Boardmasters Review by Fran Prince with Photography by Bianca Barrett

Boardmasters 2016

Infected with festival fever, thousands sat above the sun-kissed sands of Cornwall’s Watergate Bay this weekend, on a picturesque hillside home to Boardmasters, one of the only British festivals that welcomes flip-flops over wellies.

Boardmasters 2016

Beers in hand we began an overcast Friday afternoon overlooking the blue backdrop of The View stage, where a beach haired blonde named Hannah Lou Clark stole our attention with her Lissie like rock chick electric acoustics and moody vibes of easy listening track ‘Kids in Heat’, Clark has already added herself to my playlist.

Hannah Lou Clark

Boardmasters 2016

Jack Savoretti gathers the first real crowd of the day on the main stage, with a Spanish reggae undercurrent; his coarse voice reminded me of the foot-tapping beats of Paulo Nutini. Catchy folk-hinted track ‘Written in the Scars’ gets a warm response whilst groups of girls are flattered the handsome singer with kisses blown towards the panning camera.

Jack Savoretti

Jack Savoretti

Recent radio plugged indie-pop lads, Blossoms, set a summer feel amongst their viewers, gaining new disciples with each song. Debut single ‘Charlemagne’ has dominated the charts with synth sounding instrumentals, whilst a gentler paced ‘Getaway’ show’s off the vocals of Tom Ogden, on occasion mirroring those of Artic Monkeys, Alex Turner. Honey Sweet introduces a touch of 80’s funk pop within a minimalistic piano intro, and Blossoms niche sits well within the festival daytime pallet.

Blossoms

Blossoms

Pretty little melody maker Lianne La Havas has listed herself as a must see on Boardmasters programme, stepping onto stage with ‘Au Cinema’ she immediately throws us into a refreshing guitar and gospel-tinted vocal fusion. Having collaborated with the late, great Prince, her amalgamation of operatic soul-pop and gentle jazz is comparable with Corrine Bailey Rae during track ‘Green and Gold’. Accessorised with a mint green electric guitar, La Havas grabbed my attention with poignant song ‘Forget’, dedicated to an Ex and a lively ‘Is Your Love Big Enough’ gets the audience flowing.

Lianne La Havas

Lianne La Havas

Catfish & the Bottleman aptly fashion a stonier indie attitude to the festival main stage, awakening up the chilled out audience, they kick off with Homesick whilst twenty something, glittered up girls and guys in backwards caps accelerated me forwards into the crowds, lyrics reeled off their tongues. An identifiable ‘Kathleen’ projected a rockier Radiohead quality whilst the distinctive stench of stage smoke overwhelmed me during ‘Soundcheck’. Watching as a mist of reds and blues submerged the crowds and numerous inflatable alligators paralleled the bands logo, I knew this on trend band were a highlight of the weekend for many.

Catfish & the Bottlemen

Catfish & the Bottlemen

Darkness fell, and hordes of face painted fans swarmed to rave with the Friday evening talent, Chase & Status ended the night with and impressive light show and reggae-come-rap dance anthems.  An explosive energy overwhelmed the sea of bodies around me with ‘Let You Go’, ‘End Credits’ and ‘Blind Faith’, I relentlessly gave in to the drum and bass, and narrowly avoided a mosh pit.

Chase & Status

Chase & Status

Day two, and Saturday began with a quick trip to beachside boutique, Roo’s Beach – surf style retail at its best, and a cue to get more cash out! A leisurely lunch on a Newquay pub terrace and back on the shuttle we got, ready for what the day had in store.

Boardmasters 2016

The Corona Sunsets stage greeted our slothful bodies and limes tingled our taste buds, whilst the audible acoustics of duo Rat On The Roof, set a tranquil air for the sleepy audience that sunbathed on the grass. With Ben Howard busker like guitarring and soft vocals, reminiscent of José González, this was just my scene.

