Somewhere in the middle of the Hampshire countryside, the small but mighty festival Blissfields welcomed its 13th year of holding host to a diverse selection of new music for both the young and old. Beautifully located, the family run festival has been named ‘best small festival’ in the past and quite rightly so. With four stages, varying from acoustic folk to drum and bass, Blissfields really does have something for everyone to enjoy. Falling on a weekend of rare 27c heat, artists like Bastille and Mystery Jets provided the perfect soundtrack for the REAL start of the summer.
The laidback atmosphere of the festival kicked off on the Thursday showcasing local talents before the real party began. As the sun beams down sore heads wake up on the Friday to another glorious day of humidity, escape and hedonism. Local flairs, emerging underground acts and Dj’s descend upon Vicarage Farm alongside occasional big names of the moment.
Listening Party play an enthusiastic set on the Bradley Bubble stage to get festival-goers energy levels back up but lack unique in their Ray-bans and skinny jeans. However later on, the haunting vocals of recently hyped London Grammar captivate the main stage as the sun begins to set and the audience pace themselves ready for a long night of eclectic music. In the meantime, for those taking the less chilled approach to the festival, up and coming DJ and producer Cholombian made the Bliscoteque bus his own with a mix of classic RnB and Hip Hop anthems. More for those wanting to get their evening started and have a dance whilst avoiding the commercial main stage likes of Fenech-Soler.
Friday’s headliners Mystery Jets are no strangers to this festival and with this evident in their attitude and appreciation, a set of unrecognizable songs failed to keep the audience engaged. Hits such as Two Doors Down and Young Love still sound as relevant as they did but it seems from tonight’s performance that this band may have already had their time at Blissfields.
Day two of Blissfields sees a line up of more familiar names but with more hazy heads not leaving their tents till later in the day. First up, Chloe Howl takes to the main stage to an audience of adoring 17 years old girls, mimicking the fiery-red heads every move and dancing along to her teen-angst, ready for radio, pop hits. Meanwhile, setting a slightly different tone on the Bradley Bubble stage, the hotly tipped and NME radared The Wytches proceed to intimate their crowd with a set of hypnotic and psychotic goth-rock.
The surprise of the festival came from singer/songwriter Sam Smith who attracted one of the largest crowds of the weekend on the main stage and made songs he’d featured on his own with his astounding vocal talent and charming stage presence. Next up was the enchanting Matt Corby who may have been suited to more intimate surroundings such as the endearing Acoustic Cafe, rather than a festival main stage. Then with their nostalgic character and allure, Dub Pistols brought everyone together for a unanimous skank featuring originals and cover songs from The Specials to get the crowd even more amped up.
Sounding seamless against the blushing sunset once more, Theme Park brought the energy down slightly with their tropical indie rhythms and flavours. Song such as Wax and Jamaica could not have sounded better anywhere else. To conclude the weekend, highly anticipated and Culturefly favourite Bastille took on an hour and half long set which could have perhaps been too long with only the recent release of debut album Bad Blood. However, they fully pulled it off with a set of hit singles including Laura Palmer and Pompeii with every word echoed back and a list of commendable covers. Obviously getting a lot of festival practice this summer, Bastille’s Dan played it cool with his crowd interaction and each band member gave 110% energy, which made for an impeccable headline slot and festival finale.
Blissfields is the perfect escape from reality for those not wanting to spend their festival’s trudging from one end of a huge field to another, only to partially enjoy some music. The Arts and Crafts stalls provide a more boutique and family friendly appeal to the festival but never forgetting those who want to loose themselves come the early hours of the morning to some industrial drum and bass in The Hidden Hedge. Bitter that you didn’t go Glastonbury the previous weekend? No need, just enjoy this weekend of unadulterated bliss.
Same again next year?