This was the third year of the Electric Fields festival which is held in the grounds of Drumlanrig Castle just north of Thornhill in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland but it was this first year the festival became a two day event and it was also the the first year I attended. I would like to share my experience of this unique gathering of musicians, entertainers and people from a broad spectrum.
I could drive to the festival site in just under an hour so I quickly ditched the idea of camping and opted to commute each day, okay this means I could not sample any of the real ales on offer but I was there as a working photographer and preferred to have a clear head when coping with the different lighting conditions I was certain to face.
A one way system had been introduced into and out of the festival parking which worked great and allowed for an easy arrival and a speedy exit. The first thing that I did notice was how relaxed and friendly the whole atmosphere around the festival was this included the festival staff, security and those attending as ticket holders. Our host in the press tent was Jenn who worked very long hours and did a great job. Although the festival was small with a capacity of 5000 it felt busy but was never tight for space, unless you were right at the front of the main stage during the later acts each night. There was the usual selection of food available that you would expect to see at this type of event and I always try to support the vendors even if you sometimes feel as if you are paying through the nose for a burger. On this occasion I didn't feel I as being ripped off, in fact I was very surprised to only pay £1 for a can of coke. As I said earlier, due to driving I never checked out the bars but they certainly looked as if they were geared up to deal with the demand and always seemed busy.
During the two days I managed to sample just under thirty acts working between the main stage and the Stewart Cruickshank Stage, renamed as a tribute to the late BBC Radio Scotland legend. I had seen a lot of the acts before but it’s always good to see something new. One act that caught my attention was London based band Eliza and the Bear, I don’t know what is was, it may have been the energetic movement on the small stage or just the summer feel to their blend of indie rock but they are certainly a band to look out for. New band Onr. fronted by Robert Shields played a very tight set on what was only their fourth gig. As headline acts The Charlatans (Friday) and Primal Scream (Saturday) will always have the crowd on their side but there were two other bands who also captivated the audience at the the main stage. I was speaking to a friend, Scott Woods, who was filming with Mallard Productions at this years Belladrum, he was telling me how impressed he was with the set performed by Public Service Broadcasting at the Tartan Heart festival, his enthusiasm for the band was certainly shared by the large crowd who stood and watched a fantastic set with the crowd warming even more towards the band when Wrigglesworth played Flower of Scotland on what I think was a flugelhorn, as you would expect from a mainly Scottish crowd they were more than happy to sing along.
If Public Service Broadcasting captivated the audience Colonel Mustard & The Djion 5 captured them, locked them up and threw away the key. It was obvious from the number of Colonel Mustard T-Shirts on display there was a large following there and those who were first timers were quickly converted and participating by driving their car and crossing the road, assisted by the energetic David Blair.
Of course small independent festivals like these would not exist without organisers and I take my hat off to brothers Alex and Nick Roberts for doing such a fine job and I wish them continued success in the future.
The bottom line is, would I recommend this festival to anyone? Without a doubt the answer is yes.
Would I go again? If I get the chance again try and stop me.
Links to collection of shots for each of the bands covered will be available here so please check back to see what is new.