We arrived at the Deerstock site on Thursday evening, one of the perks of buying a live-in vehicle pass! Having accidentally bought an extra ticket I donated it at the gate for a charitable contribution, then headed on in to the site – finding our camping spot for the weekend with Mark, Amanda, Paul, Nicki, Ian and Lynne (with more to join later!). Unlike previous visits we’d settled up on the open flat space nearer the arena – with the weather forecast due it made sense not to venture too far down into the narrow wooded area in heavy vans. Although Wez had made quite a home there with his recently acquired horse box!
Soon enough everyone was set up and sorted – we had a few cheeky drinks and wiled away the evening by the vans and in the Cheezy Vinyl Bar whilst the tireless folks making the festival happen beavered away on getting the site ready for Deerstock to happen when it started properly the following day. I should admit from the off, we were slightly weather-wusses – Saturday in particular we rarely ventured far from the campsite – so there will be some hefty musical gaps in my musings. I would apologise but well, it meant we stayed dry and we still had an absolute hoot – so I’m not going to!
Friday’s music started with catching the very end of Jake Martin‘s set (oops, sorry Jake!) having been fed by Paul and Nicki’s seemingly miraculous Cadac Chef – which has attachments for every conceivable way of cooking (it had cooked us pizzas the night before, now it was doing a fine job of breakfast too!). Anyway.. Jake finished his set with I Don’t Wanna Be Your Heroes, I was just heading in to the Roy’s Place stage to see more and he thanked everyone and duly unplugged his guitar. D’oh!
We did catch most of Jess Silk though – she describes herself as shouty, I think that’s a bit disingenuous – thought provoking lyrics accompanied by guitar, and I would say sung rather melodiously. I think we wandered in for Is This Poetry (I’m not 100% on song titles), followed by the song she called out as being politically shouty, what I heard was something really tuneful and incisive lyrically – I think it might be called How does this Country work for us? I could be wrong. Long March Home was next before we were tempted by the prospect of lunch – which was a delicious falafel wrap for me!
This of course took us close to the Cheezy Vinyl Bar, so we inevitably found ourselves in there for a spell – which turned into quite a long spell, not least because at some point then Kev arrived with Louie (the beagle) for us all to go and make a fuss of. Not that it wasn’t nice to see Kev too, of course. We headed back into the area to check out Kynch on the main stage – they had a grungy indie sound reminiscent of The Outlines to me (or The Kooks to Ella), really enjoyable set – they’d warmed up / soundchecked with Green Day but hadn’t given us any song title clues.
In Roy’s Place next up were Talking to Frank, kind of following the theme of rock/indie – a confidently rocking performance, kicking off with Do You Like It followed up with some eyebrow-raising lyrics in a new song. They alternated singing between guitarist and drummer (who we all universally decided must be brothers), which worked really well – though the bass player drew most of our attention as he seemed to have an instrument with no head (although the tuner was still clipped on) – how do you tune a bass with no apparent means of adjusting the string tension? There you go!
As Luna and the Moonhounds were unleashing some rock and roll psychedelia on the main stage we’d taken a wander back down to the campsite for supplies, before heading back ready for Sons of Clogger to entertain us with a rousing set of rowdy stomping folk punk. Rather than get stuck into the lively crowd in the tent we enjoyed it from just outside since it was still a balmy and dry temperature outside for now.
On the main stage The Blue Carpet Band were next – I really enjoyed these. Turbo-charged rock and roll was the order of the day, and a spectacularly lively front man. The only track name I managed was No Cadillac, but it was a cracking set – with the lead singer jumping down from the stage frequently to high-five with two young lads dancing around at the front, he ended the set with what I’m guessing was a carefully choreographed but decidedly dangerous looking fall off the stage. A really engaging performance indeed.
I was really looking forward to seeing Motormouf after seeing him support Funke and the Two Tone Baby earlier in the year. Loops of beatbox and singing – so kinda on the same lines in terms of trade tools but with a more hip hop flavour. He certainly disappoint, he started his set by inviting a young lad – Josh – to get up on stage and show off his own beatboxing skills before unleashing his own set on us. The only song I could name was Eric B and Rakim’s Paid in Full, but I was thoroughly absorbed in the spectacle. He’s one hell of a talented guy.
On the main stage The Masses (who I can’t seem to find a link for) treated us to a mixture of classic rock covers and few original tracks too – launching into Sanctuary, I also enjoyed AC/DC’s Let There Be Rock and a moving cover of Soundgarden’s Black Hole Sun given the sad relatively recent passing of Chris Cornell. Sin City featured towards the end of the set – then it was another trip to the Cheezy Vinyl Bar for a cider top up whilst listening to the wonderfully named Mad Apple Circus next door plying the festival with bouncy ska with a healthy smattering of hip hop.
