It's Friday and time to revisit Outcider festival atop the Mendip hills, within sight of the TV transmitter we really are on top of the them. It's a rural site, being a working farm and not really any nearby towns. This means its a quiet site for sure, not like the urban sites often near main roads or train lines I've found. But it does mean you need you're own transport to get here. It's easy to find tho from my cross-county route, and I got no indication of it being awkward from the motorways this year either.
There's a "big queue" to get in, 3 cars! Stewarded in by Black Water County (who are working the weekend, but also enjoying it at free time and a session on Saturday). Its across the car parking field and onto the live-ins field. The camping for tents is a spacious and largely flat area, just a short couple of minutes walk from the cars. A nicely level area for the live-ins and its a general find a place and park yourself affair, most folk just asking neighbours if its enough space between (only one case I heard of someone being too close causing another to have to move). A quick set up for me, no awning or tent helps for that. A brief introduction to my neighbours from Bridgwater, a Sharpish cider to welcome the weekend and off I go to the "arena".
Two agricultural barns hold the stages for the weekend, these give shelter from the hot sunshine but also relief from the breeze when it picks up on Sunday. There is also a small marquee near the large campfire for the late night sessions after the main stages shut down around midnight.
Food wise again this year the organisers have gone with a winning combination of the farm's own meat and catering setup serving good sized portions of their own reared meats including a roast on Sunday, donner kebab for the late night eaters and various versions of home favourites. Nana's Kitchen provide the flip side catering. Purely vegetarian or vegan, with such tasty delights of chickpea curry, sweet potato chilli and falafel, all made on site and served on real plates. Both caterers opened for cooked breakfasts too. There is also "the Greatest Little Coffee Box" providing the obviously great coffee, as there was regularly an queue (these are small on this site, so rarely more than 3 or 4) but gives an indication of its quality and pricing, around £2 for a large coffee. Shakes and some snacks also available.
As you might have guessed by the name of the festival, there is a large cider selection available. I'd guess at around 15 real ciders (I believe one fizzy one was on hand for those not accustomed to the scrump). There were a few by Dorset Star, Ham Hill, West Milton, Hecks and a few I'm bound to have forgotten or not tasted. Also available was St. Austell ales Tribute and Proper Job all at a reasonable £3.50 a pint. Spirits and wine too, tho I never sampled those.
There is also a T-shirts stall and a charity stall, which helps people to glam up on ladies day (Sunday) and a seating area around a large campfire. Being an over 18's only festival and under 500 capacity there is not much else, which is just fine as its meant to be an old school simple weekend of quality music, cider and people.
Friday is an add on day, but so worth it. Catching up with festival friends, enjoying the build up to main nights but also getting rid of the working week. The Franklys open, 4 piece girl band loud and up for it, metal hair shakes and rock guitar poses. A great opener to blow away the week's cobwebs
Benny Mayhem has travelled over from Australian again, he's got a punk attitude on a solo guitar. He finishes with "morning birds can F*ck off" as the cockerel takes roost almost in protest to it.
Fish Hook, a "Fuelled By Cider" (organisers of the weekend) favourite never fail to entertain. With the lead singer dancing outside of the barn as the introduction is played on stage, over the small hurdle barriers and onto stage. They've played all three of the past festivals and I'm sure will play more in the future.
The Roughneck Riot seemed to rattle through their set, but it's a good one, full of attitude. I'll catch them again soon I hope. Corky brings his "agricultural hip-hop" to the campfire session tent. A nice way to wind up the night, chatting to old friends and new ones alike around the fire ‘til the small hours.
Saturday morning is a hot one! Eat Your Greens, and Mike Dennis open their respective stages, though I'm sure someone has dropped out today as there is a gap in the music which is unusual as its organised to flow from one stage to the other with no crossover, this gives each band a chance to have a decent audience.
The Acrustic Badger Band draw me into the smaller barn with a good sound from these Salisbury musicians, the singer is a landlord of a pub there too. A pint of Tribute to starts the drink samples for the day and its shared with I-Destroy, who'll play shortly.
Jo Carley & The Old Dry Skulls have a folky punk lyrical feel I wonder if there is more than just the two of them normally. "devil in a black dress" And "bother" stood out for me. A fancy dressed chain gang of some of the festivals regular faces wonders through. "Dance until you're dead" seems like a decent suggestion and finishes the set.
A loud ring from Chris the rock n roll town crier tells us to go onto I-Destroy. "Vanity Loves Me" from debut ep. "Get Drunk and Talking Shit", song title and full intention for them, though some sun bathing and merch selling out on the grass comes first.
