No Mans Land 2015

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No Mans Land Festival Review The evening of Thursday 28th May was drawing near its end and as always the journey out of Cornwall had been a long one, only this time being topped off by the fact we hadn't quite planned our route correctly. After getting stuck at aservice station somewhere in Gloucesterhire, we decided the only way to make itto the event was to dig deep into our pockets and pay the £115 it was going tocost us for a taxi to the event site. Tired and stressed, we bundled our sorry selves and belongings into the cab and finished up our already long journey with a two hour cab ride.

We arrived on site after driving 90 odd miles of motorways, followed byrolling hills, country lanes and finally we arrived at Heytesburywoodland.  Admittedly, it was a nicescenic drive and far preferable to the coach journey we had originally planned,despite doubling our travel costs.

Arriving at the venue, we quickly realised we were a couple of days early.The event had been advertised as Friday to Sunday and unfortunately we wereunaware of the licensing laws the event had to adhere to. After all, it wasactually Friday that gates opened, leaving Saturday as the start. Oh well... Still plenty going on as crewsfinished setting up the sound systems, lighting, stalls and adding finishing touchesto the venue.

We kaused quite a stir as we emerged out of a blue, london style cab in themiddle of a field, with just £10 to our names and proceeded to tell our tale ofwoe. We felt pretty unprepared for the weekend at this point. All our spendingmoney was now in the pocket of one very happy bristol cabbie. After having agiggle at our story the krew showed fantastic hospitality, allowing us Thursdaycrew camping, offering us free crew food and making sure we had everything weneeded. The guys at Rustic oven pizza place even sorted us out a half pricepizza (delicious) as by the time we had made camp we had missed the crewcurries we had been offered. Some of the crew even organised us a lift to theclosest shop (6 miles away) for the following day. That was the first majorthing we noticed about this festival. It had nowhere near begun but it alreadyhad a real sense of community. Everyone there was so friendly and welcoming; itfelt as if we had known these people forever.

Our campsite was above the main crew camping, set in a little woodlandcove. It was so picturesque; it would be a beautiful place to go even if not for a festival. With our pizza devoured and tent fully laid out, set for us to rest our weary heads in the not so distant future, we decided to take a wonder around the site to get a feel for where everything would be. We checked out all the main stages; The Asylum, a circus big topmainly playing dnb with some techno in the mix. Planet Grunt, an outdoor livestage and the Enchanted Woods where I’m sure the teddy bears would have had aright banging picnic to the sounds of all types of trance.

We had a proper chat with the organisers and were told the music would notstart until Saturday at 12pm. In the words of the man him self

"Music starts at 12 Saturday, It will be LOUD."

Many people had brought their own systems and were pre partying from whenwe arrived. The one we specifically remember was the caravan that had beenconverted into a giant speaker rig with pyrotechnics in the roof. The mainsound of the festival came from different crews with their own full systemsmost notably project storm with their function one rig in the enchanted woods.With the news that we may have arrived a bit early sinking in we found theUrban Shaman crew and their chai tea with a list of ingredients as long as the lineupitself and also their Mongolian yurt cinema. Yes that’s right ladies andgentleman a cinema at a festival, playing a selection of classic andpsychedelic films including Fantasia, Labyrinth and Sita sings the blues. Theentire site along with the festival goers themselves were decorated withbrightly coloured psychedelic fabrics and trinkets giving the entire event avery rugged hippy vibe. After getting settled and getting to know a good numberof the people on site on site we turned in for the night.


We woke up fairly early Friday morning and decided to see if we can doanything to help out the Crew setting up, plus hopefully pass some time whilstwaiting for our arranged lift. We quickly met Simon Carter and his son Jake(Lumatech projection mapping) who were setting up some of the projections forthe event. We asked if they needed a hand with anything. Simon said that wouldbe wonderful and so we set off for the asylum to figure out how to safelysuspend a huge wooden half rubix cube sort of object in the middle of the bigtop. This took some thought and a fair bit of heavy lifting involving chainhoists and scaffolding. But after some careful manouvering it was in the airand ready for the projections to be shone upon it. After this rather new startto a festival we then went to the local cafe where Simon kindly treated us tobreakfast. Once more we found ourselves feeling a part of the tribe so tospeak. It was nice to be so involved with everything and treated so kindly. Westocked up on essential supplies (beer, Bacardi and bbq) from the local shopand made our way back on site.