Headlining the Friday night were the inimitable Dirty Vertebrae. Whilst most of our assorted weather apps told us different stories – they all seemed to agree it would start to rain around 11pm, and sure enough it did. We’d prepared with waterproofs so assembled at the front – they launched into Burial – my notes get a bit sketchy after this as touch screens and rain are not happy bedfellows, at one point I did take a glowing bracelet to the face as Nicole and Ash were launching them out into the crowd, though, haha!
Taking Over was third in though, and shortly after Melody – there was bouncing aplenty, although at some point I looked behind me to find a probably three dozen or so hardy souls who’d stuck out the rain, with the rest watching from under cover (can’t blame them really, but still!). Slick Smile is probably my favourite of theirs, then we were treated to Ash performing a spoken word (or ‘smoke and word‘) piece dedicated to Deerstock itself – it was certainly this festival that propelled them into my consciousness – and clearly it’s done them some serious favours!
Ignorance was next, then a reggae-infused one about festivals in summer that I missed the name of, with the set winding to a close Living Doll was up next and a rousing encore of We Do What We Want. A characteristically excellent set despite the weather – ‘moist but worth it’ was how we summed it up at the end, with signs of the stage leaking a bit it might’ve been the case for the band too! We ambled back to the campsite for a chill and a couple of drinks before bed, listening to the revelry still going on in the Guerilla Stage area. All in all, a jolly splendid day (and an evening).
Saturday saw the cunning plot of putting Maelor Hughes on early to get us all out of the campsite – with which we duly complied. He opened with Don’t Bring Me Down and then onto Poor Man’s Game, he was sounding really good – we’d had a coffee to perk up a bit. Just as he was remarking it was nice to see so many friendly faces up so early Jamie arrived to a great deal of applause (he only appears at this kind of time for acts he really likes!). He still didn’t play the Jamie song though!
Next up was Morning Sun, then Better Day gave us the chance to shout ‘Oi Oi!’ a lot – Ian hasn’t had the chance to do this for some time, so he was particularly eager! Christiania was next, then I’ve missed one before he finished up with Fight With Me. Ace set – well worth being lured out of bed for! By this point Mark and I resumed our bid to drink all the pear and chilli cider from the Cheezy Vinyl Bar, so retired to there and then back out in time for the next act opening up the main stage.
That was Black Thorn, they opened with Festive which seemed really rather apt – and then onto Vin Rouge. Anethemic Catch Me If You Can was next, I managed to miss one before Psychic Sally, then a pretty impressive largely acapella song designed to encourage people to go and by some of their merch (certainly if you don’t have their album then you really should have heeded this song!). That left them time for one more track which was Slaves. It was good to see them again, it’s been a while!
Having roused ourselves early we headed back for bacon – and well, having settled ourselves in under the awnings with the weather setting in to be properly grumpy I must confess we pretty much didn’t move from the campsite for the rest of the day! Shocking behaviour, but we did have a right laugh (the context of which are probably not suitable for here!). We did enjoy the classic covers the Doggen All Star Band were chucking out across the festival site later in the evening – but I’m afraid that’s as far as my musical musings go!
I felt worse for Paul, Sarah and baby Halle who’d bought day tickets just for Saturday, bless them!
Sunday however started with sunshine – and sausages! Again we’d been compelled to get up to the arena early – The Star Botherers were on first, and it was Bart’s birthday. Dave hinted it might have been his fiftieth but it’s hard to be sure, as Jacquie was travelling in that morning we’d asked her to grab a cake and a card for him – it wasn’t the only cake, so it was quite funny to see two cakes with lit candles be plonked on stage in front of him after he’d started playing Just Around The Corner. Consummate pro that he is he kept on going, graciously accepting the raucous singing of ‘happy birthday’ after the song (by which point the crowd were cavorting with balloons too).
First Night Festival Fever was next – ordinarily a song I can relate to, this had been a sensible festival on that front so far! By now classic One Inch Death Punch was up next, then Ringing in Sick. Three Sets of Strings highlights the plight of the high street at the expense of internet shopping, which only gave time for two more love songs – Star Wars Bride then made way to probably my new favourite When Dave’s Dead. They are still tinkering with their album recording so as yet it’s not available, but keep an eye out – it’s going to be a belter!
Brad had to hot foot it over to the main stage with his cymbals for his next appearance – Pretty Babs were next up, I think this is my first viewing of them with the addition of a guitarist and they really are going from strength to strength. Tight as owt, belting songs – Fade So Low was up first and then I Wouldn’t Rule it Out – which helped me in song name jotting as they were broadly following the album track listing, haha! Down in the Alley was followed up with Buttons and Pennies which was played on BBC Radio Nottingham recently – woo!
