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BD 2021 Reviews


blutarsky
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How was your festival? What did you do? Who did you see? What were your highlights and lowlights? How many times did you walk away from a portaloo without having been? 
Let’s hear your reviews here. I’ll be back with my own hot take in a bit. 

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Review is simple.

We did loads we did not plan or think we would do, we spent quality time at all stages and chilling on the hills.

We found new music, enjoyed music we knew and met with people we had known since March 2020 but never met.

Loos..................................... yeh, there were loos.

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Loved it, there were many joyous moments. Loved Henge! Had a great singalong with The lottery winners. Gentleman’s dub club were as good as I thought they would be. Discovered The Skints too, they were great. 
Yeah, the toilets were a bit shocking, they’re usually so good. More than once I very nearly vommed and had to leave! They did improve over the weekend though so fair play

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Top weekend  The Big Moon were fab, as to The Orb. The Bimble Inn was great too 

Ok yes the toilets weren’t as good as you’d like. I feel for women who have to pee late at night anywhere near the main stages. 
However managed to find a clean one whenever I needed it  

Absolutely zero covid precautions though, so it will be interesting to see whether it’s a spreader event. 

 

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I thought the lineup was a bit weak but perhaps just not to my taste.  Really liked being able to easily stroll to the front for the main acts I wanted to see.  Also great view of the main stage from further back.

I didn’t think the toilets were that bad and they certainly improved a lot over the weekend.  Well done to the team that got on top of the situation.

Atmosphere was great and very family friendly.  If I wasn’t with my kids I think I might have found it a little bit on the tame side.

I thought drinks were reasonably priced for a festival.  Food was good.

Surprisingly, I remembered a towel and the showers were excellent.  Hot, free and no queues.

 

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My first Beautiful Days festival, had such a great time (i'll skip the toilet situation that has been discussed enough).  Thought the main arena was a great space, loved that everything wasn't that far and that there was generally never a queue for anything.  I thought the food selection was excellent and as someone said good selection of beers at a good price.

Stand out acts for me were Frank Turner, Skindred, Pattern Pushers (who I stumbled upon and misheard and thought they were called Pat Butcher), Funke & The Two Tone Baby, Lottery Winners, Levellers (Acoustic), Amy Montgomery, Bar Stewards sons..., James and Gentlemans Dub Club.  I thought From The Jam were pretty disppointing.

Loved actually sitting watching most bands and not rushing between stages and loved the Tiny Tea Tent (best toilets up there).

Campsite and showers were generally awesome except we had some inconsiderate dicks near us who insisted on having their own festival until 5am each night.

Overall I enjoyed it, some more diversity in the music overall would be good but I guess they were hampered somewhat.

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Best thing for me was the people...really missed talking to strangers the last 18 months. Everybody I spoke to was absolutely lovely

Skindred were the best band of the weekend...never seen them before but thought they were phenomenal. Also really enjoyed Lottery Winners and Fighting Rhythm ('Fuck You Boris Johnson' being a highlight). James were great but felt like a really short set.

Given the forecast disappointing they didn't put any straw down on the main walkway...it was a death trap by the main entrance to the arena Saturday night. It was exactly the same the last time it was on. 

Overall we had a great weekend, probably not good enough to tempt us back next year but glad we went nevertheless. 

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1 minute ago, Flaminglippy said:

 

Given the forecast disappointing they didn't put any straw down on the main walkway...it was a death trap by the main entrance to the arena Saturday night. It was exactly the same the last time it was on. 

We asked for straw or wood chip at The Big Top on Sunday morning as it was lethal, but we were told that the site itself does not allow the festival to use anything like that because it hampers the grounds returning to normal. We were reduced to trying to catch punters as they slithered in and around the tent!

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My 14th Beautiful Days, 7th going solo. I hate camping, I hate portaloos, I hate mud, and I hate queuing. 

But I love the great bands, friendly people, gorgeous scenery and happy faces. The good times far outweigh the annoyances for me. 

Desperate for live music again I headed for my favourite bands rather than discovering new ones, standout performances for me were Frank Turner, New Model Army, both Levs sets, James, Ferocious Dog and Alabama 3.

