Deer-stocking.. across the universe.. (part three)..
At some point over the course of Saturday Jamie the Pirate had arrived at Deerstock. AKA ‘It was Jamie’s fault’. Come Saturday morning, clutching his breakfast White Russian as we were sitting around whilst folk were munching breakfast (Ella and I were abstaining from breakfast for reasons that will become clear). Jamie sauntered over with the dreaded morning tequila. Luckily there were only a couple of shots each – although we did have lime and salt too!
We were up early as The Star Botherers were due on at 11:20 – during an ill-advised conversation the previous day concerning going to see them wearing what you sleep in – Ian foolishly revealed he slept eu naturelle. A dare ensued thanks to Lee, charitable pledges were made that were at the £150 mark before a step was taken – Ian was duly tasked with walking up to the arena in his birthday suit.
Cleverly mindful of the ‘what you sleep in’ context he was able to grab a couple of pillows – emblazoned with images of Blackballed – to cover his modesty as he made the walk. Being the kind person I am I live streamed it to Facebook, getting a worrying number of viewers. By the time he’d finished and we’d pinched Craig’s bucket he’d collected well over £100 from the crowd too – all for Wish Upon A Star, a charity Lee supported recently. His JustGiving page is over here if you fancy chucking a few quid in.
Two thirds of The Star Botherers were ready and waiting to greet Ian – with confused grins on their faces. They got started without Brad who was stuck in the diversions nearby due to a cycling event going on. Just Around The Corner started the set with the drummer arriving mid-song. Star Wars Bride was next before a bit of a pause for a few technical wibbles with the monitors. It gave us the chance to have a bit of a laugh whilst the sound guys sorted everything.
The set was finished up with Mid-life Crisis, My Guitar, a welcome return to the set list for My National Trust before the epic singalong that is Bad Guys. A fun way to start the day! Ian had reacquired clothing before the set mercifully, the bucket which had been sat on the stage was gathered up and well, whilst a few folk might’ve been disturbed (not least the good folk at Nana’s Kitchen during his ‘walk through’) but a good amount of cash was raised for charity!
The Kingdom were rocking out on the main stage but Ella and I had an important appointment – a Sunday roast at the aforementioned Nana’s Kitchen! We got ourselves sat down and were presented with two marvellous roast dinners – I still find it a novelty to be able to eat so well at a festival! It certainly didn’t disappoint and was well worth skipping breakfast for!
We got back into the arena in time for The Outlines hitting the main stage – they were sounding bloody good too. Such a big sound for the three of ’em – Waiting and Fall To The Drop kicked off an energetic set, Calm Down and Vanilla Poison led into a quality cover of The Guns of Brixton. The remainder of the set went in a bit of a blur, Streets of England was definitely in there, and a couple of others too.
Cats Charis struck up some smooth double bass-infused jazzy sounds in Roy’s Place, but we headed out to the field to watch the tug of war that Spike had been organising. I must admit when I saw a team comprising Jamie, Ian, Dean, Wez and more I was expecting them to walk it, but there were some surprising results. There definitely wasn’t any cheating at the end. No, definitely not. Haha. It was great fun though!
Next up on the main stage were Resistance 77 – I was first aware of them when they released a Nottingham Forest themed song ‘You Reds’ in the late eighties – my brother had it on vinyl (I think the B-side was called ‘Young and Wrong’), I still love that song! Ferocious Dog’s Ellis was a member of R77 for a good while too – although despite seeing them a few times I never managed to do so whilst Ellis was playing, probably why he ended up knocking it on the head!
They started with No Escape, and ran through a high energy punk set – What’s Wrong?, Pass Me The Bottle, Chelsea Girl and Long Time Dead were the highlights for me. Naomi got an amazing airborn shot of livewire lead singer Oddy at some point – looking forward to her photos going online, last I heard she was down to the last 600 to edit (!). No wonder Ella fancied a weekend off from photographer duties!
Carrying on the punk theme but moving down the folk spectrum somewhat we had Headsticks on the second stage – they snarled straight into Mississippi’s Burning and then into This Dog Will Have Its Day. Andrew compelled people into the tent by telling those in the field they were munters unless they came in. Paper Flowers was next – I’d spotted a set list by Andrew’s feet and went for a sneaky photo to help me remember the set – unfortunately I was spotted!
So they decided to bin the set list and went for Cold Grey English Skies instead (I subsequently looked at the photo, it was blurry as hell anyway!). Fanatics was next followed by the singalong epic of What Do You Want?. They finished off a rip-roaringly good set with Go Move Shift and Killing Me America. Awesome stuff – Andrew kindly furnished me with a CD too which I’ll be reviewing in due course (thanks Andrew – it was remiss of me to not already have one!).
