Smaller festivals can be a shock to the system if you are more used to the huge crowds moving en masse towards the main stages, but so often they can be a welcome break and a chance to see your favourite artists in an intimate setting.
A newcomer to the festival scene, We Are FSTVL hooked me in with a massive line-up and promises of finally being able to see the likes of Knife Party, Annie Mac, Duke Dumont and the one and only Fatboy Slim hitting up the main stage. Plus the early start to the festival season and the chance to ease myself in with a non-camping event was too much to resist! After months of build up, excitement and pouring over the pictures from last year’s event, finally it arrived and unfortunately so did the rain clouds. Blackened skies and pounding bass awaited us at the festival site, which was amazingly easy to get to and was particularly well-organised, but we refused to don wellies in the hope the weather would hold. (We were glad we stuck to our guns by the end!)Despite being quite surprised by how small the festival site was, we soon appreciated the close quarters as we navigated the stages and bars with ease, something that proved very useful later when trying to run to the bar or the loos during a set. Walking on site, you couldn’t help but be drawn over by the huge main stage and I was overwhelmed with the excitement of the thought of seeing Fatboy Slim on there the following night. I loved the decoration of the stages and across the festival site, it really added to the holiday atmosphere and everyone was certainly in the party mood as they posed for pictures among the flowers. Perhaps the weather put people off slightly, but the festival never felt overly busy as you walked around and was definitely quieter on the first day, but this was great for those who were there and fancied dancing to Disclosure by the main stage. Knife Party finished off a brilliant first day with a banging set that had us all jumping in the mud – as best as we could with our shoes stuck – and their light show and flames were incredible. We were a little disappointed that pretty much the whole festival seemed to shut down straight after their set and their set had just left us wanting to dance long into the night.The second day was much busier and the sunshine had clearly brought everyone out in a good mood and ready to dance – the line-up was fantastic and the bars were busy. On a back to basics not – I was very impressed with the state of the portaloos which were the cleanest I have seen at a festival – probably helped by no camping. But was rather let down to be charged £5 for a tiny 330ml can of beer – I understand the bars are there to make money, but this seemed a bit much. Especially when there were no water points to even fill up a bottle of water. Something else that I found, and heard many others complain about, was the extreme police presence on the second day – the previous day had seen minimal police and plenty of well-mannered and friendly security who were happy to help you find your way around. The second day, everytime I turned around, the police were hauling someone off to be searched or sprinting into the crowd by the stages to tackle someone. Perhaps completely justified, but it did change the atmosphere of the festival slightly with everyone waiting to see who would be dragged off next.
My favourite part of the stages, and the festival, had to be the platforms which had been set back from the main stage and provided the perfect view across the crowd and the stage. I spent a lot of time up on these, and one particular highlight had to be Annie Mac’s sunset set as the final rays of the second day were cast across the crowd and she told us all to turn and look at the view.
Later on, for Fatboy Slim’s set, these provided an incredible view over the crowds as they danced furiously to hits like Renegade Master, Praise You and Eat Sleep Rave Repeat. I’m not sure I can do the set justice with words, but the incredible light show, lasers, fire and confetti that streamed out of the stage just blew everyones’ mind. For those who, like myself, might have seen him play on the Eat Sleep Rave Repeat tour in a dark and dingy club – this was beyond anything I could have imagined and the clubs did not do him justice. He certainly knows how to put on a show.
A shame I wasn’t there to compare this year’s expansion to last year’s but I’ve heard from many people that they were very impressed – looking forward to seeing We Are FSTVL develop in the future! A perfect start to the festival season! Full review is available to read here.