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Secret Garden Party 2011 // Part 2

Continued from SGP // Part 1 here…

…Music-wise, Saturday doesn’t really get going until Slow Club’s show on the Where The Wild Things Are stage, a stage literally made around a tree, overlooking the giant Secret Garden Party lake. Normally a folk-rock duo, the added musicians allow Slow Club to rock out a bit more than usual – with Rebecca Taylor’s voice and additional drumming (unnecessary since they have an actual drummer, but novel nonetheless) sounding first-rate, especially on the bouncy ‘Giving Up On Love.’ It’s then over to the woodland of The Artful Badgers for some lounging, where I stumble across a mysterious group of spacemen slash robots known as The Raving Llamas, pulling in punters (including, briefly, that giant guinea pig from yesterday) to take part in the K-Olympics – essentially a hilarious, fancy dress-heavy dose of egg-and-spoon, wheelbarrow and three legged races. Then it’s across the lake’s flimsy, floating bridge to get back to The Great Stage for the two biggest acts of the festival. Before them, Mylo treats the growing crowd to an uninspiring 80s electro set (at least he seems to be enjoying himself).

And now for the legendary Blondie to blast through their hits like veteran performers while Debbie Harry conveys the collective stage presence of every band that went before her in a single refrain of ‘Maria.’ No quite – disappointingly, Blondie’s sound is terribly quiet, and Debbie Harry looks and sounds like a parody of herself. Yes the hits are enjoyable, but no more enjoyable than they sounded at your karaoke party. Thankfully, headliners and dance pioneers Leftfield save the night, but that’s not before the biggest spectacle of the weekend takes place. The manmade island of the lake (basically a giant boat designed to look like a dragonfly) is exploded using an impressive display of fireworks, while SGP minions unleash a cloud-covering flock of balloons and perform a choreographed fire-staff show around the lake.

Backed by a full live band and a tantalising visual show, Neil Barners proves that the departure of Leftfield’s other half – Paul Daley – is no big bother as he pounds down some big-beat-house on The ‘Garden – the raving, crowd mania of closer ‘Phat Planet’ being one of the fondest memories of the whole festival. The night is far from over as much of The Great Stage crowd heads over to the Remix Bubble to continue the rave. A surprisingly dubstep-heavy Subfocus set goes down a storm, before a dependably dubstep-heavy Nero set goes down a storm (Subfocus just about emerging as the better act. Sorry Nero). With the night time temperature feeling particularly warm, there’s a quick stop on the small and busy Pagoda stage for a dance – literally a jetty poking out onto lake – before a  frantic Marcus Nasty and a portly looking Tayo bring the night to a close in the Village Of Antics.

Sadly, due to unforeseen problems with my stubborn automobile and the painful incompetence of The AA (who needed a total of 6 AA trucks, 6 mechanics, and 26 hours (!) to transport my car from the SGP car park to London, a mere 1.5 hour drive), this reviewer was not able to see the festival’s closing act – the Motown legends Martha And The Vandellas (they sounded pretty good from the car park!) – but was able to catch the atmospheric Alpines (losing some of their atmosphere by having a daytime slot), the indie rock of The Bees, the hit and miss folk-rock of I Am Kloot, and an impeccable acoustic set by pop-soul singer-songwriter Tinashe. Oh, and a giant, pre-planned powder paint fight at The Great Stage.

Overall, the music of The Secret Garden Party 2011 was impressive, but this festival has always toyed with the slogan that “the music is secondary.” People come to this festival for the carnival-cabaret-craziness, the attention to detail of the incorporated art installations and stage designs, and the general eccentricity of the festival goers’ antics and costumes. With Glastonbury taking a break next year, and Bestival becoming more commercial and music-orientated, The Secret Garden Party is going to be where all the hippies, party addicts, lunatics, and giant guinea pigs gather next summer. Let’s just hope those whispers that the UK’s greatest independent festival has been bought out by Festival Republic remain unfounded.

Originally published by AAA Music…

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~ by cliveparisrozario on July 27, 2011.

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

  1. […] Continue with Part 2 here… […]

  2. You missed out the DJ Khalil set in the Valley of Antics on the Saturday which kicked off the wormfood stage after the DMC DJ practically emptied the tent out with a set that I feel people found a little too technical. After that it was Msrcus Nasty then it was Tayo with the Jungle portion of the evening.

    Sorry to be pedantic, nice review though.

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