I’ve been to a vast array of festivals from the biggest to the smallest and met pretty much all walks of festival life. My first festival was Reading ’94 and from then, I’ve probably done at least one festival per year – ranging from ones I’ve played hard at, ones I’ve worked hard at and ones I’ve chilled soft at. Glastonbury ’98 saw me drunk in a 40lb Save The Rhino suit backstage terrorising celebrities. DragonGate, Limetree, Thornboroughs (all), Glade & Deershed 1 saw me working in one way shape or form, ones like Phoenix and Thimbleberry had me there in observer status. Tribal Gathering & Big Beach Boutique II had the full power, no shower, 48 hour version of me. Womad, Lindley Woodstock & Northern Didge were more of the chilled side of festivalising that I’ve grown to love. Many more festivals came and went with happy memories for lots of different reasons. How does Deershed match up?
A friend who was working the festival retold a conversation he had with a random;
Random “I’ve never been to a proper music festival before”
Friend “You still haven’t”
Whilst I think this a little harsh, he did have a point. I’ve never seen anyone sit at the front of a gig in an arm chair reading a fresh newspaper during day 3 of a festival at an electro set before. So many brand new, top of the range tents and hunter welly boots. There was non of the hedonism, non of the dark, dirty rug music, non of the clattered lost it brigade. Often when you immerge from a festival you feel a bit blown away by the cleanliness of normality and reality. If felt a bit like that side of life was camped out with us at Deershed. Music festivals are ‘typically’ a mecca for ravers, hippies, artists and hedonists wanting to ‘let go’ for a few days, and all the beautiful party people (either part time of full time) seemed to be the minority rather than the mainstream. Whilst some of this I can quite easily live without, I did miss the inspiration and excitement you get from one of these type of events. But did my kids? I’m not so sure they missed anything. Good time of the highest order. All three of them are quite festival savvy. They have been going to parties and festivals since birth – all experienced a festival in their first year. Whilst it’s often hard work, it’s been an eye opener for them and I’m sure has enriched their characters and life skills as a result. They, and all the other 10 or so kids that were part of our tribe did have a fantastic time.
I’d put Deershed into a different class. A new type of festival. A niche. A super safe fest. If we divide festivals into two main camps – kid friendly and non kid friendly, Deershed defiantly holds the crown as being the best of the best when it comes to a kid friendly example as I’ve seen. In total contrast to something like say Glade – a fantastic festival but far too messy for kids. I’m glad I didn’t take mine to Glade and felt sorry for the parents that did. Children seemed to be DSF’s real focus. Every decision seemed to be made putting the kids first. Their mantra is “ Kids are not second class citizens” and I can wholeheartedly report that they stuck to those watchwords to the letter. There was so much for kids to do, ranging from a huge ‘Sports Field’ filled with space hoppers, swing balls, cricket sets and more kids entertainment in the big top than you could shake a stick at. Top class children’s stage acts – I particularly enjoyed the Ivana Blastoff and her mission to Space show. Her beatbox friend wowed the crowed with his beatbox workshop. There were workshops inviting kids to try them, do this, make that. Eureka presented “2011: A Space Oddessy” and a bunch of folk did a marvellous graffiti demo one two cars parked in the main arena.
All in all – for a festival of it’s size – so much to see and do during the day for the bin lids. I particularly liked the mini-cinema. A tiny pink caravan converted into a bicycle powered cinema. I also enjoyed the fact that the beer was quality, locally sourced and reasonably priced.
The headline act was I Am Kloot. Given all the above about it being a family festival, I’d say this was the only black mark. Quality band, don’t get me wrong – excellent production and songsmithery – just not quite right for a Saturday night closer. One of the songs was introduced as something to do with the feeling of mental instability you get mid week. Hmm.. Slow, waltz tempo numbers overlaid with gritty lyrical concepts. Something a bit more lively, happy and unifying would have done the trick in that spot better, in my humble opinion. It DID have the logistical bonus of making everyone shuffle out of the arena post gig with no bother at all though – perhaps that was it’s design. The equivalent of putting the big light on and getting the hoover out.
The GO Team! (who perhaps could have worked better as headline) rocked – although late afternoon peoples minds were on food rather than party time perhaps. I bumped into The Glendale Family (again – hung out with them last year, drank rum and played night frisby till the wee hours) did a great aftershow party in the bar on Saturday night as well as (so I’m told) a good Sunday set on the main stage.
Echasketch was my personal highlight. I had a very sedentary chilled out couple of hours immersing myself from a sofa into their sublime audio and visual output. I also loved Digitonal – a sublime stripped down minimalist approach to what it says on the tin. Only crit for these acts was that it could have been a bit louder though.
I saw a few other bits of acts along the way. All quite safe and accessible – just like the festival itself!
In summary, I ♥ Deershed. My family and the families that made up our tribe loved it. I’d defiantly recommend it to anyone with kids and I’d particularly recommend it to anyone who likes the idea of festivals but is put off by those messy ‘full-on’ type of affairs.