FESTIVAL REVIEW // Blissfields Friday // 29.6.2012 – 01.07.12
I knew that Blissfields 2012 was on my must attend for 2012, ever since my brother came back from Blissfields 2011 singing its praises after seeing some of the UK’s best artists (he mainly went on about how amazing Gold Panda were) in a totally quirky setting with a stage hidden in a hedge. So as the line up got announced and the bill of acts mounted my excitement grew and grew, to the point where I was definitely crossing off days on my calendar.
So the day finally arrived, although I was gutted couldn’t make the Thursday evening due to work. Festival goers were treated to Imperial Leisure, SIXNATIONSTATE and Half Crown to name just a few, on the Thursday night.
From the moment I stepped off the train at Micheldever, I knew that Blissfields was up my street. The festival is nestled in the heart of the Hampshire country, just outside Michledever, a tiny little place with a super cute train station complete with picket fences. To take us from the train station was the Blissfields fun bus, which drove us even deeper into the Hampshire countryside
Arriving at the Blissfield’s site, the cosiness of festival was apparent; with a capacity of just 2,000 Blissfields is one of the UK’s smallest. And I can definitely confirm that the best things in life come in small packages. Blissfields has much more on offer than some of the UK’s biggest festivals (*cough cough* Reading) including luxury camping in Camel Camp, a general store for all your camping needs, a secret stage hidden hedge and disco school bus.
But no matter how quirky and wonderful a festival is, you have to have good music to back it up...
The first band I saw on Friday were Reventure on the Bradley Bubble stage, for such an early slot had a relatively large crowd amassed. These boys had great energy and were bouncing around all over the stage and even in the middle of the audience at various points. Reventure, I would describe as fitting in the pretty metal category, you know the genre with good tunes, delicate voices and well paced metal solos and only a little bit of well paced screaming. Reventure reminded me of an early Enter Shikari with a great attitude and presence and of course some Shikari synths thrown in for good measure
Then I ventured to the main stage to see Josh Kumra. Josh reminded me of Paulo Nuttini with dulcet tones, sun-kissed skin and floppy chocolate hair. Josh wooed the crowd with his gentle guitar and warm rhythms. My favourite track from his set was an MGMT cover of ‘Kids’ which he made his own by adding a chilled-out vibe to the track, slowing down the main melody.
Then back to the Bradley Bubble to see a band I picked to see purely by their names. Love By Numbers were a fantastic surprise and possibly one of the best bands I saw all day. These boys are very suave and ooze attitude and angst. Their Supergrass and Gallagher brother influences shine through their songs, but they have added their own twist. All of the Love By Numbers tracks had killer lyrics that you couldn’t help but dance along too. These boys are going to big, I’m sure of it.
I then rushed back to the Main Stage to catch Lucy Rose. Lucy has such a beautiful delicate voice and an over whelming sense of tranquilly over came the crowd. Everyone was nestled in small groups and swaying along. Lucy not only has a beautiful voice but is also an extremely talented musician and played the main melodies of all her tracks. Lucy Rose is perfect for a sunny afternoon and a glass of Pimms.
Next up were Man like Me. I had heard rumours on the grapevine that these guys give an incredible performance and having seen them wondering around back stage I was sure they weren’t going to be a normal, run of the mill band. Man like Me certainly raised the tempo of the main stage and a huge crowd had gathered to see them. You could not get a more eclectic mix of people than Man Like Me and if I saw them in the street I would never put them together in a band. So their music how do you describe it? I would say a little bit of RnB, little bit of dance, some house and even some rapping thrown in for good measure. Man Like Me’s music has a feel good vibe and everyone was dancing like crazy to throughout the whole set. Man Like Me are also great showmen, with dance routines, dance offs and even at one point climbing the stage.
Up next was Bear Calvary, a band I’ve heard so much about and couldn’t wait to see them live. Bear Calvary has gentle catchy guitar riffs and light synths mixed in with more grungy sections of strong and pretty epic guitar solos. A stand out track for me was ‘Roman Summer’ which has clever witty lyrics and upbeat tempo that would fit perfectly on my summer playlist. I will definitely being seeing Bear Calvary again.
King Charles was up next on the main stage, and this guy’s hair is truly out this world! It’s definitely worth a Google if you’re not sure what I’m on about. If you’re not familiar he’s kind of folk-based (the technical term here is 'new folk') but with an Arabian twist. In fact at times he reminded me of Gogol Bordello. King Charles has a great presence and with his stylish attire he looks very regal. ‘Crocodiles And Polar Bears’ went down really well with the crowd and everyone sang their heart out to KC’s anthemic yet delicate song ‘Love Lust’.
Instead of seeing Guillemots we decided to see NZCA Lines, who tweeted me and described themselves as the healthy alternative. NZCA Lines are a band with an unusual setup, they had a whole heap of synthesizers and samplers and even an electric drum kit. It was fascinating to watch them build up songs with various different bits of kit. NZCA Lines have a refreshing approach to electronic music, with great depth and lots of layers in the songs. They reminded me of an early Hot Chip before they got naff and commercial. ‘Compass Point’s was my favourite track of the song with a delicate vocal that’s repeated and faded throughout and a catchy bass line.
So then it was time for the main headline act of Friday night, Patrick Wolf who was unusually going to acoustic set for a headline slot. It was fantastic to see Patrick Wolf stripped back and it really meant you could appreciate how talented he and his string-playing ladies were. As also Patrick has a great rapport with the crowd and the fact his parents lived locally met huge applause. The stand out track from the set for new was ‘House’, a song about returning to where you were born. Stripped back this song was beautiful and Patrick’s voice was really spine tingling. Also he did have some diva moments but that’s what we love about Patrick, he always wants everything to be just right so the crowd get maximum enjoyment.
So to finish the night off I saw the incredible Clock Opera, who were probably the best band of the day for me. With big beats, delicate vocal and a slightly 80’s electronic vibe these lads are a breath a fresh air. As they worked their way through their repertoire of hits, the tent kept filling up and the atmosphere was electric. ‘Belongings’ was a standout track for me with a haunting piano line repeated throughout the song with honest and down to earth lyrics about losing someone close to you. I love Clock Opera so go out and buy the album if you haven’t already got a copy.
One of the best things about Blisssfield’s is that the night isn’t over when the band finish, festival goers can then rave out in the hidden hedge or School Bus to sounds of great DJ's.
My photographer and NENer Alex took lots of other great photos throughout the day and you can see them here - also check out my review of Saturday Blissfields on NEN coming soon!