People go to festivals for many different reasons, some for the lineups, some for the friends who are going with you, but if you go to enough festivals then you'll soon discover that there are one or two you go to simply because the festival exists. It doesn't matter who’s playing, whether there's a large group or you're on your own, you go because you know that you will have a great weekend. For me Blissfields falls into this category. I can't recall having a bad year in the ten years I've been attending (except maybe 2008 - google it to find out why).
Eschewing the usual weekend model, Blissfields runs a full programme on Friday and Saturday, with Thursday being a ‘campers’ night with a smaller programme to entertain the early arrivals. This has come a long way from the open mike slots of the early years, and now provides a good selection of live music and DJs to entertain you.
Having arrived on Thursday afternoon and pitched our tent in a sweltering 28 degree heat, we cracked open our first cider - ice cold and very welcome, and set out to see what was new on the site this year.
What it turned out was that new was almost everything. The organisers have had a major rethink this year and have made some major changes to the festival. Camping is now where the old car park was, and the car park is in a new field - this has allowed them to buy back some extra space for the main arena. Expanding it out to include a full funfair and a larger children's area too. The other big change was the acoustic stage - dubbed The Larch - had swallowed the second stage, with a larger site and a new tent overhead. This new tent is a definite improvement as the old one was a multi-part teepee construction that was often difficult to move about in without bumping your head on the low sides or the big poles that supported it.
The honour of opening the festival went to the band Shy Boy, whose set was ok, but didn't particularly inspire me to find out more about them. These were followed by the far better Soul & Fire whose bluesy acoustic sound led by singer Dave Mitchell’s soaring gravelly vocal bought to mind Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Topping the first evening off was two contrasting acts. First up was Electric Swing Circus - a high energy act fronted by two female vocalists performing high energy swing, cut with occasional segments of Dubstep. They quickly won the crowd over - always a hard sell when they don't know any of your songs - and even got the security in the pit dancing along. Definitely one to catch if you get a chance.
This was followed by DJ Yoda performing the Stranger Things mix tape. Stranger Things for those of you who don't know is a sci-if tv series following a group of kids in the 1980s - think Goonies, ET, 9mm and you get the idea. And is almost as noted for its soundtrack of classic 80s tracks as it is for the storyline. What DJ Yoda gave us was an impressive mix of classic tracks from the period intercut with clips from the TV show. This was backed up with video screens showing clips as well as old 80s tv adverts - these seemed to get almost as big a cheer as the music did - especially when the Smash robots arrived - nostalgia it would seem, is as good as it used to be.
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