Ashton Court Festival, 2002

Originally posted to Grapevine.com.

Went out flying today but it was a bit blowy, so managed to catch five hours of Bristol Community Festival, aka Ashton Court, formerly the biggest free festival in Western Europe, now subject to the disgraceful charge of three quid per day - disgustingly expensive ;-)

Back to the usual venue (a large sloping meadow in the park, over the Suspension Bridge from Clifton, bequeathed to the city in perpetuity by the Smyths (or was it the Frys?), after having to move to Whitchurch last year because of FMD. Unless tomorrow's weather forecast is completely awry they'll break the half million attendance again over the weekend. Basically the whole under 50 population of the city turns out.

Beautifully sunny with a nice cool breeze. Two main stages (both big, one in the meadow, one in the natural amphitheatre at its entrance), Performance Marquee, Roots Marquee, Funk Marquee, huge dance stage away from the others on the plateau at the festival site entrance, loads of stalls and other stuff.

Highlights:

Clean - Okay, I was too late to see them but everyone I met who'd caught their set said they were great. I'll definitely be down The Fleece on the 30th. Apparently they're Swiss (the name has an acute on the 'e') but have been gigging the Bristol area for six months due to its audience's natural affinity for their rock/dub fusion. Sound choice, chaps! Album out on the 29th - "More or less the truth". Can't wait. The one obvious 'sounds a bit like' I missed the other day is Dark Star, btw. Website.

Indigo Dub - Someone had taken pity on them and somehow shoehorned them into a slot in the 'Performance' marquee (next items: poetry, then comedy). Good call. More dub rock from these Mancunians. Bit like Sons and Fascination-era Simple Minds brought up to date. Good enough to get an encore (AC doesn't allow encores due to time constraints), during which the whole tent was buzzing. Guy walked in behind just before the end, caught two mins of a song and said "I dunno who these guys are but they deserve the clapping and hollering!". Guitarist at end goes, "You guys are tops - Manchester doesn't 'get' this yet but you do." Another good call. There's even a petition to get them on the main stage next year!

Halo - Yes, they are from Bristol, and if I'm right they supported Rhythm Republic at The Fleece, which means I helped engineer their debut gig. Their mix this time was slightly disappointing but oodles of energy to deliver a tight rocking set with shades of Muse and Ash, with a dash of goth in there somewhere. Must catch them again. Not earthshatteringly brilliant but very good, all the same.

And Gavin Thorpe gets an honourable mention for proving what I've always said about David Gray - overhyped style over substance that's a piece of piss to (inadvertently?, no, probably not) pastiche ;-)

I probably won't get to see day two, as I should be flying, but I can still hear day one through the window, 'cos the wind's in the right direction! Kosheen are headlining Sunday - get in the car, peeps!