Sunrise Celebration does it again

Sunrise Celebration 2011 review

published: Thu 9th Jun 2011

around the festival site (1)

Thursday 2nd to Sunday 5th June 2011
Gilcombe Farm, near Bruton, South Somerset, England MAP
£114.50 for the weekend
daily capacity: 5000
last updated: Fri 3rd Jun 2011

We arrived to be greeted by the friendly faces of the Spangly Parking crew, who never fail to have a well organized car park and look after us well. We didn't have to wait long to get wristbands and car pass, then on we drove to the crew campsite. Immediately we found some of our lovely extended family of Green Stewards and set up camp with them. A few of us sat up chatting until the early hours of the morning and met some new members of the Green Steward family too. You may not realize it but the Green Stewards are taking care of you at all times, day and night, at many festivals now. They do a great job of helping make sure everything runs smoothly, and safely.

around the festival site (1)
With a slightly larger crowd capacity than previous years, the site was still split into two main fields but with one big difference, the addition of an outdoor stage to the lower of the two fields, a main stage with Function One sound system and everything! This for me greatly improved the layout of the site, especially for those times when you just wander around exploring weird and wonderful things. This would be a good point to mention the fact that I was on crutches with a torn ligament, and getting easily from place to place was very important for me.

All kinds of little things got started on Thursday morning, there were workshops for yoga, meditation, Tai Chi and all sorts of enlightening activities. The markets were also opening up, the sun was out and it was all looking very promising.

As we lazed in the campsite having afternoon lunch we were approached by our neighbour who wanted to borrow some salt, and of course we got chatting because every one there was friendly and very sociable. It turned out that he was in a band called The Turbans, and he invited us to see them play live in the Bimble Inn, later on that evening. What a great start to the night that turned out to be.

The Turbans played an amazing set, a kind of middle Eastern, Folk fusion music with a bit of jazz thrown in too. With a fiddle as the lead instrument most of the time, and a lovely instrument called an Oud aswell, which looked a little like a mandolin and sounded great. The crowd loved it and it didn't take long before the Bimble Inn was a throng of dancing.
The Boxettes
The Boxettes were were putting on an amazing show of female beatboxing at Chai Wallahs. It was hard to believe that all those different sounds were coming from the mouths of those few girls. Literally groundbreaking stuff because no other band sounds like they do.

Later into the night I ended up at the Solar dance area, otherwise known as Earth Heart. I usually refer to it as the dance corner of the festival, because you normally hear dance, psy-trance and all other kinds of electronic music wizardry there.

I had lost my original companions in the darkness by this point, but it didn't take long to meet new people as every one so friendly. I sat on a bench next to two random guys and before long we were chatting away like we had known each other for ever.

On Friday the entertainment got started early again with yoga and things, in fact many of those workshops turned out to be daily events. A few of the main music stages got going around mid-day including Chai Wallahs and the Spit And Sawdust stage. The Spit And Sawdust stage is at the top of the hill so you can watch a band play, and have a view across the surrounding countryside too. It's a really good view across to King Alfred's Tower about 15 miles away. The stage was also right next to the hog roast stand, where a hog roast in a roll and a cider was still only a fiver, the same as last year!

Daygan were the first band we saw of the day, playing perfect Friday morning music. With such nice instruments as mandolin and bouzouki they created some lovely acoustic folk. Well, I thought it was great but the Italian girl I was with thought it was boring, so we wandered on. I was very glad that we wandered on because we stumbled upon an acoustic set being played by Lucidia, and her friend on the guitar.

Lucidia played in a small venue called The Portal Immortal, which is basically a cosy little tipi. Those of us which weren't barefoot already had to take our shoes off, and then virtually crawl through a small opening to the inside, for an intimate gig. Her voice was truly amazing, and the guy on guitar was great too. There were only a handful of us there to watch, a much more personal feel than lager venues. It felt even more personal when Lucidia had finished, and introduced the next act, her Dad. He played the guitar and sang, and for the few of us that listened he showed us a part of his soul.

