|Eden Festival 2014|
11th - 14th Jun 2014
Raehills Meadows, St Anns, Dumfries and Galloway, DG11 1HQ, United Kingdom
Tickets for adults (with camping) from £95.00
A wandering creative landscape, with its organic flowing areas, beautifully handcrafted décor and eclectic line up.
Eden Festival is something magical to behold. The festival is absolutely beautiful. You may have to accept a little delay here and there, a vague sense of disorganisation, little bits and pieces just not quite finished or ready, but it is well worth it. For like nature, the festival is full of natural charm and blooming glory. Big up to the crews who dream up designs and decorate the areas.
Arriving on site late on the Thursday was a good idea as the campers and caravan field filled up very quickly on the Friday by lunch time. Those sleeping under canvas were pitched along the rolling riverside, looking directly into the festival gates. Rabbies Bar was the only venue open Thursday evening, happily pumping out tunes to their patrons, those of us still setting up home in the surrounding fields and to the Eden crews still hammering away in the background getting the site finished.
The tracks around the site were well kept and quite stoney, helping to cope with the deluge of rain that fell on the Friday afternoon. There were disabled toilets and the disabled camping was near to the main arena, with a stone track entrance but the grassy nature of the festival site and the way the ground ended up it would have been tough to travel anywhere. Water points were surprisingly scarce around both the campsite and the main arena. Not that it is very far to walk back to one, but taps located beside each toilet area would have been helpful.
The site became incredibly uneven once the rain gave us some moisture to stomp under foot. All children under five struggled a little at this point, unless carried by an adult or pulled along in an off road device, of which there were many of ingenious assortments.
Once you enter the festival gates, you immediately feel a sense of being nestled into a small cosy and unique festival. There are stalls bulging around you selling absolutely everything funky and unusual. As you reach the delightful Black Tipple Taxi, where you can have a tipple in a taxi without leaving the field, the festival thoroughfare opens out on your right into a round sweeping children’s area.
There are so many delights to entertain even the most mature child, including adults! We took part in everything we could, along with the children of our gang. We got under the glitter shower, we tried all the circus skills, we popped inside the Boto Footh, we stood in the standing stone circle by the musical mounds and we rested our weary legs and juggling arms in the Granny Lounge. There was still more we didn’t do! A totally safe feeling space, with kids enjoying workshops and creating while surrounded by colourful flags, even more colourful helpful people and the thumping sounds floating over from the main arena.
Leaving the children’s area you are again swathed in stalls with bulging wears and tares to tempt you every time you pass. Thankfully for me, but not for the traders, the card machines could not get signals, and there are no cash outlets on site, so once I had spent my cash, I could no longer be tempted!
You can find plenty to eat in the next circle along the festival route. A decent array of food vans and stalls all roughly placed around a large seating area with a constantly tended fire. My favourite was The Dandy Lion. A beautiful low slung open fronted tent, with a nice seated and carpeted area for resting while you munch on the delights they made. The most scrumptious I had was their fried halloumi and falafel wrap with everything on it. Absolutely delicious! But we’ve got to also acknowledge the awesome Yellow School Bus who between them and the Dandy Lion not only kept the music flowing, but the School Bus gave out their unsold hot pies every morning around 2-3am to those around the communal campfire. What sweethearts!
Two more minutes and you arrive in the main arena. On first impressions I was surprised how small it was. A large red tent area in the centre, hosting the sound engineer, an over sized boxing ring at the back, being used for ‘Dance off’s’ between acts, a small bar to the right hand side and the entrances to the garden of Eden and the warren of Eden are all squeezed into one tree surrounded area facing the organic and quaint Devorgilla main stage.
It works well, keeping everyone close to the performers and there is still plenty of room to manoeuvre.
If you go straight through the wooden gate you find yourself in the garden of Eden, a circular area, with a large wicker Eve in the middle, surrounded by her plants, flowers and eco stalls. Naturalists, weavers, and carpenters to name but a few. The area looked unfinished but still beautiful and you had to think – when does nature ever finish? It doesn’t. It has cycles. So let’s flow with the honesty of the ambition displayed through the cycle of Eden and forgive the incomplete nature of it all.
Directly opposite the main stage was the entrance to what we called the warren. A wide tunnel of intrigue, a bridge right up and over the top as walked through, before opening out into a central area with another four tunnels leading away into other areas.
Lost Disco: an open air space with trees, tree stumps, a flashing raised LED dance floor, DJ booth, lifesize disco dancing bunnies and steam punk style flame throwing organ bus! What an amazing find this place was. Pumping dirty deep bass tunes every time we went in, the raised dance floor packed and everybody smiling while they dance.
Vishnu lounge: a large round tent with beautiful internal decoration. Very ethnic and peaceful, with a central circle of hammocks. Just perfect chilled out vibes for those quieter music, when you want some where to sit chill out and regroup. Perhaps have a cup of tea from the café in the corner of the tent.
Shivanti Lounge: another DJ tent with the largest bass speaker you could imagine and random décor dotted about the dance floor, including a tardis and numerous over sized flowers.
