Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Wychwood Festival 2014

Just over a week ago I went to my fifth Wychwood Festival in Cheltenham, which was the tenth anniversary of the festival. Wychwood is held each year at the end of May at Cheltenham Racecourse, set amongst the rolling Prestbury hills. There are usually several artists each year that I already know, that I'm excited to see live and I always discover lots of music I haven't discovered yet too. Each year I manage the ever popular Headphone Disco in the Big Top at the festival. We put on a huge party after the main programming each night of the festival, with hundreds of festival-goers singing and dancing to two channels of music that you can only hear through the headphones. 


Wychwood is held in my home town and the weekend is always a very sociable one. Lots of my friends are involved with the festival, including my good friend Stefan managing the festival as one of the Directors, friends helping in the box office and backstage, friends helping me with the Headphone Disco and the numerous other friends who come along and party for the weekend too. Having been away travelling for most of the last six months, it was great to catch up with loads of people at Wychwood this year and I could barely walk ten metres without bumping into another lovely person to stop and chat to! 

The mighty Thrill Collins on the main stage

Shortly after I arrived on the Friday, local heroes Thrill Collins took to the stage, playing their fantastic songbook of 80s and 90s pop covers in skiffle style. Thrill Collins are absolutely brilliant live performers and always get people up and dancing wherever they go. They're playing my sister's wedding in August of this year, which I'm really excited about! Thrill Collins released their new EP at Wychwood and had a long queue of people eager to have their copy signed in the onsite record shop after their set. The new EP is called Our Souls and is available on iTunes here. You can check out their amazing Rap Odyssey below.


The Big Top at Wychwood Festival

The Big Top music line up was curated by Smashing Blouse this year and last year. Smashing Blouse are promoters who mainly run club nights in London. The Big Top line up this year was great, with King Charles, Craig Charles returning for the second year running with his lively funk and soul DJ set, Wolf Alice, Bipolar Sunshine and Kyla La Grange to name a few. 

On the Friday night I had to head off to run a University Summer Ball show for Headphone Disco and returned in time to catch the beautiful sunrise over Cheltenham Racecourse in the early hours of the morning. 

A rather pixelated photo of dawn at Cheltenham Racecourse during Wychwood Festival

Justin Fletcher was second on the bill on the main stage on Saturday. Justin is famous for his alter-ego Mr Tumble, a popular character on children's TV. My friend Peter brought his two kids along to see Mr Tumble and they absolutely loved it. Justin did a meet and greet afterwards and Peter's kids were too shy to say hello. That didn't stop Peter being a big kid and having a photo taken with him though! There is loads of other great stuff for kids to to at Wychwood and Peter, Erin and Fraser had an amazing day out, having fun at the various kids workshops and activities on offer. 

My musical highlight of the day was Bad Manners, who took to the stage at around 4.45pm and drew a huge crowd. Led by frontman Buster Bloodvessel, the band played a brilliant set of cheery tunes that you can't help but dance to. They finished on the Can Can, which was great fun and hilarious to see their horn section dancing to this whilst playing! Newton Faulkner followed on the main stage, which was was a much more relaxed set compared to the high energy offering from Bad Manners. I knew many more of his songs than I thought, but he isn't really my cup of tea.

I'd been telling lots of my friends to go and see King Charles in the Big Top at 9pm. King Charles is a classically trained singer who has won the International Songwriting Competition. He is backed by a great band, who we've seen live at Truck Festival in Oxfordshire and at the O2 Academy in Oxford in the past. I discovered his music after he teamed up with Mumford & Sons on track The Brightest Lights a couple of years ago. King Charles' set didn't disappoint and hopefully he'll have gained some new fans from my friends who I dragged along to see him!



On Sunday we were awoken from our on site accommodation by the sound of KSH and the Going Goods, who opened the main stage at 11.30am. Having seen this band many times before, as friends of ours, they always put on a brilliant performance and have a very feel good vibe when they play. The band's sound is a mixture of British Hip Hop, Beatboxing, lovely vocals and catchy riffs. This is the first big festival stage they have performed on and they even got to sign lots of CDs for fans in the signing tent, which was a great experience for them all. I chatted to them backstage during the day and they were all buzzing from the whole experience. Definitely well deserved. Check out their song Dedicated below.




Craig Charles' orgasm face on stage

Later in the day on Sunday we checked out some of Craig Charles' DJ set in the Big Top. He played last year and went down so well that they snapped him up again for this years' festival. Craig Charles' Funk and Soul Show is broadcast on Radio 6 Music every Saturday evening and his DJ set is a fantastic mix of classic Funk and Soul tunes, to get you dancing. He really got into it and had the whole Big Top dancing, which was really very packed, especially for just 2pm in the afternoon!

Throughout the afternoon I spent some time wandering around the many market stalls at Wychwood and bought some nice bits and pieces including a Fab lolly cushion! You get to a certain age where you start to enjoy buying soft furnishings and sadly that time has come for me. Our favourite stall was a converted retro caravan, which sold lots of lovely vintage and retro homewares. They're called Huddle Inside and Out and you can check them out online here. I caught snippets of a few bands throughout the afternoon, including Gentlemen's Dub Club and Lee Thompson's Ska Orchestra.

The Boomtown Rats closed Wychwood Festival 2014, headlining on the Sunday night. Sir Bob looked great in his snake-skin suit and put on an amazing show. I met Sir Bob on a bus in Edinburgh 9 years ago, when I headed up from Southampton to Edinburgh on a Megabus for the G8 Summit. He gave me tickets for the Live-8 show at Murrayfield Stadium, which was amazing! I was hoping to chat to him about this backstage as it was such a memorable thing in my life, but understandably due to his difficult personal circumstances recently, he kept himself to himself in his dressing room before the show. What an amazing guy he is putting on such an incredible show at such a difficult time in his life.


As always, Wychwood offered a great programme of music spanning many genres, loads of fantastic stuff to do for kids, lots of late night fun at the Headphone Disco and a brilliant selection of food and drink at the various stalls and bars on site. Roll on my sixth year next year and many more years to follow!

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