Saturday morning saw the beginning of the rain. With definite coat weather on my hands, I headed straight to the nearest café – ‘Scrumpets with Crumpets’ – where some lovely ladies awaited customers wearing sequin corsets, beehive hair styles and faces covered in glitter.
After possibly the most delicious crumpet ever, I ran for cover from the grey clouds above and, lucky me, as I arrived a seat became available in my favourite GM place – the Chai Tea Tent. I bought a vegetarian breakfast and at least 5 cups of chai tea and watched the dread of wet socks encase those stuck outside.
Unluckily for me, though, the rain hadn’t passed by the time the first act of the day began. With a hop in between steps, I rushed to the Walled Garden stage where the beautiful Annie Eve was about to open. The 21 year old Londoner entered the stage to a very wet, yet packed in crowd. Her hair was perfectly fluffy and her face resembled that of a pale sprite – she wasn’t at all comfortable in front of so many people. Yet, when she began to sing, it was as if the sky turned from black to blue in seconds. She has a hauntingly eerie and very tiny voice that, remarkably, projected effortlessly across the crowd. Songs like her subtle ode, “Elvis”, fell on silence as we took the atmosphere in and gave our ears to her completely.
Though awkward on stage, Eve’s songs make up for it, as they reflect so many personal and controversial topics in her life – it became difficult not to connect with her music, and so we sunk into the 40 minute set like butter on toast – it was truly dreamlike.
Feeling somewhat dazed, I headed to the Far Out tent where I was greeted by what can only be described as the complete and utter opposite to Annie Eve. Arboretum were scribbled down on my list of ‘must see’ bands from the second I searched them on YouTube. The best word to describe this band is ‘epic’. They are rockers in every sense of the word – long hair, big beards, echoing, rough voices and astonishing when put in the same room as a guitar.
In the early 2000’s, Arboretum began their career with debut album Long Live the Well-Doer in 2004, and second album Rites of Uncovering fabricating three long years later. The band are obviously not in much of a rush to get their music heard – but this is probably the best decision they ever made. With their newest album Coming out of the Fog and a four-track, 26 minute EP named Gourd of Gold in hand, they set about blowing my mind.
And that they did.
My favourite songs, The White Bird and title track Coming Out of the Fog are two very different songs that evoked separate emotions from the crowd. While Coming Out of the Fog is understated and ghostly in its mood, The White Bird is a heavy, throbbing, 7-minute long ballad with constant head banging material and the insane, bellowing voice of lead singer Dave Heumann sending shivers up your spine. His voice reverberates around the room like a bird in flight, shooting over the heads of the crowd with a smoky, harsh aftershock.
Languid, poetic choruses set against thunderous guitar solos and heart stopping blows on the drum worked remarkably well in unison – there was even one bloke in the front row with a very well-kept blonde afro going absolutely mental. So mental, I was almost tempted to join in the fun.
Some have called them budding folk-rock artists and even ‘metalheads’ in the past, but I left that gig knowing exactly what band they are – pure rock.
After spending the next two hours in awe at Minima’s incredible take on the soundtrack of Tienosuke Kinugasa’s 1928, silent movie Crossways, I headed for Band of Horses feeling somewhat terrified (what an incredibly bizarre film) and keen to see a band I’d not heard much of before.
Tracks like Knock-Knock and No-one’s Gonna Love You hit the natural arena with such a force that it blew the rain away – not literally of course, but the rain stopped as the band begun – which just led the way for the crowd to go even crazier than they were before. Ben Bridwell hit notes that I once believed only the likes of Sparklehorse could reach, and even when they slipped-up twice on The Funeral, I respected their obvious passion for making each song perfect (as they started the song over twice) – and, fortunately, their mistakes proved to rile the crowd up even more, which consequently led to one of the loudest audience cheer-sessions that I have ever witnessed.
I left for bed that night with a bit of a headache and a niggling need for another crumpet – but overall, I left with another ‘favourite band’ to add to my list.