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So we’ve had a couple of taster festivals in May to whet our appetite but June is where things really start to pick up and I had to make the tough decision to miss out on We The People and Upfest in Bristol for this little shebang. In fact, it wasn’t a tough decision – as soon as The Waterboys, The Charlatans and The Bluetones were added to the bill it would’ve taken some sort of Neil Young/Bruce Springsteen collaboration to keep me away!

If there’s one word to describe Wychwood festival, that word is ‘nice’. And I don’t mean it in a cop-out has no substance kind of way, I mean it in that it is a genuinely nice festival. The bands are nice, the site is nice, the food and drink is all nice, hell, even the toilets are nice. You cannot fail to notice that this is an uber family friendly festival, with some of the coolest kids I’ve ever seen (think mini Converse, trilbies and pin badges) running riot to even the slowest of bands of the weekend. But unlike some of it’s ‘family-friendly’ peers (Camp Bestival springs to mind), it does not alienate it’s childless punters. They’ve cracked the 11pm curfew issue by embracing the silent disco until 3am. At first I was dubious but here it fuelled the party through the night, with two DJs each playing a different set, giving us twinkle toed drunks the opportunity to flick between channels – don’t like Bon Jovi/Bryan Adams/Guns’n’Roses cheesefest then flick over for som A-Ha/Lady Ga Ga/Queen etc. Brilliant.

The first day of the festival saw temperatures soar above 22 degrees and the sunshine left many main stage acts, especially 90s one-hit-wonders Cornershop (not an entirely fair assessment of their talent, apologies), squinting at the crowd or giving up and closing their eyes altogether. This wasn’t really much of a problem for the rest of the weekend mind as the rain clouds moved in. But the drizzle failed to dampen the spirits of the friendly crowd and the excellent line up of bands continued to entertain. One of the first bands of the evening was Revere, who played the Big Top. Revere have come a long way since I first saw them at Bath Porter Stores back in 2008. Frontman Stephen Ellis still has those haunting vocals but they’ve gone up tempo and now have the energy of the wonderful Win from Arcade Fire, the rest of the band (whose woodwind instruments are among the coolest I’ve ever seen) help add to the soaring, anthemic vibe to the songs. This group should go far.

Cornershop aside, Friday night belonged to those old Britpoppers The Charlatans. It took a while for them to warm up, with lead singer Tim Burgess sauntering around looking miserable for the first few songs but once the crowd got going (probably when all the kids went to bed) the band started to look like they were enjoying themselves a bit more. There was a smattering of people who were clearly here just to see the Charlies and for them they played a good mis of slightly lesser known tracks and the classics such as North Country Boy, Just When You’re Thinking Things Over and of course, One To Another. The nasal Burgess twang complimenting the undeniable 90s swagger of the tunes. These guys are like a much more credible Oasis.

Opening Saturday’s line up on the main stage were 247 Magazine favourites My First Tooth. I found it a little odd that the music started at 11am but against all odds (due to the early hour) My First Tooth pulled in a fair crowd – albeit a seated crowd. Their whimsical indie folk was magnified by the picturesque setting of the Gloucestershire hills and went down very well indeed with newfound fans, many of whom as good as mobbed the group in the Rise Records store and signing tent after the set. Highlights of this gig included some of their newer material along with the almost irritatingly catchy Lexy Lay, during which the multi-talented Sophie’s violin punctuate frontman Ross’s Noah and the Whale-esque vocals perfectly. Oh and if these guys don’t make it in the music industry there will always be a career in stand up comedy judging by the inter song banter!

Oxford’s The Epstein were up next, whose serious indie ballads filled the whole field with an optimistic melancholy. The slow-burning anthems take the grandeur of bands like White Lies and tone it down a notch with the impeccable Ryan Adams style balladry of Gold. Ending with the truly beautiful I Held You Once, like My First Tooth, The Epstein cannot of failed to pick up a new hoard of fans from this set – myself included. From modern indie to classical folk with a modern twitst, the outstanding Eliza Carthy was up next. She had with her a full band, including a drummer behind what looked like bullet proof glass (the mind boggles). She played a set of solid folk which showcased her to die for husky voice and witty lyrics but it was Mr Magnifico which really got the crowd chuckling, with the drummer taking lead vocals in his Scottish tones – a song about a man who tries to seduce two young French girls. Nice.

Later that evening was one of the final gigs from The Bluetones (they are splitting up at the end of the summer). Like The Charlatans the night before, The Bluetones were one of those iconic 90s bands whose later material has kinda fallen by the wayside, something frontman Mark Morriss joked about. His banter with the crowd was brilliant and it made you warm to them a million times over. This, combined with their cache of sunshine-filled indie ballads reeled off one by one made for one of those truly special gigs. From Bluetonic to Slight Return and Keep The Homefires Burning to If… they proved their worth and left people tinged with sadness that the end of the road is nigh. Headlining Saturday night was The Waterboys, who, apart from a pretty raucous Raggle Taggle Gypsy and a decent blast of Fisherman’s Blues failed to impress, even with their signature tune The Whole Of The Moon, which proved somewhat lacklustre.

Sunday was the wettest day by far and former Murray The Hump-ers, The Keys, joked that is why they had a full house at the BBC Introducing tent, especially when they were up against the mighty Wurzels, but I suspect it’s because they write damn good catchy indie pop songs. Nevertheless, I couldn’t let the festival pass me by without checking out those Westcountry old-timers. You know what you’re getting with the Wurzels – cheesey, timeless songs delivered with that hilarious Somerset twang and some wholly unnecessary innuendo between songs from rotund pensioners who should know better; but boy is it funny! As they reeled off the classics such as Drink Up Thy Zyder and I Am A Cider Drinker (notice a theme here) the whole crowd was grinning from ear to ear, stomping their feet, waving their hands and having a jolly good knees up. And not wanting to neglect the young folk, they threw in the remix of Combine Harvester with some rave overtones and an inspired cover of Kaiser Chiefs’ Ruby. Genius. They need to lose their newest member though, some irritating keyboard player who looks like a chubby Andrew Lincoln.

The only thing which could’ve made my Wychwood Festival better would’ve been if I’d have managed to catch the house band, Thrill Collins, just once but alas, it was not to be. Thankfully the awesome established line up combined with a great setting, a sound crowd, decent booze (Addlestones cider and Stage Fright ale) and free Dorset Cereals made for an unforgettable weekend.

Words, videos (to watch, click HERE) and photos: Laura Williams