And there was another, smaller more quaint and prettily adorned tent area, with similar quaint and pretty styles playing out in music. It was all very lovely, but not somewhere we ended up much. Leaving the warren could be quite a challenge in the dark, after Friday's downpour the ground became lumpy and bumpy and gooey, so falling about became a regular occurrence in the soft spongy trampled mud.
Next the drive in Cinema, situated down a banking off of the garden. What a hilarious idea. You could choose from a choice of some old classic cars, some older not so classic but equally iconic cars, a battered old truck made for a larger group seating area, and of course a boat. Choosing the boat as the sun broke free of the clouds one afternoon, we enjoyed entertaining the passersby with James and Janie Bond stories. With our very own Miss FunnyPenny lain across the boat front like a Figurehead.
The disappointing part of the weekend was that there were no programmes available. This however turned out to enforce a different focus on the festival, a more laid back, let’s see and hear what we find, approach. You had no idea what was on, but therefore no idea what you were missing. If someone found something worth recommending, it was a quick hike, grab your crew and off you went to see what others had found. You could wander in and out of all the areas and find delight as you went. The festival is so small you are never far from someone you know.
It became an interesting challenge trying to decipher performer's introductions and clearly hear their names. Personally I tried to double check everything with the sound engineer or the boards that were available at each venue site.
So the music! Here is what we do know…
Doctor Bluegrass and the Illbilly8 kicked us off on the main stage. A rather long 1.5 hour set extended due to them kindly filling in for some missing performers. What a bunch of heroes! But their Electro swing tubular sounds pleased all. Speaking to the band after the gig they rather exhaustedly said “we cant believe we played for that long and people were still enjoying it!”
Next up were the incredible Skarsoles over in the Furry Chillum, pictured here at their after show interview: High energy in your face Ska Core rock and roll. You could hear the Scottish influence, you could feel the beat. There was nothing you could do to stop your dancing feet. Speaking to the band after their gig “Everyone seemed to rock the sound we throw out, really good vibe at the Eden festival, looking forward to our other gigs in Scotland”
Back to the main stage and we caught Hector Bizerk. Irvine welsh style rap accompanied by hip hop trip stomp beats from the international beat boys. The band were bold and colourfully outspoken. Accompanied by their very own hip hop floor moving break dancer – the flying jalapeño. Lots of crowd imitation of the moves they threw down.
Devorgilla stage again for Fridays headliners, the outstanding Electric Swing Circus which was a bouncing delight of fusion between reggae, swing, drum and bass and irresistible break beats all mixed together in a big fat funky style that everyone around enjoyed and cavorted into the night under the beautiful Friday 13th Full Moon joining us over the Devorgilla stage.
A final burst into the late opening, almost finished LED Flashing dance floor that was the incredible Lost Disco to lay down some final funky beats of the evening before watching the sun come up over the communal camp fire, cups of Chai in hand and stories of a Full Moon party that went with a tremendous swing. What a start to Eden 2014.
Saturday was kicked off by an exercise from the 1980s. Mr Motivator! Can you believe he is 61 years old? And that everyone flocks to take part in the most incredible crowd participation observation you will ever see. It is one thing to see people dancing together en masse. It’s powerful and moving. But it something else to witness a whole field of people doing coordinated moves, accompanied by shouts of HURR, WHEEE and OOOFT! As the power arms go and the crisis cross steps kick in. Everybody step to the left, now jump to the right! Coordinated aerobics was such a sight. What an amusing way to start any day, let alone a festival.
Saturday afternoon and watch out! It’s time to throw paint powder! And off went the powder showers. Got to be the favourite moment of all the kids there. Chucking stuff at adults and getting covered in colour.
King Charles was the Saturday headliner replacing the much missed Del La Soul. Charlie boy carried a good set, rolling out the favourites such as Bam Bam, Lady Percy and his big finale with the impressive Ivory Road.
At midnight it was time to go watch the silver sensation that is Shakti Mama Disco Diva. Rocking her set with old school disco fever tunes, keeping the flashing dance floor grooving and a moving in a bright night fever.
Opening the festival on the main stage for Sunday was the utterly impressive Dumfries Community Choir. It was a shame that they played earlier than expected, as many people missed it, but their camp show numbers were something to be in awe of. They are not what you would expect from a choir, not a hymn or dawn chorus in ear shot and the main man orchestrating at the front has a performing butt anyone would be pleased to while away an hour or two watching it wiggle. They covered Your Disco by Kylie, Disco 2000 by Pulp, La Vida by Coldplay among many others and finished with the Resurrection by the Stone Roses. Who would have thought it?
The Victorian Trout Conspiracy got us doing high knees and donning carnival horse heads to dance with the crowds and get some ska jumping moves going down. We jumped about, showed off some dressage moves and galloped our way to the front for some horsing around.
Later that night it was over to see Ashtibaba described by their stickers as gypsy jungle turbo folkstep. All of which I can only say is true and more. They rocked the tent and kept us highly energised for the last of our Sunday superstyling.
We hit up the tipple taxi one more time before heading around the warren again and catching some down and dirty stomping dance tunes in many tents. Who the performers where, nobody knew. But what we did know, that no matter what you did, or were you were at Eden, it was all stunningly good fun. Well done Eden. We loved you and all who sailed in you!
Review and photos: Lou Hyland