Monday, 24 August 2015

Boardmasters Festival 2015

Until last year I’d never actually been to a festival. Not a full-blown weekend camping type, anyway. I’m kind of sad that I left it so late, because I now love them. Having had the best time at Glastonbury last summer, I was really keen to go to at least one festival this year. I had to rule out a lot of June/July festivals due to being in America, and eventually settled on Boardmasters, partly because of the line-up and partly because I wanted to experience something on a completely different scale to Glasto.

I also gave vlogging another go whilst at the festival; Day One and Day Two are up already if you want to watch!

Boardmasters is a music and surfing festival, taking place in Newquay and attracting around 25,000 visitors into the area for the weekend. A standard weekend camping ticket costs around £130, although there are a number of VIP packages which I’d be tempted to try out if I had the money.

In the run up to the festival most things seemed to be pretty well organised (bar the stage timings being released quite last minute), and the organisers sent out a lot of helpful information via email and social media.

In comparison to other festivals it does have some strict rules, with specific quantities of alcohol being permitted (e.g. 24 cans of beer), a strict spirits ban and alcohol only being allowed in on your first entry to the festival (so make sure you do your shopping before you arrive!). On top of this, all kinds of camp fires and propane cookers are prohibited.

We had a really easy journey into Cornwall, and had decided to do our food and drinks shopping once we got to Newquay, as there were five of us (plus all our stuff) crammed into a three-door Renault Clio. It took no time at all getting into the carpark and there was minimal queuing on foot to enter the festival. As expected, our bags were searched very thoroughly, but everything else was hassle-free.

There are various sites within the camping area, and we opted for ‘Jaws Campsite’ as it was the closest to the arena, and also not far from the ‘Camping Village’. The festival opened for campers on the Wednesday, so arriving on the Thursday meant we had to hunt for gaps to squeeze our tents into.

In addition to the usual array of food vans and portaloos, the Camping Village had a Silent Disco, which was great fun to head to after the acts were finished. Boardmasters also had an official after party for each night in a club down in Newquay, but once we realised how far it was from the main festival site to the town centre, we opted against going to the night for which we had tickets.

 The one main problem I had with the festival was that it’s advertised as a music and surfing festival, when in reality you have to pay £5 to queue for a bus for about half an hour and then sit in traffic for about 45 minutes. Don’t get me wrong, the set up at Fristral Beach was great, and it was a really nice thing to do in the morning before the music started, but it’s just too far from the festival and too expensive to be advertised as part of the festival ticket.

I was really impressed with the main festival arena; there were some really lovely stages and areas, some with amazing sea views and really cool themes. It was almost a shame that so many of the artists I wanted to see were on the same couple of stages, because I didn’t get a chance to experience some of the smaller, but basically better, areas.


On the Friday morning we had gone down to Fristral Beach, but we made sure that we got back to the campsite in time to head over to the arena for Circa Waves. I was pretty excited to see what Circa Waves were like live, as I’d been listening to the album a lot since featuring them in my June Now Playing/ Wishlist.

Being on in the afternoon can often mean that the crowd isn’t quite as lively as later in the evening, but Circa Waves certainly didn’t let this phase them, jumping straight into a really energetic performance. Having said that, it was a big crowd of evident fans, so there was a decent amount of singing along.  The band have a really impressive live sound, not that dissimilar from their recorded standard, and I think their stage presence will continue to improve as they grow as a band.

After a quick drink-stop back at the campsite, we returned to the Main Stage to catch some of Nick Mulvey’s set.  He was exactly as I hoped he would be; completely chilled yet equally captivating. It was the perfect performance for that early evening dipping sunlight with a cider in hand.

Next up was Everything Everything, which we were all really excited for. I’d actually seen them once before a couple of years ago at Bristol University Summer Ball, but their sound has developed a lot since then. I loved Everything Everything’s set at Boardmasters and it ended up being one of my favourite performances of the weekend. Not only did they sound amazing, but they really got the crowd going. Plus I had my first ever on-the-shoulders experience, which was very exciting.

