Some people look forward to a couple of weeks in Torremolinos, some save up all year to enable
them to visit menacingly giant cartoon characters at their home in Florida, and there are even those who choose to bob around various oceans on board giant floating hotels.
But if if I had to pick my ideal summer break, I’d have trouble thinking of something I’d rather do than go to a music festival.
And for the third year running that means Chagstock, an eclectic family-oriented festival that is deservedly growing in popularity,set in the beautiful surroundings of Dartmoor national park.
And yes, again we played the “glamping” card, (we may not go abroad for expensive holidays,
but we do treat ourselves to luxury accommodation as Elaine doesn’t cope well with the temperatures involved in camping in the midst of a heatwave. See last year’s Chagstock blog for details)
So, old friend and fellow festival-goer, Ho, collected off the bus in Okehampton, base camp tent set up on the festival site, and Elaine and I booked into the B+B, we could finally relax in the sunshine of the campsite.
Ho and Elaine stay cool.
Now, even if I have got a comfy bed and a shower to return to at the end of each day, I still love camping, and even if Ho wasn’t using it we’d still put the tent up, because it’s good to have a base on site where we can relax, make a coffee, and just enjoy a few minutes in the shade away from the heat and bustle of the arena.
As a result of all this relaxation, we were slightly late in getting into the festival proper, and when
we got within earshot of the main stage for the first time, Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman were already soothing the audience with their gentle lilting folk.
But a louder sound soon took over.
The growling of three neglected bellies.
We headed straight for the food stalls, having not eaten since breakfast, and as usual were spoilt for choice with freshly cooked dishes from Thailand, India, Egypt, Spain, and the Caribbean, alongside local West Country fare, from a Hog Roast of pigs bred on the farmland where Chagstock is held, to traditionally smoked meats from Devon, and the justly famous Tom’s Pies, to which Ho has become addicted since he first came here two years ago.
Suitably stuffed with ballast, I stopped in at the beer tent, which displayed this huge sign above the bar..
…a Monty Python reference,which I realised was a nod to the “Circus” theme of this year’s festival, along with chalk boards bearing quotes, including one about someone not being the
Messiah, but in fact being a very naughty boy.
This reminder also went some way to explaining why I kept walking past ringmasters, strong men, and clowns, seeing as by this point I hadn’t even drunk that much cider.
Welcome to our world
Now fully equipped, we headed to the acoustic stage in the giant marquee to watch a frenetic set
from Ferocious Dog which included a song written about the singer’s brother, a soldier who
suffered from PTSD, and whose story featured on a recent current affairs programme.
They played a storming set and drew roars of approval from the rapidly swelling crowd, finishing with a surefire festival winner – a song that appeared to have about five endings.
After their triumphant exit we made our way outside and headed down to the main stage for the next act, all the while taking in the spectacular views across the moors.
We didn’t have to wait long before Wille and the Bandits took to the stage, and they didn’t put a
foot wrong throughout a punky, funky, folky, slide guitar-drenched set that even included a sleazy,
rocked up cover of Dire Straits’ peon to ’80s consumerism, Money for Nothing.
And so, as the sun began to set…
…and the stage was set for tonight’s headline
…we watched the moon rise and waited for the Mystery Jets
This was the band that the younger section of the crowd had come to see, and I’m sure they didn’t leave disappointed either.
I’d not heard much of their material prior to this gig, but I was pleasantly surprised by the bright,
dreamy pop and spacey, folk-tinged anthems.
At one point it looked as though the mothership actually had descended to carry off the faithful.
But as the night’s entertainment drew to a close, the most memorable image I have is that of the almost full moon, shining down from directly above the stage in a cloudless sky, promising another beautiful day in the great circus that is
For the hardier amongst us though, there was still the dance tent, and that was pounding out
techno as we left the arena for a quiet nightcap back at camp.
Then a slightly unsteady but happy stroll back to the B+B for some much needed rest.
Because tomorrow there would be some bona fide punk legends at Chagstock…
(I apologise if you have received this post or any others more than once, this is due to technical stupidity at this end.)