Sol Fest 2008

Solfest 2008.

Here we are back at the loony bin that is Solfest. This year sees the festival at it busiest, and it’s better for it. The atmosphere from early on Friday is as bouncy as I have seen here in the last 3 years. As always the music is not really the main point of being at Solfest, being at Solfest is what it is about. Apart from when the headliners hit the stage most of the tents and stages are pretty quite, but it’s the campsites where friends gather to have fun, drink and get wasted. If you want a quite nights kip then Solfest is not the place too come, if you are an insomniac it’s perfect, there is always some lunatic ready to tell you a story or two. The headliners this year, Supergrass, Dreadzone and Alabama 3 are certainly decent acts to book and on the whole the main stage is very credible, but as with the rest of the site there is little or no reggae, no hip hop, no drum and bass and no dubstep. I hope this oversight does not happen next year, Solfest like all festivals needs cutting edge music, it keeps the festival interesting and it keeps the kids coming back for more year after year. The main stage this weekend sees cracking performances from Oojami, playing bizarre Arabic funky stuff and a very poppy but good set from Dreadzone. Supergrass seemed a bit flat, but The Bees and Alabama 3 both put in performances that got the crowds bouncing. Chas and Dave however where possibly the most appalling act I have had the misfortune of seeing, ever. Over in The Bar, once again decent money has been spent, headliners Bad Manners and Sham 69 are both fantastic and should return in the future. Kate Rogers falls short of her usual best and the crowd seems to miss the point of her tunes. The Drystone Wall Stage is my favourite stage of the weekend, if you don’t like folk music stay away. The Lakeland Fiddlers, Wierdstring, Diddly Squat and The Sweetbreads are all fantastic, all have the crowd up and dancing and all had a cracking sense of humour splattered with hippy madness. The Dance Tent and the chill out tents are big disappointments, the same acts we have seen for the last 3 years, it’s all very stale and about 10 years out of date and consequently nowhere near as many people are in here as previous years. Where are Lone Range as well, the one act people wanted too see, no show, no one told, big disappointment. Trance and techno are pounded out all weekend, its all very psychedelic and glow sticks and very unstimulating. New fresh acts, dj’s and promoters are needed for the dance tent as a matter of urgency. As always Solfest is an amazing place for kids and the young at heart, workshops, performers and a youth club keeps the kids interested until the dark well sets in. Fancy dress day once again is a brilliant success, not as many people taking part as before but the fancy dress is more bizarre than ever before, credit must go to Papa Lazarou and The Smurfs, very, very funny, there are fairies everywhere as always but few pirates which seemed to have been replaced with transvestites this year. Radio Solfest, this year solar powered is amazing. Special sessions and performances from all the stages are fantastic, the session by Manchester’s Underground Roots is second to none, and I can not quite work out why they did not get a slot on one of the stages. All in all Solfest was good, the weather which is patchy at best did not help too much, but there needs to be better and bigger acts and dj’s booked across all the stages next year to make it a brilliant festival, which it easily could and should be.


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