Highlight though was every now and again remembering that this festival very nearly didn't happen, that I shouldn't be there, that it's been 2 mad years since the last one - then that would make me grin or well up and I'd start dancing again x

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I really enjoyed it on my first visit to BD but am not quite as enthusiastic as most… 

Everything below should be read while bearing in mind that I was attending with an under 1-year-old baby and the majority of my festival experiences are sunny Glastonburys - and nothing compares that favourably with the big dance on a sunny weekend! 

tl;dr - would go again but in this day and age and with ticket prices as they are I expect better. 

Pros 

  • - Small site meant it was easy to get around. 
  • - Baby sensory tent was great. 
  • - There was a very family friendly atmosphere. On the whole people were very friendly. 
  • - Lots for older children which would be a draw for us in future. 
  • - Plenty of quiet spots to Get baby some peace and quiet. 
  • - Really good view of the main stage from anywhere in the arena. 
  • - Fairly priced bar (although there wasn’t much choice for me as a lager drinker who sticks to weak session lagers when drinking more heavily - but not an issue this time because I was with baby, and on other occasions I’d have just drunk my own supply anyway and saved money). 
  • - Showers in the campsite were fantastic. 
  • - Really close to us and we used the locals route in which meant we waltzed up the entrance and straight into the front of the queue. 

Cons 

  • - The lineup was overwhelmingly white and male. We caught a bit of The Big Moon before James on Saturday and overheard a woman near us saying they were the first female performers they’d seen the whole time. Although the levellers are catering for a specific audience I’d like more diversity - I appreciate Covid has in some ways made this more difficult, but there are plenty of black and female British performers. 
  • - There wasn’t much on the lineup that was massively attractive to us, although this was probably a good thing on this occasion as we didn’t feel we had to miss much for Baby Blutarsky’s sake. Henge, Amy Montgomery and The Selecter were the only acts we wanted to see but missed. 
  • - Compared to Glastonbury there is obviously far less going on. I may be risking sounding like a typical inattentive millennial but if Mrs Blutarsky and I had not been with our baby I wonder if there would have been enough going on to keep us fully busy for a full weekend. Clearly Beautiful Days is cheaper and smaller than Glastonbury therefore you would never expect to have the same amount going on but it does underline what fantastic value Glastonbury offers. 
  • - Although the atmosphere was family friendly I overheard some cantankerous old Levellers fans being very curmudgeonly, particularly on Sunday when I overheard several commenting on fancy dress (“I’m not an extrovert like that”, “they should go somewhere else if they just want to dress up, this is about the music”). Presumably they’ve interpreted “one way of life, your own” to mean their way of life is the only correct way. 
  • - On a few occasions I did wonder if I was at a music festival or a camping chair convention. Personally camping out in front of a stage all day is not for me and if I have been attending in full on party mode then the sheer number of seated members of the crowd may well have put a dampener on the atmosphere. As we had a baby in tow it actually made getting around with a buggy a little easier. 
  • I did think the food selection was relatively good but I can’t help compare it to Glastonbury and obviously it just isn’t going to be as good. I did think it was quite expensive. Although the average price of £9 a meal was pretty representative and fair, because very few stalls offered cheaper options such as the £5 meals Glastonbury dictate stalls must sell, I did end up spending more than I would have liked on food. 
  • The general organisation of the festival didn’t seem fantastic. I appreciate that for many people this is an attraction as the festival feels a little more like a traditional festival of years gone bye. I know there will be many people who would appreciate that security was absolutely minimal but I did think it was telling of the general attitude towards organisation that the pedestrian gate from the campervan fields into the festival was abandoned during the heavy rain of Saturday and left open for people to come and go through the vehicle entrance. Because baby Blutarsky is an early riser I also wandered the site in the mornings before most people were up. There was no clean up effort in evidence and all the picnic benches were covered in waste from the previous day. I probably sound a little demanding here but as a punter I don’t want to look at a weekend’s worth of litter being left lying all over the gaff. Being cynical I also thought it was telling that a lot of the supposedly conscientious and green crowd didn’t seem particularly fussed about properly using the recycling dumpy bags provided. It was also telling that I didn’t once see a recycling crew working. 
  • My final point relates to the toilets which I know have been covered extensively already. I can deal with unpleasant toilets and would never expect toilet roll to be provided. I also understand the unique set of circumstances that made toilet provision more difficult this year. However, at the risk of again sounding like a pampered millennial, I do think that if I’m paying £150+ for a ticket I shouldn’t have to shit on someone else’s shit. 

