Brownstock Festival

Guitar hero

Guitar hero by timabbott, on Flickr

On Sunday 4th September I was at the Brownstock Festival in South Woodham Ferrers, Essex with Dan and AoF, who were performing in the afternoon.

Brownstock has to be one of the summer’s best kept festival secrets. It somehow manages to combine the best of the region’s bands whilst also attracting big names to its main stage and dance tent. A comedy stage, art area and fairground rides, plus all the obligatory food and drinks outlets, make for a compact site that never feels too empty or too crowded.

Saturday had been gloriously sunny, but by Sunday grey clouds had moved in and, as with all the best festivals, there was rain in heavy showers, if only a teensy bit of mud. AoF were on at 4 and with perfect timing the clouds slid away east and the afternoon sun came out to shine on what would be the biggest crowd of the afternoon line-up. AoF rocked their way through an enthusiastically received set and also managed to pull off the only encore of the whole afternoon.

We spent the rest of the day wandering, watching and listening, as you do, before settling in to watch Athlete. One gets the impression that there was confusion over the timing of their set as they took around an hour to set up, coming on at about 9:15. As they started a brilliant shooting star sank into the northern horizon of the cloudless night. Apart from the announcement part way through that they’d have to cut a few songs to finish by the 10pm main stage curfew, Athlete performed a chilled set of songs leaning mainly on their older material apart from ‘Superhuman touch’ and ‘The Getaway’ from their 2009 album, ‘Black Swan’.

Here’s a final word about Brownstock from Festivals for All – “Their motto is ‘as far from V as we can be’ and that’s just what it is, not a chip in sight and no wall-to-wall branding here…… And more and more people wanting to join in the fun. Many other festival organisers must have wanted to have a peep over the hedge to see what they could learn.”

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