Wychwood Festival: Day 1 Roundup

By on Thursday, 9th June 2011 at 2:00 pm

The somewhat unknown summer festival of Wychwood is now into its 6th year and has hosted the likes of the Levellers, Super Furry Animals and Divine Comedy since starting in 2005. Held at Cheltenham racecourse amidst the beautiful English countryside, there is something quintessentially British about the whole weekend. Whether it’s the two red double decker buses which serve Pimm’s and tea or the complaints about the ever-changing weather, it’s definitely one for us Brits.

Despite there being two bigger stages at Wychwood, a lot of attention is being paid to the BBC Introducing tent. Featuring acts from the surrounding regions (Gloucestershire, Bristol, Oxforshire, etc.), some of the hottest talent and stars in the making are giving it their all. The second artist of the day is the Warwickshire-based songstress Milly Winter. Despite only playing to a handful of festival-goers, this didn’t hamper her performance. Comparable to the likes of Kate Nash and an acoustic Amy Macdonald, Milly Winter’s repertoire has the potential to break through into the mainstream. A fantastic rendition of ‘Wasps are Sharks’ rounds off the set as more people begin to file into the tent.

Next up on the BBC Introducing stage are the Coventry trio Voodoo Kings. Their rockabilly sound, equipped with a double bass, at first sounds fresh and has a certain groove about it, but unfortunately there’s not enough going on to keep you interested. As more people arrive to see them, just as many are leaving for the Main Stage to see one of the biggest acts of the day.

Setting up on the Main Stage are one of the big boys in ’90s indie rock – Cornershop. Having spent two decades together as a band, a perfectly structured and timed setlist is on the cards. However, Tjinder Singh must have left the setlist and stage presence at home, as the band just don’t seem to be working the crowd over. Admittedly, a large crowd has gathered and some are singing along, but it’s a disappointing display from Friday’s sub-headliner. A surprise cover of Bob Dylan‘s ‘The Mighty Quinn’ does lift some spirits, but the whole crowd are waiting on one song, the band’s breakthrough smash hit ‘Brimful Of Asha’. A song which found notoriety through Fatboy Slim‘s remix, the band seemed to play up to the populus and play the track slightly dancier and faster.

Cornershop’s lacklustre performance doesn’t seem to have affected spirits over in the Big Top, though, as Shaun Buswell and his indie folk troupe bask in the adoration of the hundreds of people before them. With over 10 performers on stage, including a string and brass section, the sound the band made filled the Big Top and kept it swelling throughout the set. Definitely one to watch.

Headlining the first day of Wychwood Festival are one of the big names in Britpop, who started back in 1989, the Charlatans (pictured above). Despite forming over 20 years ago, the band are still on top of their game. Frontman Tim Burgess is like a child trapped inside a 43-year old man’s body, darting around the stage and whipping the crowd up. The Charlatans are having the time of their lives. Playing a greatest hits set, crossing the majority of their 11 albums, there’s something for everyone. Blasting out ‘This is the End’ and ‘Smash the System’, the past six hours of partying have not been in vain – the drinking and dancing is in full swing as ‘The Only One I Know’ rings out into the ears of 10,000 people. Ending the set on an incredible ‘Sproston Green’, everyone in Cheltenham is satisfied, although the calls for an encore were not heeded (which led to a small amount of booing from the front).

Once the Main Stage had emptied it’s time for either a headphone disco, some late night comedy or partying back at the campsite before a full day of live music on Saturday.

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