We are reluctant to talk too highly about Wilderness, as it truly is a magical festival that one day will be as hard to get tickets for as Glastonbury. However with how special of a festival it is, we can’t wait to share the experience.
Where to start with Wilderness Festival? For one, it has the most beautiful and scenic setting. Rather than having a tents and stages dotted sporadically across a field, the layout is spread in and around the natural land of Deer Country in Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire – which, on getting lost could have you ending up in a terrible horror movie type setting.
Admittedly there were a lot of artists you may not have heard of, some bigger names were obvious, but this gives the festival goer a more unique experience. Rather than having to run around from one stage to the next to see certain acts, you can wander through Wilderness and stumble upon some brilliant new acts. Most festivals that have an optional arrive date of the day before the main event won’t have a lot going on, however, at Wilderness there’s a lot more to discover. At the first hurdle you will find a cabaret venue where you can indulge in a glass of champagne, sitting on a deckchair looking out on to a beautiful boating lake – really not what one would normally do at a music festival.
Wandering further through the trees you would find a very lit up carousel stage with a band performing called ‘Forest of Fools’. They offer something brilliant, think pirate like reggae-esque tracks. The Brass Funkys were the next find, mostly specializing in covers such as ones of Rage Against The Machine and Jess Glyne – giving them a jazz twist – they did offer a few of their own tracks. Throughout their set the crowd were non-stop energy, jiving around the floor bringing their own routines as if they’d been practicing in their room just for this.
Across at main stage you would find Rosie Lowe, with a very chilled and relaxed vibe to her sound – which was fitting for that summer afternoon. Parov Stellar were next up on main stage, with a near two hour slot and while it could be hard to keep the energy ramped for that long Parov Stellar have no problem with it as they keep people moving for near the whole time slot. Great performance overall and a stellar look at the headlining acts for the weekend. The Valley is nestled deep into the forest – away from everything else. Think of it as a bowl surrounded by trees, with laser lights coming from the DJ stage, and hanging balls/balloon type lanterns to add to the mystical atmosphere. This is one part of the venue you certainly have to experience even just the one time. What’s more is that the music here goes on until the early hours of the next day, not always a common feature at other festivals.
Making our way to the main stage on the Saturday for Tourist and Crystal Fighters -two very different acts, both massive crowd pleasers. Tourist are huge for electronic music fans, think the type of music you would love to hear in a club dancing with your friends. Even more so it was late afternoon, everyone was so up for dancing and having a great time. It didn’t have to be late night and loads of fancy light-shows for this act. It was simple and effective. Just shows you need only some good music to ensure the audience has a great time.
Later into the night, was the Saturday Spectacular. Think Cirque du Soleil without giving too much away, as it’s always different every year. It involved tight rope walking, fire, trapeze – all without nets. It certainly got all the ooo’s and aah’s you’d expect to hear at something like that.
Wilderness offers so many activities to do, you cannot do everything – it is impossible. It’s like going on vacation and getting involved in so much that at the end you’re sad it’s almost over. So as something a little different to music to top off the festival, we caught Shakespeare out in the woods. The Oxford Shakespeare Company did a condensed version of Love’s Labour’s Lost, one of Shakespeare’s lesser known plays, about four men who swear an oath to avoid all women – and of course as you can imagine they all meet a woman. Very funny, very good acting and what made it special; it was set even deeper into the woodland.
Wandering back towards the main stage we found Lianne la Havas. She performed her well known hits Lost and Found and Is Your Love Enough as well as some lesser known tracks Never Get Enough, Forget, What You Don’t Do and Unstoppable. Lianne la Havas is probably the most humble of the acts, unable to stop saying thank you to all of us for watching her. Her enchanting voice along with energetic music comes so naturally to her, it makes seeing her perform more mesmerising.
After Lianne was the very famous psychedelic rock band The Flaming Lips. They are a band who are indeed very different and unique, they do put on a show. Certainly psychedelic, and certainly very weird and artistic. They are true performers and a joy to watch. They performed their album The Soft Bulletin, accompanied by a load of light spectacles, giant blown up creatures, paper streamers etc, definitely a band that go against the norm and an absolute must see.
Wilderness – you were truly wonderful. If you haven’t been yet, it is one we would highly recommend – just don’t tell everybody!