I turned up on Friday around 3pm. There was a small queue of traffic from both ends of the main road. I was guided down to park and the 10 minute walk began…..which turned into 15 with my 2 bags on my back.
Through the security gate to the camp site and it was already showing signs of being busy but managed to get a spot where I normally wouldn't…by the portable toilets… downhill! But as there was lack of spaces I accepted my fate.
The weather was already hot and people started getting frantic when they realised there were no more spaces for camper vans/caravans and even tents! You see Forgotten Fields is in its first year although it is the small sister festival to Kendall Calling (currently in its 10th year) you'd be mistaken to think they have not hosted a camping festival before.
It wasn't long before tents were being pitched everywhere including outside the entrance gate to the camping site. The queue for camper vans was all the way to the main road and I heard on the road also.
The arena opened and I went to explore and quickly noticed that the inside was managed better. Various stalls were set along the main walkway to the stages breaking up the short walk to the main site. The Cocktail Bar served double shot cocktails at £8.50 and Prosecco at £6 a glass, which I thought was overpriced but, tasted good in the heat. The Ale Tent was a little more modest starting at £4 and hosting FILO beers from Hastings, amongst other local ales.
With pint in hand I caught the Children's Area ranging from unusual bikes that you couldn't ride on normal ground let alone field, to low level tight rope and diablo juggling. This was a popular area for both families and couples trying to outdo each other. One couple were even keeping score of who was out doing the other on each event.
The food available ranged from spit roast chicken, pizzas to vegetarian curries. I went for the biggest one at Ghandi's Flip Flop which cost £8.50 but had 3 curries, 6 accompaniments which was very tasty. They did sell cheaper dishes at £6.50 and in general the food was cheaper at Forgotten Fields than other festivals but still more expensive than on the high street.
The music stages consisted of the Main Stage, Horizons Stage filled with regional acts, Tim Peaks House Party Stage with some great up and comers and Gypsy Disco for the odd and obscure. There was also a cinema but I didn't manage to get into it this weekend.
My biggest let down personally was on the Sunday the campsite ran out of drinking water. For a 4,000 – 5,000 capacity festival I couldn't work out how they ran out. Everybody that was camping was complaining about it but all agreed that inside the arena things were chilled and you forgot about the negatives once there. The staff, security and organisers were a credit to the weekend handling all the complaints and empathising with the punters.
On the first day Slamboree took my attention with their Cirque Le Soir dancers, flame entertainers and colourful carnival of beauty. They stamped their presence on the festival and the audience bought into it. With stalls in the festival selling bubbles, face painting and family area having circus activities they all went hand in hand.
Public Service Broadcasting made up for the last time I saw them at Latitude Festival with their trademark synth public address system to talk to the audience.
Basement Jaxx ended the first night in the same colourful way that Slamboree started. Amazing wardrobes of the singers taking your attention away from Felix and Simon mixing in the background. They lacked a few of their hits but delivered visually and with great sound levels.
Day two and it was a lot more chilled out and finally caught Grasshopper a young Brighton band that are starting to get noticed.
The Horrors had a consistent set, although with no real anthems the audience didn't get to grips but were happy to chill out with beers and friends. I was looking forward to seeing Super Furry Animals but was disappointed with their sound. Gruff Rhys vocals sounded flat and at times out of key. As someone that only knows a couple of songs it maybe that this is their style. ‘Hello Sunshine' sounded great and their lighting looked amazing proving hard for the photographers in the pit to get a good shot off.
Day 3 was my favourite of the bands. As well as a ride on the Ferris Wheel £3 and Swings I was able to see 2 of my ‘MUST SEE' acts of the festival. De La Soul and Levellers. But first a band that got the audience going and not normally my bag Too Many T's. These guys got the audience up and to the barriers with their hands in the air and partying. If I was to put on a summer festival I would have them opening every time.
De La Soul carried on where Too Many T's left off earlier by engaging not only with the audience but the photo pit; asking the photographers to down their cameras for 1 song and get involved. All but one (not Jason eFestivals b.t.w) joined in. They played a solid set and kept everyone in the party mode.
Razorlight, Johnny Borrell with his dodgy tash was able to satisfy the happy crowd with all their hits and you know what? They were okay with hits ‘Golden Touch', ‘In the Morning'.
But they chose the best band to close day 3 and the festival, Levellers were the band of the weekend. As a fan of ‘Levelling the Land' I had a constant smile as they rattled off every song I know by them. My legs ache from jumping up and down. Great lighting, great sound and great vibe to the final night.
So a mixed review for Forgotten Fields first year. Finally a camping festival close to my home in Bexhill-on-Sea with a line-up of names that are big for the amazing price of £90 (tier 1).
To judge and say the organisers shouldn't have made simple errors is warranted. To run out of water is a cardinal sin. To run out of fields to pitch is a massive oversight. But as a new venue it can be easy to have different challenges than you are used to. I want Forgotten Fields to get it right in 2016 and hope they listen to the feedback from the paying customers. I will give it a 2nd go next year but as the saying goes; "Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me."
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