Festival Review by Zak Edwards with Photography by Bianca Barrett

See more photos from Boardmasters Festival on our Flickr Page.

There’s something about a festival which evokes a certain amount of excitement, anticipation and a sense of ‘what the chuff is going to happen over the next few days?’ Boardmasters – set against the picturesque backdrop of the English Channel on the hills of Cornwall’s Watergate Bay – did exactly that, but did so in a delightful hilltop setting.

Board masters Festival 2015

So, with bags dropped off at the caravan, a walk up a mammoth hill commenced and with beers in our hands, we settled down in glorious sunshine to watch our band of the day. It just so happened that it was the South West’s favourite sons Reef, who, quite frankly gave one of, if not THE performance of the festival.

Reef

Reef

Board masters Festival 2015

If I was in any band, from any time period, from any musical genre, it would be Reef. Why? Well, they are immensely cool, have rocking tunes and are famous enough without being too famous if you catch my drift! After the splendidly-bearded Mr Stringer and cohorts, treated the massed ranks to 30 minutes of rock – including fans favourites ‘Place Your Hands’ and ‘Come Back Brighter’ it’s easy to see why. Quite literally there was valid argument for going home after the Glastonbury boys set as surely it wasn’t getting any better was it?

Reef

The ONLY frustration with Reef is that they had a rather extended hiatus for about 10 years, which is quite simply a waste of talent. Grrrr!

For a relatively small festival – bragging acts like Faithless, Seasick Steve and Bastille amongst a few – is a fantastic line up and Circa Waves, next act on the main stage, certainly added to this. Only forming in 2013, the pop rockers from Liverpool have had a fairly meteoric rise to fame in a relatively short amount of time – largely due I’m guessing, to the flocks of teenage girls in attendance, no doubt attracted to the boyish good looks and melodic singalongs like ‘T-Shirt Weather’. Very nice indeed!

Circa Waves
Circa Waves

Board masters Festival 2015

Following a quick squizz over to the fabulously decorated Comedy Tent and some gags by the rather amusing Brummie ‘Andrew White’ it was back to the main stage for Everything Everything.

Lower Than Atlantis
Lower Than Atlantis

Board masters Festival 2015

Whether it’s my age, or whether it’s my aversion to bands wearing matching tracksuit tops, I just didn’t get it. Sure – they were popular and their performance tight enough, but I didn’t think their set was particularly strong. Pretty much every band member had an earpiece in, whilst several of them played two instruments and I counted at least four keyboards. Just how many are required??? As I’d downed several Cornish Rattlers by that time of proceedings I thought it might be my ears playing up so subsequently I’ve listened to them on Spotify. Nope – still not my cup of tea!

Everything Everything
Everything Everything

Board masters Festival 2015

The festival crowd gathered for the headliners Faithless on the main stage. Visually their set was very impressive with laser beams shooting out from the stage into the cool night sky. Insomnia (I can’t get no sleep) was the obvious highlight of the set with every hand from the Boardmasters’ crowd in the air! The perfect headliners to the perfect first days entertainment down by the sea.

Faithless
Faithless

Faithless

If Day One was Reefs day, then Day Two was very much about ‘soon to be megastar’ Mahalia. Who? Well, read on my friends and you’ll find out.

Mahalia
Mahalia

Another gloriously sunny day found us rocking up to the VIP tent (posh!) and an acoustic set by Sunset Sons as part of the SAS initiative. Rather than being some military expose to venture into the music scene, the acronym actually stands for Surfers against Sewage which I’m guessing is more of an initiative about releasing sewage into the sea where they happen to do their thing as opposed to having some aversion to flushing the khazi. Anyway, I digress. Obviously populiam glar amongst local populace it was easy to see why with their catchy ‘Maroon 5’ type pop rock. Albeit a stripped back acoustic set, it was easy to see their obvious talents and influences and certainly whetted our appetites for their performance on the main stage the following day. On to the main event, or as I like to refer to it, Mahalia Part One.

Board masters Festival 2015

Down at the aptly named ‘View’ stage the songstress treated the ever growing audience to 30 minutes of her own material on a customised Airstream caravan against the backdrop of piping hot sunshine and gentle lapping waves. Vocally superb and obviously talented as a songwriter, think a combination of Lianne La Havas and Adele and you’re in the right ball park for this uber talented young lady. The mesmerising ‘Let the World see the Light’ – a song written about her first crush when she was just 12, (yes 12!) – was simply breath taking and is surely a hit in the making. Following Mahalia Part One was – yep you’ve guessed it – Mahalia Part Two, this time stripped back acoustic set in the VIP Lounge and a good old natter with her Mom. Triffic!

Rae Morris
Rae Morris

Board masters Festival 2015

After all the Mahalia goodness, it was a short jaunt back over to the main stage for a man at the different end of the musical and generation spectrum, a certain Mr Seasick Steve. You’re always guaranteed a performance from the self-confessed Hillbilly and this was no exception. A hippy by nature, obviously at home amongst the chilled out Cornish punters, the Bearded songwriter, who’s current album is entitled Sonic Soul Surfer dished out the perfect festival performance, utilising everything from his 3 stringed ‘Diddly Bo’ through to a Washboard to deliver his own unique blend of Country Blues. ‘Down on the Farm’ always has the punters dancing the in ‘aisles’ and Walkin Man, where the bearded smoothie serenades a young hottie from the audience just proves that Mr Steve is still a hit with the ladies.

Seasick Steve

Seasick Steve

Board masters Festival 2015

Exponents of all things Three, De La Soul were next up on stage with their own brand of witty rap. In a scene not dissimilar to the Hunger Games, the rappers from New York were greeted to a three fingered salute by the vast majority of the audience. Splendid stuff. They then went on to treat the massed ranks to a set comprising all of their hits from 3 Feet High and Rising released over a quarter of a century ago.

