As thousands of, mostly, students descended on Bath Racecourse this weekend, there was an air of excited expectation around the place. Post-exam and pre-summer holiday happiness was palpable as the late afternoon sun shone down on the historic venue.
With acts such as Pendulum (DJ set), Wilkinson, Foxes, Grand Master Flash, Eton Messy and Maribou State all set to perform, the price of between thirty and forty pounds seemed very reasonable. But, as with any new festival, a few logistical problems were to be expected. The first of these came in the shape of a vast queue that snaked through the centre of the site. The queue was not for the toilets or for the bar, as might be expected, but for tokens which were needed to purchase anything on site.
Whilst I appreciate the benefits of such a system, the last thing you want to do when you arrive at a festival, and you can see everyone else enjoying themselves around you, is stand in a queue for forty minutes. This said, drinks weren’t as pricey as they sometimes are at festivals and there was a good variety of food stalls for such a small affair.
Despite the lengthy queue, the good atmosphere was maintained by DJs astride a black camper van blasting out chart toppers. The hum of drum and bass could be heard from the main tent and people were raving in two more smaller tents at the other end of the site.
The first big act on the main stage was Foxes; the Southampton born singer song writer performed an energetic set which drew the crowds in from the sun. Her sexy, synth-pop show went down well and her slowed down cover of Rudimental’s, ‘Waiting All Night‘ got the whole crowd singing along. As a bare chested man climbed the stanchion in the middle of the tent, there was no sign of the health and safety police to throw him out, highlighting the more relaxed feel to this new festival.
Away from the main tent, Eton Messy and London DJs Maribou State, kept people buzzing in the smaller tents. The sounds of deep house that have been packing out clubs across the country provided an alternative to the more mainstream music on show in the largest tent.
The entertainment came to a rather abrupt end when the music was unplugged at 11pm, despite the tickets saying the festival was to go on until 2am. As the disappointed crowds drained from the site, another big problem loomed. With no shuttle bus in operation, and an hours walk into Bath the only other way to get home, hundreds of people fought to get in taxis. The scene was reminiscent of Tom Cruise taking the only working car through crowds of desperate people in The War of the Worlds as slightly terrified looking taxi drivers tried to find their clients.
After an evening of fun, people were in the mood to carry on the party into the small hours. The frustration thankfully didn’t boil over into violence and the party atmosphere was maintained despite the lack of music.
I would highly recommend this new festival for the young people of Bath looking to have a good time to celebrate the end of exams or just to enjoy themselves after a hard week of work. I would urge the event organisers to iron out a few of the creases that slightly marred this year’s event but encourage them to put on the festival again next year.