Festival Review | Onefest

for folk's sake onefest festival logoSo festival season is finally upon us. Excited much? Thought so.

OneFest is the rechristening of HoneyFest, and takes place on a Wiltshire site enveloped by green hills so smooth they looked like well-rolled icing. With flecks of rain puncturing the sky throughout the day, the ground was also left as sticky as a Mr Kipling specialty (if a little muddier than your average battenberg). Upon arrival, it was clear that this was an event which well deserved the honour of declaring festival season 2012 well and truly open. No expense was spared in the attention it gave to imbuing its attendees with the glee that’s so unique to a muddy field buoyed up by live music.

Unlike some of the larger upcoming festivals there was a genuine sense of communal joy and camaraderie, with the opaque haze of just the right amount of cider drawing the corneres of people’s mouths ever closer to their ears. The food was also glorious, in particular the Spanish sausages.

As for the music, it sat comfortably in between those two resplendently woolly jumper-clad friends indie and folk, borrowing a cigarette from one and a beard, to shelter against the growing chill, from the other. Some other genres also popped their heads into the festival, to see what all the spirited noise was about. In fact, it’s high time the musicians got a mention. After all, what would OneFest have been without music? Just an excruciatingly pleasant spring drink in a field is what, and nobody would have wanted that, right?

There were two stages to magnetise attention, one hidden in the back of an, unfortunately (well there is a ban to contend with), smoke free tent and the other positioned in the middle of the festival. Of the impressive number of bands on offer there were many I’d not heard who left a lasting impression.

My personal favourites included the following.  Young Blood, who played with the abandon that made the Stereophonics’ debut release, at times, an absolutely intoxicating experience. Top marks to Crash and the Bandicoots for my favourite name of the day, their frenetic lector-tinged indie rock wasn’t half bad either.

Maria Byrne & The Broken String, with their jaunty brand of folk, saw floppy hair swaying in agreement throughout their set and Ragu Dixit had a wonderful stage presence to match their exquisite songs. My favourite artist was, undoubtedly, Rae Morris. Her phenomenal voice and beautiful songs grabbed hold of me and kept my mouth pinned, ajar, to my feet throughout her astonishing set. Hearing the opening notes of the magnificent ‘New Ceremony’ was enough to melt the collective hearts of the entire festival and one of the highlights of my OneFest experience. The other highlight was the rest of Dry the River’s extraordinary set.

There was no denying the identity of the artist responsible for the largest number of excitable whispers to float between people’s ears: Damon Albarn. Dr Dee played amongst a gripping and biting cold, the sort to leave splinters in the skin. The music was fitting for the occasion, as if a funeral pyre had been given life and chosen to sing; dark and beautiful.

My only disappointment? That I didn’t bump into Damon Albarn. But no-one needs to know that. After all, I told everyone that he bought all of my drinks. You guys will keep my secret though, right? Well, even if you don’t keep my secret make sure OneFest isn’t kept a secret, make it the first name on your festival calendar for 2013 and let the remaining festivals watch enviously, as they wait to match it.

Damien Girling