On the whole, I’d go again but do feel that nowadays punters should expect a higher level of service / experience. I know many will disagree and feel it’s refreshing to be at an old school festival and just to get on with it, but I do feel that with the total cost for me, Mrs B and Baby B being £390 on tickets, £100 on booze, food and equipment to take and £200 spend at the festival, we should have a ‘cleaner’ experience. 

While there we didn’t moan at all and just threw ourselves into it but this is all reflections looking back at the weekend. 

I realise I am probably opening myself up to lots of downvotes here. 

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Posted (edited)

As an aside, is it licensing conditions that mean all the stages bar the main stage are shut before the Levellers headline on Saturday or is it a massive ego trip they pull to ensure they get the biggest crowd of the weekend? Or that they just know most people attending are Levellers fans and will want to see them so they don’t want an empty Big Top for another headline act? 

Edited by blutarsky
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Had a pretty good weekend all round, but didn't enjoy myself as much as I expected I would. Putting that down to a number of factors, including my own head and what mood it chose to be in.  The guys I went with absolutely loved it though, so that's good.

Saw some really good stuff. Really enjoyed Amy Montgomery, Alabama 3 and Frank Turner on Friday, thought Frank was the best of the main stage headliners.  Shame that Wild Front pulled out last minute, was really looking forward to them and Fighting Rhythm really weren't the sound I was after that morning.  Skints > Dub Club > Selecter was a great run of fun.  GDC very nearly my set of the weekend, but then we saw Big Moon who were flippin' fantastic.  Made it back for the tail end of James which was good, and Tim's voice sounded absolutely on point. Sunday was a quiet music day, MarthaGunn did a great job of opening the stage and I'll be off to see them in Brighton. Doonicans were good value as always, as were Dreadzone. And after never getting round to it at Glastonbury I finally caught Funke and the Two Tone Baby!

Levs was a weird set for me.  I don't know if they communicated anything beforehand, but not having Simon on stage meant that they really changed up their setlist and didn't play some of the big live tunes like Beanfield or The Boatman.  It was good enough but just felt a bit...off.

Spent a lot of time chilling out at the Bimble or up in the Tea Tent. Happy places.

Some really good cider on this year across the site, and the Copse Bar was a great addition.  Food was pretty good, although it did feel a bit more limited than last time. I didn't go hungry at all, but there were a few times I found myself grabbing what was nearby as nothing was pulling me anywhere. Except the crumpet van, that was absolutely incredible. And the mac and cheese in the Big Top field was banging, knocked the socks off Anna Mae's M&C.

Lots been said about the toilets. Definitely a sore point, but I think a lot of events are going to need some slack being cut this year. But to balance that out I did avail myself of a shower a couple of times, and that was just what the doctor ordered.

So yeah, not a bad time at all but not a great time for me. Couldn't necessarily tell you why though.

Edited by Quark
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18 minutes ago, blutarsky said:

As an aside, is it licensing conditions that mean all the stages bar the main stage are shut before the Levellers headline on Saturday or is it a massive ego trip they pull to ensure they get the biggest crowd of the weekend? Or that they just know most people attending are Levellers fans and will want to see them so they don’t want an empty Big Top for another headline act? 

I've assumed that it's to create a big atmosphere of everyone being together and watching the same thing as a big community on the Sunday night as a closer to the weekend, but I'm probably wrong!

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1 hour ago, WS_Jack_III said:

Does anybody know what time Altern 8 actually turned up? I waited until 1am and then it went silent disco. Apparently they did play so go knows what time they showed up. They always seem to be late whenever I've gone to see them.

I’m just going to add to your confusion I’m afraid!

