It’s in Essex, it’s about the size of the kid’s field at Glastonbury, and it only costs £15 to get in (take that, austerity Britain!) but this weekend 16,500 festival goers experienced a mellow, friendly atmosphere and saw some great bands at The Village Green in Chalkwell Park, near Southend on Sea.
1. A great festival is about the vibe, not just the headliner.
In the same way you can have a great time at Glastonbury without going near the Pyramid stage, the best bits of a really good festival can just as easily happen elsewhere. At Village Green, the kids field included a Culinary Comedy Big Top, featuring Anarchist Cook George Egg and Hardeep Singh Kholi’s cookery chat show Chat Masala, whilst the Global Village featured an African drumming workshop, and there was a jazz stage, Grrrl Zine stage and a stage for young local talent.
2. You don’t need a record contract to make your own record.
In the March of the Makers area budding performers could enter The Booth of Truth and sing, play or speak into the microphone whilst outside a special cutting lathe converted their performance into a vinyl record.
My 8 yo daughter can now truthfully call herself a recording artist. Thankfully, for the sake of the rest of the world, my family talked me down from what would doubtless have been an energetic rendition of “Yellow Submarine”.
3. Sometimes the best music is on “the other” stage.
A large proportion of the acts booked at Village Green are local bands and this year they congregated around the Idea13 Stage, in effect a huge, slightly sweaty tent filled with a good looking crowd and acts that make a joyful racket including the indie punk of two piece band Suspects,
4. The best festivals let you bring a picnic.
After hearing about BST in Hyde Park which for reasons of commerce were preventing anyone from bringing in food into the arena (BST: “why bring a sandwich when you can buy one of our hot dogs for £7?”) it is refreshing to see a more relaxed policy for Village Green. Not that this prevented me from sampling the delights cooked up by the stalls selling chick pea curry with vegetable biryani and spicy West Indian chicken…
5. There are never enough bars at any festival. This is not always a Bad Thing.
One of the contributing factors to the mellow vibe was this year’s decision to ask people not to bring their own beer. Perhaps the sight of people bringing in their own pallets last year signalled enough was enough. Although there was the odd grumble about the queues for the beer tent, especially near the main stage, for those willing to venture further afield, there was a decent, freshly made Mojito to be had…
One of the highlights of the festival this year was my seeing my daughter enjoy her first stand up comedy show.
A genius idea, the comedians managed to trawl the depths of their memories to come up with observational gems that kids (and grown ups alike) can relate to, including when you desperately need the toilet during a karate lesson, and what happens when kids sing hymns in assembly. Brilliant stuff.
7. Kids also love rude words.
Kate Nash’s performance was great fun.
Full of energy, she worked the crowd and belted out a range of songs, from breakthrough hit “Foundations” to latest single “Agenda”.
None of these songs will come close to my eleven year old son’s affections as the song from Nash’s debut album called “Dickhead” which he now tells me he knows word for word. Yup. I’m parent of the year.
As founder of Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, Sam Duckworth found himself hanging up said cape in 2014. However, after a few years Duckworth has found himself wanting to play the songs again, or as he put it “I didn’t want to turn my back on the back catalogue”.
Duckworth also had plenty to say about Southend’s local MP David Amess who is chair of the all-party parliamentary group on fire safety. “This is a flammable country, and you’re our MP!” he cried, amongst other things.
9. Nothing But Thieves are on the up.
The festival closed with a fine set from Southend’s finest indie-noisesmiths Nothing But Thieves.
I wonder what Jack White would make of this…?