Blissfields 2014 – Live Review + Photos
aaamusic | On 27, Jul 2014
Friday 4th – Saturday 5th July, Hampshire
“I seem to have left an important part of my brain somewhere… in a field in Hampshire”
Blissfields 2014 – elevator to funzville; going down…It’s summer time, it’s on a farm (ish), the sun is out (for a while anyway) and we got tons of awesomeness, nice folks and drinks-a-plenty; yes kids, it’s our favorite close-knit get-down of the year, and we are very, very happy to be back.
So, as always, we turn up early and get our nylon igloos pitched up without fuss. It seems a lot of others had the same idea, but as this is a lovely festival, all the nice people are happy and generous with the precious space, so without much stress we have a small community around our ankles, dancing, drinking and all being pleasant…and it’s only 1pm on Thursday (we don’t get going till tomorrow)!
I must point out that in all my years of attending the aforementioned event, the weather has constantly been on the scorching side. This year, I’m pretty sure we’re in for a bit of the wind and wet stuff. Yet, we are not phased one bit and have a beer and a sit down (again, it’s only 1pm on Thursday, so no work to do yet…).
Ok, Thursday or not, we head into the main arena and meet up with a few of our old chums (and have a beer to celebrate!). We’re treated to a short tour of the site and get a daytime view of this pretty place before the gates open and the hoards descend. I love it here – yes it’s small, but it’s perfectly formed. The site has changed since last year, but not too much…the atmosphere is intact and the feeling of being enclosed in a woody wonderland brings smiles (so we have a beer to celebrate!). There are a few more traders for clothes, hats and stuff, many purveyors of fine and delicious food stuff, bars and stuff, generally more stuff. There are more areas for performers, a huge area with hot tubs and a sauna (!) – it was still really hot anyway? – and our favorite: the bus (and the bar next to the bus).
This year’s theme is a ‘Walk on the Wildside’. We see animals at the bar, animals in the woods and animals (cows) in the trees, all full-size and day glow. We saw a friend mount a zebra (not a real one), fall off and destroy a fence and the zebra enclosure; seconds later said zebra was retired to a more suitable area where the drunk thousands could not interfere with it. Then the gates opened proper and the festival kicked off. It’s around 6pm on Thursday – they say the festival doesn’t start till Friday, but that’s not entirely correct, ‘cos everything is bouncing apart from the main stage. This is why Blissfields is such a gem!
So, Friday shows up very quickly…we rise from the sleeping bags with toothpaste in hand and make an effort to be presentable. The grass is suspiciously damp – it has been raining at some point, but not too much. After a hearty breakfast we find our feet and position ourselves for the day ahead. I stick to the main stage for a while, watching the up and comers which Blissfields is famous for attracting, and get to work when Wolf Alice take the stage. A strange outfit, they certainly have absorbed the theme and have a very tribal, colourful and weird performance, which goes down very well – although a little far-out-man for me, it was good to see something totally unique this early into the event.
Once into the afternoon, things heat up and I’m running around getting my shots on (that’s photography speak). I bump into our hosts Paul and Mel Bliss, who stick around for 20 minutes or so for a chat and a beer, plus a few photos. Then off to the Hustle Den for a quick look at Bombs (I like a lot), then back to main stage for Spector – did a great set last year and delivered a blinder this year! New tunes all round, a brilliant live band…you should go and see them. Then it was back to the Hustle Den for Kidnap Kid for five minutes and back to main stage for Sleigh Bells – again, awesome set, good to have a rocky, guitar band blasting into the nighttime and even better that the lead singer is proper hot (see photos).
Friday’s headliners come and go, but we are not done; not by a long way. This party goes on till 4 in the a.m. kids and I got a lot of catching up to do. Me and the Fearsome 4 check out the bars, stages and tents. Have a walk, a sit down and a beer in the woods, soaking up the night. This place really comes alive when the sun goes down. The fires, sofas, carved chairs, fairy light etc, etc, etc, give a real cozy feel. So, we join everyone else, sit down and have a beer.
Then it’s Saturday. I do a quick check to make sure I still have all my gear, to find that my camera, lens etc are all a bit wet. It soon transpires that the heavens did indeed open last night and we got all soaked and so did our gear. I spend a lot of hours trying to make good, but, alas, I need to do a bit of work to figure out if it all still works. And… it does, for a while. We get a load more work though the afternoon, make a few adjustments and head for the main stage for the ultimate test as 2manydjs (dinner jackets) roll up and lay down the funk. Those who were a little tired from the last few days are now bouncing around with smiles. The zombie mass with arms outstretched peel out from the trees and woods and head for my general area. The turnout is vast and it seems that they all decided to stop right in front of me…I am now forced to move…and get a great spot next to the bar…and have a beer to celebrate another fine and successful year.
If only every festival could be Blissfields. Big love to Alex and the gang (I did like your fancy dress) for having us again this year. We will see you soon…
Review + Photos: Dave Livingstone