Festival Review: Bluedot 2018

Bluedot 2018

Words & Photos: Elena Katrina

2017 was our first visit and experience of Bluedot Festival and Jodrell Bank and it was a magical one. I’ve just read up last year’s review and looked through all the photos with fond memories and wondered…. how can I possibly write up this year’s any difference. Sure, we saw some different bands, but overall the festival was as gloriously brilliant as it was last year. One big difference was the enormous replica of Earth that was suspended across the main pathway between the campsite and the main arenas. A focal point for photos and selfies and for general states of awe. At night it lit up and the volume on the nearby speaker turned up so that we could hear the soundscape, specially created for the installation, by BAFA winning Dan Jones. A perfect hello and goodbye each day.

2018 also saw Bluedot creators order in the Sunshine, though it took a little while, by Sunday afternoon I was flat out on my back watching the wonderful Lost Horizons (which featured the wonderful Dog In The Snow – a great surprise) while balancing a tote bag over my head so that I didn’t burn to an actual crisp. I’ve never heard of Lost Horizons, I’ll be honest, but they were probably my favourite new discovery of the entire weekend. Impressive vocals across the board, interesting mixtures of sounds and just a wonderful vibe had me contemplating how it was I was so lucky to be laying there soaking up more than just the sun at such a great festival.


Saturday held as many treats and delights and as I moved around the site it became evident that it wasn’t only the extraordinary effort that Bluedot creatures put in to create such a magical atmosphere but the ticket holders too. This festival brings together Science, art and music that seems to attract the very best in people from all over. The extravagant outfits, the flowers, the dancing, holding hands, the numerous times I laughed at people trying to get air into their air chairs (no idea what they’re called). Every little nook and cranny (and line for Science talks) were brilliant human creatures, all bringing smiles and chatter. I had the pleasure to talk to lots of new people this weekend. People were truly engaged, it didn’t matter if they spoke to strangers. As a native of London, despite living in Liverpool, it’s very much a novelty concept, to engage in conversation with strangers and actually really enjoy it.

One stranger went one step further than most and wrote a love letter and hid it in a tree on site. I was happily talking to “my” stranger when she told me about the letter she had found. Upon inspecting said letter it was evident that here was a person with good stationery taste as well as a truly wonderful heart. “My” stranger, is actually no longer a stranger as we’ve become friends on facebook to keep up the talk on Bluedot and the other things we spoke about. I also shared my cake with her 2 year old  – don’t tell my niece, else she’ll be expecting the same treatment. I was oblivious that the time was passing by and I was missing the bands left right and centre because there were all these people to watch, people to talk to and things to learn. I spent a lot more time this year looking at the science experiments, marvelling at how engaged kids (of all ages) were in so many different things. The constant hum of bass and bleeps in the background a very real reminder that Bluedot is also about music.

Amber Arcades were a musical entertainment that I had long had my eye on since they were announced to play and they really didn’t disappoint. Sultry tones with sparkling guitars, it was a perfect fit for the festival.  Annelotte de Graaf, a Dutch singer-songwriter from Utrecht is the reality behind the musical sorcery that delighted people on the Saturday afternoon. Not far behind her and band, there was a party brewing. That party manifested itself in the form of Baloji who didn’t just entertain but got people off their sunbathing positions to dance, and dance we all did. Bringing together traditional and modern sounds from across the soul, jazz, funk spectrum and adding in splashes of electronica it was the party the people were waiting for. Scheduling meant that he was followed by the wonderful, but serious sounding, Nadine Shah – I guess you could say that the after party comedown was well catered for. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Nadine before and she never fails to stir emotion in me. She has such an emotive vocal and to see her gracing this stage was a real treat. I never thought I’d get to see Gary Numan play live and I didn’t really know what to expect, especially when a zombified version of him stepped out on stage but I was suitably impressed – AS I should be. His sound blended well with the idea of Bluedot; fusing together elements of pop and electronica with some really nice heavy scuzzy bass lines. I’d be lying if I didn’t get overly excited when he played Cars or that I didn’t struggle not to sing Sugababes over the top of Are Friends Electric.

The thing that Bluedot has got so spot on seems to be their understanding of taking care of people and their needs and wants when it comes to providing a festival of such a mixture. It was evident from the very long queues of people waiting to get in for talks that it really wasn’t just the music people came from. The talks for kids were equally as entertaining and educational for adults alike. I personally really enjoyed the kids’ space chats! It would be easy to not see any bands at all with the number of walks and talks and activities. Obviously, my main interest is music but as I said earlier, even I found myself drawn away from it. I felt a bit like Alice in Wonderland, fallen down a hole into a magical place and ready for adventures. Adventures that lead to be ending the festival dressed as a bubble gun toting unicorn jumping up and down to The Chemical Brothers as I filled the sky around me with bubbles. Forgetting I was there to be an adult I fully let the festival vibe wash over me. The Chemical Brothers lifted me far beyond expectations with incredible mixes and one of the most impressive light and image shows I’ve seen in a long time – for me, they outdid Oribital last year and that was pretty impressive. If you get a chance to see these guys play live, jump on that opportunity. If you get a chance to come to Bluedot next year I cannot recommend it highly enough and it’s going to be extra special, as it is the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landings.


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  • About Popped Music

    Popped Music has been going since Feb 2010.

    All articles written by Elena Katrina unless otherwise stated.

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