This was my second time at Once Upon A Time In The West which takes place in West Aston, near Westbury in Wiltshire. I thoroughly enjoyed it last year and was excited for 2018's instalment. Especially after seeing the line-up, some of which included: Mick O' Toole, Gaz Brookfield, Ferocious Dog, Subgiant, The Leylines, Showhawk Duo, Imprints and Los Albertos.
My partner and I managed to get off work a bit earlier on Friday to head down the festival. I experienced my first festival rain from hell upon arrival and my jeans were soaked through. This didn't curb our excitement for what the weekend had to offer. We were greeted by cheerful staff that welcomed us from the rain, one of which was my partner's son, who is also a festival junkie of massive proportions like his dad. Being the festival newbie (this being my fifth festival) of our trio isn't so bad when you have Gaz Brookfield to look forward to on night one!
Out West has three performance areas, in order of largest to smallest: the Out Stage, the 4 & 20 stage and the Dijinn Palace. The Out stage and 4 & 20 is specially for live bands and musicians whereas the Dijinn Palace is aimed at DJs with the occasional small live performance. An addition to the festival this year was the Caustik Disko, which is a peculiar indoor disco for some dancing outside of the blazing hot sun we had this weekend. For me, hearing The Sisters of Mercy - Temple Of Love was a little slice of heaven as I stood there knowing the sun was plotting a slow death for my pale skin (damn you!). The cocktail bar was also present with a variety of alcoholic cocktails. At the bar, ales, lagers, wines, spirits and of course ciders were available for affordable prices. Our personal favourite was the fizzed Kingston Black SV from Presshead.
The Out stage on Friday night kicked off with Mick O'Toole, a cider-punk band who also played Out West in 2017. However, the spark was missing and the electricity in the air for their performance just wasn't there. They did do a great job and were enjoyable to listen too but the real gem was happening at the 4 & 20 stage. Elea Calvet, a French Canadian singer, with a youthful smokey voice. She has potential in heaps and considering her first single only came out this year, I was very impressed. Her vocals are reminiscent of Taylor Momsen from the rock band The Pretty Reckless, she certainly doesn't have the reliability and experience of Momsen, but has greater depth and blues. Certainly check out her latest single 'Trigger'. Gaz Brookfield was a pleasure as always, he emits true genuineness in his performance and is a complete natural. We were on the rail but you didn't need to take a glance back to know that the stage tent was full by the roaring voices singing along to his catchy songs. Friday also saw the likes of Los Albertos, Showhawk Duo, The John E Vistic Rock N Roll Soundsystem, Harry Jordan and Jason Clark.
We were eased calmly into Saturday morning with Peony, a very sweet duo of 13 year-old twin sisters. They were nervous but kept their cool and were pleasant to watch. Our second easement into day two was Stuart Cullen, who played soft acoustic music and reminded me of a less charismatic Colin Firth. Along with the Imprints, who played in the night, The Back Wood Redeemers were the band of the day for me. One of their singers, who I believe is called Martin, was an especially great performer with their cover of Nick Cave and The Bad Seed's 'Red Right Hand'. He descended from the stage to perform interpretive dance in the instrumental interludes of the song. Phil Odgers and Bobby Valentino played songs from their band The Men They Couldn't Hang and a selection of their own, which were enjoyable. A standout moment of theirs was the introduction for 'To Have And To Hold' when Phil drew advice from his own life experience and exclaimed: "the only time you should play away is for the football". Other highlights of the day included Subgiant, Long John & The Killer Blues Collective and Smerin's Anti Social Club.
Out West 2018 welcomed more food vendors this year, our favourite being Wood Fired Pizza, that we ate from several times each day of the festival. Full-size pizzas, kids pizzas, wraps and paninis were available with a varied amount of toppings. As we were a party of three vegans, the 'Progressive' pizza was our choice, it included pulled jack fruit, vegan cheese and toppings. However, the other pizzas were available with vegan cheese instead of dairy, and of course meat eaters had their selection too. My partner and I had two wraps each in one afternoon as they were so yummy. I had their mixture of two different melted vegan cheeses, green salad and an insane amount of jalapenos (as requested!). Last year, I reviewed the other vendor Events Horizon, however their gorgeous chilli jam was nowhere to be seen and sadly great food also. Unfortunately, the curry we were given was cold and the tuscan bean stew only consisted of taco beans, kidney beans and about five pieces of sweetcorn. The chips we ordered also looked and tasted as if they had been cooked, gone cold and reheated and then this process repeated a few times. The staff didn't really know what was on the menu and either had to ask someone else or they had run out of something all together. Jumunji offered Thai street food such as chicken or vegetable pad Thai noodles, BBQ steak and vegan green curry, They have a professional image and the tasty smell of their cooking is enough to make you fancy food even when you're not hungry. Despite this, their menu didn't seem to change at all from last year so didn't peak our interest. A glorious fountain of milk chocolate, by a vendor simply but beautifully called Chocolate was present at the festival. It was mesmerising to look at and conveniently they accepted card payments. The last little treasure was The Greatest Little Coffee Box On Earth, run by Nerys who is multi-talented as she's also a member of Fluffettes in The Boot Hill All Stars. In the morning, she is bubbly with her smile on her face making coffees and teas for the hungover festival goers needing their hit of caffiene before cider o'clock. She has a massive range of herbal teas, coffees, funny 50's coasters, sweet treats and even an espresso martini. I had two iced soya milkshakes (strawberry and vanilla) in one day and I'm genuinely looking forward to having them both again next year. Definitely try their chocolate and peanut slice!
Out West went from being a child friendly festival to be great fun for the little ones. These included Cardboard City for artistic creations, life-size Jenga, the hilariously made game Shittles, bubbles, and the cleverly placed bucket of sponges and cold water next to some stocks.
Sunday was my favourite full day and was also titled the Cider Sabbath to celebrate the addition of a full day of music. the line-up for both the Out stage and 4 & 20 was amazing. The Gimme Gimme Gimmes, a Scottish band performed covers in a surprisingly amazing punk rock style. They were donned in matching trousers, t-shirts and white creepers (however one member let them down with the shoes!) and I wasn't expecting them to be so great. We were teased with intros and riffs from legendary bands like The Sex Pistols and The Damned, but didn't actually get one, which was beautifully annoying. Another surprise was that the lead singer's voice was very similar to the most gorgeous Dave Vanian. Their cover of the Talking Head's 'Psycho Killer' was actually mind blowing. Monkey Bizzle saw us practically stalking Scooby Doo from festival to festival again, but nevertheless they were thoroughly entertaining, Ferocious Dog were everything hell hounds expect them to be as they're incredibly consistent with the quality of their performance. Standout songs were 'The Glass' And 'Slow Motion Suicide'. Other highlights of the day included the Boot Hill All Stars, SN Dub Station, The Leylines, Far Cue and another set by The Imprints.
A massive thanks to Flounder, Morph, all the sound and organising crew, stewards and everyone who made this great little festival possible. It was greatly appreciated and we look forward to attending again next year.
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Once Upon a Time in the West (OUT West) 2018 review