added: 28 Jun 2012
// gig date: 9 Jul 2012
reviewer: Halima Amin
The first weekend of July saw Blissfields kick off the 2012 UK festival scene off with a delightful three days of magic, music and mischief.
In classic Blissfields style (or rather, luck) the weather was glorious, perfectly accommodating the friendly family festival. Arriving at the tiny Micheldever Station (near to Winchester) on a mild June afternoon, families flocked to the regularly running shuttle bus from the station to the site (£3.00 per journey, £5 weekend bus pass) driven by a typically helpful and beaming Blissfields driver. Unfortunately, however, transport on the way back was a minor nightmare, with bouts of miscommunication and many left waiting for transport with little knowledge of what was going on. Whilst the whole festival was well run and maintained with helpful stewards, security and staff all round, the assistance and kindness of the ladies on the Box Office were particularly note worthy.
A diverse campsite saw luxury, quiet, family and good old muddy camping alike. The theme for 2012 was Sports Day, with mini golf, sack races and space hopper races to name but a few of the wacky events. Kids absolutely loved the theme and activities, but not more than Angel Gardens, a haven of lullabies, arts and crafts and entertainment.
Known for promoting newer and smaller bands, Blissfields has an eye for quality over apparent popularity. Blissfields favourites SixNationState encouraged a raucous crowd with what was their last ever performance as SixNationState, with the band confirming that new output with a different sound will be coming our ways very soon.
Band Live Like Kings gave an outrageously good performance of soulful fuzzy rock, making them thus far one of the best upcoming discoveries of the summer. The bands sound stood out against what sometimes felt like a plethora of acoustic singer songwriter ballads and samey ska.
The most resounding band, both technically and in way of genuine originality, were of course The Wave Pictures. Performing favourites such as Eskimo Kiss and Sophie, The Wave Pictures are a band one needs to research and follow throughout the festival circuit.
Main stage crowd pleasers such as Man Like Me brought a furious injection of grime, 80s pop and undefinable injection of sound and soul to the entire festival. With tracks, and indeed dance routines, like London Town and Squeeze, the crowd died for the ultimate festival pleasers and cool cats. Much more disappointingly, the highly anticipated Dub Pistols threw a bland and mediocre quality of samey track after track.
Headliners The Noisettes were an expected explosion of vitality and excitement, with undeniable vocals and funk, they brought the main stage to life.
This year saw the layout of the festival change, without improvement to the closed-off and crowd deterring nature of the musky stage tents which left some of the better bands left without much of a crowd at all. Similarly, the comedy tent was a little small, but not so much as to not accommodate what was mostly a very mediocre set of sex jokes and clichés.
One of the best features was of course the disco bus (formerly known as the Bubble Bus), an all night raging party of ever changing DJs and moods. The Hidden Hedge was an absolute delight of fires, lights, music and euphoric partying, spoilt slightly by the filming of yet another pretentious and offensive ‘constructed reality’ E4 show ‘Summer Daze’, with over dressed and made ‘actors/reality stars’ prancing around a camera crew trying desperately to give the impression of natural enjoyment, detracting from what was and always will be one of the best and most free festivals of the year.
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