small but perfectly formed

Equinox 2021 review

published: Thu 21st Apr 2022

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Friday 17th to Sunday 19th September 2021
Chalk Farm, Salters Lane, Wyham, Grimsby, Lincolnshire, DN36 5RS, England MAP
early bird £105
daily capacity: 3000
last updated: Wed 18th Aug 2021

Some of the greatest things in life are small. Small but perfectly formed. Like the original Mini car or the Faberge eggs. Equinox Festival is a fantastic example of this concept. A jewel in the crown of English summer festivals and one that I enjoyed attending enormously.

Held between the 17th and 19th of September at Chalk Farm, Lincolnshire, Equinox represents the end of the festival season for many, although, I got the impression that many of the Equinox revellers see festivals as more of a lifestyle than a weekend of partying. It feels authentic.

I arrive on the early afternoon of Friday and the atmosphere is already electric as the campers build their temporary homes. Bands are busy assembling equipment in the backstage areas. The myriad aromas of festival food permeate my nostrils and I feel adrenaline flow through my body as I seamlessly drift into party mode.

By the time I’ve fixed my camp, it’s 3:30pm and I’m getting anxious to make it up to the Crispy Disco stage where Wakefield’s finest SkaPunkReggae rockers, Skiprat, have just fired up their instruments. I walk through the campsite, pleased to see the “human compost” type toilets in full effect and I smile to myself, knowing that there will be plenty of time to get fully acquainted with them later. I walk past the “Ease Of Access” section to the checkpoint that marks the entrance to the festival proper, have my wristband checked by a beaming hippy chick and finally, I’m in. As I walk down an avenue of hand-painted portraits of iconic artists, my senses are assaulted as the avenue opens and I see the stages and stalls for the first time. The location and layout of the Equinox Festival is a big part of it’s charm and attractiveness. The first stage I come across is “The Soundscape Stage”. A sometimes solar powered affair, it’s a quite small venue but again, perfectly formed and suited to purpose. More on this later. Right now I’m making a beeline for Skiprat. I walk along the ridge of the chalk quarry, amazed at how beautiful it looks down there. I see a huge bonfire and several large tents. Later, I would learn that these tents were where the dance music acts would perform. In the centre of the festival is “The Big Dub Pub”. A big top style tent with a stage and a bar. After purchasing a pint of cider there, I forge on to the uppermost part of the festival, “The Crispy Disco” stage.

Friday is ReggaeDubSka day at The Crispy Disco. By the time I get up there, Skiprat are a few songs into their set. It’s early in the day but a sizeable crowd has gathered in the “natural” amphitheatre that encapsulates the stage. The band hails from Wakefield, West Yorkshire and has been a staple on the summer circuit for 15 years or more. Their experience shows as they flow their way through a set that is slick, joyful and over way too soon. I, for one, am warmed up and hungry for more. Good job then that Mental Block, one of the brightest reggae bands in the UK right now, are up next. The audience is steadily increasing and becoming more colourful. I scale up “The Terrace”. A steep banking that faces the stage. This vantage point gives a bird’s eye view of the whole stage and “dance-floor”. I settle in for the duration.
Mental Block deliver a wonderful set comprised of reggae standards, medleys and some delightful, original numbers. Everybody is skanking, everyone is smiling. The atmosphere is so friendly, it seems as if most have met before.

After some reasonably priced, stone-baked pizza (and a fair few ciders) I’m ready for more. The vibe is so good at the Crispy Disco, I decide to stay there for Marcus And The Microdots. There isn’t much Marcus hasn’t seen when it comes to UK reggae. Having been around since the beginnings of the UK scene, Marcus has played with everyone from Laurel Aitkin to Lee Scratch Perry. His performance is as heart-warming as it is heart-felt and after the show is over, I leave in pursuit of more cider with a warm feeling inside and a joyful tear in my eye.

The rest of Friday night is a blur. I remember visiting the dance tents which were pumping out some awesome tunes to hundreds of happy revellers. I remember talking to many beautiful strangers and roaming around slack-jawed in wonder of the blissfully weird surroundings. I’m pretty sure the party in the campsite never stopped.

I awoke sometime during the early afternoon on Saturday. Determined to experience as much as possible on this day. After a white knuckle visit to the toilet (it’s not that the toilets weren’t kept and cleaned well by the festival staff, but the wind would blow from underneath the toilet, blowing the used tissue paper in the air and back out of the toilet bowl. Hilarious but it could get pretty wild in there.) I walked up to the festival once more. In my hung-over and partially sleep deprived state, I thought I better give the axe throwing a miss and instead headed for “breakfast”.

Hanging around the Soundscape Stage, I witnessed the Ebola La’s perform a blistering set of surf/punk rock loveliness. Hailing from Brighton, the lads had come a long way for the show. They were catchy, melodic and at time, hilarious. Catch them if you get the chance. Next up was The Brouhaha from London. They define their music as “AnarchoFunk”. Like an angry, chanting drum and bass vibe. Tight and pumping. I enjoyed their performance. Every now and then, a procession of cardboard box robot suited people would walk past on their way around the festival site. Always a spectacle to behold, they put a smile upon my face every time. They did seem to bring the worst out in little boys who would attack them on site. I noticed that at some point, the robots had hired a bodyguard to protect them from the toddlers but alas, the bodyguard proved to be useless and was annihilated by the children. Abdoujaparov played next. I’ve seen this band a few times at festivals and usually, they’re on fire. I hate to be critical but I found their set to be a little lacklustre after such energetic opening acts. Time for a change of scenery.

I few minutes later, I find myself back at the Crispy Disco Stage. I arrive just in time to catch festival veterans Back To The Planet. Their anarcho-punk is a great primer for Dissident Noize Factory. More politically aware, guitar oriented party music with a punk rock soul. Maybe not the best description of a band, but it’s Saturday evening at Equinox and it’s not just the electric atmosphere that is intoxicating. Headlining Crispy Disco tonight are the legendary, Ozric Tentacles. Opening with Eternal Wheel, the audience is mesmerised. We move as one. Firing through the tunes San Pedro, Blooperdome and Dance Of The Loomi. I move backwards in order to pace myself for the rest of the set. Swoop is next, then Jelly Lips, Lotus Unfolding and Humboldt Currant . Dub is the penultimate number. The set is ended with Kick Muck. The thousand strong crowd is ecstatic. At Equinox, once the live music has ended is when the party really begins. It takes me about 4 hours to make it back to my tent.

Sunday was mostly a laid back day of recovery and discovery of the more subtle attractions that Equinox had to offer. The new-age workshops looked interesting but not appropriate for my hangover. I again avoided the knife and axe throwing for the benefit of all around. I did sample some fairly priced, vegetarian food and some predictably watery cider from the beer tent. I spent a very relaxing time, chilling out with friends in the quarry, by the big fire. I sporadically visited the Sunrise Stage and heard sets by Elektrik Blue and Ashen that became the highlights of the day. There was so much going on but I was spent by Sunday evening and after once again drinking too much watery cider, the evening became a blur.

Equinox festival opened my eyes. Such a warm and friendly vibe. So many weird and wonderful people to meet in a super-chilled, beautiful environment. I can see why so many people have hailed this festival to be their favourite of all. I can’t wait to go again. I promise I’ll pace myself better next time.


review by: Kris Taylor

photos by: Danielle Millea

Friday 17th to Sunday 19th September 2021
Chalk Farm, Salters Lane, Wyham, Grimsby, Lincolnshire, DN36 5RS, England MAP
early bird £105
daily capacity: 3000
last updated: Wed 18th Aug 2021


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