As England hunkered down yet again and parked the bus before crashing out in our usual tabloid writers dream fashion, it was through almost teary eyes that I looked around the small, barn like room we were sharing with a hundred or so other festival revelers in various states of comprehension. Even the standardly depressed state I’ve come accustomed to experiencing every other year couldn’t make me think badly of the previous four days I’d spent exploring various stages, marveling at lighting displays, drinking cheap cider and, mainly, entertaining my ears with some incredible music.
With just two days to spare and approximately £100 between us, me and BC contributor James Caunter decided that we should go check out boutique electronic music festival Gottwood in it’s north Wales forest location. With plenty of our Bournemouth contingent, such as Yoghurt Warrior, Zoo Look and WeAreYourFriends, playing various roles in the entertainment there as well as a beastly lineup, there was plenty to get excited about. However, our small budget combined with a nine hour coach and a potential 26 miles of hitch hiking meant we were always going to need some luck and a few helping hands, two commodities that seemed to be in abundance as soon I woke up suddenly surrounded by dozens of elderly tourists on the coach and realised we must be entering Wales.
Firstly, there was the bus driver that let us return free after we realised we’d missed our ideal spot, then there was local Welshman Tommy giving us directions (spliced with the odd comment about how ‘all electronic music sounds the same‘) through a cheeky smile from behind a Santa Claus esque beard and leaving us with a parting comment of ‘I hope the pickings are ripe on the other side!’. Finally, there was local chip shop owner Katie who, after initially driving past and almost soaking my extended thumb in a road side puddle, let pity get the better of her and came back to give us a lift which even ended up with her driving a good eight miles out of her way. We had arrived.
The fact that it was pissing with rain and all our stuff was soaked only slightly dampened spirits as we hurried down through the mud to the only stage that was open thursday night, the barn. We danced away some of the night before heading back to our tent, managing to blag a £2 spliff off some kind soul on the way, and decided to get a relatively early one to be ready for the weekend. That idea was swiftly blown away by gail force winds doing their best to destroy the tent we borrowed at the last minute. It was after a few rounds of waking up to ‘your turn‘ and having to jump out and chase the roof which had blown off that we decided we should find some sort of wind block and generally sort our lives out.
After we’d found a good spot, firmly pegged our tent down and opened the dirty red wine we’d bought back in London, it wasn’t long before more crew arrived and the festival truly started. Sam King of Zoo Look bought some vibes to the outdoor caravan area, complete with a dope Technicolour Moon mural of an owl, before we fumbled about in the darkness of the Igloo tent for a while, lost in the starry sky visuals on the roof above us.
Before long I found myself skanking out to the sounds of Hit & Run with Chimpo absolutely destroying the decks while Fox, Strategy and even a surprise Skittles appearance damaged the SM58 beyond repair. As well as being being incredibly talented on tracks, Rich Reason and his boys really know how to make a party pop off! The vibes in the barn that night were frankly unbeatable and set a very high standard for the rest of the festival. Bournemouth’s house don Charlie Banks kept the dance going in the more spacious forest tent before Mosca finished off my night of music perfectly with an eclectic, but expertly crafted, set ranging from his own bangers through some incredible use of hip hop accapellas and some general turntable wizardry which had the tent going mad. DJ’s take note, that guy is a beast on the turntables! Speaking of decks, it was really nice to see a fair bit of wax at the festival, long may that continue.
Saturday night saw Ifan Daffyd and Disclosure both bringing some incredibly smooth blends and slightly more chilled vibes to the barn for two sets I really enjoyed. MCless, their selections were pristine and their sets progressive enough to keep the crowd hungry for more and really spoke for both their talents as DJs as well as producers. Ed Solo then played an intense mashup of just about everything from reggae to drums which had the crowd over in the forest tent going absolutely mad as he cut and chopped dance floor bangers and threw crowd pleasers in left, right and center. After that, things all get a bit too hazy.
Sunday bought with it the first batch of truly glorious weather to Anglesley, allowing us to really appreciate the idyllic surroundings we’d all come along to ruin. Despite the lake area not opening for this final day as expected due to flooding, various tree house hideouts, table tennis tables, murals and all sorts of little places to explore left us with plenty to stay occupied until the aforementioned football disappointment. It really is an incredible spot for a festival, in fact, Lonely Planet even once described the north Wales island of Anglesley (albeit slightly tongue in cheek) as ‘Greatest Region On The Earth 2012′, and the organisers do a great job of making the place as entertaining as possible.
I need not tell you by now that the music was incredible, but some things you might not know are just how friendly the crowd was, how sound and down to earth the security team was, how well organised the set times were (we all hate those festival clashes!), how beautiful the Angus burgers were (well, so I was told multiple times; we were on a strict pre-purchased cheese and ham roll diet) and generally how much of a good time was had by all. Owls are a popular animal right now, and from Hip Hop supergroup ‘The Four Owls’ right through to Gottwood festival, anything affiliated with those mystical little specimins never seems to disappoint. Big up Gottwood!