Over the 29th and 30th of June, Kent was taken over by almost 2,000 festival-goers and 187 volunteers as LeeFest 2012 descended for two days of music and mayhem.
LeeFest may not be well renowned but it’s well on its way. In 2006, Lee Denny’s parents made him promise not to have a house party while they were away. So, clearly, the only thing to do would be to hold a festival in their own back garden. Seven years on, LeeFest is playing host to The Mystery Jets, Jakwob and Bastille amongst many others. It’s fair to say the event is going from strength to strength.
Having already missed Friday’s antics, I turned up to the event with my sister Katie, a seasoned LeeFest attendee. The rain had held off and the mud was minimal, making the atmosphere even more electric as soon as you walked through the gates.
Having not been to LeeFest for two years, I was amazed by the scale of the festival; it had clearly doubled in size since then. I was impressed. There was plenty of stuff to do, and I hadn’t even glimpsed the main stage. Other venues and areas included ‘The Colin Denny Lava Lounge’ (a giant volcano tent, named after Lee’s dad), The Temple of Boom and The Clocktower to name a few. There was even a giant pig in the middle of the field. Festival goers were invited to make their own nipple tassles at the craft tent, listen to live poetry and comedy at Inc., and take part in a paint fight in the afternoon. I was delighted with my Veggie Wrap from Egyptian Caterer ‘Taste of the Nile’, whose homemade falafels made my morning. There was plenty to do, and definitely not enough time to do it all in one day. All this was exactly why it was extended to a weekend event last year.
The music was just as good. The focus on local bands was just a strong as it was at the festival’s birth, but there was plenty of range and always something to enjoy. Staying at the Main Stage the entire day – other than venturing into the Lava Lounge for a couple of minutes between sets – I managed to see the Van Susans, Sound of Guns, To Kill a King, Bwani Junction, and Big Kids, who were all great live. Big Kids stole the stage with their vibrant and lively set, giving out paper crowns to fans (which reminded me of the Burger King crowns). I bumped into vocalist Rosie Oddie on her way to the Main Stage with drummer Alex after their set. I asked her if she was enjoying LeeFest:
“It’s been a really good, fun weekend! Wicked. We have a really busy summer with loads more festivals, and we’ve decided to stay as long as possible at all of them to make the most of it! We’re really excited to see the Mystery Jets, we love their new album!”
Bastille also left a lingering impression on the Festival audience. A name already being thrown around my Facebook Page, I was excited to see them live, and I was not disappointed. The crowd really livened up for the band, and Bastille’s Dan Smith was equally as enthusiastic about being at LeeFest as his fans:
“It’s been really fun – we’re surprised people actually came and wanted to see us! Such a good crowd. I really like small festivals, really nice and intimate. Sadly we only managed to get here just before our gig but we got to look around a little and saw my housemate’s band To Kill a King which was really great.” We’ve got loads going on this summer, we have our new single out, ‘Bad Blood’ and we’re playing in Norway and in Reading and Leeds amongst many.
The headline act of the Saturday night were The Mystery Jets. Having seen them around four years ago supporting The Zutons, I was keen to see when they had to offer. Their new album went down very well, with their first offering of the evening being their new single ‘Someone Purer’, before a few older favourites, such as ‘Two Doors Down’ and ‘Young Love’. The clear sky and stage lights really set the mood and made it a perfect end to a great couple of days for LeeFest. As we left, the party was still continuing, with those camping over still hitting the bar and heading for the Temple of Boom for more music.
The day was a flurry of music, cider, and sunshine, and there has only been good feedback for the LeeFest team. The festival hit record success this year, nearly all tickets sold out and over 100 live acts over the weekend. Here’s to next year, for more giant pigs, pigeon poems and paint fights. Not forgetting the music, of course.