REVIEW festival Old Subbacultcha Old Subbacultcha

The Beautiful To The Bizarre, It's Secret Garden Party

Hidden in a field near Huntington, Abbots Ripton opened it’s gates on Thursday 24th July to the yearly boutique festival The Secret Garden Party and once again… Subba-Cultcha was there in action ready to take on every moment.

The theme was "Childish Things" and with wigs and glitter packed, we set ourselves off for the festival deemed in previous years as “poppers, partying and food partisans” and with a full line-up of artists to watch, Subba-Cultcha had a packed out schedule ahead. The first act to entice us was Thursday afternoon’s The Big Moon playing the Where The Wild Things Are stage. The Big Moon is a all girl quartet who sure packed a punch with debut single “Sucker” being a highlight, and a slightly interesting interpretation of a Madonna classic “Beautiful Stranger”.

Then came the rain… Friday morning… it rained. It was not a slight downpour. It wasn’t a little shower, it was a pure monsoon, however with a day full of artists to watch, we headed to the Where The Wild Things Are stage and began our afternoon music session with FURS, whose music could be considered as psychedelic pop meets Blondie. They very nicely transitioned to Secret Garden Party’s little secret Black Honey, a quartet from Brighton whose music was strangely bizarre yet uniquely catchy and through their thirty minute+ set kept the audience enticed and entertained and became ultimate ones to watch for future events, in particular, their new single is one to check out.

Jack Garrett was next on the list to see and was an impressive act. His act is full of punch and his set list left audiences wanting more. His alternative sound was one that no-one seems to be doing at the moment – mixing dubstep sounds with an acoustic, laid back feel. Certainly a highlight! And if you get the opportunity to check out his music, it would be worth it. He is also incredibly striking with a large, ginger beard. Whilst avoiding the rain, we headed to the press tent in anticipation to the Secret Garden Party’s secret guest…

Lianne La Havas (a secret ruined by the programme). Lianne is a rare artist whose genre ranges from laid-back, acoustic jams to high energy, rockier numbers and throughout her hour set list we saw fan favourites “Is Your Love Big Enough?”, slow and laid back numbers “Tokio”, fan participated number “Grow” and the wildly bizarre, but incredible “Never Get Enough”. The setlist was heavy with material from Havas’ new album “Blood” and luckily for Subba-Cultcha, the album had been emailed to us a few days before, but it didn’t seem to defer the crowd, who enjoyed every moment, even through the rain. As the rain battled on, head line acts Jungle provided great entertainment for the crowd and seemed to pull quite the audience in, regardless of the slosh of mud and monsoon of rain. Their high energy performance was enough to leave a punch on the Friday evening.

Saturday gave into new horizons with new band YAK, who participated in an ultimately bizarre interview with us and even more of  a bizarre performance. They're a band known for improvisation and the beginning of their set featured pure that, with lead singer Ollie barking halfway through “maybe we should start now?” or words to that effect. Allegedly, YAK are better in intimate setting and with an audience who seemed unfazed, it could be determined as to why such a tragedy of a set happened. The set was so bizarre that it ended with Ollie throwing a guitar into a heap of mud. You can’t make it up if you try. This led on nicely and bizarrely to a DJ set by Zero 7, who are known for their workings with Sia. The outside rave was absolutely bonkers and a spontaneous way to end the Secret Garden Party, with more alcohol than perhaps should have been consumed.

As the rain ploughed down on Sunday morning, we were quick, among others to leave and judging from the Twitter updates of being the muddiest festival people had attended, we weren’t heartbroken to be leaving. The toilets in our camp site were nicknamed “Pootopia” as their wasn’t a flushing ability, just a lorry cleaning it up every morning.  The only showers on site would charge you £3 a time, and one poor bystander used a shower as a power cut hit the camp site. Thankfully, we got use of the Press Tent with charging facilities, shelter from the rain and a rather large quantity of alcohol. Otherwise, the entire experience would not have been the greatest… but highlights came in the form of Lianne La Havas, Jack Garrett and Black Honey.

To find out more about The Secret Garden Party click here.

Words & article photos by Daniel John Sado

Video by misterparsnip57

Main photograph Danny North