In recent years the UK has witnessed a huge rise in the number of boutique festivals it hosts, characterised by their smaller crowds and specialised ideologies, which, added together, create a more intimate and friendly experience. Last weekend, Pitch ventured out into the Wiltshire countryside to help one of our favourite boutique festivals, Fieldview, celebrate their 10th year in action.
The first thing I’ll mention about Fieldview is how friendly all the staff and organisers are. Even on the way in you’re greeted by security staff with smiles on their faces, which goes a long way toward setting the mood of a no-dickheads-welcome festival from the off, which has been an unspoken policy since the festival’s humble beginnings as a social gathering between friends and family of local lads, the Cameron brothers.
The next thing you notice is the size and layout of the festival site. Instead of having designated camping and arena spaces, the stages and workshop areas are spread out across the whole site with camping areas dispersed in between, so you’re pretty much free to set up your tent wherever you like, as long as it’s not right in front of the main stage. This gives festival goers a feeling of inclusion, with the action never more then a stones throw away, whether it be the next round in the ‘Fieldview games’ (huge team games along the lines of tug-of-war and limbo competitions) or a drumming workshop. Another advantage to this setup is that it successfully tackles the ongoing issue of sound clashes which often mar the experience of many smaller festivals.
the West Country may in fact be the best country
The music at Fieldview often mirrors their overall views of sustainability, with a selection of upcoming/local artists nestled between larger headline acts, meaning there’s always a chance of coming away with a new favourite band under your belt, yet there’s still something that will cater for the majority. Early birds this year were treated on Thursday to Fieldview Rockeoke, a huge collective of musicians brought together for the festival to play an eclectic mix of covers from the Ghostbusters theme tune to Nirvana’s Breed, which really got the crowd in the mood for what would be a top weekend of music.
Headliners and Fieldview regulars Submotion Orchestra were warmly welcomed back to the main stage on Friday, especially front woman Ruby Wood whose entrance to the stage was hugely anticipated after an opening song without her. They delivered a characteristicly tight and memorable set including songs from their newest album Colours and classics from their previous two, such as All Yours and Thousand Yard Stare.
The main stage was the place to be on Saturday, where the crowd was loving a good ol’ skank to SN Dubstation, followed by Bristol favourites Laid Blak – who played all their classics after warming the crowd up with a sing along to Bob Marley’s classic Three Little Birds. Then a taste of the Manchester music scene from Spring Kings, who warmed up the crowd (not that it wasn’t hot enough already) for Saturday headliners Melt Yourself Down.
Other musical highlights from the weekend include rap duo thisisDA, two step brothers from Bristol who jumped down from the stage and finished their set in the crowd, another demonstration of the intimate atmosphere consistently delivered by the festival and its acts.
Fieldview has a strong ethos of sustainability and charity, and there are constant reminders of this throughout the festival. All food stalls used biodegradable cutlery and plates to serve up their locally and ethically sourced grub, and there are regular sweeps made by the stewards throughout the whole festival site to pick up and recycle any dropped litter, encouraging even the drunkest among us to ensure that the Wiltshire farmland was left in the same state it was found. On top of that, the festival has rasied nearly £25,000 over the last 10 years for local and national charities including Wiltshire Air Ambulance, S.N.A.P Chippenham and Cool Earth.
And in true South West fashion (hello Glastonbury, Brisfest, etc.), local music also gets a good representation at Fieldview, with regular slots between headline acts given to local bands such as Binbag Wisdom, fronted by MC Binbags, a Chippenham local.
So if you’re a local artist, food entrepreneur, charity or music lover, it seems that West Country may in fact be the best country.
All this is the beauty of boutique festivals like Fieldview who without feeling the need to try to cater for everyone, are able to attract a small and lovely crowd of like-minded individuals together for big ol’ party.