The Big Chill 2009 Official Review

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The Big Chill 2009

‘Staycation effect’ helps Big Chill festival attract bumper crowd 6th – 9th August 2009
© Festival Annual

Once again this year, The Big Chill Festival took to the Malvern Hills and set itself apart from the rest of the rest, with stunning views coupled with hundreds of acts, a subtle mix of music, film, comedy and art. The Eastnor site was a wash with Chillers for four days of a beautiful sun soaked festival. Planning has already started for next year’s event and the dates have just been unveiled as Thursday 5th to Sunday 8th August 2010, so add the dates to your diary!
Over 800 artists entertained the capacity crowd this year, with Basement Jaxx, Orbital, David Byrne,
Spiritualized, Hexstatic, The Field, Chris Cunningham, Bonobo along with Mercury Music Prize nominees The Invisible, Sweet Billy Pilgrim and Friendly Fires wowing the Big Chill revellers with storming sets that had chillers partying into the early hours. Noel Fielding was the Zombie King in Warp X’s production ‘I Spit on your Rave’ as the Big Chill broke a Guinness World Record for the biggest gathering of zombies. 4,026 people got zombiefied and created a festival site full of the living dead all at the main Open Air Stage!  "Perfect festival site; the artists, activities and art projects are fantastic. Wonderful to see something being done so right." Michael Lang, Woodstock creator  “When Byrne donned a tutu, he provided the most extraordinary moment of what often felt like a once-in-a- lifetime experience.” The Guardian. "the summer’s most sumptuously appointed left-field garden party." The Times.


The Big Chill started one day earlier this year with Warp X’s “I Spit on your Rave” production, which saw Noel Fielding star as the Zombie King in a post apocalyptic festival gathering at the Open Air Stage. The event saw the film break the Guinness World Record for the Biggest Gathering of Zombies with 4,026 officially counted, however many more were alleged to have taken part. Other highlights of the Thursday included legendary DJ, Mr Scruff’s Tea Party where he took over Big Chill Radio’s headquarters and his Mr Scruff’s Tea Tent, served the delicious new Make Us A Brew blend of Big Chill Tea. Thursday night saw the critically acclaimed British Sea Power rescore the classic film Man of Aran live and opening the Castle Stage, courtesy of BFI. "A huge success and the zombie theme had really brought everyone together. It didn’t matter how they looked or how they danced, they all had one thing in common: they were the living dead!"
Guinness World Records
The living dead rose in their masses out of the mud of Eastnor and those who still had arms raised them aloft to celebrate this record. Its been an amazing collaboration with our partners Warp Films, Big Chill and of course all the fantastic Chillers who embraced the spirit of filming the World's Largest Mass Participation Zombie movie I Spit On Your Rave.
Peter Carlton – Senior Commissioning Executive, Film4 © Tony Thompson © Mark Bennett

The Coop

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble © Anni Timms
One of Big Chill 2009’s new additions to the site hosted some of the festivals best music and DJ talent from hand picked guest promoters. Friday saw London club scene giants Wonky Pop bring the likes of Goldierocks, Alphabeat and Rene Symonds to the decks, alongside live performances from the amazingly talented young things, Dan Black, Marina & The Diamonds and recent chart topper Mr Hudson (back this year without his Library!) Glaswegians Sub Club who have built their great reputation through 20 years of throwing and hosting events in the city, finished off the night with glorious DJ sets from Slam, Optimo and Octave One. © Matt Farrow
Closing this year’s festival was Hexstatic, who turned the entire main stage area into a mass of ravers; injecting the day with a much needed does of adrenaline for those that were struggling after 4 days and nights of Big Chill hedonism. "One of the festivals highlights came on Sunday evening from king of audio visual sets Hexstatic who provided their usual ingenious mash up of sounds and sights! The London duo took their set to another level with live breakdancers, capeiro performers and a steel band on stage to accompany their classic Salvador mix." MTV © Mark Terry Lush