As not much was going on other than sound checks and set up we helped whereneeded and then as the light was fading we took refuge in the yurt cinima.After all everyone had done for us and all the Kool people we had met andstories we had been told, we felt so at home. It was amazing to feel thatconnected at an event. Being a reviewer you tend to be a little on the side ata lot of festivals. Just kind of left to your own devices, but No Man's Land wasn’tlike this. We felt almost as much a part of the event as anyone else there.

On returning to our tent we found that we had acquired some neighbours,James and Elly, who were some of the nicest people we've ever met. James is adj under the name Jim 808 (find him on soundcloud) who was playing at theevent, but he was also the source of absolutely any camping equipment you mayneed, from chairs to earplugs. We also met Maddie and Katie who were making thefestival decorations. These two were some real lovely ladies and we spent a lotof the event with them. We finished up Friday night having a bbq with Jim andElly, getting ourselves ready for the music and talking about how the festivalhad evolved since it started 3 years ago.

It has had a different venue every year, each producing amazing festivalsover its life cycle. This is apparently the best year so far despite thesmaller venue. Last years was apparently a bit of a bigger venue but didn'thave the same quality of landscape and to me that was one of the things thatmade NML so good... It really was a stunning place for a music event. Also, thelack of the mega masses meant you saw many people many times and could makeloads of festival and longer term friends, which as I’m sure you all know canbe hard to accomplish at larger events. We actually think the fact is was a only a 499 event maybe did itfavours. The variety of people there was amazing, however everyone was therefor the same music and the same atmosphere. No agro, No anger, just pure goodvibes.

12pm Saturday came and the music started. The organisers had not beenfibbing. It was indeed LOUD with BASS that could be heard everywhere on siteand quite possibly in the surrounding villages and farm lands. There was prettymuch no escaping the BASS once the music had begun. The first set we caught wasthe No mans land crew welcome set. We stayed in the enchanted woods for thenext set until our friend JIM808 with Koalition sounds played his set ofprogressive psy trance at 2 - 3pm. It was already a great start to the eventsetting a good vibe for this magical arena. JIM808 finished and so we decidedto check out what was happening in the other stages. We made our way to thelive stage for Basement 83 followed by Klockwork. It was after these twoimpressive sets that we decided to go back to the tent for some food, drink andcatch up with James and Elly for a chat and to prepare for Ed Solo. Ed played at7:30pm in the Asylum. We were even lucky enough that Elly actually knew Edpersonally and had managed to arrange a quick chat with the man himself afterhis upbeat ragga drum and bass set.

At about 9 we caught up with Ed and asked him his thoughts on smallerevents and festivals like No Mans land and his preferred style of music. Hesaid

"Drumb and Bass is like my wife and Breaks is the mistress. I've hadsome good fun with the mistress but I'm settling with the wife. As for thesmaller events I feel that you get a better crowd as everyone is more connectedby the music."

 Ed is also working on a new mix of'See The Vibe' by Gardna featuring Tiffani Juno and a possible new School OfThought album next year. It was great to catch up with him after his set and wefelt privileged that he had given us his time for those quick few words.

 With more of the day ahead andfeeling a little tired it seemed a good time for chai tea and a film, Labyrinthto be exact. As we rested ourselves to the classic film we gathered ourthoughts about the day so far. It really had been a crazy Saturday. We had madeloads of cool new friends, stamped out 'til nearly collapsing and never wouldwe have dreamed of meeting up with Ed. We really felt lucky today.

As labyrinth came to an end we checked our program and went back down intothe enchanted woods for Symphonic/ Bluetunes succeeded by Neutrino and finallywe skanked out to Neurodriver. It was a great few hours in these woods. Atnight they literally came alive with lasers and projections on the huge blankwhite canvases surrounding the decks. This was easily one of the trippiestarenas we have seen at a festival, with its huge fabric mushrooms (which maddieand katie had made with a little assistance from us) planted around the edgeand flying fish in the trees above (rivalled only by the shroomery tent atAlchemy or the mushroom garden I saw at Beautiful days).

The final set of the night for us was Fabio and Grooverider Feat Remidy MCplaying a more classic dnb set. This was a good set although something a bitdirtier and heavier would have been needed at this time of the morning asfatigue was starting to set in and peoples dancing had become just a littlehalf hearted. A nuerofunk injection may have brought about new life to theseselect few ravers for the last hour or so. After a hard day of stomping out tothe music we took advantage of the small window of recuperation time as thefestival died down for a few hours whilst everyone slept. The mornings at Nomans Land are quite surreal as the sound of hard bass is replaced with thesounds of the woodland birds performing the morning chorus.

