After Friday and Saturday’s episodes, waking up on Sunday I realised that the site and locale had really grown on me; Play Fest seems to have already captured its own identity focusing on going for a grass roots approach with a slightly kooky style. Hopefully as the festival grows they can keep onto this as it really does give the whole place a very keen sense of charm and enchantment.
With the rain coming down heavier and heavier the whole thing though was starting to feel particularly miserable, but after circling the stages a couple of times we came back to the main arena and found a ray of lovely warming sunshine in the self-proclaimed beach pop trio Dumbfoundus. With their instantly relatable lyrics, friendly manner and catchy grooves, they captured my attention and that of nearly everyone in the arena as the crowd just grew and grew as they bounced through their fantastic set. Joined on stage by a man dressed as Chewbacca who frolicked around to the beat of the conga drums, they were an unexpected highlight that I know have gained a very fond place in my heart.
After a bit more wandering a few more unremarkable bands, the next big draw was the up-and-coming Spector who seem to be on the verge of becoming the heir to The Vaccines. With your typical brand of upbeat indie rock, Spector put in an excellent performance despite frontman Frederick Macpherson being completely off his chops. I expect to be seeing an awful lot more of this band in the coming weeks as the hype train that follows them is gaining momentum hand over fist.
Scroobius Pip was next up performing cuts from his solo album that really was a change of pace and with his combination of hip-hop, poetry and punk rock, he seemed to put off some of the crowd. Complete with full band and a box of wine to keep him company, Scroob was on top form and put in an absolutely stellar performance that concluded with him jumping into the crowd and getting surfed all the way to the back.
At this point we decided to head back to the Big Top and it was here we came across another one of the weekend hidden highlights jazz funk act The Federation of Disco Pimp. When we arrived the whole Big Top was already grooving away to the smooth sax and funky bass licks, and soon enough we had joined in. The band’s unbelievably catchy tunes wormed their way into every fibre of your body and you couldn’t help but dance. They laid the groundwork for The Correspondents to follow up on and match punch for punch. A London duo comprised of MC Chucks and frontman Mr. Bruce – the latter of which was prancing around the stage like an indie peacock on hot coals – captured the crowd immediately and got the whole place swinging to their unique brand of electro-swing dance.
As the weekend came to a close, we returned to the main stage in time for Feeder. Whereas veterans Ash fell completely flat the day before, Feeder suffered none of this as they put in everything you would expect for a band that have been round the block and played probably at more festivals than they would care to count. Lacing the set with tracks from all across their broad career, they were absolutely on the button for all of them and had it all completely in hand with a sheen of experience and class. They knew what the crowd wanted as they jokingly teased with ‘Buck Rogers’ before kicking in, yet it became apparent that they had sunk their claws in deep enough to make sure that the people were not here just hear one or two big hits; they were here because Feeder know how to put on a damn good show. Closing up shop with ‘Just A Day’ as the rain came down again, Feeder lived up to their reputation and firmly staked into everyone’s minds the reasons as to why they have it.
On the journey back, I found myself thinking does Play Fest have enough of an identity to survive on a scene where more and more festivals crop up every year? The answer is most certainly yes on both accounts. Play Fest has a small time charm that many festivals seem to either miss entirely or lose as they grow. For its size, they have really been able to grab hold of some very popular acts so if they continue in this vein, I can see Play Fest continuing to grow and endure as the market becomes increasingly flooded. It really does seem to tick all the boxes; great site, great music and a great vibe. The one key thing it has is an identity and a feel good charm, and I think everyone can appreciate that.