It’s been a few years since I went to a festival. In fact, the last festival I attended was in 2006 – The Glade Festival, near Reading – which was my 4th visit in a row. To be honest, I would probably have gone for the fifth year, had it not coincided with a friend’s wedding weekend, but the ever increasing size of the event (from 4-5K people in year one to closer to 15,000 by year 4!), combined with continued sound restriction problems that rather lessened the impact of the bass, was already starting to put me off. It was still highly rated amongst people who came for the first time, but I found that special vibe I experienced in the first year harder and harder to find.
So it was a real blast from the past to experience Festinho last weekend, now in it’s 3rd year and still numbering less than 5,000 people. What a breath of fresh air! The location was fantastic. The freedom from continual security checks and an apparent absence of crime waves made everyone feel relaxed and friendly. I have to say, when I saw the line-up, I pretty much recognised none of them, but what I found there was a diverse and eclectic mix of music, incorporating bands and cabaret and DJ’s, that meant there was something for everyone.
Of the four small stages, the Clocktower and Woodland stage stood out for me, the latter located in a small clearing in some trees, giving the feel of the party times of days gone by. Throughout the weekend, I found myself dancing to Hip Hop, Disco, Funk… anything with a beat, a world away from the world of breaks, where people stop dancing if anything lacking a breakbeat makes an appearance. There’s no time to ponder the genre when everyone is smiling and laughing and having a good time is there? You just get on with it and enjoy yourself. And the eclecticism of the sets made it impossible to put any DJ into a box anyway.
There were two special sets that made my weekend.
The first was the Headset Disco, set in the courtyard of the Clocktower Stage. Two DJs broadcasting to everyone on wireless headsets, giving you the chance to choose between them by switching channels. It was great, with the silence to outside observers allowing the party to continue beyond the usual midnight cut-off point, until 2am. Drum n Bass, Hip Hop and even a healthy smattering of Breakbeat filled my ears and I danced away in the gravel until the end of the night. And when people wanted to talk to each other, no longer did they have to scream into each others ears above the music. Because you can just remove your headset and have a decent chat. So refreshing!
Finally, on Sunday night, AGT Rave Cru played on the Woodland Stage. Every tune that came out of the speakers was a classic. Higher State, Renegade Master, The Prodigy, Salt & Pepper. They covered it all, accompanied by the cheers of about 100-150 people, adorned in the glowing bracelets handed out at the start. It was, quite literally, massive and brought about the end to one of the best weekends I’ve had in ages.
Of course, more than anything, it was the people who made it a really special event. Everyone was so friendly and uninhibited that guards were down and friends were made. In fact, the festival touched me so much, I decided that perhaps I might start practicing DJing again and come out of the apathetic retirement I seem to have found myself in.
So here’s to the next one. It doesn’t need to be bigger. Or better. It’s pretty much fine as it is.
So shhhh! Don’t tell anyone. OK?