A new festival venture at the end of summer which aims to bring a sense of community to the good folk of Brighton and beyond managed to catch the last rays of the summer sun.
The festival is situated in the vast open spaces of Preston Park and the line-up promised a combination of seasoned festival favourites along with a host of new exciting acts. The crowd is a mixture of Hipster families and their children, festival veterans in their 30s and 40s and a splattering of students and teenagers.
Armed with our lanyards we descended into the throng. Our first few acts confirmed our hopes with MOK attempting to blow away the grey threatening skies with their upbeat Rudimental-type sound which got the early crowd going. Over on the main stage Chris Simmons rewarded our ears with some lovely acoustic numbers plus a few well chosen crowd-pleasing covers.
With the sun now out in force the festival really starts with the arrival of Lucy Spraggen, the former X factor contestant turned anti-Cowell enthusiast, who treated us to her upbeat politicised songs which go down a storm with the Brighton crowd. Her wonderful honestly enhances her approach to song writing and such tracks as ‘Don't Know Nothing About The Blues’ and her hit ‘Last Night’ are great crowd pleasers.
Time now for the festival to demonstrate its community side with the arrival of the Horrible Histories a live version of the children’s TV hit. This creates a strange combination of very excited children with middle class parents panicking about their child’s races to see the acts whilst trying not to look like they are straining to hear the excellent Ghostpoet. Fortunately slightly poor planning on the festival's part means both main stages are facing each other. So for this instant it works perfectly. However throughout the rest of the festival this would illustrate a bit of a schoolboy error with a large area in the middle of the festival becoming a clash of sound in one big useless racket. This could have been avoided with better timing as there were times when both main stages were playing and big gaps when neither was.
However all this was soon forgotten with the arrival of the wonderful Mr. Billy Bragg. Billy’s left wing songwriting needed no introduction and found a welcome home nestled in the green lefty Brighton audience. His powerful ideology and connection with the audience regarding refugees display an artist who is as important now as he perhaps ever was.
The Xcerts countered at the end of his set and raised the noise levels. The exciting young three piece ensured the younger ears were well catered for with their full on rock sound. In search of something away from the main stages we popped into the other stages. There was a calm oasis in the Folklore stage. We also managed to catch the end of Atlas Wynd in the BIMM tent (Brighton Institute of Modern Music) to see the duo serving up a diet of pure and raw rock noise.
Back to the main stage and the crowd takes off with the arrival of The Levellers. It suddenly feels like a proper festival complete with huge audience participation and crowd surges as they blast out their honed folk rock sounds and the crowd laps it up. The final acts of the day offer up a dilemma, do we opt for the new exciting indie rock Brighton boys Brakes or plump for the psychedelic indie Welsh wonders of the 1990s the Super Furry Animals? Locality wins and we enjoy a wonderful set from Brakes and still manage to catch SFA with a few whispers in the crowd that we hadn’t missed much. It looks like we had chosen wisely as the Super Furry Animals were misfiring somewhat. So that was the end of the first day; we trudged home and awaited an excellent line-up on the morrow.