NOZSTOCK FESTIVAL REVIEW by PAUL LAIGHT
I was going to include my Nozstock experience in my latest collective cultural review, however, I had such a great weekend that it earned kudos enough for a sole entry into the Captain’s blog. So, myself, Melissa (the girlfriend) and Rhys (my son and heir) drove up to the Midlands on the Thursday and camped out under the stars amidst wonderful countryside, a sea of tents and a bonanza of musical, artistic and comedic entertainment. Alas, it pissed down with rain on the Friday but Saturday’s glorious sunshine dried out the mud precipitated by nature’s will the day before. We left the Festival on Sunday but saw so much in our two full days there it’s worth sharing some images and positive words.
Nostock is, what I would class, one of the smaller festivals I checked out when booking – maximum 5000 punters – but it was big in ideas and heart. The comparative smaller size works in its’ favour as it felt local, family oriented and friendly. And definitely NOT part of the big corporate machine where bands perform as part of contracts to shift units. There were local bands for local people as well as bigger name acts such as De La Soul and old-school Motown act Martha and the Vandellas. This was essentially small but a perfectly formed set-up.
Nozstock takes place on a working farm in Bromyard, Worcestershire but this year they went for a science-fiction theme with which to decorate the various stages and tents and being a sci-fi fan it was quite amusing to see pictures of futuristic robots against a backdrop of verdant pastures. I mean, it’s not everyday you see a wicker Dalek. But somehow it worked as the design was done lovingly and with much humour. It all added a certain post-ironic charm to the whole affair as these photos show.
This had everything you’d want from a festival including: theatre, rock music, dance, rave, cabaret, cinema, food, arts and crafts and you know what apart from a few names on bill (excluding comedians) I knew hardly ANY the artists or performers – and that was fine! I was more than happy to be surprised in a good or bad way and find fresh artists and musicians to entertain me.
There was a great mix of international, local and new singer-songwriters and bands and a couple really stood out: Leeds-based Jenova Collective lit up the Friday gloom with their jolly Electro Swing and Raptor rocked the bandstand with an old-school-retro-rock-and-roll! Beardyman was on WAY too late on the Saturday night but the four tracks I saw of him were fantastic. Big plus were hip-hop legends De La Soul who stepped into fill the headliner’s Wu Tang Clan’s shoes after their Euro-Tour was cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. Great to hear the tunes from Three-Feet and Rising played live and loud!
We tasted some of the cabaret and cinema stuff including a musical mime adaptation of Holst’s The Planets at the very punny Bantam of the Opera tent. Furthermore, the comedy I watched on the Saturday was top quality with the gags of Mark Simmons, madness of Phil Kay and everyday yet sharp observations of Seann Walsh being highlights. There was just a cornucopia of other delights like rap and reggae at the Raveyard; pilled-up rave-hippies at the Tree of Frogs and some really harsh beats in the Bullpen which were like a musical Magnum 45 and took my head clean off.
It was just a great selection of joy and artistry on show. I just felt free from responsibility and even if I didn’t like something there just round the corner was an alternative stage to savour. So many artists and performers to choose from that the organisers deserve great credit for a fantastically curated festival.
I had an exciting weekend overall. Despite the rain the energy and fun of the proceedings never dulled and big praise to all concerned. I must add that the food choices were pretty decent too and we had a lovely cooked English breakfast from the Oatcake stall. Plus there was enough bars serving tasty beer and cider to keep everyone happy! Incredibly the Portaloos were very clean throughout with none of the horror stories I’ve been experienced at Glasto!
I’ve always loved the Festival experience. You just get a real sense of freedom camping while at the same time experiencing a cultural oasis of entertainment. Nozstock is nowhere near as big as say, Glastonbury, BUT who knows one day it may be. I hope it doesn’t though as it is perfect as it is: a real local, eccentric and energetic bag of fun! Highly recommended!
Here’s their website – do check it out: http://www.nozstock.com/