Two of The Sweetchunks Band entertain us with banter designed to break the other, to which a blast of 'Bodyform for you' finally does! Great fun versions of well known songs like "The Boatman" (levellers) and bullet in the head (rage against the machine) finished with "Bees Are F*cking Awesome". Catch these guys if you can, they really are great fun.
A car breakdown caused one band to have to pull out, Bluetown Rumble are late, I think due to not getting off work, all part of the fun, allowing for more cider drinking! Dorset lads, Bluetown Rumble do eventually play after toilet breaks and beer fills. A mix of their own tunes and after "monkey man" people get dancing. "Monsoon" was a stand out of their stuff for me!
The evening rolls on by with The Eskies playing a stomping set, Captain Hotknives playing his non-pc set, there's also a whip round for mischief brew singer who recently passed away and should've been here.
The Slackers finish off in the big barn. They've come over from Germany for this but are actually from NYC. Its a tight sound of ska that has the audience moving.
I sat and chatted with a lovely couple, one of which was my first fellow eFestivals member at this one, nice to chat, angelwithapintglass, whilst waiting for Cider-oke with The Skimmity boys in the fireside tent, inviting one and all to take the Mic. First up is a brave regular who takes on "Magners", a duet for "People Are Strange", a (lady who claims to put the Kim into Skimmity) version of "Black Rat". Becky from I-Destroy on double bass and Bluetown Rumble's singer on vox for "These Boots Are Made For Walking". "Highway to Hell", will take some beating, the guys voice was better then Axl's for ac/dc for sure!
Black Water County play acoustically after amplified curfew around the campfire until the small hours.
Wind and rain overnight but the site holds up well. The Backhand Jags wake up the early risers with a full on sound, metal at midday! "Breaking Dads" and "Bang Your Heads" are sung by the guitarist in the middle of the barn and second vocalist moving around from stage to audience as it swells.
A more settled set follows from one man band, Andy Twyman. Playing guitar, kick drum and harmonica. "Eat Pot Noodle with a Plastic Fork", "Chickens on Cocaine", and crowd pleasers like, "Viagra for Pandas" and the cheeky "Like a Man!" finished with his one string bass for "Sharky's Bar".
Next up Efa Supertramp, a soloist folk punk lady from Wales, who has travelled overnight from Rebellion Festival to be here. Her husky voice holds through.
Lobster build up their ska sound and those watching enjoyed in the sheep shearing, Whilst jawbone have a bluesy rock in the agricultural shed. Wonk Unit are new for me, but yeah I like them, great punk and humour too. A short break between bands allows for a cider and chats to folk, its great for its friendliness.
Back inside now for Imprints, these never fail to provide enjoyment. Full of energy, fun. Usually they all stop to down a pint, but they've finished them prematurely. No worries a cider is provided by the ever present Black Water! A knees up is always had to "Superjig" and "Pirates in Space" is also a favourite of mine.
Clayton Blizzard, has thoughtful and clever lyrics and well played. One to listen to again. Matildas Scoundrels were a definite new addition for me, I'll look out for them in future. Another band double heading with Rebellion, as I believe The Slackers are too
Gaz Brookfield is something of workaholic and with his trusty cohort Ben Wain they play a mix of the songs that any regular festival goer will have heard, like "Diabetes Blues" but also new material from the next album for the first time (released in December I believe). About leaving Facebook (on a personal level rather than a promotional platform).
The Skimmity Hitchers finalise this weekend for me and I can't fault it yet again. Playing to a welcoming crowd that mostly know this band very well, playing the pleasers like "Viva Lyme Regis", "Black Rat" and "Up All Night". The Inbredz and Captain Hotknives add to it all. If there's an unhappy person in the audience then I'd be surprised, especially after Mike Lacey wanders along filling outreached pints with scrump.
I amble the short walk back to my van, pondering on what I think could be done to improve this festival and I'm not certain I can think of anything. There are some solar showers now available, the arcs (sort of gypsy caravans) for glamping as an option too. Value for money is great with the amount of music you can enjoy. The vibe is nothing but friendly and welcoming (I'm asked often, by stewards and organisers alike, if I'm having a good time) and people seem happy to strike up conversations too. This is great as I'm flying solo and so I never feel lonely. So try as I might, I cant. If you can remember D.I.Y (as described by the singer from wonk unit) festivals of old and enjoyed their simplicity or are happy to deal with a more rustic experience from say some of the more regimented/over organised festivals you'll love this one. Its not all about "big" names but about quality acts and its all over that. A massive thank you to all involved, you've managed a great one yet again.
latest on this festival
Outcider 2017 review
line-ups & rumours