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There were two Tree themed festivals going down in the Westcountry on what is traditionally a very wet weekend – we opted for the more established Larmer Tree festival, with its refreshingly eclectic line up (hate that word but I’m gonna use it anyway). In many ways Larmer Tree is the Marks and Spencer’s of festivals. The toilets are clean, the process for getting your gear from the car to the campsite, pretty painless (rain-aside) and the staff very friendly. It’s small, with around 4,000 punters, has a heavy emphasis on traders selling an Aladdin’s Cave of trinkets and vintage clothes etc and pulls in a good mix of smaller, quality bands and bigger names. They also sell day tickets which come with overnight camping, opening up the festival to people who may not be able to afford the whole 5-days but want to sample some of it.

This inevitably leads to a more mature (in terms of age) festival goer but also means hundreds of uber irritating spoiled rich kids sauntering around like they own the place with their shit floral headbands and complete lack of respect for anyone or anything. To be fair, I probably could have ignored them had it not been for the fact that a bunch of them de-pitched our tent when we were in the arena so we came back to find all of our sleeping bags and belongings sopping wet and ended up missing Stornoway while we re-pitched our tent and tried, in vain, to dry out some of our stuff. It literally put a real dampner on the Saturday afternoon for us and left us with an overwhelming hatred for all teenage toffs.

That aside, the festival was tops. Sadly, we couldn’t make the first couple of days though we hear CW Stoneking, Pronghorn and Imelda May all impressed with their well-rehearsed, diverse shows. We got there on Friday in time for My First Tooth in the Arc. They put having such a good crowd down to the fact it was raining but methinks they are far too modest and it was more likely down to the fact that they are bloody brilliant. Their energetic indie-folk has the ability to put smiles on your face at the greyest of times and it was clear they impressed this Larmer Tree crowd. Their cover of Bruce Springsteen’s Atlantic City topped things off nicely too. But it was their Saturday late night slot in The Social where they really came alive. Looking hotter than the Sahara Desert, the four-piece partied their way through their set. When a band looks like they’re enjoying themselves, it’s pretty infectious and despite a worrying lack of dancing on the crowd’s part (save for myself and some 10 year old kid), the gig was super.

The Larmer Tree is also home to End of the Road festival, and while EOTR win for some things, such as the inclusion of the Somerset Cider Bus, Larmer Tree Festival excel in other areas, such as using the beautiful garden stage as well as the adjacent main stage. It is here that the beautiful Caitlin Rose showcased her whimsical, honey-toned Americana with such ease that you couldn’t help but stand there captivated. She also pulled that old festival trick out of the bag of making the sun shine on a rainy day. It was a similar deal in the Arc, whereby when they were setting up on one stage, they had artists on a smaller stage at the side to keep the troops entertained. It was here that we saw Gary Stewart play some Pictish Trail-esque melancholy acoustica, which captured the Saturday afternoon vibe perfectly. He drafted in some help from his uke player and female vocalist for a couple of songs too, which really added to the set.

Welsh lad Pete Lawrie aired some of his brand new album to a partially Welsh crowd. His simple David Gray/Jack Johnson style formula of one man, some moods and a guitar worked well with his husky, US tinged voice. He warmed the crowd up until he relied on them for a couple of singalongs and rewarded them with some catchy tunes and endearing inter-song anecdotes. Could this be Wales’ answer to Paolo Nutini. They’re both pretty handsome, stand just on the right side of confident and arrogant and write pretty good songs to boot. Former 247 Magazine cover star Gabby Young was on the bill as Gabby Young and Other Animals, but when we arrived she cut a lone and stunning figure on stage with just one ‘other animal’ for company, Stephen Ellis, from Revere. The duo played a stripped back version of the cache of massive theatrical songs we usually hear from the Wiltshire musician, but it worked very well indeed – the highlight of the set being a rousing rendition of We’re All In This Together.

Saturday night was party night with some banging tunes from Asian Dub Foundation (sadly, this is where all those trust fund kids gathered too so we didn’t get too close) and a closing set from Bristol’s most famous pensioner, DJ Derek. His exceptional selection of reggae tinged music and some adorable freestyling punctuated by one of the most distinctive, filthy laughs I’ve ever heard was utterly compelling and everyone got down and boogied well past midnight – the older folks (when I say older, I mean late 20s plus) showing the teenage duds how it was done. Thankfully, The Social was there to pick up where Dezza left off and despite the fact it was one in one out, we managed to get in for Bournemouth funksters Disco’s Out (Murder’s In). Dressed in an array of animal suits, some bought from Primark – some home-made, the big band blasted out that infectious late night festival jazz you wanna move to. Sadly, we couldn’t move much though as we were we stood next to Bill and Ben the flowerpot men. And no, we weren’t on drugs.

The comedy line up was almost as appealing as the music line up and included the likes of Tom Wrigglesworth, Russell Kane and James Acaster. And there was the crafty stuff going on throughout the five days and the tried and tested Silent Disco (though you did have to pay a tenner deposit for the headphones which nearly put pay to our late night dance plans). Overall this festival has pretty much got it nailed – line up, set up and vibe. Were it not for the infestation of spoiled teenagers it would be up their with the greats – End of the Road and Primavera, but those pesky kids really got on our goat dammit.

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