Relentless Boardmasters 2011 review

Scenes by Dominic Meason
Scenes by Dominic Meason

Overall: 8/10

Click for our best Boardmasters 2011 photos.

Fistral bay, in its modesty, has a secret. Locals and surfers steadily fill the stunning sandy beach lit with the promise of sunshine from early Wednesday morning. In these first days friendships are made and the party ignited, which burns unperturbed by the inevitable blanket of drizzle, through to it’s roaring climax on Saturday night as top DJs celebrate Boardmasters 30th birthday.
Everything Burns (6/10) begin to get the Beach Sessions tent buzzing, with We are the Ocean (7/10) hot on their heels instigating mosh pits as the tent is awash with frantic light displays blinding the crowd into submission. Newton Faulkner’s sell out acoustic set bursts the tent in a well-received evening of melodic calm before Watergate Bay finally opens it’s gates unleashing a flurry of acts that vacuum into Newquay from countrywide.

Boardmasters is a festival for the adventurous; the propensity to just ‘go with it’ is vital to fully experience the kaleidoscope of talent on offer. Band clashes across tents makes ‘Relentless’ the ideal sponsor as the younger children dance themselves into oblivion.

Eliza Doolittle (7/10) captures attention, emptying the periphery entertainment. A gentle bounce and happy gaze infects the crowd through her entire set satisfying the collective thirst for the feel-good vibe that defines her. Bombay Bicycle Club (6/10) succeed her set with surprising energy and a bundle of baby-faced charisma. ‘Rinse Me Down’ are the words left echoing through the crowds, which the clouds take as a literal command, barely noticed by (mostly) female fans who scream with subdued hysteria. Whilst the set isn’t exactly boundary breaking, the band’s popularity is unquestionable with each lyric sung in startling synchrony.
The Relentless tent is constantly full and those who make it in are rewarded with a stellar performance from ska band The Skints (9/10) who take tent ownership playing their own tracks and revamped classics. The energy reaches the queues out to the fields but dries up as the Klaxons (7/10) come into earshot on the main stage. The performance is flawless, the band are clearly psyched but sadly there is a mysterious disconnect and a fickle crowd are visibly undecided. In contrast Skindred (10/10) have a captive, insatiable audience.

The core of the arena is dedicated to dance on Saturday with Zane Lowe (8/10) and Fatboy Slim (9/10) keeping the field pounding for hours in waves of journeys through dance eras, teasing the crowds through endless hits that couldn’t have failed to stir excited nostalgia in every corner of the festival. A bit of searching reveals Lethal Bizzle (9/10) and The King Blues (5/10) have lured in substantial crowds, rife with sing-backs and mosh pits.

Boardmasters is a curious festival with hidden arenas, a healthy dose of spontaneity (impromptu wedding re-enactments, random outbursts of dancing and conga-lines), good food and amazing views. Resembling a millionaire’s birthday party more than an average festival, the only apparent lull is at the remarkably civil campsite, another place where a little adventure pays off: the big American burger van doesn’t have a patch on the obscure locally supplied hotdog tent.

The changeable Cornish weather doesn’t quite match the idealised beach bum dream, however with so much to do in such little time the final Sunday Beach Session will be a very welcome chill-out therapy for those who reserve the energy. Very happy 30th, Boardmasters.