Rat On The Roof

Boardmasters 2016

With the sun beating down on our shoulders, we trod our way to the desert oranged grasses adjacent to the main stage, bodies basked in the heat awaiting Michael Kiwanuka’s set.  The soul-folk vocalist began with ‘One More Night’ and picked up the tempo in ‘I’m a Black Man in a White World’ which carried a jazz-reggae influence, with bongos and maracas in setting the beat. The sensational soloist showed the soul of Marvin Gaye with his effortless tone and instantly became a download as soon as I got home.

Michael Kiwanuka

Michael Kiwanuka

An imposing, yet intriguing jet black cube inhabited an area of the hillside, having seen nothing like it at any festival before; we made our way to the streaming queue cornering the venue. “SAMSUNG VR HYPERCUBE” read the door. VIP access allowed us to watch as if a fly on the wall, whilst what looked like a silent disco unfolded in front of us, but with an unusual looking group of goggled festival goers connected up to robotic looking devices.

Samsung VR Hypercube

Samsung VR Hypercube

Invited to take part, I slipped on the headphones, focused my virtual specs and in I was, immersed within a realistic virtual world where I became the fourth band member in Biffy Clyro’s music video for ‘Flammable’, which see the band encased in an industrial glass cube which emulated the location we stood in.

Boardmasters 2016

With several Cornish ciders inside me, an animated Foxes is bliss to my ears, her crisp and cutting qualities are the feminine climax of the Boardmasters line-up. With velvety vocals she gets the audience pumped, reeling off songs from her infamous ‘Glorious’ album, such as ‘Holding on to Heaven’ and ‘Youth’. Resonating her every word, I and the crowds forgot ourselves in the heart of her electric girl-pop power, with an uplifting ‘Clarity’ closing her set, we walked away elevated.

Foxes

Foxes

Breaking for the pink skies setting over the sea, a fiery sunset silhouetted the sunflower profile of the Corona Stage, making way for an attractive entrance from Ricky Wilson. The Kaiser Chiefs jolt a roar of screams amongst the many patient fans. Almost arrogant, Ricky stands the audience to attention with military-tinged ‘Every Day I Love You Less and Less’. Donning an eye-catching turquoise jacket, he makes his way into their current work ‘Parachute’, feeling a little too try-hard; the single reminds me of a poorly put-together Coldplay track. Sticking to what they know, the Chiefs have me smitten, but I’d like to see them retreat back to their rockier roots.

Kaiser Chiefs

Kaiser Chiefs

Feeling peckish we made our way to VIP for some Saturday night snap, and a well-deserved rest for our aching feet. Wandering the shadowy night setting, we passed a mass of LED mouse ears that lit up the thousands awaiting Deadmau5. Whilst for us, Saturday night just got hotter – even after waiting for an un-attending Craig David.

Boardmasters 2016

Boardmasters 2016

Sceptical about what we’d be in for, a drag act sassed the secretive entrance of Coney Island, an under-ground appearing, club inspired paradise. Emerging into a tent like construction, we let go, Gin in hand. Dance offs with a feisty and raunchy drag duo and DJ, engulfed us in a fiery red lighting and drunken end to our evening.

Coney Island at Boardmasters

Coney Island at Boardmasters

Sunday started easy with a balcony breakfast over at Fistral beach, the Headland Hotel. Surfers, sodden with sand cemented wet suits and skaters competed in the events activities, whilst a burst of caffeine re-energised us for the day ahead.

Boardmasters 2016

Boardmasters 2016

Dusting off Saturday’s antics we mellowed with Tamu Massif, an unassuming yet oddly entitled artist. His eerie and echoic sound combined a Bon Iver styled backing with an alternate melancholy nature like that of Ben Howards ‘I Forget Where We Were’ album.

