Day 2 and Guilfest, like most of this year’s festivals, has introduced a new headliner whose presence has been long overdue: decent weather. By now, with a sunny and bone-dry Glastonbury still fresh in the collective memory, the majority of Guilfesters have foregone wellies for flip-flops and sandals. Normal summer footwear. At a festival!
Good weather brings with it the best of the festival experience – aimless wandering between stages, through market areas, past food stalls and into tents that might only be worth staying in if it’s pissing it down outside, but are nice to explore. Time for a guided tour of the Guilfest site.
First impressions: it’s compact. Perhaps, it has to be said, a little too compact as the noise pollution between one stage and the next sometimes overrides the acts. This is particularly true of the main stage – stand too close to the back and the a capella pop covers of the does-what-it-says-on-the-tin Rock Choir get lost in the mix.
Still, there should be no complaints about the variety on offer – as well as the main stage, there’s a second stage that today offers up names as big as Hawkwind and Alvin Stardust, five other live music tents plus the ’70s disco tent and Farmer Giles’ Barn Dance Tent, theatre, comedy and that perennial festival favourite, leftie ranting. Tinie Tempah is a ludicrously big name to be headlining the postage-stamp sized Funky End Dance Tent.
On top of this, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (who will be spotted enjoying Status Quo on Sunday evening, celeb hunters) is running a gastro-burger bar in the guise of the River Cottage tent. The Eden People’s Collective offer a chance for hippie-pointing, and there are opportunities to try dance lessons, learn circus skills, plus a plethora of market stalls offering everything from twat hats to handmade soap. All this, and the toilets are remarkably civilized (ie. they neither get blocked nor run out of loo paper all weekend).
The best music of the day is provided by Two Fingers Of Firewater on the Main Stage – UK Americana-tinged country that’s always a pleasure to hear – the Infidels (so gloriously pub rock you wonder what on earth they’re doing on a festival stage but against all odds it works), and a greatest hits set from Ali Campbell’s UB40.
It’s as the evening draws on, though, that Guilfest really comes into its own. Today’s audience is largely made up of young teens and their fortysomething parents, so who better to headline than N-Dubz (treble MOBO-award winning, Number 1 spawning hip-hop voice of youth to the kids; the one with the funny hat off Never Mind The Buzzcocks to their parents) followed by The Human League.
It has taken a musical genius to spot not only how well these two acts will work together, but also to realise their universal appeal across the generation gap. Even putting them on in this order is well judged (“We were a bit worried about coming on after N-Dubz,” admits The League’s Phil Oakey, “We thought you might all have gone home!”). Dappy and pals charm the parents, putting them in a good enough mood to ensure the kids are allowed to stay up late enough to be won over by the ’80s electronic superstars in turn. And that generation thing? You could even catch Dappy’s late dad’s former band, Mungo Jerry, on the second stage this afternoon. As family friendly goes, Guilfest really is in a league of its own.