This is the third year in a row that we’ve been to the Deer Shed Festival and we’ll be going again next year. Amy nudged us all in the direction of this “family friendly” festival back in 2015 and it’s now a permanent fixture on the calendar.
DS6 & DS7 were superb and this probably topped them both. The line-up isn’t packed with household names, but it’s fair to say that for me the music is a bonus as there is so much else to do there. The website notes this as a family friendly festival and it most certainly is. There’s so much to do and explore that every year we reflect on how much we missed. The organisers do a fantastic job of making sure there is something for everyone and it would be fair to say that the kids activities are for the big kids too!
This year our kids did the following activities; fashioned a bow and arrow in the wilderwild, created “arty stuff” (screen print & designed bunny kids), did a forensic investigation, slack lining in the sports field, fairground rides, made paper airplanes and a paper dodecahedron…
You literally could spend all day in the sports field, science tent and wilderwild, but then there’s music across 4 main stages on top of that.
Present at this one: Clare & I with Lana & Erin, Set & Amy with James & Ewan and Andrew with Mayu and Shumei. The kids are aged from 4 to 9, but there’s something for everyone of any age.
Food: the food is always great. There’s a broad range of foods available from a variety of cultures. I had Mac n Cheese, Red Thai Curry & an awesome steak & ale pie & mash.
Beer: probably the one frustrating thing about DSF is that you aren’t allowed to take any alcohol into the arena. I know that’s standard at most festivals, but I’ve been spoiled at Glastonbury. Nevertheless, that’s a minor complaint and the beer on offer is great. Unfortunately I didn’t get as far as the Obelisk bar which had around 30 ales available. I stuck with the main bar and enjoyed a few pints of the excellent Mary Jane and the specially brewed Wilderwild.
Music: as always we created and shared a spotify playlist in advance. I hadn’t heard of many of the bands in advance and so have now picked up a number of new favourite bands / artists. I was looking forward to Teenage Fanclub anyway, but most of the others were pretty new to me and in fact many of the ones I did know were just because of previous DSFs. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see anyone on either the In The Dock or the Obelisk stages, but that’s the perils of having a family!
Happyness turned out to be the first band I caught on Friday. I was familiar with a couple of tunes from the playlist and the played to a crowd that was beginning to build as the day wore on.
Honeyblood were the main support on the main stage. They’ve got some great tunes and have a good stage presence. They can certainly make some noise!
I then caught a bit of Jesca Hoop on the Lodge Stage before the main headliners.
Teenage Fanclub were awesome, I saw them back in November and they were equally good tonight. It was a career spanning set with a focus on their latest album, Here (4 out of the 16 tracks were from this one). The tracks from my favourite two TF albums were my highlights (Grand Prix & Songs From Northern Britain), but it was all good. Shame there was no encore, but it was still a treat.
Two all female groups kicked off the music on Saturday. The Big Moon were in fine voice and She Drew The Gun started the poetry theme that spanned to the headline slot. I enjoyed both and will certainly be following The Big Moon in the future.
Sandwiched in the middle, Ste & I managed to catch the second half of the Roddy Woomble set on the Lodge Stage. It was enjoyable, although I was hoping for a sneaky Idlewild track. He may have played one and we just missed it. I plan to check out some of his solo stuff after seeing this.
King Creosote was next (after a fast spin on the Ferris Wheel), followed by Ibibio Sound Machine. ISM aren’t my thing, but they certainly got the crowd dancing.
We all then went to see John Smith on the Lodge Stage. He was great. I hadn’t heard of him before the line-up was announced and I can see myself getting an album before long. I might have got one that night in the march tent had events not conspired against me. I had Erin on my shoulders for the last 3 or 4 songs and she was enjoying the sweet sounds. She was obviously enjoying it so much that she drifted off. We were all amused as she continued to stay asleep as the set ended and we left the tent. The heavens then opened…
…as we headed to our base in front of the main stage. With Erin asleep and clearly struggling, Clare and I decided (as did Andrew and his kids) that we wouldn’t brave Kate Tempest. Not our thing anyway, but the weather took a turn for the biblical. We were all saturated by the time we got back to the tent.
The festival has a shortened Sunday and consequently you get a feeling that the weekend has gone very quickly. You can stay over on Sunday night for an extra £50, but we’ve only done that the once. We only caught two bands on the final day as we emerged ourselves in the Wilderwild and the sports field.
Teleman were one of my most anticipated new (to me) bands. They didn’t disappoint. There’s something joyous about finding a new band that you take to. It’s an almost certainty that I’ll have bought Brilliant Sanity within the next few months.
The Sunday night headliner was another band that I’ve never really “got”, but you could tell that most of the crowd certainly did. The Divine Comedy ended proceedings and left us all adding the early bird DS9 ticket sale date to our diaries.
Weather: the weather was variable. The Friday was pretty awesome, Saturday was pretty patchy and then insane rain. Sunday was pretty good with the odd showers. If you come prepared with wellies, then it really doesn’t matter.
Thank you to everyone involved in making this a great festival. See you next year!
— Chris Williams (@cwblueroom) July 23, 2017