Festival Review: Bluedot 2017

Bluedot 2017

Words & Photos: Elena Katrina

I’m not into science, or space, – my science teacher at school was mean and didn’t engage me in the slightest with the subject. I wasn’t really all that interested in Bluedot at first because of the large science aspect, however, it’s not all about science and so I gave it a go and I have to say if this had been on when I was a kid that I’d be an all out science geek right now – in fact there still might be time yet! What an incredible event this is!

I have to say, that as press I felt truly welcomed and looked after from the moment I confirmed to every moment all the way through – from security, volunteers, production team the whole way through the event. There really is no better way to get me on side than to provide a nice and welcoming environment but it wasn’t just reserved for me – oh no, it was for all. Smiles all round from staff and customers is all you can really ask for to know that you are doing a good job, and smiles is all I could see, Cheshire cat anyone?

I have never been to Jodrell Bank before and I can’t wait to go again but in particular for Bluedot. From the moment I walked into the site I felt transported to a wonderland of sights, smells and sounds. People were wandering around care free, some lounging alone under trees with a book, some people were strewn on patches of grass that was peppered with bushes and flowers. I could hear the hum of chitter-chatter, the bass of live music and high pitched giggles from children. Was I really only 50 minutes from home? Yes, yes I was. A full walk around the site was in order to get our bearings and explore what was on offer for the weekend. The science area was very kid friendly, experiments galore and things to make and do (which is exactly what would have rocked my tiny little mind when I was a kid). There was plenty for the adult science lover too with talks galore  – I didn’t actually go to any of these – I still think I’m in need of my inner child to fall in love with science first.

The food and drink on offer was brilliant too – as usual for festivals it was a little on the pricey side but that being said I don’t mind so much when it’s lovely food – and it was. One thing I would change though is swapping out all those horrible Mr Whippy vans for some authentic ice-cream sellers – especially seeing as the county has one of the best (imo) ice cream makers on its doorstep. I won’t lie though – I did have one of those Mr W’s but felt a bit grubby for it, my wish list for next year really is as small as proper ice cream please.

On to the music then… a lineup that was something to rival the BBC 6 Music Festival and perhaps an audience that was largely made up of that radio station’s listeners. We decided that because the weather was so untypically British that we would spend a good portion of our time sat on a blanket in front of the main stage soaking up rays. With main stage acts including Shura, Alt-J, Oribital and Warpaint it was hardly a chore. We also spent time roaming the site dipping our head in and out of various tents people watching more than DJ watching – so couldn’t really tell you who we enjoyed on that front I’m afraid but suffice to say that we spotted Iron Man having a whale of a time…

Orbital, name and all, was a perfect fit for Bluedot festival and while we might have mainly been screaming along to the punk tinged delights of our faves Dream Wife for the majority of the Orbital set we did catch the end and it was simply fabulous. High energy euphoria and that was just the music, if you add in the light show that lit up not only the stage and the sky above but also adding lighting onto the giant Lovell telescope, creating a scene I’ve never seen before.

I loved the fact that I got to see Shura grace the main stage too. Her set was a perfect accompaniment for a sunny afternoon and she reminded us too that it was a special day for her and her band as it was  “a year ago today I released my debut album  – happy birthday to my first born”. How fast that year has gone too and a it had been almost a year too then since I last saw her perform and I wasn’t disappointed either. It can be hard sometimes for bands whose singer is stuck behind a keyboard/piano to be seen as really engaging but Shura just doesn’t have this problem, taking opportunities to step away and when she is there she has the most wonderfully expressive face. It was a pleasure to share the special day with her, even if I was in the field and she was on a stage. I definitely have a bit of a blog crush going on this act, and like many of her songs suggest, I’m fairly sure it’s unrequited but that’s just fine with me.

Warpaint on Sunday was an opportunity for me to take in something new, albeit a band that have been around for sometime, I’ve never really got into them and so relished this opportunity to find out what it was I had been missing. And missing things I really have been. Their live set crystal clear and well a range of movement in songs, their overall vibe though felt very relaxed. Again it was a performance aspect that I was looking for and a connection with the crowd and we certainly got this. “What a beautiful day. You deserve it… you get dumped on a lot!” now while I’m reasonably sure singer Emily Kokal was talking about the rain, I’m going with something altogether more political, and let’s face it, either way she’d be right. My favourite track by them is New Song and was probably the most poppiest of their set too, the remainder of which was hugely atmospheric and often epic in its soundscape in comparison. It would be unfair to say they were a warm up for penultimate act Goldfrapp even though technically on paper that is what they were, but they were far better than that.

Goldfrapp put me in somewhat of a grump before they even took to the stage. Having been told no photos could be taken in the pit is one thing but having the first two rows of people in the crowd told the same thing and that anyone spotted would be ejected from the entire event was, well quite frankly, un-sportsmanship-like behaviour. I sang along half-heartedly but luckily they didn’t put a total dampener on my day.

Moving swiftly on and back to to the massive happy smile moments – Alt-J. I first wrote about Alt-J back in 2010 and have seen them play a handful of times but it’s been years since I saw them, due, in part to the fact that they are now humongous. The fact I got to shoot a Glasto headline band a few weeks after Glasto was a massive thrill, the fact that it was Alt J was even more so. Their set a collection of tracks from their albums, including the big singles, created an opportunity for a mass sing-along and boy did the crowd get involved. Even from the start, while down in the pit adults and kids alike, adorned the barrier and chanted along. A stage that separated the members from each other, as though they were in brilliantly lit up prison cells meant that there wasn’t much opportunity for the band to interact, yet this somehow felt fitting to the often off kilter sounds that they produce.  A stand out moment was when Joe Newman encouraged the crowd to fill in the silence he left for us to shout “this is for Matilda” not that I wouldn’t have shouted along and hadn’t done, for the entire set anyway, and I wasn’t alone.

As if Alt-J wasn’t enough to end our Bluedot spectacular on, as we wondered back toward the car we were greeted with the most incredible fire displays which lit up the atmosphere. A short stumble around and we found some sort of robot wars taking place, kids and adults both enthralled in the dark smokey atmosphere, lit up only by some laser-like beams of light. Next to that delight we found another beautiful and peaceful area of battery powered tea lights and small fires. This created a small twinkling dreamland where we found parents settling their little ones off to sleep with tales of lightbugs and fairies.

This really was such a well thought out and beautifully executed festival with every little detail put together with care. As far as a family friendly festivals go this one seemed on the money.

 

Popped Music at Bluedot photo gallery:

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One Response to “Festival Review: Bluedot 2017”
  1. Jeff says:

    Good summing-up of the weekend, there! We went for the day last year, in order to see Jean Michel Jarre (who was just amazing), & subsequently decided to ditch Festival Number 6 this year (we’ve been every year since it started) and go to Bluedot for the weekend instead. We’re convinced we made the right decision. The line-up at BD last year & this year was far superior to FN6’s offering, & everything else about BD; the site infrastructure, the security & stewarding, the range of food & drink vendors, leaves FN6 in the shade, sadly they really seem to have lost their way, & Bluedot have stolen their thunder. It’ll be BD in 2018 for us, hopefully they’ll act on your suggestion for a quality ice-cream vendor, we’re with you on that!

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    Popped Music has been going since Feb 2010.

    All articles written by Elena Katrina unless otherwise stated.

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