Blissfields 2014 sparked and fizzed, pulling out a solid line-up coupled with an atmosphere so carefree and pleasant that it was near on impossible not to enjoy yourself.
If the Friday had pulled out some indie rock units with fistfuls of hype billowing behind them, such as Spector, Dan Croll and Wolf Alice (the latter are going on to big things – trust me), then the Saturday took its turn to pull out a more varied collection of performers.
Opening with a selection of DJs, The Wild Stage’s opening offerings were a bit off. It was early, a little drizzly and I saw many faces with the expression of “I’M REALLY FUCKING HUNGOVER HELP ME” splashed across. People needed bacon, not bass.
But this provided a great opportunity to go explore and see what else Blissfields had to offer aside from music. And there is plenty. There was a melange of craft stalls sprinkled around the site, from smithing to wood carving, all of which provide lessons if they take your fancy, and if you’re willing to pay. There are vintage shops, a shisha café, a local birdlife stand (owls are really intimidating up close), saunas and a golf course. Yes, a golf course. Blissfields even broke a Guiness World Record on site for “largest gathering of people wearing animal print”.
During the afternoon, the aptly titled Eclectic Dreams Cinema played host to a collection of short films, all partaking in the Blissfields Independent Film Festival. Some of the films were stunning, and I’d heartily recommend some of them (I’ll post links at the bottom of this page). You have no excuse to be bored at Blissfields.
Later in the afternoon, the Bon Iver-ish Ry X played The Wild Stage with his melancholic, wintry sound, which felt perfect for chilling out in the afternoon at a moment when the sun even made an appearance.
Soon after came Bipolar Sunshine, a vivid storyteller of an artist who has ample warmth and a swirling indie-electronica sound to boot. Having seen the group, fronted by Adio Marchant, perform at Glastonbury the week before, it’s clear to see that these guys are going places, dishing out another solid set.
Don’t like your music too loud? Then head over to The Larch, a small, quaint tent hosting a variety of acoustic acts. Best of the bunch were Beans On Toast, who had been hosts of the tent for Saturday.
But then 2manydjs strolled out to headline Saturday and they blew the fucking nut off of Blissfields. The Belgian duo’s set was relentless, and tying in various indie classics from bands such as The Stone Roses and Blur was brilliant. Hearing Tame Impala screech out to earth-jolting jumping from the thousands in attendance was just brilliant. My personal favourite was their VERY BASSY version of Metronomy’s The Bay. Bass.
Music over, but there is more.
There are fire performers, who are excellent, but the real after-dark attraction is The Hidden Hedge. Stowed away from the main site, trekking to The Hidden Hedge takes you through areas with trippy images and shapes projected along the walls, with people sitting around campfires on sofas. The Hidden Hedge itself comprises of a large dome, which blurts out unending drum & bass to the intoxicated young crowd that gathers there, and stays there well into the early morning.
A small, boutique festival, Blissfields excels itself with just how much there is to do. With music playing all day across 5 stages, along with a smorgasbord of non-musical shenanigans to get involved in, it is truly impressive that a 4000 capacity festival the size of this can squeeze it all in. Blissfields will continue to grow, and it’s not hard to see why. There is a level of care and detail evident from the organisers that is so endearing to see. A sense of community exists that only a festival can bring out in people, if only for a weekend. Blissfields is a great little festival, and you should give it a shot.
(Links to my two favourite short films from the Blissfields Independent Film Festival : ‘Nemo’ http://vimeo.com/88487144 + ‘Battle Of The Jazz Guitarist’ http://vimeo.com/64618444)