Little Boots doesn't match her hype, it's Mr B instead who impresses

Wychwood 2009 review

published: Fri 5th Jun 2009

Little Boots

Friday 29th to Sunday 31st May 2009
Cheltenham Racecourse, Prestbury Park, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England MAP
£110 w/e adults with camping; youth/concession £85; campervans £30
last updated: Fri 8th May 2009

Sun, sun, sun, there's not a cloud in the sky, a live set by our neighbours of mellow Kangaroo Moon reminiscent music, is the perfect accompaniment to our breakfast, I do like that this festival has the bands and the festival goers camp together. The live music means I decide not to listen to the festival radio station, Wychwood FM – a great new addition for this year which could have done with a few more caterers being tuned into.

around the festival site (1)
Starting where I left off I return to the Hooky Bar this time housing The Doghouse Stage to catch a few mellow acoustic tunes from Jake Flowers and eat a reviving kedgiree breakfast. From behind his dark glasses and floppy hair he delivers laid back folk suited to the sun, the heat, and the hangover. Revived I take in the bustling kids area, and as usual there are a wealth of workshops, a dizzying variety from dance, and singing, to circus skills, arts and crafts, music skills, clay pottery, and a puppet show. I even join in - feeling crafty, and hang a CD on a recycling sculpture, but leave before I get roped into a dance workshop.

Deciding to seek out the Childrens Literature Festival tent, which is hidden away I hope to catch Annette & Nick Butterworth but their tent is empty, and so I wander down in plenty of time to see The Bad Shepherds.

Still playing on the Main Stage is Free Peace, a short skirt, and flame red curly locks, draw my attention, the music less so, there's no real hooks, but it's a pleasant enough pop / rap fusion. On to the Big Top for one of the band's I'd been wanting to watch Adrian Edmondson & The Bad Shepherds. They don't disappoint, singing punk songs, but with a fluid folk musicality, we get a bunch of well known tunes, a little amicable banter from Edmondson, and some wonderful musical performances. Highlights include a rendition of 'Teenage Kicks' with the instrumentation to 'Whiskey In The Jar', genius. I particularly like that in some perverse way the original ethics of punk have returned to its roots - Joe Strummer would heartily approve.

The Mummers
The tent is packed and so I leave before the end to escape the heat, and am surprised to hear The Mummers, practically an orchestra on stage, the vocals draw comparisons to Bjork and the music backs it further to a folk belended The Sugarcubes. Although the music is more varied at times, a mass of influences swirl out over the colourful crowd, it's not music you can easily dance to, but it sticks into my head, and they are surely bound for accolades on the folk scene this year. I'd like to hear more, but as an Evertonian I have a date with a very hot tent and a cinema screen to watch the FA Cup rather than a storming set I can occasionally hear from Kissmet.

Two hours later I emerge from the fierce heat of the Cinema Tent, rather crest fallen, as my team had lost the match. The sound of Oysterband, wafting up from the main stage to the workshop tents did little to lift spirits, The Witches however with their layers of rawk guitar, drums and bass, and country stylings do cheer me up.

Agnes Milewski was playing in the Big Top and the Australian's melancholy soothes me further, with flute, fiddle, and cello, her voice is matched by her keyboard skills, and it's all rather spell binding, I'd like to have stayed for more but the hype machine of Little Boots drew me to the main stage.

Wychwood has a pedigree of showcasing breaking acts, and no doubt Little Boots is no exception, accompanied by keyboards, and drums, she presents her material, and personally it does nothing for me, but my teenage daughter loves it, texting her mates to let them know she's watching her. The music sounds like re-worked electro-Eighties tunes, and when she does do a song I recognise from her media airplay it sounds a long way from the polished produced radio edit. When she started to play a stylophone I could take no more, and left.

Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer
Thank god I did! For I discover Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer and his inspired lyric writing, rapier wit, and despite him singing to a backing track issued from a reedy beat box. His songs about Westwood's accent, smoking pipes, and chap hop the guy had me in tears, and what a crowd to buy his CD afterwards.

A misguided look at the colourful stalls with aforementioned daughter resulted in a family domestic, and I could feel how good The Beat are, but I was unable to concentrate on their lively performance which had the crowd groovin'. As we walked away (still arguing over why we weren't buying fire poi) to don warmer evening togs, they still sounded very contemporary, despite their year's in the business, thanks to the rap work of Rankin Junior - who proves the perfect foil to father Rankin' Roger as they both bounced through the set.

Supergrass
After some heated discussion about not buying the fire poi, we returned with jumpers, and hoodies only half hearing Sonido Callejero's big beats, and high speed rap. We settle down to watch Supergrass, produce a typical festival set and give the place that perfect festival feel moment. Lights flash, the five of them play a few big hits, and some familiar sounding songs, as bubbles float across the stage, and then bust back to their more usual three piece formation for the big hits, but still won't play 'Alright'.

We de-camp to the comedy tent, to find it rammed full of people, we can't get in, sitting outside Mundo Jazz comes outside to us for a bit, before we head to the silent disco! Joy! This year I finally discover you can go 'outdoors' still wearing your headphones for a ciggie, cloudy cider, and crazy silent beats with the two mental dutch DJs, it was very late by the time I wobble to my bed.
review by: Scott Williams

photos by: Karen Williams / Scott Williams

Friday 29th to Sunday 31st May 2009
Cheltenham Racecourse, Prestbury Park, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England MAP
£110 w/e adults with camping; youth/concession £85; campervans £30
last updated: Fri 8th May 2009


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