Llama Festival wins against the elements

Llama Festival 2012 review

published: Thu 14th Jun 2012

around the festival site

Friday 8th to Sunday 10th June 2012
various venues, Lynton and Lynmouth, North Devon, EX35 6EQ, England MAP
£10 (under 12s free)
last updated: Thu 24th May 2012

After a one year hiatus the Llama Festival returned to Lynmouth's beautiful shoreline setting. What a setting it is too, situated in the North Devon coast, south Wales faintly visible, and nestled in a verdant forested valley, there can't be many spots more picturesque as a venue.

The Friday opening hung in the balance as 70 mile per hour winds had lashed the site for the previous 36 hours making setting up nearly impossible. Whilst the Main Stage was in working order the Acadamy Tent had been destroyed and attempts to erect the Llama Lounge abandoned until the wind abated. So with a massive attempt to rearrange the line up and fit as many acts as possible onto one stage the show went on with the winds slightly reduced but still bitterly cold.

This year's festival saw many changes including ticketing, albeit £10, which will undoubtedly help secure finance for the event for future years, and a different layout, most notably the Main Stage facing the forest, rather than the ocean.

The Smokestack Shakers
As the festival got under way it became evident that Friday was never going to be the evening when things got into full swing but there were some great moments provided by Bristol reggae act Smokestack Shakers and the delightful Dr Butlers Hatstand Medicine Band who had the appearance of Victorian gents whose ghosts had been waiting in the valley of Lynmouth just to perform at this event. They regaled the audience with songs of such themes as meeting an eligible young lady and persuading her to join them on their penny farthing - perhaps an ancient classic that influenced modern day R&B and rappers writing about getting sexy girls into their expensive cars I believe.

Another highlight of the Friday was the 'Beach Hut' a beautiful eco-pod with a living roof which became an unlikely venue. Originally aimed as an acoustic jam venue for anyone who fancied a go it soon found it's way near a power source to add another stage to the festival. Devon band Free Parking performed an intimate and atmospheric set in front of it in the light of a brazier fire that warmed festival goers against the night time cold.

After hours the festival campsite was a mission of a climb up the hill but luckily busses had been laid on and a camp fire was promised but many people's thoughts were more about how they would fare in their tents on the wind exposed campsites.

Saturday, oh Saturday! What a difference a day makes. The wind stopped and the sun shone and attempts were being made at re-erecting the Acadamy Tent (a new tent had to be found) and the Llama lounge was put up at some point before the end of the afternoon too. It was a busy venue and suddenly their seemed like many options of artists and entertainment, face painted Children ran around noisily and people began to dance.

The Main Stage wake up was provided by sublime Australian band Dubarray, on a rare European tour and whose mellow dub trance vibes were a rare treat for a rather traditional festival line-up, the perfect way to start the day.

Festival favourites 3 Daft Monkeys (there were four of them but monkeys aren't known for their counting skills) roused the throngs of people with their up tempo jiggery folkery and RSVP, the festival scenes most widely known bangra influenced band, delighted the audience with their good vibes and entertaining dance moves. Who could have thought that house hold chores such as screwing in a light bulb could become foundation for a dance routine, we all had a lot to learn.

Andy Votel and crew closed the main stage providing cool DJ vibes and some rather varied bands in addition but equal numbers of people took to the Llama Lounge for Assassins of Sound. For those of us we divided our time between the two stages I'd like to think that Assassins of Sound shaded the battle. The local band included a choir providing wonderful etheric depth to simply Portishead-esque songs. I'll be honest, I hadn't seen them before and didn't expect such high things but their music filled the night air with a ghostly beauty that fitted the closing session of the evening.

Sunday was a far more relaxed affair and finally the event seemed to run smoothly. Heavily guitar and blues influenced there was perhaps a little less to dance about but high quality nonetheless. A big surprise was Kiera Osment who as a twelve year old singer song writer could be a case for reincarnation as her depth of lyrics evoked that of a person who belied their age - an old soul in a young body and perhaps a name to watch in years to come.

Tankus The Henge
Martin Harley effortlessly showed what a festival trump card he is and Lady Nade & The Silhouettes provided a welcome blast of soulful music into the mix but as the afternoon progressed the numbers drifted off. No doubt put off by a little bit of drizzle and the thought of the drive home before work the next day. Bad news for them as it meant they missed out on Seize The Day, Glastonbury veterans and then finally stylish Tankus the Henge who are truly a talented bunch deserving to have a much wider audience.

As it stands the fact that the festival even went ahead was testament to the organisers tenacity and let us all hope it continues long into the future.

around the festival site
review by: Richard Potter

photos by: Thom Heald

Friday 8th to Sunday 10th June 2012
various venues, Lynton and Lynmouth, North Devon, EX35 6EQ, England MAP
£10 (under 12s free)
last updated: Thu 24th May 2012

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