The Sunday line up was pretty relentlessly good. The Lagan were next on the main stage – kicking in with the epic bodhran and tin-whistle intro for Staring The Devil In The Eye. I must admit they got the feel moving to the point where my note-taking was a bit bad (I think that’s a compliment though!), certainly Raggle Taggle Gypsy and I’ll Tell Me Ma were in there – it was a bloody great set, we were pretty hot and sweaty by the end!
Over on the Guerilla Stage we were keen to see Raynor Jackson – as before they were running slightly on their own time zone so we had a chance for a natter with him before his set. He went for an eclectic mix of covers and originals including Billie Jean, Faith, Hero, Shaved off his Beard and Dock of the Bay. Jed had arrived ready to see his daughter, KT Ana playing after Raynor – we went to catch some Doonicans on the main stage with the plan to come back after.
The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican are one of my favourite live acts – so as with Dirty Vertebrae the previous day we were a bit torn, but we had the chance to enjoy them play Walking in Man-Piss, She’s From Dodworth, The Ace of Spades and Lady in Greggs before we wandered back to the glade. As with DV, we see a lot of the Doonicans so didn’t feel too bad about sneaking off early to catch a new act we’d never seen before.
Getting back in the glade the timing was still a little unpredictable, but it was certainly no bad thing as Raynor was still going strong – Rivers of Babylon, Ben Harper’s Burn One Down, his own song Bog Ankor (aka ‘Gay Ducks’) were thoroughly enjoyable – The Lagan were in there watching too, Andy was kind enough to share some of his sweets with us too – so apologies to Scott, Björn and Alan – but I’m sure you understand!
KT Ana was up next in the glade, sitting demurely with guitar and voice – she started with Coldplay’s The Scientist – starting with vocals that seemed impossibly high, only to drop to outrageous low levels. She’s got one hell of a vocal range. The Lumineers’ Slow It Down was next and similarly mesmerising. Sadly she’s not a regular live performer in this guise, I’d be really keen to see more – but I wasn’t prepared to miss the next act on at Roy’s Place!
It was the inimitable Sweetchunks Band – and they were already underway with We Are Not PIrates We’re Drunks on a Boat as we hurried over to the second stage for a dance. They’d been reunited with percussionist Charlie on his cajon. Stuart found himself a chair to perform the romantic epic that is I Would Punch a Bear For You. Next up they went for their Nickelback assault of Folk Star morphing into Paradise City.
With Brian in the crowd we thought we knew what was coming with Kiss, but it turned into a terrifying erotic spectacle between him and Charlie, Stuart opting to just sing whilst this terrifying scene unfurled. With Tom on hand to play Caruthers it was full on fun. Stuart unleashed some kind of terrifying blues version of Spice Girls’ Wannabe before playing a Song for Charlie on an awesome slide guitar he’d got that day.
The set finished up with Bees (Are F**king Awesome), Drink Up and Highway to the Dangerzone. Bloody brilliant. Contender for festival highlights for me.
Blackballed were up next – they’re so bloody slick. They seamlessly blend from one groove infused track to the next, they never say what they’re called – hopefully the CDs I ordered from them arrive soon so I can start to learn them. We danced like maniacs, they were absolutely bloody brilliant. Marshall and Tom cavort between playing, Leon is the happiest looking man in the world whilst he’s drumming. If you’ve never seen Blackballed before, you really must.
Energy expended on the last two acts necessitated food – I had an epic burger, we took the food and wandered to the Glade for a while to happen upon Isaac casually playing guitar on the Guerilla Stage. He’s great, head down and concentrating he rattled off some Ferocious Dog and Gaz Brookfield – I feel really lucky to have wandered by at that point to have the chance to see this very intimate unannounced performance. A future star!
By the time we’d finished mooching around the glade Dreadzone were finishing up the festival – I like Dreadzone but don’t love them, so was content to stand back and watch the spectacle, the crowd and reflect on another amazing weekend. That said, Rise Up, Iron Shirt, Zion Youth, The Next Generation and Little Britain are all pretty anthemic it has to be said! We wandered back to the campsite to mingle – only to miss out on a drunken Star Botherers set in the cider bar!
Oh well! Another triumphant Deerstock Festival – Jed, Pat, Naomi, Joe and the team have really come up with a magical formula and stuck to it – making improvements but not unnecessary changes. A first Deerstock without Ferocious Dog is for selfish reasons a bit regrettable – however you do need to mix things up, so I respect the decision not to book them – and well, I do get to see them at Farmer Phil’s twice so it’s not too bad!
It really is the festival with something for everyone – I’ve been there as a single bloke with mates, as part of a couple, I’ve been there with folk with kids of all ages – everyone has a bloody fantastic time. I already can’t wait ’til next year!