This review was originally written for Where’s My Tent blog – thanks to Jessi for inviting me to come in her place on a press trip!
Bunches of lads as bananas, grape ladies covered in purple balloons, toppling sparkly pineapple headpieces and pairs of strawberries holding hands…. A full fruit cocktail was what we dived into on arrival at Shindig after work on Friday afternoon!
Now in its fifth year, Shindig calls itself the ‘First and Funkiest festival in the West Country’ opening the UK festival season on May bank holiday. The gorgeous site within the rolling hills of a ‘secret location’ in Somerset provided an incredible backdrop to the weekend; picture the quintessential image of British countryside with lazily grazing cows in the distance and stunning sunsets over farmers’ fields.
Those Festival Facts
What? Shindig Festival, formerly Shindig Weekender now in its fifth year.
Where? On a Somerset farm
Who? A family crowd and lots of ravers over 40!
When? Late May bank holiday weekend
The festival was already in full swing when I arrived after having a warm up evening on the Thursday. Despite having compiled an entire inspiration board of fruity fashion I definitely didn’t get the memo that it was time to get Fruity already, for Fruity FRIDAY! My festival companion (my mum!) and I had gone for a low key glittery face which definitely wasn’t quite up to the standard of most Shindiggers. Tins of prosseco in hand we spent our Friday night exploring all the various areas of the site. There’s no ‘main stage’ at Shindig, instead the festival favours a sprawl of tented venues around the different curling fields, hills and woodland that it is set in. This approach stood them in very good stead for potential rain which luckily we were blessed to escape until the Sunday!
After a thorough wander around and a bop to Wonka Vision in Minirig’s amazing Submarine venue (built like an actual submarine!), we climbed the hill to the the stone circle to look over the festival and watch a magnificent pink sunset slowly descend over the rainbow light up stars of the Stardust Discotheque.
Then, very uncharacteristically, we called it an early night and turned in for some kip! The danger of going with my mum to festivals is that that lady comes too prepared and the memory foam mattress in her van was calling very loudly!!
The next day we got fruitied up and JUST about made it in time to the smallest venue on site, Father Funks Church of Love, for a Hair Metal Power Hour. I very much enjoyed flailing around to a bit of Meatloaf in the sunshine and watching some epic dad dancing in front of the pocket-sized church which was complete with glam rock nuns and a rotating disco ball crucifix.
When Leora gives you lemons…
We then headed up the hill to the Glastonbury Green Fields-esque assortment of tents holding workshops, talks and the ‘resistance exhibition’, a big display about protest culture. The top of the hill was a cultivated space of free thinking and radical discussion harking back to the heart of true festival culture, they even had their own mini stone circle!
This area celebrated conscious and sustainable ways of living but that environmental mindset wasn’t limited one space. Elsewhere on site a dedication to the planet was apparent in the festival’s use of re-usable cups, compostable servewear, compost loos, an abundance of clearly labelled recycling bins and no bottled water in sight! Top marks Shindig! I got to try a can-o-water for the first time, which as more festivals are banning water bottles, is something you’ll expect to see in the areas they can’t service with water points.
Food was also vegetarian across the site (wahoo!!) barring a small dedicated cluster of meat traders that were from local suppliers. Some of my foodie highlights were from the Paelleria, Sloppy Joes and Pura Vida… It was the first year of trading at Shindig for the latter and when I visited to pick up a delicious quesadilla my friend working there leaned over and said; “this is amazing! It’s what festivals used to be like!”
The rest of Saturday was spent lounging in the glorious sunshine and mooching between stages, my highlights were the soulful Children of Zeus in the Dig Inn and some female fronted pop punk band on the new music stage on the hill. We found out that the main headliner Estelle had cancelled but it didn’t really feel like it made a difference – with no main stage nothing at Shindig is centred around headline acts.
My watermelon costume ft. my mums skirt thrifted from the Oxfam Festival shop at Boomtown, Kiss My Disco wraparound bodysuit and of course my watermelon Fantale Fan!
Use the code DULCIESFANS to get 10% off the insanely gorgeous designer silk fans at Fantale Fans!!
When the sun went down we gathered at the top of the hill to watch the astonishing high ropes performance by the Bullzini Family Circus (well, cringe watch through my hands in my case!) Then we dipped into the looming Ghetto Funk nightclub, the biggest venue on site and named after the organisers’ record label, to warm up and catch a bit of Too Many T’s.
I closed the evening raving to some DnB in the Submarine where Gorilla Tactics laid it down wearing a real-life watermelon over his head with headphones fitted in – waaay more legit than my watermelon costume, it doesn’t get much fruitier than that! I feel like I must note; Shindig is definitely a festival that favours bass in all of its flavours. Maybe even too much – and I never thought I’d say that! I would have liked a disco tent and maybe some more folky vibes somewhere?? But perhaps I wasn’t looking hard enough!
Wearing Burnt Soul catsuit and jumble sale wig.
The rain came on Sunday morning but it didn’t dampen our spirits and this was actually the best day of the festival for us. The big carnival procession was in the afternoon and I don’t know if it was the hangover that was making me emotional, but there was something about the colourful clamour of the samba band enthusiastically stomping through the drizzle, with a smile on their face and a dancing laughing crowd that made me a bit teary! Sights like this sum up the spirit of the great British festival for me!
I caught the tail end of a BBC Introducing talk about working in the music industry at The Word tent and then boogied to my favourite band of the weekend, the Geordie Northern Soul outfit Smoove and Turrel at the Dig Inn. Then the sun came out and it all got very silly… jelly shots were flying everywhere and at one point there was a full brass band in the middle of the crowd. The assortment of blow up grape costumes, cherry hats and tropical headpieces was as good as it had been on the first day!
In the evening I headed to see the ridiculous Henge at the request of my mother… definitely the festival band to go and see if you ever get the chance… They have a unique brand of space rock and perform in full Doctor Who-esque costumes by the end they had everyone singing along to their repetitive singalong tune ‘Demilitarise’ with great gusto!
Sunday night quickly descended into later than I’d like to admit on Monday morning and before I knew it, it was all over for 2019. If you’re looking for a festival with a refreshingly older crowd, plenty to do for families and really just a chance to dance with a bunch of shiny happy people who don’t take themselves too seriously then the lovely Shindig is the one for you – roll on 2020!