The focus on music has become more predominant at the Secret Garden Party in the last few years, as the need to attract more and more people becomes increasingly imperative. This year saw headliners Django Django, Faithless and Regina Spektor grace the Great Stage, but we went and saw some of the other musicians who performed across the four day event.
After recently performing with Mumford & Sons during their headline performance at Glastonbury, the three sisters brought their range of acoustic folk to the Great Stage on Friday afternoon. The soothing music which they performed was lapped up by the revellers, with especially good performances of recent singles ‘Facing West’ and ‘Winter Trees‘. Their music proved to be pleasant, but the songwriting was not particularly memorable or innovative and they were unfortunately drowned out at some points by the booming dance music of the nearby dance stages.
Billed as a show by the “Electric Honey Badgers,” Gabrielle Aplin was the artist who actually performed a set in the multi-coloured, striped Living Room marquee. On a small stage in front of a sea of cross-legged fans, Aplin kicked off with her previous single ‘Panic Cord’ accompanied by her band of three. Her soft and serene voice was perfect for the miniature venue and the intimate show was made all the better by her well-written songs. Playing a variety of tracks from her debut album English Rain, the 20-year-old soon turned to her piano and ‘The Power of Love’, saying “this was used on a Christmas ad, and my life has been Christmas ever since!” Ending her set she performed a rousing performance of new single ‘Home’.
Playing their 57975th festival show of the month, Bastille took to the Great Stage surprisingly early on, on Friday evening, behind performances from The Strypes and Django Django despite arguably being more popular. Anyone would think that practise would make perfect, but Bastille’s set was anything but. Beginning with album title track ‘Bad Blood’, lead singer Dan looked uneasy on stage and was barely audible to the majority of the audience. Things didn’t improve for the majority of their set, but this didn’t seem to bother the army of screaming fans who jumped around frantically during the album tracks and were sent into a frenzy by their cover of City High’s ‘What Would You Do?’. After jumping into the crowd during ‘Flaws’, Dan just about recovered to utter their number one single ‘Pompeii’. The crowd didn’t care what he sounded like, they were loving every second.
The UK soul singer showcased his vocal capability and performance power on the Where The Wild Things Are stage to a packed audience on Friday night. Receiving a great reception from the slightly inebriated crowd, Newman performed a variety of tracks which are expected to be on his debut album. Announcing ‘Cheating’ as his next single, the track was not as instantly likeable or catchy as his final track ‘Love Me Again’ but still proved to be a solid pop track, supported by his excellent voice. It’s a shame that Newman cannot play any of the tracks which he featured on with Rudimental, live, but his set was still upbeat and dynamic.
In the rustically decorated Crossroads tent, a man who looked a bit like a cross between Hagrid and Santa Claus drew people in from all around. The Canadian singer Ben Caplan had a mesmerisingly classic, gravelly voice which captivated the audience as he sang a range of traditional-sounding folk and gypsy songs, with his sound ranging from buoyant and bouncy to despondent and reflective. Chatting between the songs, Caplan was at ease on stage and humorous to watch, but emotional and engrossed in the music when singing. His stirring performance style is something to look out for when he performs at Boardmasters Festival on 1oth August.
“This is a song for anyone who has ever worn a wig, ja. It’s called ‘Messy Hair’!” If you stumbled over to the Where The Wild Things Are Stage whilst Sykur were on, you would be forgiven for being a little confused. A sizeable woman with long silver braids was jumping around the stage whilst some young looking lads DJ’d away behind her. At first it seemed an odd set up but Sykur performed surprisingly well. Popular in their native Iceland, they are an electro-pop band with plenty of synth pulsing through their funky music. Vocalist Agnes Björt Andradóttir has a nostalgically 90s dance music voice which worked brilliantly on their most popular single ‘Curling’ which is released in the UK in August, and other catchy tracks like ‘Reykjavík’ (on which she rapped rather ferociously). Sykur are a pop group to look out for in the near future.
23-year-old Dan Croll is a name which has been cropping up all over the place on music blogs in the last 12 months, and is currently performing at numerous European festivals to support his two EPs. On Sunday afternoon he wowed the crowds with his glossy, soulful vocals, playing a range of old and new material including some of his most well-known tracks like ‘Compliment Your Soul’ and ‘From Nowhere’. He performed in such a way that his talent was unquestionable, and the winding wood surrounding the stage suited the soothingness of his music perfectly. The talented musician told The Edge that he has completed his debut album, and hopes to release it in January 2014.