Festival review: Secret Garden Party 2012
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Tucked away in the rolling fields of Cambridgeshire the Secret Garden Party unfurls itself around the lake, waiting to be discovered by thousands of music-loving ‘Gardeners’ with the ability to make it bloom. SGP is independent in every sense of the word, from its independent funding right down to those responsible for the independent vibe: “It is your party”. The little earth-embracing hub genuinely seemed to self-generate: each stage settled quietly into its place, and anyone who should stumble across it became another blossom on its branch. Forget the actual river; everything was connected by a downright torrent of mud. Refreshingly, this set the tone for the festival as decidedly ‘hippy’ over ‘hipster’: glampers need not apply. The crowds started to party, or rather hazily gravitated towards the tents mid-afternoon, in search of dark corners and bright new talents. Sun-drenched activities included electro-swing classes somewhat compromised by the mud, festival friends mourning your death at the funeral parlour, and a bit of S&M next door to the snake-and-tarantula table. The Crossroads tent got hips swaying as the sun went down with its mix of rock and blues. Spanish Juan Zelada warmed up passers-by on the Friday with his feel-good, listenable pop folk (which is ten times better live); teenage up-and-comer Jake Bugg packed out the floor space with his Beatles-inspired sound; and retro rock ‘n’ rollers The Jim Jones Revue tore up the venue with their late-night set. A few hundred yards away saw water nymphs queuing up to party out on the lake at The Pagoda. Meanwhile, neighbouring stage Where The Wild Things Are took a more laid-back approach with its rougher-than-gravel act Beans on Toast. Now part of the furniture in his sixth year at the venue, folk singer Jay’s set involved playing half of each song, royally messing it up when his new band tried to join in, and making us forget the train wreck with his big ole heart and a few witticisms. He was funnier than Tim Minchin’s Saturday slot, in fairness. The stage also welcomed the likes of Lianne La Havas, with her sweet soul that earned her a place in the top 10 album chart this month, and folk-pop monarch reincarnation King Charles.
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