Live Music + Gig Reviews

Bloom 2008 @ Seven Springs, Cheltenham

10 August 2008

Every Bloom review is going to say the same… it’s a shame it rained the whole time.

The thing is, the beautiful countryside overlooking the rolling green hills meant we were exposed – on top of a hill, and open to the elements. If the sun was shining, these fields would have been teeming with festival goers on top form. Probably a little worse for wear, but top nonetheless.
But we were stuck. Thin rain; not a good downpour that came and went, but relentless, cold rain that soaked the very soul. And then came wind. Bitter, cold wind. Urgh!

The forecast was one of the reasons the site seemed so empty. It could have held 8,000 people, but it looked as if barely half that number had made it. A lack of early sales was also to blame for a few of the bands pulling out at the last minute. And everyone really wanted to see the Brand New Heavies, obviously.

Akil from Jurassic 5 was one of the acts many were looking forward to. He blamed ‘immigration’ problems for not turning up, but he may have just been put off by the dark clouds like the rest of us. We’ll never know.

But while the rain dampened the many animal costumes on show, those who did brave it got stuck in good and proper.

Róisín Murphy headlined on the Friday night and wowed her crowd with her usual blend of eccentric electro pop and crazy attire, and it was the DJs who played into the early hours who got the best reaction, with the smaller tents crammed with dancers.

Sound was something of an issue. Apparently, some complaints from neighbours meant the council turned up and the PA was turned down. Ridiculous, and a real party pooper.

The Bloom daytime was a quiet affair. The rain kept many huddled in their tents while the bands struggled to make much of an impression. The inflatable church was lying bruised and battered in a heap on the ground, the swing ride was tied up and shut down, the vegetable patch chill out and kids area – well, we couldn’t even see it. Stalls were closed and the only entertainment was deciding what to have for lunch (the food stall workers are the real troopers here).

But the boggy field came alive again in the early evening as Roni Size “Reprazent” pulled out all the stops (it probably helped that he only had to come from Bristol). The energy in the small crowd was electric and, as the sun set, the festival-goers danced to what would be the highlight of the whole weekend.

It continued in the Beats Bubble tent as High Contrast played a blinding set. It could have – should have – gone on for lot longer. It was a shame that after such a high, the music on offer turned into a plodding, chilled out affair. We all retired for chai.

By Sunday, most had had enough. The site was almost empty. Bands looked disheartened as they walked on stage to be met by a bishop, a lion and a fairy, still on a high from the night before and not interested in the talent that now played before them.

Maybe Sunday’s headliners Tuung were great. But like so many, the chill that wouldn’t shift made us pack up and head home early.

Let’s hope this isn’t the end of Bloom. A financial loss will be inevitable, but it’s clear the passion is very much there from the organisers. They could do with deciding what they want Bloom to be though – a little bit of everything doesn’t work on such a small site. A dance festival with a folky edge is like rum and milkshake – they don’t mix.

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