REVIEW festival Old Subbacultcha Old Subbacultcha

Subba-Cultcha Head's Along To Brownstock's Tenth Birthday Party

Now with ten candles to blow out on its birthday cake, Brownstock continued its evolution from a small festival to one of Essex’s leading summer events.


Adhering to the tried and tested festival approach of hosting upcoming artists during the day, with the evening slots dominated by musical heavyweights, Brownstock played host its strongest ever line-up on the picturesque Morris Farm.

Under surprisingly blue skies, the 6,000 strong crowd spent the weekend witnessing entertainment ranging from local extreme-sports teams in homemade half-pipes to a headline performance from the forerunner of the UK grime music scene, Dizzee Rascal.

Notable acts seen over the weekend, neatly filed under the ‘ones to watch in the future’ category, featured in prominence on Brownstock’s own Treehouse stage. Bambi were the first to catch the imagination, a high-tempo group that base their songs around dancing fretboards (similar to Bombay Bicycle Club and Foals), before local boys Youth Club drew a huge crowd for their confident, polished and cover-filled set.

Elsewhere, the powerful vocals of Sophie Ray captivated the Lock In, before The August List’s simplistic country beats enticed the Slippery Saddle crowd into an impromptu hoedown.

The festival’s dance tent, the Good Shed, puts on an impressive array of DJs over the weekend, but as the hours pass it unfortunately becomes more and more reminiscent of those illegal raves you were so desperate to attend when fifteen. Surrounded by gurning teenagers, even the performances from Claude Von Stroke or Pendulum couldn’t distract from the environment; mephadrone chic has never really been in vogue.

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For all its charm, Brownstock still flounders between a village fete and slighty-rough-fairground-stopping-in-your-town-for-one-night-only kind of vibe. That said, no matter how dodgy it seemed, you’d always head along to a fairground if it were able to promise performances from Roots Manuva and De La Soul. With two of the biggest names in hip hop drawn to this year’s event, the Saturday night was always going to be one to remember.

And it definitely didn’t disappoint.

Roots Manuva delivered his famed flow with impeccable precision, before the highly professional De La Soul rattled through their hits without so much as a missed syllable.

Both artists are festival royalty, and it’s certainly testament to Brownstock’s endurance that they were on the bill only ten years after the first event was attended by 150 people. As a family birthday party. Hosted from the back of a lorry.

Fair play to the Brown family for creating this bizarre but brilliant beast. Written by Luke Forshaw