Divide the some 252 acts by 9 stages, minus 7 (the number of pegs we showed up with when a minimum of 8 were needed to put up the tent). Multiply the answer by my 2 wonderful festival co-pilots who hopped in the car for the ride and there you have it...the answer to The Great Question of life, the universe and everything is forty two.
Well, maybe not. But as Slartibartfast once said: "The chances of finding out what’s really going on in the universe are so remote, the only thing to do is hang the sense of it and keep yourself occupied."
And if there is a better way to keep yourself occupied than cue montage skipping carefree through the fields of Rowan Paddock, sipping locally sourced cider throughout the day before bowling haphazardly down the the Bullpen to take in an array of some of the finest drum and bass acts the UK has to offer then I don’t want to hear about it. [END SCENE: Fade to black.]
This year, Nozstock opened it’s gates to welcome in the festival’s 17th year. This grass roots festival, nurtured by the Nozworthy family, is growing from strength to strength, year by year with a dedicated festival committee and tight-nit crew of volunteers working incredibly hard before, during and after the event, to make for a charged atmosphere, the likes of which I've yet to experience at another festival. The stewards were cheerful and helpful, staff and punters alike adopted an 'in-it-together' stance, resolute in their determination to have a good time despite the less than perfect weather conditions. More than once over the weekend, I heard Nozstock described as ‘the friendliest festival ever'.
Attracting a crowd of 5,000, this year Nozstock opted for a futuristic/sci-fi/space theme, featuring an eclectic mix of artists spanning a wide spectrum of musical genres from hip hop, to folk, pystrance to electro-swing and back again. Over the years, regular attendees have come to expect a varied and vibrant selection of acts, and this year was no exception.
The still intimate site comprises of a number of different areas including the Coppice, the Dingle, the Rave Yard, the Orchard and Garden stages and Laughing Stock/Swing Theory stage. The Orchard (main) Stage, has hosted artists from all over the globe and this year became home to hip hop moguls De La Soul after a last minute cancellation from original headliners Wu-Tang Clan. Now, I know many were extremely disappointed to have Wu Tang pull out at the last minute - for reasons unknown, they cancelled their whole European tour - however, this last minute booking all but saved the day with De La Soul well and truly owning their prime time slot between the hours of 11pm - 12am on the Saturday evening. Their diverse assortment of samples and quirky lyrics proving a perfect match for the festival, and the crowd let them know as much. Dropping 'The Windmill Song' by Gorillaz in at the end of their set was a stroke of genius, everyone was up on their feet shouting the lyrics back at the stage totally immersed, like putty in their hands...Who Tang what?
But I'm getting ahead of myself. We arrived Friday evening after some car issues regrettably set our leaving time back a few hours causing us to miss a couple of acts I really wanted to catch including The Mouse Outfit (live band combining hip-hop and funk breaks) and The Jenova Collective (amalgamation of various electronic swing-styles, sure fire crowd pleasers). Our first port of call upon arrival was finding somewhere amidst the sea of tents to set up camp. Having squeezed ourselves in between some very hospitable neighbours, we made a bee-line for the Orchard Stage where Beans on Toast had taken to the stage. Beans deployed song after song covering topics ranging from love, and war to blowjobs and MDMA and everything in between, employing his own unique blend of drunken folk and sardonic truths depicted with raspy honesty.
Friday night descended into a sea of smiley faces and eventually into a muddy puddle as the rain hung in the air in the same way that bricks don't. We found ourselves running toward the Swing Theory tent to take shelter from the rain. During the day, the tent doubles up as the Laughing Stock Stage this year hosting acts such as Seann Walsh and Nozstock regulars Devvo, and Phil Kay. At around 11:30pm, Velocity Raptor took to the stage, attracting a rag-tag band of the Shropshire faithful. Leaving no swing-stone unturned, the 'prehistoric party predator' had the crowd in a frenzy, unleashing tune after tune, seeing in the wee hours to a soundtrack of vintage electro-swing, ghetto funk and house.
Waking early to find the sun shining, my friend provided me with a plastic cup filled with a liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea, which perked me up just enough to crack open that first glorious, slightly warm, tin of cider to counteract the pain in the diodes down me left side. Much of Saturday was spent bimbling around enjoying the near perfect weather and taking in the sights and sounds of the Farm.
The winners of the GigSlutz PlayNoz competition; Hipicat opened up the Garden Stage at 11am, the Cardiff based psychedelic pop collective playing a mesmerising set to kick-start the day. I went to Noz this year determined to see as much new music as possible, but it wouldn't be fair to not give a mention to Molotov Jukebox who seem to have become the driving force of many a festival line up in recent years. I fall in love with this band all over again ever time I see them play, with their explosive chemistry and sultry sound it seem Molotov can do no wrong. Their set was electric with the band playing some new material I can only presume will feature on their second album, Tropical Gypsy when released.
Sunday rolled around all to quickly as is the custom, and that evening Martha Reeves and The Vandellas were the main attraction on the Orchard Stage. Charting over 26 hits, 10 Billboard R&B Singles Chart Top Ten hits, and two number 1s, Martha and her backing band guided the crowd through a myriad of Motown classics, including Heatwave, Jimmy Mack, and Dancing in the Street bringing the festival to a climatic end with a 3 encore finish, thus ending another year on the idyllic farm. With plans already in place for 2016, this festival isn't showing any signs of slowing down, each year more delightfully eccentric than the last, loaded with fervent frivolity and outlandish whimsicality.
So long Nozstock, and thanks for all the fish.
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