As festival season is well and truly over, Warwick students nostalgically recall their favourite moments…
Soundwave Festival was brimming with eclecticism, a quiet (but wonderful) atmosphere preceded by the debauchery of Love International in Tisno, Croatia. Staged at the same festival site, if the rumours were true, they could not be further apart in terms of variation. One booms with House/Tech for five days, the other provides depth of genres unprecedented from personal experience of festivals. Yet, its line-up was familiar in its look, the artists ranging from Alexander Nut, Chunky, Channel One and Jordan Rakei. Therefore, I expected it to be familiar sonically, my assumption was wrong. Producer and DJ Romare exaggerates this wrongful assumption, I went into the main stage anticipating two hours of nice House that would allay the night ahead. Instead, I received a musical education into the tropical sound he typifies. He dropped ‘The Blues (It Began in Africa)’ in the middle of his set and the atmosphere was electric, and summed up the experiential of Soundwave, that whilst you can expect the familiar, the best DJs will always find time to uproot you and provide new discoveries.
Festival Internacional de Benicàssim
Benicassim could just as well be any other Spanish seaside resort, with its white sandy beaches and multitude of fine wine bars and restaurants – and it is for the most part of the year no doubt. Long-retired señores and señoritas probably quietly sup sangria, gazing out onto the Mediterranean, unperturbed for 51 weeks out of 52 (the liveliest it ever getting a particularly enthralling game of canasta). Then comes the British invasion… 150,00-odd punters (roughly 75 per cent of whom are British and Irish) who descend on the relatively small, coastal municipality in the second week of July. Certainly the bands on show reflect their anglicised audience. No Catalan-speaking (singing?) bands are allowed to perform – much to the ire of the local, nationalistic Valencian press who are well aware the festival is heavily publicly financed. In 2009, Oasis, Kings of Leon, Franz Ferdinand and The Killers all headlined. In 2011, it was The Streets, The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys and Arcade Fire. It’s indicative of the times (without wanting to go down that ‘indie is dead’ music journalistic rabbit hole) that 2016 sees Major Lazer and Kendrick Lamar at the top of the bill, beside perhaps more traditional bookings in Muse and The Chemical Brothers. Your dear, intrepid reviewer was struck down by sun stroke before the festival even began – and sunburnt so badly, every jostle and nudge and barge in his back amongst the throngs and crowds felt like the fieriest depths of hell had relocated to his jutting, bony shoulder blades. I saw then few, full sets. From what I did see though: Skepta kick-started things in style (duh), The Vaccines provided the weekend’s best sing-along, Jamie xx (seemingly bound to be a sure-fire success) was disappointing, Young Fathers prove they’re are going places (their confrontational, energetic set was not bettered), and there is only one king and his name is Kendrick Lamar.
This years Shambala festival was a bonanza of music, performance, dance, and dress up with too many highlights to recall, or even remember. But if I had to chose one moment, it would be without question roughly ¾ of the way into Friday night headliner Sister Sledge’s set, which took place before the weather got pretty biblical on the Saturday. Shambala is big on dress up, and despite debuting only last year its ‘Fruity Friday’ theme, which sees everyone in all their cross-dressing glory, is proving a massive hit. I was channelling Rihanna’s ‘Work’ video look (I think I pulled it off) with my female friend as Drake (she didn’t) accompanied by a host of 50s housewives and a flamenco dancer. So, having staked out an enviable spot in the middle/front of the crowd, the festival was electrified by those three glorious sisters belting out all their hits ‘We Are Family’ ‘Thinking of You’ ‘Lost in Music’ and even those of their fellow disco icons (they almost bested Chic’s own version of ‘Le Freak’). I lost my wig but hey, I’ll always have the memories…if I can find them.
On the first day of Boardmasters Festival in Newquay, a couple of friends and I headed down to the main stage to watch Blossoms play their set. The crowd started off small, but quickly grew as they played through their newly released, debut album. About half way through the set, the lead singer took a moment to announce to the audience that their album had done as predicted and reached number one in the charts. This was undoubtedly one of the defining moments of the entire festival. We were watching one of the current best bands in the UK play, with the most amazing view of the idyllic Watergate Bay beach on our left, Cornish cider in hand and the scarce British sun in our eyes.