De La Soul
De La Soul

Board masters Festival 2015

Last up on the main stage were Rudimental featuring Mahalia Part Three who popped on as one of their many guest vocalists. Rudimental brought their brand of high-energy drum and bass to Boardmasters with full force! Opening with the fantastic crowd pleaser ‘Right Here’ featuring vocals from Anne-Marie, their set kicked off in typical Rudimental fashion and continued in the same vein right to the closing note! The stage looked impressive, with large screens and raised platforms that looked like huge boom boxes and like Faithless 24 hours previous, the London musos owned the stage and the crowd for that matter too!

Rudimental

Rudimental

Rudimental

Midway through the impressive Rudimental set, we trudged wearily over to see The Strypes at the Mavericks stage for a much needed energy boost! Post gig research shows that all of the Irish Quartet were born in the late 90’s which a) made me feel extremely old and b) made me stand back in amazement at the sheer professionalism, power and showmanship of the teenagers. 40 minutes of pure ‘RRRRAAARRRRRRRRR’. Power, drive and catchy pop rock songs. Really impressive and a great way to finish the second day.

The Strypes
The Strypes

Board masters Festival 2015

The weather can make or break a festival. If it’s sunny, as it was on days one and two, then everything else seems to fall into place and an enjoyable day is had by all. If the weathers a wee bit crappy as it was on the final day, then it literally and metaphorically dampens the spirits. I’m also guessing that two days previous drinking pints of Rattler won’t have helped matters. So, with that being the way it was, the final day was a much more subdued affair for most of the revellers. Unfortunately the line-up wasn’t as strong as the previous couple of days either which didn’t help matters.

Lucy Rose
Lucy Rose

Being put off by the adverse weather conditions we didn’t arrive till mid-afternoon, just in time to see Lucy Rose opened up proceedings and dedicating her first song dedicated to the ‘The Beard’ a fellow she had met earlier in the day. Nice touch. Visually reminiscent to a young Toyah Wilcox, the singer songwriter produced a delightful set with near angelic like vocals. Haunting and beautiful. ‘Like an Arrow’ is a really lovely song and one which you need to hear if you’ve not already done so. All of a sudden the days seeming much brighter.

Board masters Festival 2015

A trip over to the VIP bar (to dry off) saw more of SAS and the multitalented surfer Jock Barnes. When he’s not winning the Board masters ATP Surf competition (2014 Champion don’t you know) then he’s performing at the festival alongside his dish of a girlfriend Sarah. Laid back acoustic fun was had by all.

It seemed that most of the other revellers had the same idea as us, harbouring under some form of canvas to keep out of the rain and thus it was a packed Comedy Tent that greeted The Big Set who in turned treated the audience to their ‘full on’ brand of blues. Energetic is a word that springs to mind…

Sunset Sons
Sunset Sons

Board masters Festival 2015

Whilst the Big Set were treating the fans to their own unique blend of twelve bar blues, Sunset Sons were doing their level best to add some warmth to those outside braving the elements and by Jove, by the end of their set, I’m sure the sun was beginning to shine through. The surf rockers are certainly popular in the South West and you can see why. Not only are they musically talented but they also have all of the components of what makes for ‘surf dudes’ – namely good looks, long hair and a slight scruffiness. Lead singer Rory Williams has a distinctive growly, yet melodic voice and their brand of laid back rock is really easy listening. Destined for bigger and better things me thinks.

Clean Bandit

Clean Bandit

Clean Bandit

It was here on in that the festival went a little downhill. Whether that was due to general fatigue (there’s a lot of hill walking involved) or the lack of quality of bands, it was hard to say, but there was definitely a ‘we’re looking forward to getting into a beds’ type atmosphere kicking about. It was palpable.

JP Cooper
JP Cooper

Board masters Festival 2015

Bastille
Board masters Festival 2015

Board masters Festival 2015

Clean Bandit produced some fairly generic dance music, JP Cooper a nice set on the View stage and Bastille did what they did, but none it really knocked your socks off! Pulled Apart By Horses literally threw the kitchen sink at the audience with their brand of Emo Rock in the Mavericks tent, amidst shouts of ‘Yorkshire Yorkshire’ but even with the volume turned to 11 it didn’t really get the fans going.

Pulled Apart By Horses
Board masters Festival 2015

Then that was that. A two mile walk back to the caravan a chance to dry off, have a nice cuppa and reflect on what has to be one of the most delightful, picturesque festivals going.

Board masters Festival 2015

Things I love about Boardmasters are:

  • It’s by the sea
  • No boys (or girls) weeing up the fences. That’s right – NONE!
  • No wee being lobbed around in pint glasses. That’s right – NONE!
  • The chilled out vibe
  • Everybody smiling
  • It’s kid friendly
  • Everything is close. Like really close
  • It’s at the top of a mammoth hill which is really hard to walk up
  • It’s near the Phoenix in Watergate Bay which is a quality juicer

Board masters Festival 2015

2 Responses to “Boardmasters Festival, Watergate Bay, Cornwall, UK – 7th, 8th + 9th August 2015”

  1. Gig Reviews | Gig Photography | Interviews | Competitions from Gig Junkies » Blog Archive » Circa Waves + Sundara Karma + The Academic at The Institute, Birmingham, UK – 16th October 2015 Says:

    […] day Mersey Beaters Circa Waves it was down on the glorious Cornwall Coast basking in the sun at Boardmasters Festival. Their upbeat indie pop sound coming across perfectly in the summer sun to the backdrop of the […]

  2. Gig Junkies » Blog Archive » Just 3 Weeks Today, Boardmasters 2017 Kicks Off! Says:

    […] Gig Junkies’ coverage of this incredible festival here: 2015 / […]

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