Tamu Massif

Boardmasters 2016

Heading across for the first time to the Net Loft, BBC Introducing tent, we joined the few inside to check in on The Isabelles, a Cornish made lad band. I sympathised with them as feedback from the mic distorted their first track, and waited out for their next. Disappointingly, their heavy garage rock over-play was nauseating and we left effectively.

The Isabelles

Boardmasters 2016

So, where there’s a Ferris Wheel, there’s a good opportunity for a sky -high picture right? Wrong. In a failed attempt to capture Coasts from a distance, I did however cool down with a sea breeze on an unaccompanied swing seat.

Boardmasters 2016

Boardmasters 2016

Our hopes were restored with a freshly poured glass of cider in the festivals personal pub The Keg and Pasty, a well-designed tent walled with brick looking cladding and topped off with a classically British Inn sign. Bagging ourselves a hay bale, the farmer styled venue was a cosy site for tribute act Not The Beatles to bumble onto stage with some dubious looking wigs. Singing favourites like ‘Help’ and ‘She Loves You’, people gladly clapped along and jigged in front of the charming band.

Not The Beatles

Boardmasters 2016

Soul II Soul bring back the 90’s, emanating Gospel jazz-pop vibes, ‘Keep on Moving’ and ‘Back To Life’ are get us toe-stepping to the lead ladies prevailing vocals and moving with the choral backing singers lively synchronised choreography.

Soul II Soul

Soul II Soul

As I anticipated Scottish band Primal Scream, an act I thought I’d barely heard of before, I seem absorbed in a demographic array of all ages, from families to youngsters and the occasional bearded rocker, Primal Scream clearly fascinated the multitudes. Appearing on stage, a mod rock frontman, punk-lass guitarist and Blondie styled female start with a familiar sounding house track, ‘Movin’ On Up’ becomes recognisable instantly. Following this ‘Rocks’ gets a chanted chorus ricocheting from the huge audience that gets bigger by the note. Gradually realising my knowledge of the bands set list, I was impressed by the 80’s band’s ability to stay current with tracks like ‘Country Girl’ holding them in high regard.

Primal Scream

Primal Scream

Splitting off, I headed solo to watch the sun go down for the final time, hooked on the incredible scenery and chilled out atmosphere, Boardmasters has had me reminiscing since the moment I got in the car to come home, and James Bay sung his last song.

Boardmasters 2016

Headlining for the first time ever, the young singer-songwriter crowned the festival with an acoustic-rock ballad of tracks. Reaching an ultimate goal with a record making year, his album Chaos and the Calm propelled his set into a favourite for the festival goers. Unexpectedly, Bay differentiated himself from the likes of Ed Sheeran, the enigmatic solo artist thrusted us into a whirlwind of strobed lighting and heavy guitar riffs, before smoothing us into an ambient acoustic.

James Bay

James Bay

His talents as an instrumentalist stimulate the troops of fans and ‘Craving’ aside the softness of ‘If You Ever Want to Be in Love’ demonstrated a real diversity in his music. A short snippet of ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’ broke his rock-star demeanour for a second, till a popular ‘Scars’ and ‘Get Out While You Can’ allowed Bay to boast a guitar solo that’s set alight the audience, as the vibrations of applauds carried on the wind for an encore. Bay, an apt end to a day by the beach.

Boardmasters 2016

Boardmasters, I’ll be seeing you next year.

Boardmasters 2016

See the complete Boardmasters 2016 photoset here.

3 Responses to “Boardmasters Surf + Music Festival 2016, Watergate Bay + Fistral Beach, Cornwall, UK – 12th, 13th + 14th August 2016”

  1. Wayne Fox Says:

    Simply beautiful Bee…
    Wx

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

    […] See Gig Junkies’ coverage of this incredible festival here: 2015 / 2016 […]

  3. Gig Junkies » Blog Archive » Boardmasters Is Back With Another Incredible Line-up! Says:

    […] a look at Gig Junkies’ coverage of previous years: 2012 / 2015 / 2016 / […]

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