Review: Shakedown Festival

Posted by Judy Johnson On Sunday, 2 October 2011 16:01
So I am no longer a festival virgin. Technically, I have already been to the Garden Festival in Croatia but a) we had a lovely little apartment so no tents in sight and b) it's not the UK so it doesn't count, right? Nope, I count Shakedown as my first official festival and I have to say I loved it...

Unfortunately, as is usually the case with UK festivals, the weather let us down - hard to believe in today's October heatwave, isn't it? Just two weeks ago as I donned my VIP wristband and went through the gates in Stanmer Park, the sky opened and it pretty much rained all day. OK, slight exaggeration - there were some really sunny bits just to confuse us all as we stood there in scarves, coats and wellies (or little ankle boots in my case: festival virgin = unprepared) but every so often we'd be rained on again, and as soon as it began to get dark we were shivering over our cider and wine. Oh the glamour!

Then there was the toilet issue, which Shakedown apologised profusely for on their Facebook page - there just weren't enough. It meant that the whole day was pretty much organised around when nature might call, as you had to allow about 45 minutes (VIP) or well over an hour (main part) to queue - not great when the alcohol is flowing and you'd rather be dancing instead of jigging on the spot. I even had some woman lie to me at the front of the queue, saying she was three months' pregnant and couldn't wait in line (vodka and coke in hand, smirking boyfriend in tow). 

But, on to the good bits. The brilliant bits. The music. I was so excited to see Ed Sheeran - his acoustic performance of The A Team has been boring my poor neighbours to death for the past month since I found him on Spotify and I couldn't wait to see him in person. He didn't disappoint - he was a bit chatty in between songs, which some rather vocal guys ahead of me didn't like, but I loved how 'normal' he seemed and yet how extraordinary his voice and style is. And as soon as he did You Need Me, I Don't Need You, the whole crowd was buzzing and attempting, badly, to sing along. Massive thumbs up.

Without a doubt, Example were the kings of the event and really set the crowd off - they weren't on until later in the evening (straight after Ed Sheeran) so there was a lot of standing around and eating hot dogs while the lesser-known acts played but it was a great atmosphere and well worth the wait. If I liked them before, I loved them after Shakedown (the neighbours now have a new song to be bored of) and would happily pay to see them live again. 

Though on a high after warbling along to Changed the Way You Kiss Me, we were damp, cold and aching, so decided to miss Razorlight and the after parties and head home; my Ibiza-loving self was appalled at this but when there's no sun, a fairly long trek home and you're sick of the sight of queues, it turns out a hot cup of tea is more appealing than wine. Will I go next year? Depending on the lineup, hell yes - Shakedown promise to sort out the bad organisation for the next one and given that it's so close to my hometown, it'd be rude not to.

So my first (UK) festival experience - wet, exciting, exhausting. Sounds like I'm a natural, no?

P.S MASSIVE thanks to Lisa Ven and co for telling me about the event!


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