The South West is extremely blessed when it comes to summer shenanigans. From food fairs and cider festivals, through fashion shows and farmer’s markets, to full blown musical weekenders, the number and range of events on offer over May-September continues to grow. Cue the entrance of Shindig, which provides all of the aforementioned delights to a civilised yet silly, boutique but not overly snooty community of friends, families and funksters.
It is the oft-heard story, where mates put on a party for their mates, and next thing you know there are a few thousand extended mates all clamouring for tickets (which are guaranteed to sell out months before the event by the way). The difference with Shindig however, is that they continue to keep it small, and at £99 for an adult for the weekend it’s still exceptionally reasonable. Held over the late May bank holiday this is hand-on-heart the most pleasant way you can usher in the festival season.
A defining point to love about Shindig is the ethos that there is no ‘main stage’. Depending on your musical tastes and the interests of the friends that you make along the way (and believe me, you will make friends), you find yourself drawn more to one tent or the other, sure. Yet, with no one stage dominating the horizon - without that formidable, bustling focal hub - it’s more commonplace to be pulled into a blissful meander that tangents into your next favourite hobby or musical love-affair, than it is to find yourself sticking to whatever programme you originally intended. I’ve been to Shindig twice now and missed practically everyone I wanted to see both times, even to the point of missing 3 headline artists all at once! But the fact is, at Shindig, you really couldn’t care. There aren’t huge peaks and troughs of excitement. No particular burst of stamina is required. The weekend just takes your hand very gently and leads you off somewhere beautiful.
That said, don’t get it twisted. There is plenty of raucous debauchery. The main switch-up we loved this year was the shuffling around of stages to accommodate more outdoor raving under the site’s gorgeous sunset. Having had a steroid injection of more nuns, a bigger stage complete with giant, revolving, mirror-ball cross and a changeable noticeboard that proclaimed such gems as “LESS PANTS MORE PARTY” (amongst other wicked decor additions) the Tremor Soundsystem presented Father Funk’s The Church of Love stage pipped all others to accolade for consistently best party. The interactive games with the nuns during the day were a great touch, as were the themed days/hours including ‘drag disco Friday’ and ‘hair metal hour’ - the latter of which saw three of the crew including Father Funk himself get their heads shaved into (extremely questionable) mullets. The Tremor team always show such dedication to the cause and constantly wow with the resources available, which begs the questions… what and where next?
Opening until late and carrying a mammoth lineup of all things funk, whomp and beyond, the Ghetto Funk curated Ghetto Funk Nightclub was a highlight for the second year in a row. Chali 2na (of Jurassic 5 fame) was godlike in his commanding of the stage with Krafty Kuts, whilst glitch legend Opiuo reminded DJs of the benefits of getting interactive with a typically animated set that just about finished some people off on Sunday. The Dig Inn was kept pumping through with urban jams throughout the afternoon/evening and return headliners Dub Pistols and Slamboree rounded off Saturday night nicely.
In terms of single best single set, in typical Shindig fashion our favourite skank out of the weekend came from somewhere less expected. Hiphoppapotamus Sound System (composed of some wicked lyricism from freestyle master MC Feline, Mook on the cheeky percussion and Dave Sanders giving some sexy sax) blew the front, back, sides and sand off the Tutti Frutti cocktail bar during the beautifully bedecked Tropical Tea Party takeover on Friday night. Sending huge props for a set that made us smile well into the night.
Amongst all these musical delights there was plenty more to get lost in for people of all ages. Shindig is an absolute treasure trove for kids and families, with dedicated workshops, inflatables, music production lessons, storytelling, circus skills - you name it! We also heard great feedback on the family camping area, which moved this year to a quieter area nearer the entrance and was fitted with dedicated toilets and showers. In fact, the toilets around the whole arena were marvelous this year, with barely a line in sight. The only queue was for the bars, which definitely need a rethink for next year, as they were impassable at peak times (and some ran out of water on Saturday, which is never a good look but especially when there is barely a water tap - more water please Shindig!).
If that wasn’t enough who could not mention the now iconic tightrope walking performance; the theatre productions and circus acts ranging from the heartwarming to the weird; Phil Jupitus in both word and vinyl form; the sunny samba bands; the helicopter graveyard sort of thing, or the fire breathing contraption (that I think was a dragon but could have been a horse, but they’d probably say was anything you wanted it to be)?
Shindig Weekender is one of those events that you almost don’t want to tell people about it’s that good. If the organiser’s stay true to their philosophies and keep the premise as it is then this could very well become the most sought-after festival in the UK I really hope they do… it’s the type of event that I can still see myself still going to when I’m 60. Please don’t change!
Published on 07 June 2018 by Elle Chilton-Knight