Guilfest 2011 review

'One of the highlights of the town's year'

Guilfest 2011 review

Photographer: Sara Bowrey18 July 2011

Considering the word on the street suggested the residents of Guildford had abandoned this Guilfest 2011 because of the “weak line-up”, those present celebrated the event’s 20th anniversary in style.

Determined not to let the heavy rain outbursts spoil the festivities, adolescents and your average Magic FM listener pack out Stoke Park to welcome one-hit wonders and pop artists alike.

Guilfest continues to stand out as one of the highlights of the town’s year and with both increased sponsorship and an additional tent or two on top of 2010; it quickly becomes clear that the organisers have thought big.

The first clash of the oldies happens Friday night, when The Who’s Roger Daltrey (4/10) performs on the main stage to rival Adam Ant on the Good Time Guide Stage. Adam Ant (8/10) comes out a strong winner, Daltrey’s performance is frustrating trying to woo a crowd who wish they were hearing ‘Stand and Deliver’ as opposed to waiting for ‘My Generation’ which doesn’t surface.

N-Dubz (6/10) as expected receive the biggest crowd of the weekend, but are disappointing following Noisettes (9/10) who are undoubtedly the highlight of the weekend, mounting security guards and performing gymnastic cart-wheels on stage mid-song.

Wretch 32 (8/10) is a nice 3pm surprise Saturday, dressed all in black Adidas and singing about Nike. Chipmunk (6/10) fills the early slot Sunday – or at least he intended to, before missing a Majorca flight and starting 35 minutes late. Yasmin (7/10) strengthens the main stage line-up Saturday, but Echo And The Bunnymen (5/10) a shadow of themselves following an epic show at Lounge On The Farm last weekend.

The sick note news comes from Gallows – scheduled to headline the Big Cheese Cave Sunday evening, but replaced last minute by the Guilfest organiser Tony Scott’s band The Unbelievable Freeloaders From Mars.

The Big Cheese Cave does still throw up a few very pleasant surprises though including Skindred (9/10) and Pendulum double act Subsource (8/10). Funeral for a Friend play to a sparse crowd and with Matt Davies hayfever-stricken to boot, their Guilfest virginity isn’t dream-like.

The Funky End Dance Tent, which welcomed Tinie Tempah and Chase and Status last year, this time opening the marquee to Modestep, DJ Fresh and Nero.

Local act The Mays (8/10) – a young and ridiculously cute 60’s cover band - impress an ageing crowd with their evident passion for an era of music they weren’t even around to witness. The Surrey Advertiser Tent also plays hosts to Woking-based band The Goldtones (6/10) who showcase new material similar to that of Queens of the Stone Age and the Arctic Monkeys album that Josh Homme got a hold of.

James Blunt (8/10) closed the weekend, quickly winning over the sceptical side of a significant part of the crowd. A rarity in festival reviews, and very important as we all know, the toilets on site are all well equipped and obviously well looked after. This may not sound imperative, but every little helps.

Guilfest is not known for its quirkiness, or undying support for local trade, but a few odd crowd-embedded performers (including a creepy group of clowns and a full on parade whilst people waited in the rain for Chipmunk) add to the vibe that has perhaps been missing in previous years.

Weak line-up then? Well, the headliners may not have been up to the crack, but as a whole, this is the strongest line-up to date.

By Mel Lewis

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