|Europe: City Guides/Events||
Big Chill Festival 2010 - Friday 06.08.10
I must say that it was a surprise to be welcomed by a shout of “Gerry! Gerry Hectic!” as I was dashing off to get into the festival to pitch my tent. It so happens that I turn up at exactly the same time a Wah Wah 45s head impresario, Burberry wally trolley expert and massage man, Dom Servini (is there anything missing from this guy’s CV?). What’s the chances, I thought as I’d last seen him at Phonica Records in the heart of London’s Soho (at the Stac In-store, see album review HERE) and now we’re in the middle of a huge field on the cusp of the Malvern Hills (with clouds a gathering) and he’s telling me that he’s looking forward to seeing Stac on Sunday.
Even though the vast majority are here for the likes of Big Chill’s 2010 big hitters Massive Attack, Thom Yorke, M.I.A., Roots Manuva, Kruder & Dorfmeister, Kelis (and many more), you can’t blame him as he telling me he’s not behind the decks this year as the bookers have changed.
And it’s not only the booking policy; it’s the talk of the site as the Big Chill is now part of the Festival Republic empire along with Glastonbury, Reading, Leeds, Latitude and many more. It so happens that press guy in the tent next to is already warning about i. the weather and ii. the average of the crowd is 10 years younger. And he’s not talking about the TV show. How does Festival Republic (aka Melvin Ben) achieve this? Well he says the idea is to make the Castle Stage more kid friendly, make access easier, reduce the distance between stages and not look to make a profit. Well, he’s got 40.000 customers for the weekend and a £20 million investment to cope with - no pressure then. But by the time I got to see the new Castle Stage (that has hosted Alice Russell, Gong, Matthew Herbert’s Big Band and so many more in the past), I was beginning to agree with the reporter on BBC Hereford & Worcester, “Sorry, Big Chill, this is a joke”. Well it’s certainly disappointing as it’s now not much bigger than the Disco Shed (and where is the Disco Shed?) Has the original boutique festival that Katrina and Pete Lawrence started in 1994 sold out to the corporate man? Well it’s early days and I’ve got an open mind.
Anyway, to the music and Dom already knew that we had missed Little Dragon and the Phenomenal Handclap Band so it’s off to the Revellers Tent (formerly known as the Dance Tent but it’s now twice as big) and the Black Seeds have got into their stride and rockin’ the joint that was full with a large contingent of Kiwi and folks that were introduced to the band on visits to NZ (like Chloe from Wales who had come down from her stall in the Enchanted Garden). It seemed they’ve let Mike Fabulous on guitar off his lead (not literally of course). I last saw them live at the now demolished Astoria (see HERE) but old favourites like ‘Sling Shot’ and ‘Cool Me Down’ (with extended sax solo) from the album Solid Ground (the follow up to Into The Dojo) were spot on and when Barnaby said, “Looks like and amazing Festival” it certainly did as they finished the set with something that sounded more funky Brooklyn than chilled North Island.
Tru-Thoughts favourites Belleruche (by coincidence, another band with a ‘Fabulous’ guitarist). These guys are more Brighton than Brooklyn and they found themselves on a new stage, Lazyland. Lovely setting half way up a hill but it’s anything but lazy to get to if you were hiking your way from the Revellers Tent. But on my way getting there I saw the back of Thom Yorke on the main stage playing piano for one song and his front for another when he picked up a guitar; it’s a massive stage for one bloke but he seemed to be giving the massive Pyramid Stage size crowd a treat (for a better insight into his set, see links below).
Before we get back to Belleruche, before they came on stage the DJ played ‘(Never Underestimate) The Power Of The Great’ by Lighting Head (from 13 Faces Of Lightning Head - I wonder if he heard Biggabush play it on Big Chill Radio of the Thursday?) And although the evening winds were a bit chill (and by now Massive Attack were on the main Deer Park stage that you could see below us from our mountain position) there was a fair crowd of fans that turned up for a set of favourites from the Express album like ‘Feel For You’ with Kathrin DeBoer and the boys at their usual excellent selves. They also played some new songs from the forthcoming album including ‘You, Me, Us, Them’. Kathrin says it’s about “complicated things” and has that killer blues, soul, hip-hop Belleruche mix to it. The new album is called 270 Stories and launch party is going to be at the refurbished “opulent Art Deco” Bloomsbury Ballrooms on 8th October (with album release date of 11th October). For a bit of small world-ism, back in the day I saw The Beat play at the famous/notorious Clock House in Canning Town and Belleruche’s next single is called ‘Clockwatching’ is backed with a cover of The Beat’s classic track ‘Mirror In The Bathroom’ on the flip. Their ‘Mirror In The Bathroom’ sounded better than the original on Friday night so I’m looking forward to agreeing with myself in the cold light of post-Big Chill festival madness day.
It’s about now that I’m feeling a bit peckish and grabbed some tradition Festival veggie nosh to give me substance to get back to the Revellers Tent to catch the start of the Magnetic Man set (as an aside, as I was walking along, Massive Attack finished their set with “Unfinished Sympathy” and I couldn’t help myself re-imagining the video).
If you’ve not heard of the Magnetic Man, you’d be one of the few at the Big Chill as this tent, which must hold about 4,000 people (with more outside), is full. Why? Well, these guys are the ELP super group of dubstep. Benga, Artwork and Skream (who has his second solo album out on 9th August, Outside The Box that promises to be one of the albums of the year) sound like something to scared of but their sing-a-long summer hit, ‘I Need Air’ is massive with it’s mix of garage roots and bass beat. They’ve got their own album coming out later this year and with a fantastic light show, these three laptop geeks created a real live show that’s going make them even bigger names than they already are. They are appearing at Reading and Leeds Festivals at the end of the month plus a small October tour and well worth checking out.
After that excitement, I’m not sure what went on to be honest but I thought I’d better go easy on Saturday as “Big” Sunday was going to be both big and long - but did I make it?
On a final Friday note, in keeping with the Festival Republic Big Chill ‘takeover’ theme, the 2010 Festival Guide and lanyard are/were very good but was did it cost £8.00 last year? On a 3-dayer as big and varied as this you need to know and where all you favourites are at and at what time. I seemed to me (and other moaners) that this was a small part of the insidious ‘corporate’ money making policy when folks had already paid for their tickets. This is minor complaint compared to the captive audience Bar policy (£3.80 for a pint of lager in paper cup) but this couldn’t have been a shock for Festival Republic event veterans, so why should we moan?
Will Hectic get to grips with the new Big Chill? For more on the remaining two days of Big Chill excellence, the generation gap and the occasional festival moan. see:
Saturday review HERE
Sunday review HERE
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