Jul 31, 2015

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Festival Review: Somersault 2015

somersault

Looking back at this year’s Somersault, on behalf of TFFT I had the chance to make the journey of a steady embrace of my first full UK weekender festival experience. Far from being a seasoned festival goer, it is fair to say that Somersault has, in some aspects, truly outdone itself as an event only just settling into its second year. Not being one to undercut the festival organiser’s efforts, it has to be said that this year’s festival was far from an holiday close to the sea that our minds were mentally prepared for. This being said, it is five memorable days of music and adventure which has been birthed from the organisers of Wilderness and The Secret Garden Party. Enclosed within the towering hills of the Devon countryside and with a capacity of 20,000, Castle Hill Estate was set to welcome day trippers and campers from the region and beyond.

 Photo by Mikaela Hamilton

As it came round to Thursday, Somersault opened its arms to the first wave of 15,000 visitors. Tent propped in the midst of the ever so often inappropriate ‘one zone fits all’ campsite, with no music on the agenda now was the time to purchase a programme, have a wander and fully explore the festival grounds. Despite being filled with a quality musical lineup, right from the outset, it is apparent that an equal weight had been placed on the activities throughout the festival. Whether you’re seeking warmth in the laughter of the comedy and theatre on offer, or spending a great deal of your time seeking mindfulness, the deal with Somersault is that you could easily fill your time with outward bound activities, see one or two headliners and still come away with having a fun filled getaway! A good chunk of the activities offered are weather dependent and as Somersault is set in the midst of the British summer, it did and probably will rain in future, so be prepared – I have one waterlogged tent and spent two glorious nights in a car to testify to this.

Photo by Simon Clemenger

Activities and novice camping skills aside, as TFFT is a music platform, we stayed cheap and stuck with the music for most of the festival. First to open up the Main Stage on Friday afternoon was Nathan Ball (who we had the chance to talk to – interview coming soon!) but also bravely managed to sustain a crowd as they bore a torrent of showers for the rest of day and evening. Over at the Communion Stage it was time to gather some new music under our belt and today was the day of Rukhsana Merrise, whose gripping vocals and mixed interplay of traditional and electronic sounds display a great amount of skill. She’s definitely one we’ll be keeping our ears fixed to.

Photo by Simon Clemenger

It’s no secret that The Staves are highly regarded and are currently on a roll with their sophomore album If I Was. The addition of a full band gave their live set on the Main Stage new life without taking away from the choral attraction of the trio. And then there was Friday-headliner, Laura Marling. Her ability to appear completely intertwined sparks a great deal of curiosity as she plays, and her hour long set opened up with a 15 minute compilation which, amongst others, included a remarkable rendition of I Was An Eagle. A true bard, any opportunity to see Laura Marling should always be taken.

Photo by Lewis H Pinder

Moods were up with the sun out, as Saturday brought with it Somersault’s strongest day of the weekend. Taking a break from swing dancing and mass musical chairs, up next to take the Main Stage was country-duo The Shires. Watching with eagerness and anticipation in equal measure, The Shires brought to Somersault a tide of new songs which included the light-hearted and openly stereotypical Made In England.

Photo by Lewis H Pinder

An outright favourite moment of the entire festival was watching the incredible Bombay Bicycle Club headline what was their “last show for a very long time”. From the moment they stepped onto the stage, the band put on a stellar show which had special moments from Lucy Rose and Rae Morris built into the set. Not only were we served with song after song of sensational vocals and an astounding live production of hits from their back catalogue, the band’s active and engaging presence sealed their headline show as the most monumental moment of the weekend. Still riding off the energy of the Main Stage, each night was extended with the help of late night forest parties and a rejuvenating shot of old school drum and bass thanks to Patrick Nazemi over at the Communion Stage.

Photo by Simon Clemenger

Somersault wound things down as the weekend came to a close on the Sunday. Throughout the five days, events moved at a steady pace and with fantastic sets from the likes of Angus & Julia Stone, Jimmy Cliff and Passenger on the final day, it was a chance to opt in to a more chilled out afternoon on the music front. This being said, the alluring combinations of classic rock and blues found in John J. Presley made for another great act to add to the new discoveries list.

Photo by Mikaela Hamilton

Looking back, the fairground atmosphere found at Somersault with an abundance of families and children whiling away time in the mud is not idyllic for everyone, but does offer a great deal of variety. With a timely staggered schedule, Somersault impartially caters to the music lover as well as the adventure seeker and in order to avoid missing the full promises of the festival, you have to go in head first for both!

Simi Abidakun