I am sure that every music lover has had more than sufficient time to finally get over various hangovers from the epic August bank holiday weekend that fills our fair isle with festivals. So turn your full attention to this little gem of a festival that you might have missed. If I could pick a superpower I would have picked the ability to be in 4 places at once for that weekend. Sadly, superhero I am not, so my one self set off to meet friends in the New Forest for Festibelly’s first two-day event this year.
As ever, the charm of this festival remains in its intimacy. Just a 10 minute stroll from Lymington Station found you in the field, with a tent pitched pretty much overlooking the main stage from just a small distance. Despite the diminutive size of this event compared to others there was still plenty of activity to fill a two-day stay. Away from the main stage the site’s different venues, ‘Massive in China’, ‘Terrapin Station’ and ‘Autumn Shift’ offered more music and other entertainment attraction than ever before this year. Thanks to these different venues and the close-knit nature of the festival you were more than likely to catch impromptu second sets by artists hanging around after their main stage slots. I was extremeley grateful for this when comparing post festival notes with a friend who had been at Reading and seems to have spent far too much of her time rushing between stages to only catch half sets by favourite artists’ clashing schedules. Not only was it a chance to catch a good act twice, but also to open your opinions to a band you might not necessarily have queued up to see on the stage earlier on.
I have to confess to not knowing who half of the bands and artists on Festibelly’s bill were before I went – I’m just not that ahead on the music scene – but now I’ve been I definitely feel like I’ve discovered some great new acts. They may not all be household or mainstream names yet but Festibelly’s line up fulfilled its usual promise of picking the best up and coming grass-roots talents. For example, Saturday’s main stage headliner Willy Moon who I noticed recently mentioned in this month’s Vogue magazine as a recommended listen (setting A/W ’12 trends!). Other unusual musical highlights were the Jaipurkawa Brass Band whose insistent drums you just couldn’t help tapping your feet to. Skinny Lister managed to rouse even the laziest Sunday picnickers up on to their feet for some ho-down style dancing. Man Like Me who were rowdy as ever had an early main stage slot on Sunday which might have been more appropriate later on in the evening but got a willing crowd in the spirit nonetheless. Kitty, Daisy and Lewis on the main stage after were charming but more laid back. Finally it was time for much anticipated Sunday headliner Gold Panda. His entrancing electro set was just right as night fell and over far too soon. Luckily once the main stage action had ended, other venues still kept on delivering pleasant musical suprises.
The Golden Boys, who I had missed on the main stage early on Saturday, did a great set Sunday night in ‘Massive in China’ putting on a proper party with their live brass action. And I made another surprising discovery whilst queuing for Silent Disco headphones in the ‘Terrapin Station’, catching the end of a set by Ada whose lead singer Isobel’s voice was mesmerising against the bands underworld type beats! There was a score of talented DJ collaborations, not just for the silent disco but keeping decks spinning all weekend. For Sunday Best’s own Rob da Bank to take time out of his own festival planning and grace festibelly with his DJ presence is surely proof of his endorsment of this events’ credentials.
As usual, I left Festibelly a bit worse for wear, having made some new friends and discovered a lot of new music which has kept me busy downloading since. If you are into good music and good times, and not worried about huge festival kudos definitely give Festibelly a look-up next summer.