The opening night of Wickerman runs long into the night

The Wickerman Festival 2010 review

published: Thu 29th Jul 2010

Buzzcocks

Friday 23rd to Saturday 24th July 2010
Kirkcarswell Farm nr. Kirkcudbright, Galloway, Scotland, Scotland MAP
£85 w/e incl camping, teens aged 13-15 £42.50, kids under 13 free
last updated: Tue 27th Jul 2010

In the nearly ten years since the first festival, The Wickerman has grown steadily year on year and is now a well established favourite on the northern England/Scottish festival circuit. A favourite across all age groups and with families, the festival has an eclectic music policy alongside a diverse range of activities, all at a very competitive very sub £100 ticket price. And it's the only UK festival where everything stops for the burning of a huge wicker effigy.

around the festival site
Arriving on site, the entrance and car parks (car parking is included in the price of the ticket) are well stewarded and entering the festival is a straightforward affair. One of The Wickerman's great advantages is the tiny distance from the car park to the campsite - they are in adjacent fields. Despite this, there are sherpas with wheelbarrows and a donkey and cart (a real donkey and a real cart!) that will get your stuff to where you want it to be for a small donation. The campsite opens on the Thursday and whilst there is only a limited amount of entertainment on Thursday night, it provides a good opportunity to settle into your surroundings and meet the neighbours.

The weather looks favourably on The Wickerman on the Friday and under a warm sun and cloudless blue sky, one of the first bands up on the main Summerisle Stage are The Raw Kings. The Glasgow five piece play country tinged rock 'n' roll (with an occasional nod towards The Strokes) and are perfect early afternoon sunshine fare. Whilst there are always several air guitars in any audience, this audience featured a real guitar played by a young fella who strummed along to every song, seemingly chord perfect. A bright, musical future surely awaits.

around the festival site
The Scooter Tent, as the name suggests, features heavily on Punk and Ska all weekend and is a sure fire place to find 40 something blokes getting sweaty and reminiscing about teenage years. Included on the bill this year are two 'tribute' acts - The Counterfeit Clash, on Friday and Sex Pistols Experience on Saturday. The Counterfeit Clash are a band that recognise they aren't The Clash. The lead singer knows he isn't Joe Strummer. They dont try and imitate the band whose material they are playing, but produce their own interpretation of excellent songs. They are massively received by a packed out tent that bounces through the entire set.

The Sex Pistols Experience on the other hand... They are dressed up as The Sex Pistols. From a distance, the bassist looks like Sid Vicious. The lead singer has clearly studied hours of footage to memorise Rotten's best lines and imitate his mannerisms. But I'm not sure how much of a role a guitar tech has in this. Or a 20 minute soundcheck. Or the strategically placed bottles of water around the stage. If the whole point of punk was being authentic and doing it yourself, dressing up as The Sex Pistols as a way of making your money must be the ultimate irony. Maybe that's why only a third of a not full tent took an active interest in 'Pretty Vacant'. Maybe some of those people remembered what punk was all about. Maybe some of them still believed it.

Across the way from The Scooter Tent was the Solus Emerging Scottish Talent Tent, playing exactly what it said on the tin. There were food stalls around, big tractor tyres and benches to sit on, a great big plastic open dome to shelter under if the sun got too warm. It was a great chill out area to sit outside with friends, share a beer or two, maybe have a bite to eat - all whilst listening to the offerings from one or other of the tents nearby. Or it would have been. It would have been if the organisers hadn't decided it was also an excellent spot to locate the giant upside down bungee ball, blasting out mindless taped dance music and inane taped voice recordings at a level that drowned out any other noise around it. If you're going to have fairground rides, it might be a better idea to keep them together.

Goldie Lookin Chain
Back on the Summerisle Stage, a packed field bounced away a glorious Friday evening to the raucous, offensive, abusive but comedic genius that is Goldie Lookin' Chain. Amongst various references to chaffing, love juice, Michael Jackson and paedophilia, they played a full set of favourites, including 'Soapbar', 'Guns Dont Kill People...' and 'Your Mother's Got A Penis'. New song 'Milfs' - an ode to the beauty of older ladies ('older ladies, older ladies, makin me shake, like I got rabies') was well recevied and closing song 'Your Missus Is A Nutter' had the whole field waving their arms and singing along.

In a most incongruous juxtaposition, next up on the mainstage was lounge crooner Tony Christie. Let's face it, most of the crowd were there for singalongamarillo. But 50 ish years in the business gives Christie an excellent back catalogue to pick from. Not helped by an up and down sound quality, the lounge crooner keeps an expectant crowd interested with songs such as 'You're Just Too Good To Be True', 'I Did What I Did For Maria' and the Jarvis Cocker penned 'Walk Like A Panther'. But it's 'Amarillo' that everyone wants to sing along with and it makes for a very happy crowd as a set closer.

Judging by the numerous brands of drink containers lying around the bins and floor, many festival goers had managed to avoid contraband discovery at the cursory searches at the gates and brought their own alcohol into the arena. This is an area The Wickerman really falls down on. Many smaller festivals (and the biggest one of them all down in Somerset) allow you to take your own beer into the arena.

Festival organisers have realised that when you dont compel people to drink only what they've bought at the bars, they'll buy from the bars and support the festival traders. If you tell them that is all they can do, they'll find a multitude of ways to beat your system. However, to buy beer at Wickerman, you needed to buy non-refundable beer tokens. If ever there is a way of annoying festival punters, it's beer tokens. At £3.40 for a bottle of Brothers Cider (and not festival strength either), there was a growing feeling of organisers trying to separate you from your cash. To absolutely compound this was the decision that if you bought a £1.70 bottle of pop from the bar, you couldn't keep the lid. If you went outside and bought the identical bottle from a trader, it was 20p cheaper and came complete with a lid. There is no excuse for this level of ill-thought out, customer anoying pettiness - pettiness that served absolutely no positive purpose.

Ed Tudor Pole
Up in The Scooter Tent, Ed Tudor Pole had a lively crowd eating out his hand. Not taking himself too seriously, Tudor Pole's rockabilly covered the obvious bases with 'Washed My Baby Out With The Bathwater' and a stonking, crowd pleasing 'Who Killed Bambi' before a very excited tent helped him out with 'Swords Of A Thousand Men'.

On the mainstage, those boys brought up on their parent's Beach Boys records Teenage Fanclub started slowly and got as far as a little better than adequate to the neutral observer - or were brilliant according to the more dedicated fan. Leila and I had a busy Acoustic Tent swaying and dancing along to their caberet/Imelda May-esque swing sound before The Buzzcocks rounded off the Friday line up in The Scooter Tent. Together over 30 years, they still know how to play together and were totally appreciated by a tent too busy to fit everyone in.

On the mainstage, the sometimes hit and miss The Charlatans were very much hit and drew probably the biggest crowd of the weekend. It reall still is all about the Hammond with these boys.

The end of the main stage is very much not the end of the night at The Wickerman. Over in Bass Camp, the Skiddle.Com arena and the U & A Recordings arena featuring DJs such as Fabio and Kutski kept the party going until 5 am. If that's a little full on, you can always try The Axis Soundsystem Reggae Tent which offered another 5am option. The late night tents at The Wickerman add a huge amount to the festival when so many others leave you sat back at your tent a little after midnight.

around the festival site

review by: Phil Adcroft

photos by: Willie Macdonald

Friday 23rd to Saturday 24th July 2010
Kirkcarswell Farm nr. Kirkcudbright, Galloway, Scotland, Scotland MAP
£85 w/e incl camping, teens aged 13-15 £42.50, kids under 13 free
last updated: Tue 27th Jul 2010


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