If UK's paranoid press are to be believed, Newquay is a drunken orgy of
teenage deliquency, full of out-of-control youths throwing up on street
corners and jumping to their deaths from cliff-tops. Although feeling
old at 25 was a sight to behold, I was also witness to a young
sub-culture, descending on a small corner of England for what looked
like the best fun any teenager could possibly have.
Come Friday, thousands of youths had descended on Watergate bay for the
music festival. The sun was in the sky and the cleverly laid out path
from Newquays largest campsite, straight to the festival gates, ensured
the perfect clientel had their perfect climax to their holidays.
The first act I saw was Master Shortie, who had the crowd in his palm
from the start. This is music for a teenage crowd, riding on the back
of the success aof Dizzee Rascal and co, Shortie sailed through the set
with ease keeping the mood going and the music banging. Ash
Grunwald was a perculiar booking for this festival. His blues infused,
guitar work- backed by hip-hop beats was probably the most interesting
and original sound of the festvial, but the crowd I believe were about
5 years too young to appreciate this. The kids still danced however
and Grunwald left the stage with the same grin which was on his face
for the duration of the gig.
The King Blues were the only ones from the main acts to take this festival seriously. They played a political
brand of ska and wore their influences (namely, the Clash) on their
collective sleeve. They skanked and bounced their way through the set
and even gave the crowd a cover for good measure. Their softened-down,
guitar led version of Bonkers by Dizzee Rascal had been performed
by King Blues on Radio 1 and playing it again here guaranteed a place
in the hearts of the crowd.
At this point it was time for
the larger acts to start. Both Roots Manuva and Calvin Harris looked at
the festival as an easy way to make a quick buck, and seemed to utilise
the fact that just by walking out on stage, they would get the kids
dancing. Both performances were dry and lifeless, yet the kids still
lapped it up, particularly for Harris' set. As a frequent festival and
gig goer, it was difficult to watch two respected acts put little
effort in, having seen both acts before I can surely say this was
not them at their best.
The smaller stage was indeed a
place to find hidden gems. As a Preston-born lad, I ventured down to
see our home-grown talent, Failsafe. This is a prime example of a band
who are on their way up. Playing at first to a small crowd, these boys
gave it their all. The density of people watching swelled as their
break-neck speed brand of rock got people moving. A fair few new fans
will be theirs after this performance and deservedly so.
As the darkness came it was time for The Streets to take the stage.
Mike Skinner is a man who knows what he's doing and it became apparent
that every line spoken between songs was a dig once again at the young,
naive crowd. Saying that, the music did not disappoint. Skinner is
indeed a talented performer and has a great band behind him. A
perfect headline choice for the weekend and had the best reaction of
Although not the greatest-festival I have been to (certainly not
the best organised) it was the most "up-for-it" crowd I have ever seen.
I only wish I was young enough to feel the electric vibe in the air and
be one of the people walking away with desperate anticipation for the
next day's activities.