Review:Boardmasters: Washed Out (6-10/8/14)

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Hurricane Bertha ruined a glorious weekend in Cornwall for 100,000 festival goers as Boardmasters festival was cancelled before its final day could get underway. Set on the cliff tops in Newquay, Boardmasters symbolises the British summer with great music and world-class surfing, and so it was only apt that weather put an end to proceedings.

Boardmasters was set across two different locations. Watergate Bay was where the music was based and was your traditional music festival site placed on top of cliffs just outside of Newquay, and when the weather was nice it was a fantastic place to have a festival. Fistral Beach was the other site, where the surfing, BMX and skateboarding competition took place. Shuttle buses linked the two sites, though at £5 a pop I thought it was a little extortionate for a 2-mile bus journey.

Getting into the festival was not an issue, though security was fairly tight. Every bag was searched and any extra alcohol was discarded. Each individual was allowed 24 cans of beer or 18 cans of cider, which on the outset sounded great though this was only allowed in the campsite and not on the festival site which was incredibly frustrating, especially when a pint costs almost £5. There were those who arrived on the Wednesday or Thursday but that was only a select few and for those who arrived early there were extra gigs available, at an extra cost of course.

The first act we saw on the Friday was Saint Raymond, who for me was one of the highlights of the festival. I had never heard of him before but his set on the Main Stage was absolutely fantastic and thrilled the crowd that had turned up to watch. It was noticeable, however, that the crowds were a lot smaller during the day as many people headed down to the Fistral Beach site and also spent time drinking in their tents.  We then spent the time at the View Stage, and what a stage it was. A silver bullet camper van had been converted into a stage and was sat on the edge of the cliff, giving fantastic views out across the sea. The music here was predominantly performers with an acoustic guitars, who were probably never going to make it big, but were all fantastic and a joy to listen to. We started our evening with Dan Croll, who was great. His upbeat music had the crowd jumping away, though his cover of Lorde was not as successful as I am sure he hoped it would have been. We then saw The Enemy who weren’t great. They were probably too heavy for the surroundings and apart from their big hit “Away From Here’ there were not many songs the crowd got properly involved in. MistaJam was next on the main stage, though we left to watch Emily and the Woods on the View Stage. These guys were a 4 piece and were great. They played upbeat songs and continued as the sun set on the horizon; one of my favourite memories I will take away from the festival. Finally on the main stage was Chase and Status, who were, as always, immense, though the crowd were mad. Having seen Chase and Status a few times before, you always know things are going to be crazy, but this was next level. Waiting in anticipation, many people came streaming past desperate to be near the front, only to be seen making their way to the back 10 minutes later. We even had to move back a little as the crowd roughed up as Chase and Status played their classics End Credits, Eastern Jam, Hypest Hype (with a special guest appearance from Tempah T) and Fool Yourself.

We headed off to bed at this point, but for those who wanted to continue, Shy Fx was playing in the dance tent and there were also many after parties going on in town, though once again, even though they were official after parties, this cost extra.

We headed down to Fistral Beach on Saturday, walking along the coast after baulking at the price of the bus, and spent the day in Newquay. As someone who know knows very little about extreme sports such as BMX and skateboarding, it was all pretty impressive. We watched the BMXing and was wowed by the action and learnt a load of new words to add to our vocabulary, such as Fufuanu (a BMX trick where you balance on the edge of the half pipe). We also had some incredible fish and chips at Flounders (god bless trip advisor and Google review that’s all I can say). We headed back to Watergate Bay for an evening of music. Bipolar Sunshine started off proceedings for us, and although he was good (yes it’s just one man not a band, I was also not expecting that), they did not live up to the standards set the day before by Dan Croll, who had been billed at the same time the night before. We then headed over to the View Stage, our go-to stage in between acts, before heading back for The Cribs. They were a lot heavier than their music might have suggested and although they pleased the crowd that had gathered, I was not particularly impressed, apart from when they played “Man’s Needs”, which was my favourite song of theirs when heading into the festival.

Zane Lowe came onto the stage following The Cribs and blew the crowd away. Massive tunes, big beats and acting as his own MC, Zane really was one of the standout performers of the weekend. As someone who is not a massive fan of him normally, I was really impressed. There was a 40-minute break, during which we saw Lloyd Yates on, yes you guessed it, the View Stage. These were 4 white, dreadlocked, middle-aged men who played some great music and kept us going as the winds started to set in and the rain began to lash it down. The evening had built up to Snoop Dogg. A massive crowd gathered, with an anticipation that was palpable. And it was for this reason that the gig was a massive success. Snoop played some classic tracks, even if they weren’t his (PIMP, Wet and and Wiggle) before finishing with Young and Wild and Free, which the crowd really got involved in. However, if you went into the gig just to see what it was like, then it wasn’t great. One of the friends I was with described it as a shit DJ set with an MC who thought far too much of himself. To be fair to him, that’s pretty much what it was, but I enjoyed the entire thing! Wilkinson was playing in the dance tent afterwards, though was not particularly impressive, followed by Duke Dumont. We headed to bed, but many a reveler headed into Newquay for a night at one of the many after parties that were on offer.

Hurricane Bertha then hit on the Sunday and the festival was cancelled, which I was devastated about. Bastille, George Ezra and many more acts were due to play and for me it was the day with the strongest line up. Credit to Boardmasters, everything was communicated, the Oxfam helpers were all updated and knew what was going on and the Twitter account was updated fairly regularly. Everyone got a refund, though this probably didn’t make up for the disappointment; this was completely out of Boardmasters hands and probably the right decision to make.

Boardmasters released that statement:

‘In light of the extreme weather conditions caused by hurricane Bertha, Boardmasters Festival at Watergate Bay has been cancelled. The international surf competition will be going ahead at the Fistral Beach site, as planned.

Our guests, staff and performers’ safety is our main concern and we have decided that the magnitude of the conditions is too severe for the arena site to be opened.

We deeply regret the disappointment caused to festivalgoers on the final day of Boardmasters 2014.’

Boardmasters was a good festival, but not yet great. It was their biggest festival yet, with some strong acts and great crowds. However, it did feel as though the festival were trying to make money out of you at every turn, with the shuttle bus, cost of the after parties and no alcohol on the festival site. It must also be said that the average age was very young. As a fresh faced 21 year old, I do not see myself as being old at all but that is almost how I felt whilst I was there as a large majority of the crowd looked like their biggest concern was going to be GCSE or AS level results this summer. Not a criticism of Boardmasters itself but not something I had really come across at other festivals I had been to.

Boardmasters was a good weekend that made the best of a bad situation with the weather. With a slightly stronger line up, especially during the early evening, and less of an emphasis on making as much money as possible, this really could become one of the biggest festivals on the British summer calendar.

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