Cold Lake Shore and then Up from the Floorboards. What was really apparent though was that in adding the extra guitar it freed up Sam to add the intricate guitar work without sacrificing the rhythm as he had been doing. It really fills out the sound now to what you hear recorded. A superb set was finished up with Red Brick Town and finally Don’t Step on the Moor as a rousing encore. “Bloody hell!” said Mark, as we were walking away from the stage (I suspect toward the cider bar), “that’ll be the best set we’ll see this weekend.” I don’t think he was far wrong.
In Roy’s Place were Strange Currencies who I’ve noted as groovy indie, I think that sounds pretty accurate but who can be sure? In Your World opened up their set and was followed up with Maddening Skies. The next song, I Don’t Dance wonderfully articulated the horrors of going to night clubs – a switch of instruments saw the drummer playing mandolin and kick drum with the guitar switched out for a banjo. Automatic was up next and they finished up with I’m Free (possibly I’m missing a song here!). I really liked these though.
We opted to keep our spot in the covered area around Roy’s Place whilst Terminal Rage oi’d their way around the main stage – I couldn’t quite muster up the mood for getting out in the mud, plus I’d seen the next band setting up a cajón so definitely wanted to check them out! They were Idle Empire and were probably along with The Blue Carpet Band my favourite new discovery of the weekend, full of folky skiffly goodness and lots of intriguing finger tapping technique from the drummer which I’m planning on experimenting with!
A song I’m going to call Can’t Run Fast in those Shoes opened up the set, followed up with Twice The Man You Need. An enjoyable cover of Girls Aloud’s Love Machine was up next, then Daisy Chains. Back to singalong opportunities we had great fun on our haybail doing the back vocal bits for King of the Swingers, the set finished up with Julie (not the Levellers song, though!) once one of the guitars had been swapped out for a ukulele, Take Me and then finally one I’ll refer to as Slip Away from Me. With rain setting in again we headed back to camp for a costume change.
We were back in time for Devil’s Prefects which was an act I was particularly looking forward to – they kicked in with Eastbound and Down, complete with a CB radio mic, this was followed by Elvis. Then Willie ‘The Fury’ Ford took on lead vocal duties for It’s a Mistake to Remake. The CB mic was out again for a rousing rendition of Convoy (which was mashed up with Sympathy for the Devil and Foxy Lady at various stages!). Essential tips for dealing with a zombie apocalyse were up next, and an all-too-soon finalé which had the whole crowd knocking one out for Jesus. Awesome set. I finally got a CD too!
We enjoyed the bouncy ska of Unknown Era from the confines of the Cheezy Vinyl Bar where we were presented with the most gigantic cheesy bloomers. Since it was starting to hammer it down again we watched Headsticks from there too with a cheeky coffee and port and lemon jellies! They started with Mississippi’s Burning and straight into Flatline Town. They’d got quite a big intrepid crowd bouncing around armed with umbrellas or just the kind of festival abandon that didn’t give a stuff about the inclement weather!
Cold Grey English Skies (pretty damn apt!) was next and then Fanatics – certainly the weather wasn’t dampening Andrew’s on stage energy. What Do You Want was next to keep up the crowd participation levels up to scratch. New song Family Tree is sounding less like a new song the more I hear it (well duh!), and the set was soon winding up to its crescendo – finishing up with World Away and finally Killing Me America. I was really glad we’d chosen the table you could see the stage from in the Cheezy Vinyl Bar, it has to be said!
Over in Roy’s Place we headed to see The Fox and the Pirate (aka Jonny Wallis and Brian Stone), it was Brian up first with Never Drink with the Leylines, and then Ward the Pirate (which we’ve rechristened Ward the Angry Pirate. Long story. It was Jamie’s fault). Jonny got up next with Social Divide (whilst Brian helpfully held up lyric placards), then t’was Brian again with Jack of all Trades. Jonny was next with Crime of Rights, then it was back to Brian for It’s Down to Us and finally a duet of Oh You New York Girls (Can’t You Dance the Polka) which had the whole tent dancing away, finished up with a rousing Why Is All The Rum Gone? Of course!
With the weather not looking like letting up we decided to listen from afar for the rest of the evening – Transglobal Underground sounded great, starting with sitar, drums and synths they made a really interesting sound – but the allure of our comfy campsite for some cheeky coffees and laughs proved too alluring, so in true rock and roll style that’s what we did for the rest of the evening before turning in.
Definitely a festival where I probably missed more than I saw – unlike previous years I never once made it into the stage in the glade (or the Guerilla Stage this year) which I’ve loved in the past (although we could hear its’ output loud and clear into the wee small hours!), but not one where a bit of rain could dampen the spirits too far – I saw plenty of familiar favourites and discovered a good few acts I wouldn’t mind seeing again – and more important than anything I had an absolute riot with some truly excellent friends, so really you kinda have to put that down as a rip roaring success!