Kozfest is a little festival with a big punch

Kozfest 2012 review

By Lyn Haskell | Published: Wed 1st Aug 2012

Kozfest 2012 - around the festival site (1)
Photo credit: Keith Sharman

Kozfest 2012

Friday 27th to Sunday 29th July 2012
a field near Uffculme, Devon, England MAP
early bird £50 for the weekend with free camping - SOLD OUT
Daily capacity: 499

Imagine a festival where everything is but a 30 second walk away, where you can camp in the same field as the stages and stalls, mingle with the bands, meet new people and get to see them the next day and the next...Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: Kozfest.

around the festival site (1)
Previously known as Kozmik Ken's Psychedelic Dream Festival, Kozfest is now in its second year of running (Wattsfest has been running on the same site for over 15 years, originally starting in a back garden). The weather was an improvement on last year, even with a couple of showers on the last day, and attendees showed up in full force to enjoy a fantastic weekend of live music, friendly atmosphere and all in a great setting. As numbers are around 500, tickets sell out fast.

The site itself is located in the rolling Devon countryside, on what is known as Bobbie's Farm. Bobbie himself wanders around the site followed by his entourage of working dogs in numbers difficult to count, mingling with those in attendance. It is nice to be at a festival where you can bring your dog, and it helps add to the relaxed and friendly atmosphere the festival brings. There was even a nearby resident peacock regularly contributing its voice to the ongoing proceedings.

At this point, I could say that much of the music sounded like a mix of Ozric Tentacles crossed with Hawkwind, but I feel that it would not do justice to the bands that played. There are many undiscovered jewels and hidden gems that appeared at Kozfest, an on arrival our weekend began with the psychedelic jazz-themed Glowpeople, playing at the smaller of the two stages Judge Trev's Place. I had not yet seen a trumpet linked to a FX pedal, but it certainly created a unique and vibrant sound, accompanied by keyboards and bass, electric guitar and dynamic drumming. Their music was packed full of punch and went down extremely well. "Metaphorical" was a track that stood out particularly - with a bass-driven introduction, the band built up the sound into something that I really cannot describe - definitely worth a listen.

Following on from Glowpeople in the same venue were Xoo, with a wide range from Pink Floyd-esque sounds with perfected harmonised singing, to fast-paced guitar-driven punk tones. A band clearly with a wide range of talent. The Timelords played next, following on from where Xoo left off with a heavy rock-driven sound.

During the course of the day, we browsed the stalls between the two stages. The bar proved to be a popular point (as they are at any festival), with reasonably-priced cider, beer, lager and soft drinks on offer. Food stalls ranged from a typical burger van serving, well, burgers alongside bacon rolls and sausage and chips. Good Thai Dins served up filling dishes of noodles and rice, and a third stall, Mrs Whitedog's Café served cakes, teas, and vegetarian foods in generous quantities with daily specials and desserts too.

After lunch, at the larger Kozmik Ken's stage, Nukli entertained the crowd in the afternoon sun. With a simple arrangement of guitar, bass and drums, they packed quite a punch and rightly so, as I am assured that they have been on the festival circuit since the early eighties and certainly know what they are doing. They are extremely well-gelled and perfectly in time with each other, and wearing a red top hat and tartan trousers on stage certainly does no harm. Later on, headlining Friday night at Kozmik Kens was Omnia Opera. Previous supporters of Hawkwind, their powerful female vocalist and their vivacious sound kept the crowd entertained until the end of the night. Playing at the same time in Judge Trev's Place were Bubbledubble setting a different tone with an upbeat reggae sound, and were joined by a clarinettist on stage.

Music at Kozfest runs for 12 hours each day, from midday to midnight, leaving plenty of time to let yourself recover in the mornings, or wander around meeting people, getting some breakfast or playing about with the many dogs around. At first, I thought the timing of the music would make the days there disappointing, but the setup works extremely well and enables you to get full enjoyment out of the festival. As the music finished we went in search of fire, which is allowed at Kozfest as long as you do the sensible thing and clear up after yourself, and a few people had brought along braziers. We settled down and got happily chatting with those around us, and later on someone even dragged down a sofa!

around the festival site (1)
It's nice to be in a place where you can hear and see everything that's going on from your tent door. So on Saturday, we went up to Kozmik Ken's to see the Tantrics with their guitar and keyboard electronica, followed by the Peyote Band using keyboards and guitars and a multitude of synthesizers. Over at Judge Trev's Place, something completely different to what we had been hearing so far over the weekend was going on. Chumley Warner Bros entertained the afternoon crowd with a soft folky alternative electric clarinet and acoustic guitar set. With emotive melodies from their female vocalist, and soft soulful playing, they were excellent to listen to sat down on the grass.

After a wander, and seeking out a much-needed cheeseburger, we headed over to see Hoffman's Bicycle at the main stage. Again, a surprising set up consisting of two electric guitars and tabla drumming. After them came The Tea Project, with slick transitions, animated drumming, and well-gelled band members managing to keep perfectly in time and then change pace at the drop of a hat. Their sound was well-rehearsed and you could certainly tell they knew exactly what to do on stage to entertain the crowd.

Saturday evening saw us frequenting the bar a-plenty and partaking in their cider on sale, whilst we wandered back and forth between the two stages seeing Aurora with their sparkly outfits, theremin and electronic at Judge Trev's and Here and Now at Kozmik Ken's, with their psychedelic rock, so we didn't miss a thing. Afterwards at midnight, Bobbie lit a massive communal bonfire for all to gather round, and many didn't make it back to bed until first light.

around the festival site (2)
Sunday, the final day, sadly began to bring in some rain, but it did nothing to dampen our spirits. At midday at Judge Trev's, a three-piece group had come together to fill the slot. Consisting of two guitars and a djembe, they played us plenty of harmonic folky music to ease us gently into the day. One of the guitarists, Ron Tree, managed to play with such fervour that his fingers bled! They were followed by Secrets for September with lovely female vocals and complementary guitar solos to pick up the pace for the rest of the afternoon, as the unGong band were next keeping the upbeat tempo. Over at Kozmik Ken's, The Apache John Band were playing more relaxed Sunday afternoon music with a country and western feel. With guitar, ukulele and percussion accompanied by tin whistle and a harmonium played by their colourful female singer, they certainly kept the crowd entertained (and did a very funny George Formby tribute called "When I'm Doing Acid").

The unGong Band
Overall, I would say that Kozfest is almost the perfect little festival. Everything is in one place, you get to discover so many bands and sounds that you haven't seen or heard before, meet so many new people and learn so much from them. And play about with dogs. Lots. If I had to find something negative about this festival, it would be that they needed a few more toilets around site. I'm not even going to let the woman who elbowed us because we were 'standing in her place' get me down.

It was a fantastic festival; I enjoyed every minute of it, and certainly felt privileged to be there amongst the bands and those attending. I almost feel that I don't want to congratulate Kozfest too much as tickets will be gone even quicker, and I certainly know a lot who will want to be there next year! So, all in all, thank you Kozfest, and I hope you keep going for many years to come.
review by: Lyn Haskell

photos by: Keith Sharman

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