Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Hop Farm Festival, Kent

The idea of this festival is right up our street – no branding, no sponsorship – a great idea perhaps surprisingly brought about by former Meanfiddler magnate Vince Power who has evidently tired of the corporate, fan-fucking events he used to arrange in favour of, well, peace and love. And, true to its word, this is no Reading & Leeds, thankfully, thus we get an weird and wonderful array of food, celebrity 5-a-side football and the illustriously named Main, Dance and Third stages. At a moderate size and with nice, booming soundsystems, there’s a lot to like about this fest, which takes place near Paddock Wood in the heart of commuter-belt, London accessible society. The line-up, as last year when Neil Young led the line, is led by an old geezer in the form of Paul Weller who draws in a laughably large amount of over-sideburned, sunglasses-wearing middle-aged men. Elsewhere, the line-up is a bit stodgy with the Fratellis, Pigeon Detectives and The View offering a pretty pathetic threesome on the Saturday.

But the Sunday bolsters things with a Ladyhawke putting in a stellar performance and getting the crowd dancing and bellowing in front of the main stage. In the dingy third stage tent, first Fight Like Apes, and then Danananakroyd, offer bolshy brilliance in abundance. Fight Like Apes snarl and shout at the adoring crowd (while giving them a cheeky smile) and bashing out the likes of Jake Summers from their incredible debut while Danananakroyd throw themselves around a lot, shout a lot, cover up a ten minute technical hitch by playing Grange Hill and Hollyoaks theme tunes, and shout their way off stage. Overall, the festival lacks a little strength in depth, there was little genuine choice and the few surprise delights offered by unknowns, such as Synth Eastwood who offered a parade of delights to a ‘super chilled’ zonked out dance tent mid-afternoon, were a little too rare. A good festival, well organised with great intentions, just a few more top-quality acts please.

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