Boardmasters is quickly becoming ‘the festival’ of the year to attend. With a huge amount of hype and some massive acts gracing the stages over the weekend we knew it was going to be something special – but would it be able to live up to its rapidly growing reputation?
Sun, sea and great music – three things that Boardmasters promises and this year it delivered in every way possible. This is a festival for everybody, music fans to athletes, rockers to dance fans, party goers to the more laid back. A wide array of music genres, food types and things to do made sure that everyone was always enjoying themselves.
Friday morning was hot, it was like something was in the air that deemed it almost predictable that it was going to be a both unforgettable and unbelievably good day. Armed with our festival necessities (sun cream, food money that ends up becoming beer money, and other things that aren’t really necessary at all), we approached the festival and were ready to confront the weekend that lay in front of us.
Pulled Apart By Horses
First up on the main stage was Gabrielle Alpin, her voice and musical ability offered a soothing and relaxing start to what was soon to become a hectic weekend. Her voice was stripped back, just her and her instruments which showed both the extent of her talent and a huge amount of courage but we thought she might have been better suited to a smaller stage. (6/10)
Although not an official stage at the festival, there was a small set up that caught our attention as we were walking past. Part of the Jeremiah Weed stall (which supplied people with free t-shirts and samples of their beer over the weekend) was a small stage that was attracting quite a crowd, Man Get Out was responsible for this crowd. The upbeat band with an indie feel yet an individual twist secured more of an audience than some of the other bands on the main stages and the crowd didn’t hesitate to sing along with the lovely Liverpool 5-piece, even if they hadn’t heard them before. Bring The Noise caught the guys after their set to see how they were getting on at their first year at Boardmasters. They told us that this was the best festival they had ever played ‘just because of the weather’ and that they were planning to hit the beach to surf later on, with the recording of an album beginning in February 2013 it looks like these guys are the ones to watch and one of the best finds of Boardmasters. (9/10)
We went to check out the Energy Sessions stage next, playing legendary alternative songs by bands like System Of A Down, Rage Against The Machine and Sum 41 to Hip-Hop Classics by Eminem and Kanye West. It was guaranteed that something everyone knew would be playing and everybody would be loving it.
The View was one of the nicest stages, purely because sometimes it was nice to sit down and relax. Peter Bruntnell was a stand out act here, listening to his quirky, Bob Dylan influenced music whilst overlooking the sea at Watergate Bay was incredibly peaceful. When talking to him, he also agreed that Boardmasters was one of the best festivals he had ever played – and since he has been in this business for around 25 years, we can take this as pretty credible. (8/10)
Despite some bad dancing, the absence of Ms. Dynamite and its part deflation, the Desperados Dome always promised a good time. All of the resident DJs did a good job of getting the crowd ready for the main acts and played a mixture of dance and drum and bass, well and truly getting everyone in the party mood. Duke was one of the most highly anticipated acts at Desperados, the three piece act included a guitarist, a singer and a beat boxer and it was refreshing to see real talent as they covered a number of current popular songs. (7/10)
Feed The Rhino
Taking it up a notch, we visited the Vans stage to see part of the Smoking Hearts set. Although the crowd participation was good (during the last song the band members jumped off the stage and performed the song whilst stood in the crowd), some of the songs sounded a bit messy and it didn’t feel like they were offering us anything we hadn’t heard before. (6/10) Later on in the day the Marmozets played this stage also, offering a good performance but this was a bit of a disappointment because the sound quality wasn’t as good as it could have been, it was difficult to hear Becca Macintyre above the backing music and that seemed to detract quite a few people from their music and set. (6/10)
Marley Point was always busy, a massive crowd surrounded this area when the sun set over the sea, so Pyramid who was playing at this time was a big attraction. His fast paced, loud music was designed to make people dance, and that’s exactly what it did. (7/10)
Just because the sun had set it didn’t mean that things were about to calm down – it was quite the opposite, so we decided to head to the main stage. The Ting Tings played here early into the evening and most people seemed to be excited for the older songs like That’s Not My Name, unfortunately not a lot of people knew the words to their newer tracks. Although, this didn’t seem to bother most people and nevertheless both old and new fans shared equal enthusiasm as the beat to The Ting Tings reverberated around the festival. (7/10)
As it got later into the evening there was a buzz about the crowd, everyone was excited for the headline act of the day – Ed Sheeran. It has to be said, he exceeded everyone’s expectations and was the best act of day. Ed’s voice was flawless, the atmosphere was incredible and by playing a clever mix of slow and fast, new and old songs he made sure that he had everybody hanging on to his every word. One thing we enjoyed was how Ed brought things down to a personal note – laughing along with the crowd and telling us stories about his songs. A definite highlight and someone not to miss if you ever get the chance to see him in the future. It was hard to choose a stand out song as they were all of a high calibre but Wayfaring Stranger, The A Team and You need me, I don’t need you were our definite favourites. (10/10)
The day began not as impressively, everyone felt rough and tired and a grey cloud seemed to be hanging around Watergate Bay. But whether it was a sugar fix from the Sweeties stall, a morning beer or a stint at the oxygen bar, everyone seemed to recover and feel better quite quickly.
Lilygreen & Maguire were one of the first bands of the day. They played the main stage and had already acknowledged that not a lot of people would know who they were. To combat this, they played both their own songs and also an acoustic medley of popular songs including tracks by Adele and The Killers which went down pretty well with the crowd. (8/10)
The Vans Stage hosted Kernuyck, a heavy band with a traditional rock sound who had also incorporated newer elements, the talent of the vocalist James Rotheram was impressive as he was able to adapt his voice to different styles of song. A definitely good sound with a unique take and they all seemed to be really nice guys. (8/10) In the afternoon here was also Crowns, a Cornish and proud band with a traditional, folk feel and a strong fan base (shout out to those who made a crowns flag!). The drummer of this band, Nathan Haynes, was one of the strongest elements and a definite highlight of the band. Overall they offered a solid performance and will have gained more fans here for their impressive efforts. (8/10)
The Comedy Hour at The View stage offered us a refreshing change from the relentless music, highlights from this include Graham Wilkes and Tom Appleton, they both offered some individualistic humour and the audience seemed to be enjoying them a lot – although the humour wasn’t really family friendly and it might not have been to everyone’s taste. (7/10)
Maximo Park played on the main stage and they sounded good live, both in vocals and the band, the British alternative rock group delivered a good performance that was definitely worthy of being on the main stage. They seemed to really get the crowd ready for the headline act of the day and offered a range of songs that felt familiar to the loyal fan base that turned up to see them. (7/10) After them, it was time for the main act of the day, Dizzee Rascal. The crowd went crazy when he came on and he played everyone’s favourites such as Jus’ a rascal, Sirens, Dance Wiv Me and I Luv U. The whole of Watergay Bay felt like it was shaking as thousands of fans jumped and danced to the well-known beat of Dizzee Rascal. He sounded good live and got the crowd moving, even to the newer songs that he played. (9/10)
Boardmasters was the ideal festival, a blend of many elements to create a unique festival that can appeal to and attracts a huge range of people. It was two of the best days of the year for us and the defining weekend of summer. This weekend can not be missed, so we’ll see you there next year.
Written by: Holly Bradley
Photos by: Carl Spring http://www.carlspring.net