Wychwood Festival: Day 2 Roundup

By on Monday, 13th June 2011 at 2:00 pm

After the blazing sun of the first day, Wychwood wakes up to grey skies and blustering winds. This, however, doesn’t alter the festival atmosphere as thousands of revellers are roaming the site looking for something decent for breakfast. Once the distress at paying an hour’s wages on a burger has subsided, it’s time to find some more great music.

Opening the Main Stage are the hotly-tipped My First Tooth. Their current release, ‘Territories’, has seen rave reviews from the likes of the Fly and The 405. Their style of indie-folk, influenced by the likes of Eels and the Decemberists, captivates the small crowd at the Main Stage. Perhaps a higher place on the bill next year?

Over on the BBC Introducing stage are one of Oxford’s finest exports: The Black Hats. Bringing their new wave tones to an ever-filling tent, the dancing is underway. Although, it should be. However, the tent been filled with tables and chairs since yesterday, which hinders the atmosphere of the tent and the capacity. Despite this, the post-punk trio give Wychwood a taste of their talent with tracks ‘We Write Things Down’ and ‘Just Fall’ lifting the spirits of the windswept masses.

Another treat for the BBC Introducing crowd are another Oxfordshire troupe, Alphabet Backwards. With hints of the Postal Service and Tilly and the Wall in their music, the synthpop quintet entice Wychwood into a dancing frenzy! Having recently released a new EP entitled ‘The White Russian’, Alphabet Backwards have definitely made some new fans here today. Ending on the ever-so-pop ‘Elton John’, the band dance about on stage a la an OK Go video to the sound of a synthline so bouncy you could turn it into a powerball.

Keeping the BBC Introducing tent alive and kicking are the Cardiff two-toners the Method. With hundreds of people either inside the marquee or gathered outside (due to the chairs creating a blockage), the Method have amassed quite a following in their few years together. Recently signed to See Monkey Do Monkey records, the band are headlining AFF Festival in Belgium in August so this could be the last time they’re seen on a small stage. Keeping the garage rock momentum going throughout the band’s short set, ‘We Don’t Know’ proved the favourite amongst the Wychwood audience.

Over on the Main Stage is the legendary Robyn Hitchcock. Having started his recording career in the late ’70s with New Wavers the Soft Boys, Hitchcock has gone on to become one of the most eccentric performers in the UK. Not necessarily on a physical level, but his crowd banter is surreal to say the least. Playing the entirety of Captain Beefheart‘s ‘Clear Spot’  with his Imaginary Band, Hitchcock has gathered the older crowd who can still remember the album’s initial release. With his odd ramblings about tiny snails living inside people and each song played fantastically, Hitchcock did Beefheart proud.

Another big name from the ’70s is the singer from the SpecialsNeville Staple. Playing a raucous set of ska and two-tone hits including ‘Monkey Man’ by Toots and the Maytals and a number of hits from the Specials including ‘A Message To You, Rudy’ and ‘Too Much Too Young’. Staple’s set of reggae and ska dancehall tunes created the biggest dance-along on the entire festival; hopefully he’ll be back next year.

The dancing is kept to a minimum for the next act, though. The Bluetones (pictured above) deliver a somewhat stagnant Britpop set, despite having a repertoire of 10 albums to choose from. Although the band are not receiving the greatest ovation, frontman Mark Morriss is met with boos and jeers after announcing the band are to split in September after a farewell tour. The band’s breakthrough track ‘Slight Return’ gives the crowd an excuse to get out of their camping chairs to have a dance, but on the whole it’s not the band’s best performance.

Back at the BBC Introducing stage are tonight’s headliners Dub Mafia. Playing their third show in the past 24 hours, the drum and bass mob are destroying the tent with their dirty bass and dubstep rhythms. Powering their way through an hour long set including ‘Dub Specialists’ and ‘Under The Radar’, Wychwood is left shaken from the wobble bass and filthy drops. Frontwoman Eva Lazarus is the focal point of the entire crew, with her energetic dance moves and MC skills comparable to Warrior Queen, the band quickly amass the biggest crowd of the day at the BBC Introducing stage – the chairs and tables have even been pushed back to accommodate the all the dubsteppers. Heading out on a run of festivals this summer including Glastonbury and Europe’s biggest drum and bass music festival Outlook in Croatia, these bringers of bass are going to explode in the UK next year.

With another day of varied music under its belt, the Wychwood crowd head back to their tents for a Saturday night of drinks, dancing and deafness after Dub Mafia’s frantic set. A highlight of the weekend for all involved.

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