the first muddy The Secret Garden Party's euphoria lasts until dawn

The Secret Garden Party 2012 review

published: Tue 31st Jul 2012

around the festival site (Friday)

Thursday 19th to Sunday 22nd July 2012
Mill Hill Field, Abbots Ripton, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, PE28 2PH, England MAP
£195 adult weekend, teen (13 - 17) - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 26000
last updated: Fri 1st Jun 2012

Secret Garden Party was full of a couple of first's this year: not only was it the festival's ten year anniversary, it was also the first rainy, muddy SGP, which made things a little different.

The site was exciting and creatively decorated as always with even bigger and more amazing installations than ever before including a giant stone fox, a double tiered, 3 dimensional lake stage and a movable 10 foot wheel of skeletons amongst many other visual delights.

around the festival site (Saturday 2)
Making the way through the sludgy site, created by the previous night's rain, with umbrellas in hand, The Drop (an inflatable domed tent for DJs in front of a dancing area was the first stop (as it was covered in hay and looked dry) with DJ Khalil playing out Garage and Hip Hop classics to a crowd of ravers. The sun was straining through the clouds and it was an uplifting afternoon set that it all the right spots.

American rockabilly and soul group, Alabama Shakes, took to the main stage with lead singer Brittany Howard delivering gut-wrenching, soulful vocals to a massive crowd, who in turn swayed along to the beautiful individuality of her voice. It was quite a unique set for a festival delivering music that gave the muddy place a lovely, chilled out vibe.

Little Dragon
Little Dragon were up next with their jumpy electro beats and synth pop sounds that suited the eclectic audience perfectly and provided a chance for them to bounce about as the night fell.

SGP made it clear in the weeks leading up to the festival that they were aware of the weather conditions and would be providing more places to take cover with entertainment and sit down without getting mud, and to their credit I must say they did just that at such short notice.

The site was filled with musical or art venues where you could chill out without the fear of getting covered in mud, which was literally flowing calf high in some places, and not only could you also grab a drink easily, there was always something happening to keep you entertained.

around the festival site (Friday)
As the night went on the site became even livelier with the numerous dance tents and stages kicking into life.

The Valley of The Antics was alive and full of energy midway between a DJ set by UK dancehall and bashment collective The Heatwave, who were not only completely owning the stage with their entertainment of live PAs hyping the crowd up as well as MCs, and an extremely flexible and sexy dancer encouraging the crowd, but were also injecting their infectious energy into the revellers.

These guys knew exactly what they were doing and even though it was wet and muddy outside, the temperature inside the tent was soaring with a great eclectic mix of people following the directions of the cheeky MCs and going wild to the carnival style tracks they played.

At one point the crowd was instructed to make 4 conga lines to the tune they were playing and lines of people danced through the masses. MC Ben D also told the crowd "If you're with your best friends, hug them now" and the love inside the tent increased even more creating the perfect festival vibe.

Clean Bandit
Floating from there to the Where The Wild Things Are tree inspired stage, the cloud of exhilaration only increased on discovering Clean Bandit. These guys infused so much together and it works so perfectly.

They had an incredibly talented string section who were rocking out to the beats when they weren't playing, as well as a soulful singer with a voice that reached out to the lake behind us, and a couple of MCs, who were extremely good at the art of rapping in a smooth but succinct way.

They had a huge group of fans pushed up to the front (quite rightly so) who knew the lyrics and were singing and rapping along to the more well known tunes, and the music flipped from salsa-esque tunes to soul based melodies to more urban hip hop with classical strings thrown in to finish it of. The set turned into a rave as the multi-talented band had us sing along and dance our hearts out to their last tune and I can honestly say I felt that the timing, delivery and stage positioning of this band was the perfect choice to see us past midnight.

As the festival does not sleep, the fun did not end there and I found myself and my buddies scurrying about for hours to come dipping into tents playing music, chilling out by the river and riding the Dodgems until the early morning swept up in the excited euphoria of the rest of the high spirited festival goers.

around the festival site (Friday)
review by: Fiona Madden

photos by: Lawrence Wheeler

Thursday 19th to Sunday 22nd July 2012
Mill Hill Field, Abbots Ripton, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, PE28 2PH, England MAP
£195 adult weekend, teen (13 - 17) - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 26000
last updated: Fri 1st Jun 2012


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