A few hours much needed kip and we were woken by the sounds of campers and(you guessed it) BASS!!. Yet another day of music lay ahead, so with a heartybreakfast of crisp and bacon sandwiches and the by now bog standard morningtriple Bacardi and coke, we were set for the day ahead. With another sterlingline up for the Sunday we were ready for another day of bass and Khoas.

We had already had quite an experience and could only speculate what layahead. With a great line up to choose from we ventured around the site for awhile and got chatting with the Urban Shaman crew once again. These guys weresome real cool people, so friendly and welcoming, complete with wonderfulstories of festivals past and variety of nifty nik naks and useful materials.They were also masters of the chai tea and by this point were adding heftyamounts of rum to our drinks (not enough to spoil the taste). Having enjoyedour brews and purveyed their amazing selection of handmade clothing we wentinto the Asylum to cath the end of Zoe Pounder and then Chris Psycosis' fullset. Stomping too the hard bass in this big top was a good time and time flewpast amid raving and occasionally getting a drink or popping for a fag. Afteran hour or so we were exhausted.

We realised at this point we were short on cash so decided to take a walkto the shop (not the smartest idea we've ever had but we did it) after the hourand a half walk along the A36 to and from the cash point.

When we returned to the site Mc Xander was playing on Planet Grunt stage.We really felt the need for food so we decided to try the beans we were recommendedfrom Banging Beans whilst listening to the end of his set. These were a greatfestival choice as they were really easy to eat, exceptionally tasty and packedfull of nutrition. All in all a right good treat.

Mc Xander was followed up by the sound of Mungo's Hifi ft Charlie P.Another treat for us. I have wanted to see these live for a while and nevercaught them but I love their chilled vibes. This was probably one of ourfavourite sets of the weekend. Something a little calmer and slower from anawesome group, perfected by the glorious sunshine. Even to the mungos set therewas a lot of bass. Not a problem. It sounded great but as we said there is noescape from the BASS here.  This wickedset coming to an end we once again ventured down the psychedelic path to theenchanted wood to see Talamaska and his psy trance supremity. An epic set as tobe expected of Talamaska, although as we said about fabio and grooverider,maybe something a bit darker and less progressive would have been more suitedto the setting. By this point it was raining and in the outdoor enchanted woodsome more filth may have lightened the slightly dampened mood. As John Phantasmtook over it dawned this would be the last act of this amazing experience.Phantasms set was just as epic as talamaskas and we stayed til the bitter enddancing in the mud. We were tired, soaked, freezing and in absolute bliss. Whata weekend it had been.

As the main rigs were turned off, people began to disperse back to thecampsites and we along with maddie, Katie and a few others all convened in theyurt cinima. That’s quite away to end an event I tell you, watching fantasiaafter a psy-raver weekend was an experience in itself. I never expected to endthe event that way but it couldn’t be happier. Wrapped in blankets and pillowswith chai on tap and some wonderful company. For a brief moment we heard somehard ragga mingle from somewhere with the classical tracks on fantasia. Raggahard classic is not a viable genre trust me.

Monday was horrendous. Aside from the hangovers, the torrential rain andthe total lack of any chance to buy food to Bristol, we also have a 14 hourjourney back to Newquay. Let me just say it’s a damn good thing I don't reviewcoach companies because megabus is grim even for its prices. But our moodscould not be broken. Memories of one of the most awesome weekends we had keptus alive through the hours of discomfort. We reflected on the pros and cons ofthe weekend as we wouldn’t be very good reviewers if we didn’t pick out theflaws. All we could come up with was that maybe some tarps in the enchantedwood would have helped it stay a bit drier and perhaps a few more loos pleaseguys. Other than that I can’t pick fault. In a brief chat with one of theorgnisers he had explained that there had been a couple of timing issues amishaps but our reply was that we didn’t even notice. These guys just got onwith it and made it an epic event through thick and fun. These are the kind ofpeople we want to be running our events.

So, in conclusion massive thanks to Gavin and all the orgsnisers and crew,rustic oven, banging beans, Ed solo, Jim808 and to all you lovely people whoattended and supported no mans land 2015. See you next year guys :D

PS. If you’re looking for something similar, a little bigger and run bysome of the same amazing peeps who made this event so magical look up illusivefest in September. We will be there. Will you??

Experienced and reviewed by

Kieran Dunne-Davidson

Published on 11 July 2015 by Keiran_D-D

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