their tents, my favourite Blissfields moment was still to come, as I made my way up to the Hidden Hedge campfire to make new friends and find old ones. I got chatting to this bloke, Jim from Kidderminster, and a lady called Charlotte who had been working on the kids fields. I was positive I knew Jim from somewhere and it was after three hours of quizzing that I realised he was the man who had looked after me when I’d had a bad moment at Bearded Theory festival three years ago. We stayed up chatting til nearly 9am when I realised I had better head home. And that’s a whole other story – but it topped off what for me, and thousands of others, was the greatest Blissfields Festival so far.
Seriously, if 2013 gets better than that, I will actually explode.