Saturday morning sees the site again blessed with sunshine, the new set up with camping across the road, means that campers need to make a little more effort rather than just stumbling out of their tents, but with plenty of shade to the side of the main arena today's opening act on main stage is enough of a draw to a reasonable crowd. Beans on Toast has performed at the festival for a number of years and is firmly part of the Blissfields make up. today’s line up is all about that Blissfields family vibe, there is no other festival where everyone is made to feel so welcome by organisers, crew and security.
Putting on a festival is no small feat, and when you wander around site you will often see many of the next act being part of the crew, performing with organiser Melanie Bliss are One Step Too Late, a ska band that brought the crowd alive in the heat. If their own performance wasn't enough, they were joined on stage by Barry Ashworth, who although performing later in the day with his own band Dub Pistols is always a visual presence when on site.
One of the accusations that gets levelled at the festival industry is the large amount of male musicians who perform. However at Blissfields it was noticeable this year that most of the more memorable performances came from female acts. One of the standout performances of the day came from Black Honey - a proper old-school rock act fronted by Izzy Baxter, who has all the attitude of the likes of Joan Jett, but tempered by a surprising pop sense that smooths over the edges and gives a pretty satisfying performance.
The heat today has been relentless, and even the Dub Pistols were obviously feeling it, but this did not stop them from putting on a roaring performance. Blissfields is a crowd that would happily get mucky with the ska band for as long as they are willing to play. And Barry is certainly working this weekend with a Dj set later in the Larch.
Having been energised by The Dub Pistols we set off across the site and caught up with the antics in The Backyard, where those looking for a more participatory Festival experience can join in sock wrestling or take part in interactive quizzes to win prizes of dubious quality that clearly were languishing in the local spar only hours before. While the adults had to be cajoled into taking part, the kids had no such qualms - and energetically threw themselves into various ludicrous challenges. This is one of the strengths of Blissfields - while many claim to be family friendly, Blissfields goes the extra mile, providing a range of activities that keep bored kids entertained while their parents watch the bands. Best of all is that most of the activities are provided free - meaning entertaining your younger members won't put that much of a dent in your pocket.
Talking about free, one of the highlights of the Saturday was also completely free - as the introduction of a hot air balloon to the site for the day, meant that those who had a head for heights could take a trip 50ft into the air to enjoy the site from a new angle. Given the unique nature of this it would have been easy to charge a premium to enjoy it, and certainly no one would have complained. The fact that it was offered free, only shows how this is a Festival that doesn't want to fleece its attendees - offering extra value and creating a memorable experience at the same time.
Tonight's headliners on the main stage provided a healthy mix of styles. First up was Lady Leshurr - whose popularity with the younger members of the festival was evidenced by the noticeable drop in the average age of the front row of the stage. I'm not a great fan of her, but had to admire the passion and energy she put into her performance. It was a shame she was performing over a backing track rather than a live band.
She was followed by Metronomy, whose energetic mix of electronic indie made for a good ending to the official proceedings. For those who wanted to continue the party there were plenty of options - whether it was off up to Area 51 and The Hidden Hedge, over to the Larch where Sink the Pink had bought their London show to the festival, or as we did, found our way into the Backyard, where the team were signing off from the weekend with the Dance of the Dead - a mix of DJs playing early 90s Hits, interspersed with glitter filled skull piñata and covers of the music of dead musicians - including a scarily accurate Amy Winehouse tribute. Which bought our evening and weekend to a very pleasurable end.
This is the last Blissfields in its current form, as its following the practice of Glastonbury and taking a fallow year in 2018, although there are plans to run a smaller event back at the old site. When it does return in its full glory in 2019 I hope that they don't feel tempted to mess with the formula too much, as what they have now is pretty near perfect. Despite its compact size it manages to deliver a varied program of music and shenanigans for all ages and tastes that would be the envy of festivals far larger. Despite the small site, it never feels particularly crowded and each area manages to capture a distinct feel. We're already looking forward to the next one!
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