FESTIVAL GUIDE: Brownstock 2015 – REVIEW

Brownstock 2015 Main Stage
Brownstock Main Stage

As the blazing sun shone on the long queue of excited revelers, the vibrations of bass could be felt as Brownstock kicked off to a roaring start. Unlike other festivals, it is normal to see the drunken party goers standing next to grandparents, children and the occasional baby, at this family-filled festival.

With the festival well underway, The Kubrick’s rocked the main stage on Friday afternoon, with covers like Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance accentuating the lead singer’s native Essex twang. The up-and-coming ska band were followed by Mat Format, who livened up the atmosphere with tracks ranging from Eminem to the much loved Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

The party continued with DJ Fresh, who after a dramatic introduction entered the stage to Hot Right Now. Despite the well-known DJ’s performance lacking some much needed energy, the biggest crowd of the day was drawn to the main stage. Unfortunately, for some young revelers, the excitement seemed too much, as some teens started to crash.

As the first day of the event started to draw to a close, the hardcore partiers carried on the fun with Lethal Bizzle. Despite the disappointingly short 30 minute set, the crowd were in high spirits as they shuffled (or attempted to) in unison. Much to the energetic audience’s delight, the grime artist pulled out his phone ready to capture the moment for his renowned snapchat, declaring: “Let’s get a fucking selfie”.

Brownstock 2015 Lethal Bizzle Matt Birch
The resulting “fucking selfie” (Lethal Bizzle/photo by Matt Birch)

Saturday was rife with excitement as Brownstock pulled out all the stops filling the day with paint fights, Shisha bars, beer pong, Team Kinetix and even spa treatments (it is Essex, after all). Up and coming artist Chloe Black created a chilled and calm atmosphere as festival goers reveled in the un-British like weather, with tan seekers enjoying the quirky singer at the main stage. Although Black is not currently largely known, if her performance at Brownstock is anything to go by then she is set for success.

Unlike other festivals, Brownstock isn’t about the mud, wellies and ripped shorts; in true Essex style it is instead seen by many as a chance to show off their new summer wardrobes. With girls in barely there dresses, 6-inch heels and designer handbags, for several teens and students the event is more like a fashion show than a festival. Despite the long days filled with dancing, several women braved high heels, spending the time tottering through the fields. Luckily the warm weather led to no muddy shoe disasters for the Essex fashionistas.

After hundreds gathered to throw paint at each other, as the hot summer air filled the event, many headed over to the Treehouse Stage as Legion of Doom showcased talent not usually expected at festivals. With 11 youngsters of all ages on percussion, the musicians had the audience stunned into silence with their perfect unison drumming stirring up a party atmosphere. With a Darkness air guitar competition, beer pong and free beer, this quirky area acted as an easy and enjoyable place to relax during the busy weekend.

The Hoosiers made a welcomed comeback after a long absence from the music spotlight. Playing new tracks such as The Wheels Fell Off, as well as their well-known tunes like Cops and Robbers. Closing to the well-loved track Goodbye Mr A, the once-loved band attracted a large dancing crowd, with grandparent’s boogying next to drunken teens. This afternoon show is a perfect example of the wide variety of performers that Brownstock offers, with circus acts creating a fun-loving family-orientated atmosphere, whilst offering a crazy party featuring artists such as Lethal Bizzle and Sigma during high energy performances late into the night.

Brownstock 2015 Legions of Doom
Squad Goals (Legions of Doom/photo courtesy of Brownstock)

Sigma kick started his energetic set with Redemption much to the crowds delight as mosh pits started to form amongst the sea of revelers. Acting as an alternative, and drawing a less rowdy crowd, T Williams performed at the Good Shed Stage. Yet, all eyes remained on the main arena as the growing crowd anticipated the arrival of Basement Jaxx.

Following a tension-building intro, the stage burst into life as the Basement Jaxx duo brought carnival vibes to the festival. Joined on stage by two sassy ladies, clad in colorful dresses and head pieces, the electric dance pair had the audience eating out of the palm of their hands with songs like Never Say Never and Power to the People. Closing the set with the hypnotic beats of Where’s Your Head At, Basement Jaxx declared: “Everyone have an amazing summer, have an amazing lifetime”.

After a successful day on Saturday, Brownstock did not disappoint the masses on Sunday as the atmosphere was raring to go by 11am. Indiana kicked the evening off with upbeat tracks that had people of all ages dancing the afternoon away. As the growing audience relaxed on the grass in the heat, Indiana’s melodic voice was not the only thing catching people’s attention, as the pretty blonde showed off an impressive pair of pins in a stunning red playsuit. Closing her set to a roaring applaud, people started to gather for the much anticipated Beardyman.

Despite it being a family-friendly festival, Beardyman performed a set filled with expletives, yet the rowdy crowd did not care as they were too caught up in the amazing raw talent. Shouting to the crowd: “Hey motherfuckers are you fucking ready”, the 33 year old started his mesmerizing set. With a heavy beat complimenting his beatboxing skills, the large crowd were laughing along to the artist’s comical lines, such as “I’m from Venus, can you see my penis”.

Telling the crowd to “dance like its 1986 and you’re on Top of the Pops”, it is clear to see why this artist drew such a huge audience, as the catchy and upbeat lyrics had the whole crowd bouncing. Mixing heavy drum and bass with advert jingles, the talented beatboxer rightly declared: “I can do things that Shy FX and Andy C can’t, it’s fucking weird”. It may sound like a strange mix, but he pulls it off well and creates a nice change of pace with his immature yet hilarious lyrics.

Brownstock 2015 The Darkness
The Darkness (photo courtesy of Brownstock)

As it is clear, Brownstock isn’t like any other festival. Offering a mix of DJs, beatboxing and punky bands, it was no surprise to see teens partying side by side with grandads as The Darkness roared onto stage. Being introduced as “one of the best rock bands in the world”, the old-school band didn’t disappoint drawing an older crowd of music lovers. Closing with the anthem I Believe in a Thing Called Love, the audience went wild for the ageing rockers.

Serving as an alternative for the harder partiers, the Good Shed Stage featured Goldie and Friction playing old school drum and bass. Even though it was still light outside, the party atmosphere was buzzing, as scores of snapback and bucket hat clad teens gathered “ready to rave”. Carrying on the party, Sub Focus played late into Sunday night pleasing the obviously crowd, who grooved the night away.

At half the price of the majority of festivals, Brownstock is an exciting alternative. Offering up the best DJs, house music and bands, this small festival is in a league of its own, with camping weekend tickets starting at £79. If this year is anything to go by, Brownstock 2016 is set for success.

For more information, visit the Brownstock website

Words by Natalie Kennedy