The Mandibles
I had seen The Mandibles before and really enjoyed their music, but I didn't know who they were at the time. So I was chuffed to bits to see them play again at Chai Wallahs. The main attraction for me is the strange trumpet noise that the female vocalist makes from her nose, and the rest of the band are pretty good too. Playing high energy mix of gypsy jazz and swing they got the crowd on their feet in no time.

MC Xander totally rocked the main stage when he finally got going. He was having trouble seeing the screens of his gadgets due to the glare from the glorious sunshine, and he had to construct a make shift shade on stage with an umbrella. However, he didn't use the gadgets for the first track and provided us with some raw beat boxing, just one man and a microphone. Showing us that he can still entertain us without the aid of the machines.

The Orb Sound System played some familiar sounds as well as some experimental weirdness to keep us happy until well into the night.

Saturday morning saw the first of the clouds roll in, which allowed those who had stayed up late to have a lie in without it getting to a million degrees in their tents. For the early birds there was Yoga with Maria Szabo, a talk on plants by Rachel Corby called the Ultimate Renewable Resource, a talk about wild foods by a frequent forager and even something about healing with the human voice by Anand Meru. The stages started at about midday again.

Eat Static
Eat Static consists of only one member now and he played in the early evening in the dance corner, but unfortunately it was just a DJ set and we didn't get to hear any of our familiar favourite Eat Static tunes, but he did play some amazing music though so I can't complain. The atmosphere was great with lot's of dancing and the sun had come back out to play too.

Before we knew it, it was fast approaching time to head over to the main stage to see Lamb. They eventually came on stage over an hour late, which was not such a surprise as many things ran late that weekend, and no one seemed to really mind anyway. Everyone was is such good spirit that nothing really mattered, and when Lamb finally blessed us with their brilliant set, they made up for the waiting ten times over. They played several new songs which was a nice surprise, and they also let us hear some of the older tunes we know and love. Lamb played perfectly but I'm not sure the sound guys had the set up quite right, I was admiring the Function One speakers but thinking that maybe they could have sounded a little clearer. Never mind, anyway, it was still an amazing atmosphere.

Raja Ram (Shpongle)
Next it was onto to see Shpongle do a DJ set, in the early hours of Sunday morning. I didn't have high hopes for this really, another DJ set, but it sounded like a Shpongle live concert for the whole time they played. Every tune was a familiar Shpongle tune and I'm sure I even saw Raja Ram up on stage with Simon Posford too, someone who I was not expecting to see there at all. What a great surprise that was, we were all totally Shpongled.

Sunday was a bit cloudy but still our spirits were high. Compared to the previous days line up, there weren't many bands playing that I had actually heard of, so it was a great day to wander, explore and find new things. However we ended up spending most of the day chilling out in the Earth Heart tent. We were treated hour after hour to high quality sounds from artists such as Geo, George Barker, Lucas, DJ Ekanta, Laughing Buddha, and Tristan. There was quite a heavy rain shower in the early evening but there remained plenty of space for us to stay under cover in the marquee. There was ska bands and gypsy folk on all the other stages but we were happy where we were. Apparently Backbeat Soundsystem played an energetic set and The Turbans even played again, an impromptu gig.

At some point over the four days I saw a band called The Little Unsaid play in the Bimble Inn, they were great but I couldn't tell you when it was they played at all, it's all a bit of a blur now.

I must admit that I was sure I would be able to find more faults with Sunrise Celebration when I started writing this, but no.

I had heard there was a bit of a queue of traffic due to opening time confusions, but that was no big deal, and maybe Lamb could have let more people know about the secret gig they played there, but that would defeat the object and it wouldn't have been secret gig.

So congratulations Sunrise, you did it again. A perfect festival.

review by: Keith Sharman

photos by: Federica Pacifico

Thursday 2nd to Sunday 5th June 2011
Gilcombe Farm, near Bruton, South Somerset, England MAP
£114.50 for the weekend
daily capacity: 5000
last updated: Fri 3rd Jun 2011

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