hedonism is alive and well at The Secret Garden Party

The Secret Garden Party 2014 review

published: Mon 4th Aug 2014

around the festival site

Thursday 24th to Sunday 27th July 2014
Mill Hill Field, Abbots Ripton, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, PE28 2PH, England MAP
£175 adult weekend (+booking fee) - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 32000
last updated: Mon 23rd Jun 2014

Another morning, another heat wave and wondering why tents even exist anymore. But there is no point in moaning as there is just too much to see. Our first stop if the unreal sunflower field on site which by the time we get to it has been picked quite a bit from our over eager Secret Party Gardner's. You access the sunflower field from a portable-loo at the end of a row of them, not that's it's an actual portable-loo yet a secret door into what is arguably the festival's most picturesque spot.

Beans on Toast is up early on the Where the Wild Things Are stage - a kind of humorous folky-hip hop guy like early Beck without the looks and fat. However, he probably has more charisma than anyone else all weekend and an ear for a catchy little melody to go along with it. He opts not to do his set from the stage and decides to do an acoustic one for a sit down audience which makes the venue difficult to negotiate with bodies strewn everywhere.  'Things' especially goes down a storm with those in attendance, acting as something of a festival get together anthem.

I make an awful mistake and decide to stay for the next act – Beech. I think without doubt the worst band I've ever seen at a festival. Achingly MOR, so MOR that it makes Coldplay look like bastions of creativity. YouTube their track 'Lovers' for a little taste, they could probably do with the hits as they threw out free CDs which were mostly disregarded by the by then dozen strong crowd. I fully expect them to be massive in a year.

Only some blissful electronic music can mend the ears after that and we catch wind of a little place hidden in the forest. The Labyrinth stage, a woodland treat that perhaps plays the weekend's best electronic music. Helping us recharge our batteries and work towards one last push on the final night.

One stage close to The Drop and the Temple of Boom has a huge boxing ring erected that sees it host some of the most insane dance offs of the weekend and it provides some much needed comedy relief on Sunday evening.

Soul legends Martha Reeves and The Vandellas take to The Great Stage as we hit the final straight and she is capable of exuding an awful lot of energy for a woman her age especially as it seems to take her breath away to the point of collapse throughout the show. 'Heatwave' just about sums up the weekend, 'Nowhere to Run' has the place kicking off while 'Dancing In The Streets' even takes it up a further notch.

Fat Freddy's Drop finish things off in style on the main stage, a renowned live act that don't get as much lavish praise on record. But perhaps that's justified, as they are simply stunning live. Perfectly built set played meticulously by a host of virtuoso musicians who have crafted their skills in a live setting through the years. A fitting way to end a spectacular weekend.

I went to Secret Garden Party with some hesitation, as someone who first and foremost chooses his festivals based on what bands are on the bill it seemed to be somewhat musically lacking and certainly a bit much for the asking price. But as much as I will probably continue to base my festival choices on the line up there is a whole other side to festivals that SGP introduced me too. Hedonism is alive and well in 2014 and may SGP remain the kings of it for many years to come.


review by: Paul Mullin

Thursday 24th to Sunday 27th July 2014
Mill Hill Field, Abbots Ripton, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, PE28 2PH, England MAP
£175 adult weekend (+booking fee) - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 32000
last updated: Mon 23rd Jun 2014


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