Guilfest 2010: Rated!

Stoke Park, Guildford - 16-18 July 2010


Photographer:Sara Bowrey

United Kingdom United Kingdom | 23 July 2010

Overall – 8/10

Thousands of guests flock to Stoke Park – used most commonly for charity races, county shows and the shortcut to town – to catch one of the most anticipated Guilfest line-ups to date.

Unlike Download, the major headline players come nowhere, but scattered among the programme are gems that are set to raise eyebrows. Bands unknown to labels, but loved by locals, perform side-by-side with major stars: legends Hawkwind share The Good Time Guide Stage with the multi-talented Newrising, and We Are The Ocean grace the Rocksound Cave after Guildford minnows The Retox, to name but a few.

With a capacity of no more than 23,000, you would be forgiven for writing Guilfest off as a family affair. Instead it proves to be nothing short of Glasto’s prodigal son and one of Guildford’s best-kept secrets.

The Site – 9/10

To the experienced camper, Guilfest appears a tad on the small side. But this is not necessarily a bad thing with it leading to a cosy atmosphere. Local food stalls occupy the space often filled with generic festival stands with Thai and Moroccan queues outweighing most as the weekend comes to a close.

Getting there and back - 7/10

Straight from the M25 and A3 may seem a doddle, but once in the vicinity of Guildford city centre, the tailbacks can be disastrous. Leaving the festival each evening is easy enough and avoiding peak times isn’t too much of a problem. The journey from the train station, however, is deceiving, so getting a bus from across the way in the city centre is recommended.

A free shuttle to-and-from the festival is a good idea that may come about in the future, but with so many locals attending the weekend’s festivities and a bus from the depot straight to the Spectrum (opposite the event), the festival’s current size doesn’t yet warrant the investment. Taxis in the local area almost match London cabbies' prices so if you are used to out of the city costs, prepare for an urban shock.

Atmosphere – 9.5/10

You would struggle to beat the atmosphere of Guilfest. With shorts walks to and from campsites, a friendly night-time curfew and clean non-camping attendees only adding to the relaxed aura of the weekend.

This is a perfect festival for young naïve campers to make mistakes, as well as those who are reaching the end of their rocking days. Unlike some bigger events, cups of piss aren’t to be seen. The atmosphere is comparable Latitude, which runs over the same weekend.

Music – 6/10  

Centre-stage belongs to contemporary rappers N Dubz (9/10), who please the screaming faithful with numerous set changes, live lounge cover melodies and – as expected – sought after hats. “I’ll give this N Dubz hat to the best dancer,” Dappy states as he mocks throwing his prized possession to the audience. As he later proves, his hat wardrobe comes in droves wherever he travels.

This year’s main stage headliners Oribtal, The Human League and Status Quo aren’t wowing spectators but hidden gems fill tents and mini-stages across the weekend. The Stanley Blacks on the Good Time Stage and The Goldtones in the Surrey Advertiser tent are worth a mention, showing the local talent Guildford possesses.  

Rhythm stick songwriters The Blockheads and fire starters The Crazy World of Arthur Brown leave their most famous tracks until last, whereas The Human League manage to keep the crowd content whilst holding out for ‘Don’t You Want Me Baby?’ which echoes across the arena in no time.


The weekend’s big success comes Sunday afternoon from inside the sweat-infested Rocksound Cave. Set to become Pendulum’s biggest rivals to the top, Subsource (10/10) perform to perfection, a 30-minute drum and bass rock set even The Prodigy would have happily claimed influence to. Their CD doesn’t do them justice (despite being launched in all directions by the all in black attired band) and their live set menaces through the star sequined ceiling. Fans are also part of history, with cameras inside the venue to film for the rockers’ next video.

Most other highlights appear in the Funky End Dance Tent as great coups for the raving faithful include DJ Friction, Subfocus (7/10) and a phenomenal 90-minute set from Chase and Status (9/10), all this despite popular and fresh acts Futures and The Blackout raking in the masses. Tinie Tempah (7/10) makes claim to the only artist who requires police-protection from the crowd over the weekend after the surge from N Dubz’s main performance to the dance tent. The second swarm of staggered yet loyal audience members are able to catch ‘Frisky’ nearing the end of his set, topping off the success of the Aldershot Bar-sponsored stage.


Even though the sun was out to play, The Young Knives (4/10) fail to set The Good Time Guide Stage alight with their mediocre new and old track set-list. Playing more famous songs in the middle of the set lead to an anti-climax nearing the end of the show.

Local band Kenelis (5/10) fill the Rocksound Cave but can’t impress with contemporary, but thoughtless, lyrics and obvious style. Like an angst-induced Avril Lavigne, the band’s front lady cannot be faulted for her energy levels, it’s a shame the rest of the band don’t follow suit. Giving away free copies of their new single however, is a great move.   

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Where most festivals scream obscene words or cheer unanimously, the Guilfest faithful decided to incorporate a meerkat called Alan into their weekend’s activities: “Alaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan” is shouted all the time.


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