Rhythmtree Festival Review

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Another year and another fantastic weekend spent at the Rhythmtree. This is a festival that never disappoints and continues to offer more and more every year. On my arrival mid-Friday evening I was immediately aware of just how much it had grown since last year as the first thing I had to do was join a rather lengthy cue to swap my ticket for a wristband. This however wasn’t your usual queue as everyone had smiles on their faces, happily striking up conversations with fellow compatriots. This was in no small part down to the beautifully elegant sound of the Champs floating across the whole site above some heavy bass lines coming from the rum bar. This opposing mix along with the sunshine and light breeze worked perfectly and gave the lucky queuing people their first festival moment.

With the campsite found and kit dumped it was now time to sort out the important matter of getting a beer. Seeing the majestic onsite pub was like meeting an old friend. Nothing had changed and remarkably you could still get ale for as little as £3 a pint. Beer sorted it was now time to get truly excited about Friday’s headliners The Bees. As a big Bees fan there could have been no better band for me to kick start the festival. It had been far too long since I last seen them play an epic set at the Winter Gardens. They’re a band that are without doubt at their best live and are able to transform and lift the tracks from their recordings. Their set didn’t disappoint from start to finish with the whole crowd bobbing and swaying in appreciation. It was great to see the band were enjoying it almost as much as we were as they continually swapped around instruments with ease. They played songs from all of their four studio albums. Particular highlights were Punchbag, The Russian, Listening Man and a sterling finish with Chicken Payback. It all seemed to be over far too quick but left everyone on a massive high.

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When the sun sets at Rhythmtree the craziness begins and the place to finish your night with a bang is the rum bar. I spent three cracking nights here listening to top DJs including of course Nipsy, Noah Priddle and Mr Headfunk himself. It was a pleasure to have a dance in such a friendly atmosphere which lacked any of the usual type of characters that would normally ruin a good night out. Everyone was together and everyone was there to dance and have the best time possible. The only downside was how I felt the morning after each night. There was however a simple cure to this. This involved me driving home for cat cuddle’s and snoozes on the sofa to the back drop of the golf Open. Peter Ellis’ voice was like a friendly granddad reading you a bedtime story (lightweight! – Ed).

Saturday’s line up had a definite reggae dub tilt with quality bands such as Tallowah, Resonators, Wara and of course the daddies –  ASWAD. The line up meant it was near on impossible not to have a good time or stand still for too long. The returning Wara in particular bring such an upbeat vibe with their funky Cuban fusion of all that’s good about music. These guys really know how to enjoy themselves on stage and attracted a diverse crowd of dance enthusiasts. The stage was now set for UK reggae kings ASWAD to come and blow us all away. They of course didn’t disappoint and played a pitch perfect set from their extensive back catalogue to the incredibly lucky crowd. They saved their two best known tracks till the end and a big finish was guaranteed with Don’t Turn Around and Shine.

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My Sunday afternoon started with a very pleasurable stay in the woods. This new addition to the festival was a massive highlight and for many people was the star of the show. It had fairy lights, dream catchers, a big screen for film and a very intriguing vibe. Perhaps the most perfect band to play here then was of course the Weatherkings. I have seen this band far too many times to remember but I think this was my favourite performance of all. The stage was full of violin players, child drummers, ukuleles, rappers and many more passing musicians in all shapes and sizes. My favourite addition was the clarinet player who added a mysterious North African vibe and gelled with the band and setting perfectly. This performance was a massive fun jam which took the Weatherkings songs to whole new levels. They played for as long as they were allowed and more and fully entertained the jam packed crowd.

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Sunday night was all about the funky Latino rhythms and there was no complaining about that. The dance shoes were firmly back on and the impressive salsa dancers returned to the main stage. The warm up for the headliners were Da Lata, an excellent band producing Brazillian/Afro/Dance beats. Enough to get any tired, slightly hung-over person back on their feet. The band was big with lots of interesting parts. That leads us to the closers of the main stage La Chiva Gantiva. These guys were so multi faceted I think they had everything going and could manage to play it all at once and still make it sound amazing. Instead of a set this was an enjoyable journey which built and built in both tempo and content. What a fantastic ending to the weekend full of; diverse, enjoyable and high quality music on the main stage.

Massive apologies as I know I’ve missed loads of bands out of this review, especially all the great times had in the Didge Cafe. Truth of the matter is I didn’t see a bad band all weekend. Next year is a must for anyone who hasn’t yet experienced the delights of Rhythmtree and everyone who has will of course be coming back. It’s the place to have a lot of fun, make friends, and discover new bands all in a family safe environment. What’s not too like? Massive thank you to all that worked so hard to make it happen.

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