Saturday saw French flair and ooh la la with Favela Chic injecting funk, bossa and Latino vibes with their Franco-Anglo-Brazilian mix. Brazilian DJ Sandrinho, Natty Bo’s Ska Cubano with their fusion Cuban and Carribean sounds and Chicago based Hypnotic Brass Ensemble created the buzz that Dalston’s cool gang, Horse Meat Disco carried on into the early morning with Lindstrøm, Tim Goldsworthy and Tim Sweeney. The crowd in The Coop were truly taken by Metro Area fusing old school R&B, disco and boogie with cutting edge house and techno beats.
Sunday saw the finest in comedy talent at The Coop, with some of the most talked about comedians taking to the stage. A back to back from Russell Howard, Dylan Moran and Noel Fielding who invited a group of children onto stage and one little scamp stole poor Noel’s cape. The laughs could be heard all the way at Castle Stage as Russell Howard got the crowd into frenzy with childhood stories of going to his friend’s house and dressing up his friend’s mother’s swimming costume and then bounding through the door in her nightie as she walked in!
The final night saw Big Chill favourite, Tom Middleton create his One More Tune set in The Coop. The idea a simple one, to play through an anthology of end-of-the-night anthems to keep a euphoric buzz throughout his set.  Finishing off was Summer of Dub, Adrian Sherwood and Tony Thorpe’s speaker-shaking concept of a musical tour from reggae to dub step and jungle to grime. Highlights included jungle legend Congo Natty and Dub Syndicate who reformed specially for their exclusive Big Chill set this year!
"High class laughs from the likes of Mock The Week star Russell Howard enlivened a cavernous comedy tent."
Shropshire Star

Rizla Arena

After their successful debut in 2008 Rizla came back with their green DJ truck and was a popular site for chillers. Some of the acts to get behind the decks in the truck included; Gryff Rhys (Super Furry Animals), Jon Carter, Man Like Me, Greco Roman Soundsystem, Four Tet, Micachu and Jazzie B (Soul2Soul).

Art Trail

Some of the UK’s most exciting contemporary artists took advantage of the beautiful Deer Park to set-up sitespecific installations that integrated their installations into the festival. Installations from Henry Krokatsis and Claire Morgan formed part of the main backdrop to the festival with a wonderful collection of sculpture and light. Pyrotechnics specialists The World Famous built an incredible 20 metre high zombie that towered over the lake and was then set fire to as fireworks whizzed into the air around it.

Words in Motion

Words in Motion this year was once again the home for authors, comedians, lyricists, late night story tellers and lovers of language.  The opening day say the legendary Woodstock creator Michael Lang, 40 years on from the original festival of peace and music talking about that experience with Guardian Editor, Andy Pietrasik and Robby Elson from Genesis Publications, who edited the book Woodstock Experience celebrating some of the unseen images and untold stories of the event.
© Mark A Bennett

The Enchanted Garden

The Body and Soul area in The Enchanted Garden brought spiritual calmness, physical relief, and a whole host of treatments and offerings from yoga to a sauna what more could you ask of a festival? The most visually stunning area of the site was a serene area for chillers to indulge.  Over 100 therapists and therapies were available including deep tissue and Thai massages, Indian head massage, aromatherapy, reflexology and pilates to name but a few!
© Zosia Swidlicka

Film4 Cinema Tent with The BFI & the ICA
The top class film programme curated by Film4, The BFI and ICA, gave chillers the opportunity to immerse themselves in independent film greats and even some Bollywood glamour too.

Dereliction Drive - In
It was like a scene from a drive in movie in the US from the 70s but these cars were not top of the range and definitely not going to vantage point after the film.  During the day people were seen chilling in, on or around the collection of ransacked cars and at 10pm each night, chillers were invited to take a trip with Falling Out Of Cars, a movie loop created by the Flat-E collective and inspired by the Jeff Noon novel.

Stop The City Stage
Off the beaten track at the festival, the Stop The City Stage became a firm favourite with old and new chillers with plenty of room among the trees, with sounds and music from downtempo to the downright weird.

Crap Stage / Frisky Bison
The Crap Stage this year became a home for all those that dream of being on stage, a Big Chill version of Britain’s Got Talent, with contortionists, poets, bands, magicians and even strippers took to the stage and try their best to not be ‘crapped off’ stage. All backlines and costumes were provided and it was one of the real hits of this year’s festival.

Published on 28 January 2010 by DavidCullingham

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