In between Everything Everything and the headliner, we managed to catch a bit of Blonde in the Unleashed tent. It’s a shame that their set clashed because I really enjoyed the fifteen minutes that we saw.

Friday’s headliner was Faithless. I really didn’t know much about them beforehand, even though everyone I was with insisted that I must have heard them before. To be completely honest I still don’t really understand them after having seen them, but it was still a fun hour as the crowd was very atmospheric and I had great company.

After this we made our way back to the campsite for a bit before going to the Silent Disco for a couple of hours. SO MUCH FUN.


On Saturday morning we decided to walk to Watergate Bay, which was a small beach within walking distance of the campsite. It was such nice weather and we stopped at a little tapas restaurant on our way back for some houmous, tzatziki and pitta. The food was great, but the service extremely slow.

I was keeping a firm eye on the time all afternoon, because I needed to make sure we got back in time for RHODES. The most anticipated performance of the weekend. Well, for me anyway. If you read my Dot to Dot post back in May then you’re probably already aware of my obsession. RHODES gave another mesmerising performance, and it was great to have the chance to see him in a festival environment, in contrast to the more intimate indoor venues. My friends hadn’t seen or heard much of RHODES before, but they loved the set and are now converted RHODES fans. Yay.

RHODES was on fairly early, so we went back to the campsite for a few drinks before heading back to the Main Stage for Rae Morris. I was so impressed by Rae Morris; she’s such a talented songwriter and performer and just seemed to genuinely happy and a little overwhelmed by the reaction she got. I’m definitely going to be listening to her a lot more now!

Rudimental were Saturday’s headliner, and even though the little group I was with got split up, we all had a fun time. I’d seen Rudimental twice before; once at the iTunes Festival and once last year at Glastonbury, although this set got shut-down pretty quickly because of thunderstorms, so I was glad to get another chance to see them at a festival. Rudimental always sound great live, and I love that they always bring the full band, trumpets and all. Festivals are the best when everyone in the crowd can sing and dance along, and Rudimental’ s performance certainly facilitated this.

My brother was really keen to see Drenge, and I’d listened to them a bit before so a couple of us went over to the Mavericks tent with him. Although they’re a little heavier than what I usually listen to, I could understand why my brother loved the set so much – they had a really rounded live sound and a contagious presence. After he ducked off into the mosh pit, we sat on a hay bale just outside the tent to listen to the rest.


Sunday was the first day it rained, so we spent most of the morning playing cards in one of the tents. Luckily by the time most of the music started it had eased up a bit!

I was really excited to see Prides, having seen them a couple of months earlier at Dot to Dot. Prides’ stage presence, which I had been impressed by back in the Cathedral at Dot to Dot, was even bigger and better on the main stage of a festival. They were one of the chattiest and funniest bands we saw and I had forgotten how much of a difference it makes to have this level of interaction. As I mentioned in my August Now Playing/ Wishlist post, I haven’t stopped playing their album since.

Next up were Clean Bandit; a great set for dancing and singing in the rain. Okay it was more like spitting, but still. I’d forgotten how many of their songs I actually knew; they’ve got some great festival tunes.

Bastille were the final headliner of the weekend, and they definitely saved the best until last. I’d seen Bastille once before, at the beginning of 2014, and it was actually one of the first blog posts I ever wrote (#throwback). Sorry to keep banging on about which acts I’ve seen before, but I love tracing their developments as performers, and comparing different types of venues! What struck me most about Bastille’s performance at Boardmasters was how much their stage presence had improved. Dan bounded onto the stage with such a confidence, and was so naturally content in chatting to the crowd throughout. The crowd was completely behind the band from the start, and it was one of my favourite moments of the weekend. Bastille also played a couple of new tracks, so I’m looking forward to hearing them properly when they’re released.

I had such a great weekend at Boardmasters and it’s definitely a festival I would consider revisiting if the line-up tempted me.

Have you ever been to Boardmasters? Did you go to any festivals this summer? Are there any festivals you’d really like to go to next year?


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