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Secret Garden Party 2011 // Part 1

The Secret Garden Party used to be a bit of a secret. When it first quietly crept onto the UK festival scene in 2004 it had but 1000 attendees, an understated lineup, and a giddy sense of being part of something truly hush-hush. In 2011, the festival (remaining in its country house grounds lcoation, in Cambridgeshire) managed to squeeze in up to 26,000 attendees (aka ‘gardeners’), enough security to clean up the streets of Brixton, and a lineup mainstream enough to rival Central London’s commercial festivals. But if the secret is well and truly out, at least the festival organisers have managed to retain most of the intimacy, charm, and – for lack of a better word – quirkiness that originally made it the most unique stop of the UK festival circuit.

The fact that it remains a fully independent festival – no corporate sponsoring-advertising-funding nonsense – is no doubt the reason that The Secret Garden Party has managed to retain its relatively coverage-free magic, but the reason that it has been able to remain independent is no doubt thanks to the fact (luck) that chief organiser – Freddie Fellowes – is the son of an extraordinarily rich Baron with an estate big enough to host a festival.

Although there are a handful of acts playing on the Thursday, the shenanigans don’t really get going until Friday. The afternoon is spent at The Great Stage – aka the main stage, despite its surprisingly small size – checking out the energetic blues rock of Kill It Kid and the inconsistent, grunge-inspired indie of Tribes, both of which go straight over the head of the handful of gardeners who’ve gathered here. Crowd-wise, things get no better for the next two main stage bands – The Boxer Rebellion and Hot Club De Paris – who, despite their acclaim and relatively lengthy careers, only manage to coax over a criminally small amount of people to the stage. Enjoying a last minute set-time extension, The Boxer Rebellion are on fine form today (despite main screen visual problems) – their brooding indie displayed no better than on standout track ‘No Harm.’ The pop-punk-math-rock of Liverpudlian trio Hot Club De Paris is joyously jangly, and their tight set is beefed up with some comedic between-song anecdotes. Then a haystack commits flaming suicide and the crowd slow-claps a fire engine that arrives half an hour too late.

Sadly, Peter, Bjorn and John have had to pull out last minute (due to bloody Bjorn feeling ill), so it’s over to the Wormfood tent in the Valley Of Antics to catch Ghospoet – after checking out a one-man-rap-metal-band, a cycling piano, a giant guinea pig, and the end of a secret Ed Sheeran acoustic set (no, surprisingly Ed Sheeran and the giant guinea pig were not one and the same). After announcing that this is his first set since he received his Mercury Prize nod, Ghostpoet ploughs through a set of sleepy jazz and electronica-laced hiphop – managing to look and sound less mellow that usual (after all, and as he notes, this is his Mercury celebration gig…).

An executive decision is made to boycott Mystery Jets – who this reviewer doesn’t quite feel are ready for a main stage headlining slot – for the Valley Of Antics’ secret guest, and while waiting I am treated to half an hour of the delightful bass and beats of French producer Débruit. Then out comes the dependable and likeable Jamie Woon for one of the weekend’s many secret guest slots. Backed by just a DJ, rather than his usual band, Woon sings his neo-soul out while the rain pours down outside – the looped beat-boxing and vocals of ‘Spirits’ proving the musical highlight of the whole Friday. After managing to check out a bit of The Whip’s hectic live set in the Remix Bubble – an excellent orb tent with projections from all sides – it’s back to Wormfood for the eclectic electronica of Mosca (unusually quiet), George FitzGerald (a sublime garage-heavy set), and Dark Sky (not quite reaching their potential)…

Continue with Part 2 here…

Originally published by AAA Music…

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~ by cliveparisrozario on July 27, 2011.

2 Responses to “Secret Garden Party 2011 // Part 1”

  1. […] Continued from SGP // Part 1 here… […]

  2. […] The Boxer Rebellion are a truly independent indie four-piece, and one of the most emotive rock bands that the UK can almost claim as their own (one member is American, and another is Australian). AAAMusic chatted with the whole band before they took to the stage for their fine, Great Stage set at The Secret Garden Party 2011…. […]

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