I arrived at Roundhay Park in the early afternoon, to the sound of The Haggis Horns – a jazzy seven-piece specialising in soul, afrobeat, and funk. The sun was beating down, the music was loud and upbeat - it was impossible not to bop along as I took in my first view of the festival.
Immediately, I knew I was going to enjoy myself here. OnRoundhay was a fairly small venue, expecting a crowd of 10,000 for the headline act, but it had as vibrant of an atmosphere as any. It was also extremely family friendly, offering free entry to under 12s and even having a designated baby-changing area – something I thought was a great move. The choice of food was just as impressive. A personal favourite had to be Piggie Smalls (a hotdog stand). There was even a chef's stage holding mini-shows, hosted by John Lewis. The stalls offered dishes from a variety of regions, including a host of Indian and Latin American street food.
There was a fairly large kid's area, with activities held by festival staff. In the centre of the field there seemed to be never-ending sack races, while nearer the food stands there was what looked like a dance competition taking place. I was surprised to see this level of interactivity at a festival, where usually there's a cornered off play area where the younger guests are left to entertain themselves. In addition to the games, there was a family stage hosted by Puffin Books, which had author Cathy Cassidy leading a talk on writing, as well as performances centred around Diary Of A Wimpy Kid, and Peter Rabbit.
The first act I saw in full was Max Jury. The modern country-soul was easy to listen to and enjoyable in the afternoon sun, although it drew more of a passive crowd possibly due to the slower pace. Max Jury radiates old school country boy vibes – even his name sounds like something out of a Western – and overall was a good act to bridge between The Haggis Horns and Wolf Alice.
Wolf Alice immediately brought people further forward with their alternative tracks and charismatic front woman, Ellie Roswell. The four-piece, native to North London, have drummed up a following after releasing their debut album last year. Their live performance was energetic and managed to get people on their feet and set for the next act, Scottish rock legends Primal Scream.
Opening with 'Movin' On Up' and then 'Jailbird', Primal Scream managed to grab attention from the get go. Within minutes, the music had taken over and cast a spell on the front-most crowd, with everyone dancing and singing along. Those with younger children moved further back and took advantage of the natural sloping amphitheatre of the venue, which managed to give them a great view and sound without the hassle.
James had already proven to be a popular choice for headliner judging by the masses of people wearing their band tees, and the man continuously yelling 'You're a star, Tim!' at lead vocalist Tim Booth only backed this up. With a great catalogue of hits like 'Laid' and 'Sit Down', combined with Booth's bizarre-but-fascinating dance moves, they managed to leave the crowd on a high.
Overall, OnRoundhay's debut was a hit, with a fantastic atmosphere especially for families, fans of good food and music, and those looking for a more relaxed festival.
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OnRoundhay Festival 2016 review
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a sister event to London's OnBlackheath