I got there early and Shades of Rhythm were supposedly on. Got chatting to a couple who were there for SoR, but were leaving as whoever was on stage wasn’t even playing any SoR songs. 
I convinced them to stay for Altern8, as when I saw them back in the 90’s they put on a great show - but after 10mins I was in the exact same situation as they had been, no Altern8 songs & not even sure the bloke on stage was anything to do with Altern8.

Could be me being naive, could be me missing announcements, could be me being worse for wear at midnight at a festival - but I walked off & apologised to the SoR couple. 

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30 minutes ago, Quark said:

I've assumed that it's to create a big atmosphere of everyone being together and watching the same thing as a big community on the Sunday night as a closer to the weekend, but I'm probably wrong!

This is exactly my understanding of the reason.  Don't think it's a licensing issue, just a desire to get a massive crowd for the final set of the weekend.

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54 minutes ago, blutarsky said:

I realise I am probably opening myself up to lots of downvotes here. 

Anyone downvoting you for giving an honest opinion of your festival weekend would need to have a strong word with themselves!  

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6 minutes ago, Skelts said:

Anyone downvoting you for giving an honest opinion of your festival weekend would need to have a strong word with themselves!  

Agreed. No real bad points raised there @blutarsky, although I didn't see the litter etc being that bad tbh. My wanderings on the site were pretty positive, especially with the removal of disposable beer cups.

I do think some of the issues this year have been down to covid and all of the knock on effects it's had, so hopefully it'll be back up to speed next year.

Definitely agree that there isn't much on in the sense of there always being something to watch, but I guess we ended up using that time just to kick back and get some downtime. Depending on what you're after from your weekend that can be either a good thing or a bad thing!

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I went with my older brother, his wife, my dad and a good mate. My brother has only ever been to a tiny 4k capacity festival, his wife had never been to any festival, my dad has been to Glastonbury (2016 and 2019) and the Y Not that cancelled on the final day and both my mate and I have been to plenty of different festivals but never Beautiful Days.

I liked where the campsites were, how much room there was and how friendly and respectful people were. Our closest toilets were awful on the Thursday night and Friday morning but afterwards they weren't too bad.

I thought the layout of the site was good, nicely spaced, but nothing too far away. As a relatively new vegetarian I was worried there wouldn't be much choice but I kept finding plenty of good options but my favourite had to be the mix platter from the Indian Street Food place near the Big Top. It was also easy to get a good spot watching bands and always found a seat when I wanted one, which I think is a benefit of so many people taking their chairs with them. 

The bars and drinks on offer was good for me as I only really drink real ale or cider but will echo what someone else said about the lack of lager on offer, my dad only had one option. I found most bars easy to get served in but in the Bimble on Saturday night my mate went to buy some drinks, he was gone for 40 minutes, I thought he had bailed out on his round but then I found him still at the bar! It wasn't overly crowded but he said he was getting purposely ignored and he said they only seemed to be serving their mates. I thought it was a good time to leave anyway as Jungle music had just started and that was too hectic for me. Overall, I thought the Hope Tavern was the best for late night drinking.

For a smallish festival I was pleasantly surprised how much other stuff they had; axe throwing, theatre, wooden games, fire dancers, props, fair ground rides and attractions, crafts and other stuff. I also felt there was enough security and the Police even had a presence.

For me the line up was good but not as good as other years, probably to do with Covid. I struggled with some of the clashes and regret not seeing the Big Moon. Having said that, I had a fair amount of highlights including, Frank Turner, Henge, Peat and Diesel, Lottery Winners, The Bar Steward Sons, Georgie, Ginger Wildheart, James, Skindred, The Selecter and From the Jam. I saw quite a few others including the Levellers, they were good but nothing more than that. 

Overall we all had a great time. We all thought we'd go back again, especially as there's bound to be better line ups and a better toilet situation. 

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I'm totally prepared to forgive them for the logistic failures and some of the noticible absences of regular things around the site (e.g. there is normally more site art about), as they had about 4 weeks from the go / no go point to deliver this festival and how they managed to pull off the one they did is pretty impressive in my book.

Noticed though how the line up was basically a roll call of the Levs mates that they have known or been on tour with over the last 30 years at some point. Still, again that's a product of the short notice they had and thankfully I like most of them!

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