Review: Festibelly 2014

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Well, they did it again. Back with a bang after a year hiatus, Festibelly pleased the crowds once more with its fantastic line up and atmosphere. From silent discos to tie-dye tees to cabaret, Festibelly had something for everyone. And the weather was good too!

Leaving feeling musically educated and thoroughly entertained, Festibelly certainly reached expectations to bring some great new music to the little town of Lymington and entertain in true festival fashion. You almost wouldn’t know there was a festival on as you drive into Lymington to be greeted by a homemade painted Festibelly sign indicating where to go. It’s easy to forget how different a small festival experience can be … a couple of friendly stewards on hand to guide the cars through to the nearby parking (literally metres from the festival), and the small box office full of young volunteers joyfully handing out bright pink wristbands. Certainly a different experience to lugging tents and bags miles to face long queues! A perfect start to the weekend.

Upon entering the site, it became clear that the age group for the festival is perhaps younger than at some, with probably around the 16-25 age range dominating. The small campsite is combined with the main festival area in similar fashion to Glastonbury, with a small area off to the side for ‘Glamping’ style bell tents (Camel Camping). Festibelly is particularly popular with Lymington and New Forest ‘locals’, so the campsite is spacious for those travelling from further afield- no overlapping tents here!

Despite the size of the festival, I was surprised to see there weren’t as many food stands as you’d usually expect at a typical festival- with about three main food stands selling jacket potatoes, posh burgers and veggie Indian and that was about it. The tie-dye stand stood out in the middle, a great idea and by the end of the festival had nearly everyone in tie-dye! Glitter and face painting was also available, and the sweetest coffee shop-cum-vintage car I have ever seen. Seems like a great little festival for parents with kids too, with what looked like a great kids entertainment/circus tricks section in the middle.

Friday was relaxed and built up slowly as people arrived and got into the festival spirit. The main stage of course did not disappoint- nearly every act that came on stage this weekend was a name I noted down to look up later. So many really talented acts it was often hard to drag yourself away from there! Ginger & the Ghost, Skinny Lister and Amber Run made great watching andthe Friday highlight had to be headline act The Cuban Brothers who absolutely rocked the stage, getting everyone dancing and in awe of their funky dance moves, head spins and back flips. More than just musicians, these serial festival goers thoroughly entertained and got everyone hyped up for some dancing in the other two, later tents: Le Disco and Massive in China.

The Caribbean madness continued in Le (Silent) Discotheque, with the Cuban Brothers’ Archerio on the ones and twos. This tent had a great vibe and is a genius way of keeping the party going until 4am without pissing off the neighbours. Before committing myself to the disco for the rest of the night though, I had to catch the Brass Funkeys in Massive in China. This modern day take on the brass marching band were the highlight of the late night entertainment, with their horns bobbing about and a raucous mix of ska and contemporary tunes making for the liveliest of atmospheres. The crowd were really on their side right until the end of their set, when, amid screams of encore and an obvious desire to play right into the night, they were shut down by the stage manager who was clearly bound by a tight curfew.

The main stage on Saturday was exceptional- so many music genres covered. The afternoon began in a relaxed manner with most people watching acts sitting down, a picnic style audience.  It was then announced that ‘the party was probably about to begin with the next act’…and wow, it did. Jus Now, despite following the relaxed stylings of Reggae Roast, shifted an entire crowd from their bums to their feet in about 3 minutes- their songs so catchy and fun you couldn’t help but want to join in with them. It was all uphill from there, with David Rodigan following shortly afterwards. Despite bringing the tempo back to that of the reggae for the beginning of his set, he didn’t lose the momentum with a set that spanned as many genres as it did decades. Taking a brief break from the music we headed to the Massive in China tent to see one of the cabaret acts. It turned out to be a blind dating show with members of the audience making up the date, and innuendo filled hilarity ensued!

Back on the main stage, a relatively unknown Femme struggled to hold the audience Rodigan did, but put in a gutsy and energetic performance nonetheless.  The crowd warmed back up to the respective folk-rock and synth-pop soundsof Mighty Oaks and Mausi, who I highly recommend looking up. The only slight disappointment came from their placement of their Saturday headline act, Hudson Taylor, who were significantly more chilled out than the all the other stuff we’d heard up until then.

Feeling an intense need to continue dancing, we decided to go and check out some of the other stuff going on at Massive in China. We arrived just as Moriaty were playing, and were once again back in the swing of things. Self proclaimed “filthy dirty blues” rockers, Moriaty absolutely oozed energy, thrashing out hard hitting crunchy guitars with the inclusion of all the 3rds and the occasional 7th in the chords to remind you that these guys are not just another punk band!

Once Moriaty were done, it was time to see if Artful followed up on what he told us in the run up to the festival. You know what? He did. Interspersing all the old UK Garage favourites with a sprinkling of re-rubbed classics and all new productions such as Trouble, it took one half of the crowd back to teenage nostalgic memories and will probably create them for the other!

As the night drew to a finish, and despite being disappointed that the lovingly built bonfire would not be lit (a tradition at Festibelly), we all felt ultimately satisfied with our festival experience. Having had a cracking two days soaking up the rays and new music, and with no traffic on the way (most of the camping area had cleared off by early morning due to scorching temperatures) we had a swift exit. And I’m sure the Monday-Friday workers appreciated the Sunday day of rest! Great weekend. Thanks Festibelly!

7.1 Great Weekend
  • Pre Event Communication 7
  • At Event Communication 6.5
  • Post Event Communication 7
  • General Communication 7
  • Travel to the Festival 8
  • Arrival at the Festival 8.5
  • "Festival Experience" 7
  • Toilets 5.5
  • Security 7
  • Police Presence 7.5
  • Mobile Phone Reception 9
  • All-weather Planning 6.5
  • Creative Content 7.5
  • DJ/Artist Line-up 7.5
  • Family Friendly 8.5
  • Disabled Access 7.5
  • Food 5
  • Bars & Drinks 6.5
  • Cleanliness 9
  • Size/Scale 6.5
  • After-hours Entertainment 6.5
  • Value For Money 7.5
  • Technical Specification 7
  • Sound Quality 8
  • Lighting/Effects/Pyro 4
  • Extra Attractions/Activities 6
  • Local Scene Connection 8
  • Green/Recycling 7
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