July 2010: a festival year in review

Part three in our retrospective of the festival season

Eminem - Dead Wrong

Chris Swindells - 26 October 2010

So praise Lord-Golden-Balls-Almighty that in reality it’s the festival equivalent to the 12 step programme – final destination, enlightenment.

T in the Park saw the month in with more headlines than Gordon Ramsay before the botox. It started with sexual assaults, two attempted murders, a death, Muse’s UFO getting banned, Eminem and wait for it.. some Scottish sunshine. Brilliant? Gavin McInally seemed to think so.

There were plenty of misplaced remarks for Gavin and the Kinross crowd to enjoy too; Eminem thanking Edinburgh, Black Eyed Peas thanking Glasgow and Faithless making one massive mistake in wardrobe.

And now for something completely different: Lovebox Weekender. Groove Armada curated madness in London town has been long established as the one hipster hot spot for electro-pop legends like Grace Jones to meet the contemporary ‘blogosphere’ favourites like Chromeo. Jon Wright gave VF his lowdown, and labelled the weekend “a reflection of our wild, polychromatic, polysexual capital.” In any case, where else in London could you picture Peaches in this state?

July seemed more like a pit stop for the latest in a line of boutique events and ‘micro festivals’ (as Claire Elshaw found out) sandwiched between the ‘big hitters’ in June and August. The Secret Garden Party leads that charge, as a circus of independent art, music and culture; it ‘secretly’ inhabits a corner of Cambridgeshire countryside every summer. Marina And the Diamonds, Mercury Rev and Gorrilaz Sound System all fitted in the mix at what was last year deemed the ‘Best Small Festival’ at the UK Festival Awards. Joe Taylor got the chance to chill in tree houses, observe the space-hopper racing and participate in a fancy dress ball-pit for VF all in the name of good old-fashioned music journalism.

One of the month’s best kept secrets isn’t in Cambridgeshire however but Clapham Common, where fair-trade and family fun converges with just a large side-serving of ice cream. Ben and Jerry’s Sundae on the Common was a weekend of free Phish food, candy floss and the sort of innocent childlike revelry you imagined the Cameron-led government would have banned under ‘the big society’. Not so, as VF man Jules Farman found out. He spent time watching Doves and Frightened Rabbit do their best to keep the spirited little festival in the shinny happy sunshine mood.

Latitude Festival goers were treated to one of their highest profile ‘secret act’ announcements, as has become a tradition of the festival, when Tom Jones was added just weeks before the festival kicked off.

Watching the orange-faced-man deal with thongs from a throng of people demanding his sex bomb, all under the tree top covering of a wood somewhere in the Suffolk wilderness has to be a highlight of my festival going summer. Tragically the festival was the second in July to be tainted by the report of two, unrelated, sexual offences.

There were some positive points for the sold out festival and all its visitors to take home. Belle and Sebastian made a fine return as headliners and there were stellar performances to catch from Mumford and Sons, Grizzly Bear and Yeasayer. Read my words on what Latitude 2010 was all about here.

The month was all but done when there was some vanilla icing and Carl Cox sprinkles to be added on top in the form of mess-fest - Global Gathering. Three days when it’s always rave o’clock. Luke Roberts came back with plenty of uppers from seeing Dizzee’s daring headline set to Steve Aoki’s rockstar DJ take on everything from The Rakes to Refused.

The off-duty airfield in the heart of Shakespeare’s homeland of Stratford-upon-Avon swallowed a large chunk of Glade punters following it’s cancellation and, unbeknownst to the other ravers, Trident’s Perpetual Festival Guide Katie P.

Internationally July left the world’s festival scene reeling and seemingly back in the dark ages when a crowd surge through a tunnel at Love Parade in Duisburg claimed the lives of 19 German party goers and left 340 more seriously injured. Days later Damon Albarn spoke about dying at a festival, though the real tragedy in his case was the singer totally missing the point as he tried hard to explain away the dud performance Gorrilaz gave at Glastonbury the month previous.

It seems then we left July having learnt a lot about ourselves. How quickly things can get out of hand when cartoon bands are allowed to headline internationally renowned festivals, how Jedward always look better on their arse and Empire of the Sun’s new designer look doesn’t bode well for Jay Kay.

Click here to revisit August in festival review.

Click here for our retrospective of April and March.
Click here for our retrospective of May.
Click here for our retrospective of June.


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