Wychwood opens with a perfect evening in the sun

Wychwood Music Festival 2011 review

By James Tayler | Published: Fri 10th Jun 2011

around the festival site (1)

Wychwood Music Festival 2011

Friday 3rd to Sunday 5th June 2011
Cheltenham Racecourse, Prestbury Park, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England MAP
adult weekend £115, concession weekend £90, youth (10-15yrs) £55, child (5-9yrs) £15, under 5's
Daily capacity: 7,500

As we drive onto Cheltenham Race Course for the 7th Wychwood Festival, the sun shines brightly and we step out of the car and join the small queue waiting to exchange tickets for wristbands. We arrive at about midday and within 20 minutes, we are wristbanded up and return to the car.

We are allowed to drive onto the festival campsite through a closely marshalled one-way system, drop off camping gear, and drive the empty car back to the car park – quite luxurious. The wait to drive onto site seems endless (though is probably only about 40 minutes), and en route, we are handed recycling and rubbish bags and a map. As we head further on our way, we are given a box of breakfast cereal, instant coffee sachets and a camping magazine. Our hosts for the weekend have ensured that their sponsors are going all out to make sure we're well looked after! We even get a bag of breakfast waiting outside for us one morning.

around the festival site (people)
Pitching the tent in the warm sun, jettisoning our creature comforts and driving the car back to the car park is a quick and painless exercise. Soon we're greeting friends, guiding them to our patch of racecourse and sharing a drink or two.

The campsite is split into different zones, an early curfew area, family camping, and standard camping. Water points and portaloos seem pretty well spread out and there are property lockups to leave valuables in as well as a campsite shop, café and a vendor selling flags and flag poles.

For those who have organised it in advance, there is also luxury camping available in yurts and tepees.

After catching up with friends, we make our way into the arena to watch The Travelling Band. Their American folksy sound washes over an expectant and swelling Wychwood crowd.

More friends arrive as their set ends and we sample the delights of the bar. Two ales are available at the bars at either £3.50 or £4 a pint as well as range of lager, cider, Perry and wine, and soft drinks.

Homemade plum potion and elderflower pressé are available from one of the stalls, and The Cocktail Bar supplies champagne, nibbles and cocktails. A pop up topped Routemaster bus serves Pimms, while another Routemaster serves tea and cakes. If you're thirsty, it seems Wychwood is a great place to be!

With all of these great drinks on offer, it's alos worth mentioning that the loos are spotless all weekend, and smell great too. Not a duff one encountered by our merry band.

3 Daft Monkeys are next up on the main stage. I like them, and it doesn't take long to realise that there are four of them on stage. The addition is a drummer and it changes their sound adding a new dimension. I'm not sure one was required but it works. I'm happy to hear them play 'Social Vertigo' and we gaze on as they toast on stage and go a delicate shade of pink. 'Astral Eyes' is a crowd favourite and the haunting whistle and fiddle unite to form an infectious beat, not wasted by the bouncing crowd.

As Cornershop comes on stage, I'm convinced I only know one of their songs but I recognise loads of the tunes that get played. Highlights for me are 'Lessons Learned from Rocky I to Rocky III', 'Judy Sucks A Lemon For Breakfast', 'Sleep on the Left Side', and of course 'Brim full Of Asha'. With sounds spanning cultures as a soundtrack, afternoon becomes evening, and food is in order. Thai noodles are quick, easy and tasty, and washed down with a pint of Tunnel Vision ale, the perfect preparation to take us into the Wychwood evening.

Whilst waiting for The Charlatans on the main stage, I rack my brain trying to remember the names of their hits. This continues throughout their laid back set. Some come flooding back as they are played whilst I realise others are from their contemporaries (curse that lovely ale). Those that I do recognise, I remember being played on the bus to school and I'm transported back to the halcyon days of endless summers as 'One To Another', 'This Is The End', 'Weirdo' and 'The Only One I Know'. Actually, I'm shocked at just how many of the words I know to their hit packed set.

After escorting sleepy wife and kids back to the tent, two of us decide that the night is not over and we head for the headphone disco. On the way in, we catch the end of comedian Robin Ince. His set has us in stitches and I'm only sad that we missed the start of it (and by the sound of things, and eventful evening of comedy). The disco, held in the big top has been a favourite amongst friends at Wychwood for a good few years, but this is my first experience of it.

Two DJs on stage playing two different tunes at any time and a switch on the headphones to swap between them. I find the most entertaining thing is to take the headphones off, and listen to the crowd 'singing' along to two different songs or trying to hold a conversation but essentially shouting at one another in a quiet tent.

Heading back to the tent and the setting seems serene with people chatting quietly around the campsite.

around the festival site (1)
review by: James Tayler

photos by: Andy Pitt

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