Boardmasters is a chilled out festival with a family vibe set in beautiful scenery

Boardmasters 2013 review

published: Thu 15th Aug 2013

around the festival site

Wednesday 7th to Sunday 11th August 2013
Watergate Bay, Newquay, Cornwall, TR8 4AN, England MAP
£109 with camping, day tickets £39
daily capacity: 12500
last updated: Tue 30th Jul 2013

After sampling the sport side at Fistral Beach (see other review) Saturday and Sunday were spent at the Watergate Bay site seeing what the music side of Boardmasters had to offer.

Each day kicked off at midday, but we were getting to the site at 2ish each day. The festival literature boasts an unbeatable line-up, but we debate this fact, there were only two reasons we came to this festival, one, was to spend time with our Nephew and the other was to see Basement Jaxx and The Joy Formidable. 

Obviously, the main reason for going today was to see Basement Jaxx, awesome band live, saw them back in festival mode in 2009 at Isle of Wight where I danced with my rucksack on for the whole set, much to my partners dismay and embarrassment.

We headed to the site after a trek from the car park that put the green mile to shame, thank god I wore my walking boots.  

The site was on the edge of Watergate Bay, beautiful scenery with the sea as a backdrop, stalls, fair rides, ice cream vans and even a Domino’s Pizza (£8 a pop, wedges £2 for a measly portion). Best of the bunch was the Rattler cider, tried all three varieties, quite partial to a pint of that, wonder if they sell it in the Midlands.  

The age range of the punters was mainly teens and twenty-something’s, but again it was very family orientated quite a few families with kiddy winks in tow.

Merchandise was reasonable £15 quid for a Tshirt, yes I did buy two, one each for my nephew and me lol.

Festival prices are always expensive, you need to take out a mortgage to buy a ticket, afford the travel, then afford to eat as well. Luckily my brother put us up for four nights.

The stages were a bit too close for comfort to be honest, obviously main stage was slap back in the middle of the site, but just a stone’s throw away was the Unleashed stage, this was the main stay of the dance DJ’s, the music kept blending in to each other which is always annoying.

The other stages, The View stage which was made to look like a boat had the most amazing view, obviously, looking out to see the sea and beyond, it was a small acoustic stage.

The Mavericks stage had to be the loudest, even displaying a sign warning about the level of noise, blew my ears off at even ten paces away.

It is the first festival we’ve ever been to where the access gate to get into the pit was a quarter of the way in to the audience, so in order to access it you had to go into the crowd, this was absolutely absurd and surely contravened health and safety, which I did point out to security and was told if you don’t go through the gate you don’t get access to photographing the bands. This sort of backfired during Basement Jaxx and Ben Howard's sets as the crowd was like a sardine can so how were you going to get access, with a stampede of photographers and a crush, is ridiculous.

The atmosphere of the festival was awesome, one of the most chilled out I’ve ever been too it was like lounge on the farm, just so relaxed, BUT obviously as the day went on people started to get a little worse for wear.

The weather throughout the day was 21 degrees upwards, I even ended up burning myself yet again, hat at the ready for my partner and factor 50. The music was slow to start, on both days was slow to start, neither of us had heard of any of the acts until you got further down the line up’s on either evening with local acts getting a chance to entertain.

We started flitting from the View stage and the main stage, the first act we saw were totally mad Man Like Me, they reminded us of Goldie Lookin Chain, completely off the wall, and hilarious to watch.

We watched a few acts on the View stage including Alice Jemima, Josh Record, and George Ezra, this stage was a breath of fresh air, so natural and showcasing breathtaking vocalists.

After a few more acts including female act Clean Bandit, and Little Comets, the crowd started to come alive. When we got to the site it was quite empty, and it didn’t really fill up until Miles Kane, then suddenly there was a sea of people.

Highlight of the day for me was Delphic, I had never seen them before live, they were surprisingly good, so much so I need to see them again, they reminded me of so many other bands, and I just loved the guy's vocals. 

