as Blissifleds comes to an end it's still one of the best parties in the festival calendar

Blissfields 2015 review

published: Fri 10th Jul 2015

around the festival site

Thursday 2nd to Saturday 4th July 2015
Vicarage Farm, Woodmancott, Winchester, Hampshire, SO21 3BL, England MAP
£95 for weekend
daily capacity: 4000
last updated: Wed 13th May 2015

Saturday morning brings with it a slightly overcast sky with a refreshing breeze, which was most welcome, as walking around before the festival gets going this morning there were plenty of sore heads, some of which I am sure people will accredit to the sun rather than anything else, or perhaps it is just a reaction to all this time and space continuum that has been happening Somewhere in Time (the festival's theme) this weekend.

But as midday and the start of the festival approached the sun came back, perhaps it had been recharging its own festival batteries for a couple of hours, the main stage kicked off with a DJ set from Little Chief, while in the Larch was a performance that bought back memories of where where all this had started. Andy Comley had been staying in a caravan on organisers Mel and Paul's farm with a few friends, when him and Mel came up with the idea that they should have a party - the rest as they say is history, and I'm sure that we are not the only ones that are grateful that over the years they have invited us all to share in the party.

Beans On Toast: Blissfields 2015

Back on main stage is another Blissfields veteran, though most will know him for being around in the early hours of the morning, sharing stories and songs about his many festival and drug experiences, Beans on Toast is an artist that we love to watch, but on a few occasions recently he has not given his best performance. Today however, he back on top form and did himself and Blissfields proud, I am sure that there will plenty of unexpected earworms later this week about chickens or not being able to get a gig at Glastonbury on the back of his show.

The sports arena saw an interesting game of Twister with water balloons. I have to say that I was a little bit disappointed with the events this year. In previous years this was always a fairly anarchic corner of the festival, but this year it seemed a little restrained, and for long periods nothing at all seemed to be happening. I don't know whether they had trouble recruiting players this year but it just wasn't as good as previous years. That said when it was good, it was very good indeed - the highlights being they're attempt to answer the really big question - how many children can one man beat in a tug of war?

In a small festival it can be easy to move between stages, but it's also nice when a group of bands you want to see cluster on a single stage as it means you can settle down a bit. And on Sunday, we managed three bands we wanted to see, and had the bonus of a fourth band - Pachango - who's Latin rhythms and brass sound brought to mind another favourite of ours - Melt Yourself Down. The were followed on stage by Kassassin Street, who when we first saw them on this same stage three years ago as a group of nervous teenagers. Now they are a far more confident band and always a pleasure to watch.

Following them were One Step Too Late – no festival can be complete without at least one Ska act and this band's performance while providing nothing original, gave the audience a good sing-along and a dance - even leading the band in a conga round the tent.

Grandmaster Flash: Blissfields 2015

Unfortunately with a few sound difficulties the Now and Den started to run late and this has meant that we had the first clash and have had to call a halt on seeing the other band we'd hoped to watch. When trying to resolve a clash it's best to decide which artist your less likely to see again. And in this case Grandmaster Flash is always going to win out over the Plastic Mermaids. Ironically there was another technical problem which meant that Grandmaster was on stage late too. Once he was out he made up for lost time playing a set of classic tracks mixed together. The only disappointing thing about his performance was the lack of his own material - while some of the songs made a fleeting appearance, those (like me) hoping for a chance to hear White Lines were sadly disappointed - I should have stuck with the Plastic Mermaids! His duties at the festival weren't just limited to performance, as he also made an appearance in Angel Gardens presenting certificates to children who had completed a DJ mixing course with their certificates. And although it was clear most of the kids didn't really have a clue who he was, it certainly impressed their parents, and he seemed pretty impressed and sincere in his pleasure at meeting the next generation of DJs.

Talking of next generations Glass Animals are an up-and-coming band who seem destined for greater things, even if the lead singers dad-dancing displays were painful to behold, their infectious indie/pop was bright and good to get the crowd dancing.

John Grant: Blissfields 2015

At every festival there's usually a couple of acts that are must-see - no matter what is happening elsewhere you cannot miss them, and at Blissfields John Grant was that one. This American artist has been on my ‘want to see' list for a couple of years, and I'm glad to say that his performance didn't disappoint. His sombre style and mischievous lyrics are quite unique, and when matched with his rich chocolate vocals makes for a fantastic show. I certainly will be counting down the days to the next record is released in October.

The sun is now setting over the Blissfields site but this is one party not yet ready to end, closing main stage is Simian Mobile Disco, whose DJ noodling just didn't excite me - especially when presented with hardly any lightship beyond a few graphics on the wall behind them it was all just a bit boring. Boring however, is something that could The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothingg could never be accused of. Their mix of punk and Metal with a steampunk outfit explained the large number of people in steampunk costumes that appeared on the Saturday. I was drawn to them by their quite fantastic (and Twitter unfriendly - 44 characters to type!) name, but really enjoyed their theatrical and energetic show.

As with previous nights, our festival ended up in The Larch, where we were treated to a mellow set from Milly Upton, whose voice and performance bought to mind Joni Mitchell, which was confirmed when she included a cover of one of her songs.

How to sum up Blissfields? Lovely weather, good food, outstanding music, and one of the best parties in the festival calendar. At the heart of the festival is an ethos of family. The Bliss family that run it, the extended family that has grown round them to put it together, and the wider family of those who attend. It's this sense of community that makes it such a great event to attend. And we can't wait until 2016 to see what the family reunion has to offer.

around the festival site: Blissfields 2015


review by: Steve Collins

photos by: Steve Collins / Marie Magowan

Thursday 2nd to Saturday 4th July 2015
Vicarage Farm, Woodmancott, Winchester, Hampshire, SO21 3BL, England MAP
£95 for weekend
daily capacity: 4000
last updated: Wed 13th May 2015


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