Secret Garden Party 2014 Review
We must be hitting the point now where this festival’s name is at risk of contravening the office of fair trading rules for mis-description. Given it was a complete sell out this year then it’s secrecy must be in doubt. This is particularly true given that Prince Harry attended this years event. One thing which is still very true is that it is one hell of a party. Perhaps something else that Harry’s attendance confirms given his position as number one party animal in the royal household (Although not sure he has that much competition!!).
As a music based website, guess we should begin by talking about that, even though there is a hell of a lot more to it than that. Even saying that, there is a huge amount of music taking place across the huge number of stages around the picturesque site. This ranges from hard core dance (including a dance off ring!) to rap, americana, jazz, indie, acoustic… in fact you name it you will find it at SGP.
We will give you a taster of some of the acts, we saw but safe to say there were probably hundreds more playing throughout the weekend. BIG DEAL were a punky pop band who had an almost ‘Hole’ feel to them. They were one of the few bands who perhaps the glorious, sunny conditions didn’t really suit. As they were far more dark club guitar pop than mid afternoon sunshine type band. KWABS generated a really big crowd and it was no surprise as they perfectly matched the beautiful weather with their carnival esque style sound. The huge crowd of bikini clad, shirtless, hat wearing festival goers certainly lapped up their set. It was a soul, funk, dance mix which blended like a perfect cocktail for a Friday afternoon in the sunshine.
In total contrast, FRAGILE SONS, were kind of an odd mix, with a Gaslight Anthem rock n roll band feel but also a Doors influence. The lead singer in particular has clearly seen Oliver Stones’ The Doors a few times! The whole effect therefore comes across as a bit like INXS (that’s a good thing!). Again perhaps not suited to the afternoon slot they had, but definitely a band to undertake a google search on when you get back home! Surprisingly low on the bill were DEEP VALLEY, which again is probably a pretty good indication of how The Secret Garden Party has grown over the years. They deliver an orgasmic set of raw, punk blues. The White Stripes comparisons may be a bit obvious and indeed they have more of a rhythm and catchier tunes.
FAT WHITE FAMILY arrived at SGP with a building reputation and even the fabulous Nicky Wire has been mentioning them. They arrive late on stage and appear like a right bunch of scally wags, and essentially wasted teenagers. The music is certainly raw and passionate but doesn’t quite have the tunes to match and they could do with some melody being added to the new wave punk feel. In all honesty they look and act like a bunch of ‘gob shites’ but at least they got a reaction from the crowd!! As we said, SGP has something for everyone!! Whilst THE AMAZING SNAKEHEADS are a ferocious and powerful band. They deliver their set with a level of intensity which is somewhat foreboding.
The great thing about this festival is the way you can just hear so many new bands and discover new favourites. COVES were a surprisingly rocking outfit and also had a really cool stand up drummer. They create a piercing but still melodic sound. Whilst the strangely named, King Charles, are a perfect funky rock outfit for a sunny afternoon. They play a little snippet of “Call Me Al” which was a particular highlight for many of the crowd. Then THE 45’S are like the Rolling Stones grand kids! A young band playing relatively straight forward rock n roll. They could easily follow the success of The Strypes and coincidentally played the same stage and similar time as a similar band last year, The Rouen Brothers.
There are also some more established and well known bands. WOLF ALICE delivered a fine set of rock/pop/grunge sounding songs that perfectly fitted their early evening slot. They even played a cover of Chris Isaak’s Wicked Games and left an audience that was definitely ready to party. That party was then really kicked off by Public Enemy who must have been the most highly anticipated band of the weekend. They certainly had some classics like “Bring The Noise” which really got the crowd up and jumping. They also did a really neat Nirvana/White Stripes sample which again caught the audience’s ears. As a headliner the length of the set was a big ask and it’s fair to say a fair proportion of the crowd was prepared to slope off early to see what other mysteries the party had to offer.
As previously mentioned, there really is no end to the activities and fun that can be experience at SGP. Fancy a bit of Yoga to Madonna? No… how about 1 a.m. disco aerobics? No…. how about hula hoop lessons? too strenuous then try out meditation or even a luxury hot tub. Seriously, there is no way anyone could possibly be short of something to do and if you come home having not tried something different then you should be ashamed of yourself. On top of all the side shows there is a couple of organised key events, such as the paint fight and the fireworks display. A special mention should indeed go to the fireworks display which must have cost an absolute fortune and will surpass by a million miles anything you may have seen at a local display on the 5th of November.
If you want something even more extreme and ‘different’ there are plenty of alternative theatre and arts performances that occur on various stages and indeed at random places through out the festival. Over in The Artful Badger there was an evening of completely bizarre related acts which appeared to be performing some connected pagan ritual. This included the relatively normal acrobat in the tree pretending to be an owl, to a mad shadow show that was like something out of Tales of the Unexpected. It all ended with the honestly quite frightening sight of a bald guy in a posing pouch covering himself in god knows what!! As we said, all very bizarre!!
The highlight for us was an unknown and unnamed piano band playing in a small tent in the early hours of Sunday morning. The fact that they appeared to be randomly joined by a couple of guys playing spoons (Who brings spoons to a festival!) pretty much sums it up. They proceed to play a wonderful set full of absolutely classic sing along songs like Rehab and others that bordered (and lets be honest) occasionally crossed the cheesy song line! The most important thing they did was create a crowd of punters who were singing along with all their hearts and enjoying every god damn minute of it. It was a group of people who were able to forget about their real lives, or how they look and sound and just concentrate on having a really good time and partying. Surely that is the purpose of a festival and is certainly in line with the raison d’être of The Secret Garden Party. Here’s to another party in 2015!!!!