We arrived on Thursday at an overcast Matlock train station, two cans down and feeling optimistic that the weather would hold off. Whilst waiting for the taxi an Australian and a Catfish fan asked separately if they could hitch a ride with us; the festival had begun, and the excitement was in full flow during our journey. We spoke of the big names, the under the radar acts we wanted to see and prayed the weather would be kind.
Near the festival, the scale of the place hit us: near double the volume of people were there than the year before, and we decided to hop out of the taxi a mile from the place and walk in, as it would be quicker. I never saw the hitchhikers again, but isn’t that the beauty of festivals?
“Penelope Isle were a unique new sound that captured the floatiness and ambiance of The Magic Numbers”
And then the rain came…
By the time the tent was set up we were bordering on trench foot, we had a swimming pool in our porch and “Why the fuck didn’t we go to a festival abroad?” could be heard in the distance. But the four days of music to come soon answered that with ease.
The early bird’s first evening began with Penelope Isles who opened the festival at the BIMM stage, Arnie’s. This fairly large blue and red tent was empty until Lily said hello and the Jack’s warmed up their instruments. By the end of their opening song a few dozen had arrived and were nodding along in approval. The crowd continued to build throughout Penelope Isles’ fantastic set, which waltzed through Comfortably Swell -their debut album – and a few new tracks. Penelope Isle were a unique new sound that captured the floatiness and ambiance of The Magic Numbers, and coloured it In Rainbows, with Thom Yorke-esque guitar and vocals from Jack, and powerfully crafted songs by the band on the whole. We had the privilege of catching up with the band for an interview, which will be online soon.
Afterwards, the rain had finally stopped so we caught Milburn at the open-air main stage where we heard a heartfelt performance dedicated to their loyal following, and then finally The Coral who ended the night flawlessly. ‘In The Morning’ was the highlight of their set, with the crowd singing the main piano melody from the main arena all the way to their tents to end the early bird night.
“Instantly we were in his palms, and new track “2016” became an emotional hit that we’re praying will be included on the next album”
The ‘actual’ first day started as grimly as you’d expect a festival to be, with the rolling hills of the peak district offering no shelter from the high winds and downpours. So we hid in Arnie’s, our favourite indoor stage, and were welcomed by the pleasant surprise of Ele, an Irish songwriter who, with her seriously talented band, made me indulge in a cool side-tracked Pop sound, and kept my mind off the weather.
The rain prevailed with force after Ele’s set, and we scampered to our tent waiting for Beans On Toast to grace The Quarry. We arrived half an hour early to get a good spot and a drink. The tent was packed and ten minutes before he was scheduled to start, Beans came on stage and asked the crowd if they’d mind a few extra tracks. Instantly we were in his palms, and new track ‘2016’ became an emotional hit that we’re praying will be included on the next album. After the new songs, Beans went into MDMA and decided to bring an audience member on stage to reel off the second verse. Clearly not a set up, the guy jumped at the chance, and after being reminded of the first line of the verse, set about chanting out the second verse to the audience, who were in awe.
The songs were lo-fi, punk and rowdy, a moment was spared to talk about the EU Referendum, and a free beer was promised to those who popped to say “hi” to him after the set. All in all, Beans On Toast raised the roof, and with nothing but his guitar, Bob Banjo and an opinionated smoker’s voice.
The Cribs ended the night for Impact, and we were not disappointed. Ryan’s pink converse and pink squire mustang were on form and demolished the stage at the end of ‘Pink Snow’, from their latest album. Having seen The Cribs a few times, we were delighted to see the songs had improved live, yet held onto the trashy manner that makes seeing The Cribs live an addiction.
Have a read of part two of our festival review here.
Images: Rhys Thomas