Beautiful Days 2008
Escot Park, Devon. 15-17 August
18 August 2008
A diverse collection of people stretching the boundaries of every extreme begin to congregate on the magnificent rolling hills of Escot Park, for an action packed weekend at this years Beautiful Days festival.
Its growing reputation, attention to details and controlled capacity levels have left the boutique festival distinguished as an excellent grass roots-style event. Stepping on site, you are instantly smacked in the face with the positive energy that just radiates from every single aspect. The location, the people, the décor and just the general hard work that has been dedicated to making this an original, non-corporate festival is widely appreciated by all.
With gates opening at 9am and the festival deliverers The Levellers hitting the stage at 3pm, everyone is processed through into the campsite to erect their headquarters with hopefully enough time to spare for a pint of locally produced cider.
The Levellers hit the stage to be presented with a huge roar from the heavily packed Big Top Marquee stage. They take their seats due to this being an acoustic set, then lead singer Mark explains how Jeremy the bassist has not yet shown up. Although this is the case, they push on, delivering a strong yet intimate performance that really establishes why everyone comes to this superb festival. The latter part of the Friday night saw outstanding performances by local boy/Mercury Prize nominee Seth Lakeman, as well as Squeeze.
As heads are nursed back to health by the large consumption of cider and ale from the previous night’s antics, festival goers are presented with a contrasting scene. Reggae outfit The Rhythmites have taken to the main stage, delivering an adaptation of the traditional arrangement in the form of their own, unique, summery sound. With the combination of The Levellers' didgeridoo for the final track, they go down a storm with the small, stomping crowd. Yet on the other hand, the previously clear skies have covered up and the heavens have literally opened.
An array of obscene sculptures, carvings, flags and just general weird and wonderful furnishings litter every inch of this festival site. Yet as night-time falls, the main attraction is the large semi-circle of ‘Trash City’ style street lights that begin to spurt consecutive balls of fire.
Following The Rhythmites, musical highlights are not scarce for the remainder of the day. Alabama 3 bounce out onto the stage, presenting the crowd with their highly charged combination on many music genres. They included crowd pleasing favourites such as’ Woke Up This Morning,’ which receives a great reception.
The highly anticipated headliner Supergrass draw in the majority of the festival regardless of the torrential rain which has plagued this small corner of Devon for the entire day. Tracks such as ‘Diamond Ho Ha Man’ and ‘Pumping On Your Stereo’ slice through the rain, causing the entire crowd to erupt with energy in a massive sing-along.
By sunrise on Sunday, or day light shall we call it, the majority of the festival people and site included have turned to a dark shade of brown, with thick mud taking over the site. But spirits still remain high due to the excellent line-up that packs the bill.
The popular dub reggae ensemble Zion Train are the first to get everyone’s feet stomping. Sloshing around in the sludge to contrasting high tempo beats with low drowning bass. The two bands on the main stage prior to The Levellers grand finale are not short of energy and spectators either. Idlewild’s catchy, yet mellow tunes provide an alternative yet familiar performance before Flogging Molly whip everyone into a frenzy.
Festival heroes The Levellers once again take centre stage on the once green, now brown Devonshire
fields. Their electric set contrasts from there previous acoustic set, mixing a good combination of new and old
songs. As the didgeridoo player strolls on to stage everyone becomes excited for festival favourite ‘One Way Of Life.’
This well known song results in a huge sing-along with everyone reflecting on their own style of living and way of life.
It is clear how Beautiful Days has drawn much inspiration from the Green Fields that have been ever present at Glastonbury Festival. Every single grassy corner, or muddy one shall we say, is absolutely packed with colour in every single sense. Everything sold is fair trade or organic, many stalls using local produce and helping out local business. The prices are also very reasonable; everything is delivered to you through a very fair price, due to no corporate sponsorship taking over everything and literally charging as they please.
Regardless of the terrible weather conditions, I think seeing a small child jumping in a muddy puddle and a family dancing away puts a smile on everyone’s faces. Beautiful Days contains and presents something that’s indescribable, it’s a feeling, a non-expressible sense of well being and warmth radiated by everyone and everything. It feels un-touched and separate to the surrounding world and goings on. I sincerely hope it is kept this way and I’m sure it will, allowing us to have many Beautiful Days in the future.
by Dale Drake