It is often said that music festivals take around 5 years to cement themselves on a National level… but this is one festival baby with a bright and promising future!
THE GIG: Strawberry Fields Festival
WHERE: Leicestershire, England
WHEN: 26-28 August 2011
IN ONE WORD: Homegrown
With over 450 music festivals taking place in the United Kingdom this year, how does one choose where to spend hard earned cash and holiday time? Everyone’s heard of Glastonbury, Leeds, Secret Garden and Reading Festivals; but how about the smaller more intimate festivals that fill in the spaces between and offer a countryside escape without the endless toilet queues…
In just its second year, Strawberry Fields Festival 2011 is a baby as far as festivals go. It is often said that music festivals take around 5 years to cement themselves on a National level; but judging from this years event this is one festival baby with a bright and promising future!
An all-ages long weekend of music, carnival rides and camping; Leicester’s Strawberry Fields Festival was a merry one indeed. Those in attendance ranged from young families with trendy looking babies; to inebriated students, and old peace loving hippies. There was also notable presence from local teens – possibly because this was closer to home for worried parents than the larger Reading and Leeds festivals; and the semblance was relaxed and undemanding. Not everyone had come by car and foot though; a number of bands and fans alike had invested in a long commute to partake in the festivities. Some students we spoke with had travelled from as far a field as Jersey and Wales to catch their favourite new bands for “a more affordable price tag”.
Now down to the music…
Bands, Artists and DJs were spread out across 4 stages – A Main Stage fit for VIP artists; the Strawberry Jam tent [which was the highlight of the first night]; the acoustic ‘OT Lounge’ Bar stage; and a Dance Arena. There was also a rather popular ‘dance-boat’ whose DJs attracted a niche crowd; a mini carnival complete with mirror maze and dodgems [no long queues]; and a random lone acting groupe performing a play out of a white tent near the hot food caravans!
Main stage favourites such as American R&B star Kelis; internationally acclaimed Beatboxer ‘Beardyman’; rockers Mystery Jets; and the young ‘indie-hop’ duo Rizzle Kicks, brought a commercial flavour to the festival. Other notable main stage performances were superb Scottish band Modern Faces fresh off their tour with Kasabian; the smartly dressed and Bowie-esque KITES; the very popular Get Cape Wear Cape Fly, and the outstanding vocal capabilities of Under the Driftwood Tree.
The most rock and roll attitude award of the weekend would go to rockers of the moment Superevolver for lead singer, Mab’s on-stage language! That said, he turned out to be a really nice bloke actually, just not a big fan of sound engineers…
Stepping away from the main stage, a local musical presence was not to be denied.
Evident but justified, as Leicester’s talent pool is a scene to watch out for indeed! Local Favourites Great Imitation and Ashdowne shared the Strawberry Jam stage with standout Leeds Folk Rockers, Killing Fields of Ontario who each had the crowd dancing and sweating in minutes! Other local highlights for me were clearly Joel Owen & The Autoine Band [Leicester] and Little Night Terrors [Leicester]; with a special mention for Danny Greet who performed on the OT Lounge Bar Stage and impressed with compellingly strong vocals reminiscent of an early Oasis.
All in all: SFF2011 was a good, fun weekend. It didn’t have an overtly hippy vibe like The Secret Garden Festival, nor the commercial pretentiousness of V Festival; it was genuinely chilled out. I think over time that this festival could grow to something really quite special.
Certainly the ‘healing zone’ has a lot of room for growth if it is to contend with bigger countryside festivals; but the people and the music were spot on. Holiday time well spent!
A great weekend. Fantastic set up and very warm organisation… without the long port-a-loo queue!
© Ngawara Highet, Music Vice
Photos courtesy of Farid Singh/iSnap, All Rights Reserved. A full photo gallery with great pics from SFF be found on the iSnap By Farid Facebook page.