United Kingdom | 16 June 2009
Out to Graze was a winning combination of great music, well thought out setup, brilliant weather and tomfoolery, but it needs more toilets says Simon Butler...
Overall - 9/10
Held deep in the Oxfordshire countryside, Out To Graze Festival 2009 was a winning combination of great music, an excellent site, a well thought out setup, brilliant weather and some good old fashioned hi jinx and tomfoolery. There’s something about spending time in the blazing sunshine with your brethren, laughing till your sides ache and wearing a stupid smile that leaves your jaw feeling you’ve been lamped by Mike Tyson the following morning. Out to Graze, was one of them.
Getting there and back - 9/10
Out to Graze is located around 12 miles outside Oxford, near the village of Shabbington. From the village the site is pretty well sign-posted, and easy to find. For those not travelling by car, the journey could be a bit traumatic. There are two buses per day running through Shabbington, and probably less on Sunday, so if you’re not driving best check this out before you go.
The Site - 8/10
Located in rural Oxfordshire, this has to be one of the best locations for a festival around. The site is all grass and in the middle of farmland, surrounded by trees, and bordered by meadows – idyllic stuff.Upon arriving, it was straight into a pretty well marshalled field to park then a short walk over to the cordoned off camp site, with campervans and caravans parked at the edges. The music stage and tents were located within a fenced off area along one edge of the site. Wristbands were checked as you go in, but this was never a problem.
At one end of the arena, stood the Bedouin Café, which is a revelation, with big spaces with even bigger comfy cushions for chilling out and escaping the blazing sun. There was also a DJ there most of the time, playing mostly cheese, of the laid back variety. The café sold some pretty good food, including the best falafels in the world. The bar wasn’t extortionate, though not that cheap either, while wait times are never that long.
Atmosphere - 9/10
Most festival-goers have spent the past two summers battling through knee high mud and contending with trench foot, so the scorching summer weather had an almost medicinal effect. There was nothing but smiley faces the whole weekend, with all dance tents full of punters going for it from dusk till close.
But to put it just down to the weather is unfair. The Out to Graze Olympics held on Saturday afternoon seemed to make everyone smile, as the hung-over and sweaty gamely took their chance for glory in the sack race, the limbo, tug of war and giant twister. Overall it had a great vibe, no problems and no hassle, with security in control but understated and perfectly played.
Music - 8/10
If you’re a big fan of indie, this may not be your thing. Out to Graze is mostly all about dance music (though they had all kinds - country, and western). Three dance tents ran on Friday and Saturday, and break down broadly as drum n bass, house and acid house. A main stage also opens on Saturday.
The Simple and Slide Tent was a big geodysosic dome playing all flavours of house. As well as Krafty Kuts, DJs included Neil Simpson, Andy Le Ford, Emily Williams and Rich Smith, while the Snatch Productions Ten was the place to be. A green upside-down bouncy castle full of the mechanical horse rides that you’d find outside a supermarket when you were a kid.
Playing a mix of jump up drum n bass, dubstep, jungle and just plain filth, the Snatch Tent was constantly busy and DJs included the marvellous, and even more marvellously named, Baldminge, Absinf, Bushman, Shakka, Kevlar, Ray Pest and Humb.
The there was the Dogmatic Records and Microclimate Tent looking like the main stage at Glade which had been put through the washing machine on a boil wash. Microclimate was, for the weekend, the international home of glowsticks and UV paint. Playing mainly acid and tech, DJs included JB, Peace Division Steve Proctor and Alex Arnout.
Krafty Kuts - 7/10
Mr Kuts, genius though he is, seems to do either a house set or a breaks set. I like breaks, I can take or leave house, and that’s what he mostly seemed to play. He also seemed to take a while to really wind it up. Within 30 minutes, the tent was rammed, boiling, but I was bored.
Raggasaurus - 7/10
Peculiar mix of Arabic music, ska and reggae sung entirely in Arabic. The band is together and tight, and it’s an interesting laid back mix that works well for sitting and listening on a sunny afternoon, but the sound lacks the punch turn them into a late night favourite stomper.
Jewels and the Jacuzzis - 8/10
Awful name, but great band who play an eclectic mix of ska, reggae and rock n roll. The singer was ill, yet still has to die for vocals, while the explosive brass section startles wildlife with a 15-mile radius. The band has apparently not been together long. It doesn’t show.
Number Nine – 8/10
This duo won’t disappoint any sucker for live drum n bass. There was lots of drums and a little scratching with a bit of synth over the top for good measure – Number 9 were difficult to fault.
Six toilets between 600 odd people doesn’t seem on the surface of it to be a great combination, and by Saturday morning, the three in the campsite are overflowing. The campsite toilets are moved and emptied by lunchtime Saturday, but by this time, the beautiful meadow next to the site begins to turn into a septic minefield, as bleary-eyed punters can cross their legs no more.
There’s also a fair amount of pissing in hedges by the drunk, the lazy and the desperate. This is especially bad news for those arriving on the Saturday, as up against the hedges is the only camping space left. More toilets please…
Dr Doolittle must have been at the festival somewhere as a whole variety of animal weirdness seemed to be around. A weird buzzing noise on Saturday afternoon sent fragile punters scattering, as an enormous swarm of bees swept across the car park, while Red Kites flew over the site all weekend, looking like vultures waiting for the first stragglers to flag. A dead owl also turned up in the Bedouin café on Sunday, cause of death uncertain.
There were also some great casualties around. Plaudits to the guy in the blue t-shirt who, having staggered across the entire Bedouin café with three pints, went to place them carefully down on the table in front of his three mates and threw all three over them instead – good skills.
By Simon Butler
Friday 17 July :
I played pretty much all the music that weekend in the Bedouin cafe and I hardly played any cheese! I played lots of different tunes of every genre and the mood changed according to time of day etc. I'm not sure what you class as cheese Monsieur Butler but I beg to differ that what I played was "mostly cheese of the laid back variety". Anyone else there wanna back me up here ! ;-)
Friday 17 July :