Miles Kane drew a rather large crowd, I have never been a fan as I’ve always thought he was a Gallagher brother wanna be, but he showed he has a style of his own even if he does look like a Gallagher brother. Christ the audience went mental. He was a good opener for Basement Jaxx.

We headed over to the Unleashed Stage to see the surprise package of the day Fenech-Soler, I have waited three years to see this band live, oh my god, they were sensational, definitely my favourite band of the day by far. Whetted my appetite to see them again. They played some immense tunes, even some new material, the audience were well up for it.

As I said, we mainly chose to go to Boardmasters so we could see the immense Basement Jaxx. But this wasn’t meant to be. After Fenech Soler we ran back to the main stage pit area, only to get drenched as it rained cats and dogs, all we cared about was protecting our camera gear, so we were wet through, even though we only walked for 15 mins from one tent to the main stage.

My partner couldn’t get to the gate to be let in to the pit as the audience were so deep and thick together, so we tried the alternative to try and get around the side and be escorted by security, this was a no go, security were rude and very unapproachable, I have never known this at a festival before. So after not gaining access to the pit and being wet through we decided to head for home.

Day Three started very much the same as Day Two, the line-up never really getting going until the early evening. We did the same as Day Two and moseyed on from Main stage to the view stage, again seeing the acoustic acts. We caught The Lake Poets, India Bourne, and Sweet Baboo.

The main stage line-up today included Hudson Taylor a duo from Dublin who made all the females in the audience swoon, so much so they got mobbed when they did a CD signing later in the day. I’d heard good things about Swim Deep but they were quite disappointing to say the least.

Again the crowds at last started to gather for the appearance of Tom Odell, and the Brit Award winner was definitely an audience puller. The audience was so deep and they all ran to the front to get prime position. I’m not a big fan as I find his music slightly dowdy and boring, I only really liked ‘Another Love’, I can’t see what the attraction is, but each to their own.

Today was for me all about one band - Wales' The Joy Formidable! How can I describe them? Well they're the ballsy-est band ever, Ritzy is the female lead and boy, she never disappoints, kicking speakers and shouting ‘Fucking Come On’ to egg the audience on. Kicking Matt’s bass drum and whacking his symbols with her hands, and even sitting on Bassist Rhyddian. I love her as she doesn’t give a shit, but is so talented and can make her guitar sing. She is complemented by two immense musicians with Rhyddian and Fellow Black Countryman Matt. Loved this band since seeing them at Hop Farm years ago, they never ever disappoint and put on a totally mind blowing show. They don’t rely on pyrotechnics or fancy lighting, its all about the music and tonight was no exception.

A hours stonking set with such gems as ‘The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade’, ‘Cradle’, the immense ‘Austere’ and ‘While the Flies’. I think the audience were shocked at just how good the band were live, first mosh pit of the weekend we’d seen, Ritzy loved it.

They left the stage after the set with quite a few more fans, even heard people saying that they were surprised at how good they were.

In all seriousness it was gonna be hard to beat The Joy Formidable, and immense band, the job fell to returning Cornishman Ben Howard who was the headline act for the final evening, again like with ‘Odell’ people were vying for the best position to catch a glimpse of the Brit Award winner.

He played a 90 minute set and when he said it was good to be back in Cornwall the whole place erupted. Again I’m not a big fan but credit to him he had the audience eating out of his hand. They lapped the whole of the set up, lingering on every word of each song, he totally loved it.

Highlights of the weekend: all the sports orientated stuff, it was "rad" (as our 12 year old Nephew would say), Delphic were amazing, Fenech-Soler were mind blowing, as were The Joy Formidable, the Rattler Cider, the atmosphere and the beautiful scenery.

If you want to go to a chilled out festival with a family vibe, this is the one for you.


review by: Michelle Owen-Williams

photos by: Michelle and Trish Owen-Williams

Wednesday 7th to Sunday 11th August 2013
Watergate Bay, Newquay, Cornwall, TR8 4AN, England MAP
£109 with camping, day tickets £39
daily capacity: 12500
last updated: Tue 30th Jul 2013


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