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Festival Review: Boardmasters 2013


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Set in idyllic fields of Watergate Bay in Cornwall, Boardmasters festival is a unique festival with an undeniable charm.

The highlight of the first day came from Bristol dance outfit The Other Tribe. Their relentlessly energetic performance drew the first big crowd of the festival. Although most of the crowd were new to the band, their charisma and infectious tribal sound had people on their feet throughout their set.

Headlining the opening day indie faves The Vaccines, played an impressive set that combined the classics with often overlooked gems from their two albums. While the band were reluctant to engage the crowd, they very much let the music do the talking and kept the crowd moving with a fast paced set. By the end of the performance, there were few doubting that the band deserved to be a headliner.

Saturday’s surprise package came in form of Man Like Me, who’s rap infused pop charmed the midday crowd. The quirky, energetic persona of frontman Johnny Langer made a lasting impression, who were quick to respond to his performance. 

Bringing the third stage to a close on Saturday were Cambridge rockers Mallory Knox. Their aggressive, visceral rock proved a hit with the late crowd. Tonight was another demonstration of why the band are quickly becoming a staple band on the festival circuit, as they converted a room of curious punters into Mallory Knox fans. 

The second day's main stage headliners and the festivals most anticipated band were Basement Jaxx. The performance was everything you’d expect from such an experienced outfit, with the band playing a slick, masterful set. Major hits such as 'Where’s Your Head At' and 'Romeo' drew a predictably strong reaction, but the band really impressed in their ability to maintain the energy of the crowd during their lesser known songs.

Hotly tipped Birmingham band Swim Deep took to the main stage on Sunday to an eager crowd, yet it was set that lacked energy. The bands static performance, coupled with the lethargy of front man Austin Williams failed to provoke any kind of reaction from the crowd. Despite releasing an exciting debut album, it is clear that the band have much to improve upon live.

No band demonstrated such a complete mastery of their live show as The Computers. Coming on to a tent full of people unfamiliar with their music, the band  made a point to stand out. It was a set that was intense, energetic and immersive, with front man Alex Kershaw jumping in the crowd to lead the crowd into a frenzy. With such confident, commanding performances a regular part of The Computers’ live show, expect the band to turn many heads this year.


Bringing the festival to a close on the main stage was fast rising folk troubadour Ben Howard. Although there is no doubting his popularity, there was a feeling that he did not have the back catalogue worthy of a headline set yet. While fan favourites such as 'Only Love' and 'The Wolves' were met with rapturous delight, the crowd appeared indifferent to much of his set, with sound issues aiding in the failure to maintain an atmosphere.

Boardmasters brought a treat to those staying late on the second stage, with legendary DJ Grandmaster Flash ending the day.  It was a fast paced, unrelenting DJ set that darted between hip-hop classics and crowd pleasing songs of all genres. Flash showed his experience of working a big crowd, keeping everyone moving with his Mcing. Having previously turned Djing into an art, Grandmaster Flash very much showed that he is still the master.

While the sporting side of the festival will continue to make the headlines, Boardmasters have shown they are more than capable of putting on a great weekend of music.

While there were strict restrictions put in place by the festival organisers, they clearly had the intended effect, with a clean, relaxed atmosphere allowing the music to really come to the fore. While other festivals struggle to attracted punters, Boardmasters will remain a strong force on the festival circuit for years to come. 

Photos by Tom Pullen

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