Electric Gardens

Hitch-Hikers, Pear Trees, Sunshine and Mr Bond
August 4th & 5th, 2007
Mount Ephraim Gardens

by Gillian Wood

Ah, the Kent countryside, the Garden of England, rolling hills, apple orchards, little country pubs and people having picnics, all quintessentially English. The Electric Gardens is what you might call a ‘boutique’ festival. Set in the beautiful grounds of Mount Ephraim Gardens near Eversham, the sun shone all day (which, having done Glastonbury and ‘the mud’ in June, was a relief!) the beer flowed, people danced, the beer flowed some more, people began to get a little sun burnt, they dancing continued, more beer, a little Pimms and lemonade, more sun, more dancing, more beer, more sun, lots of sunburn…. Pretty much the perfect festival set-up, except we struggled to get there (and then leave)….

We’d checked the website out the week before to see how to get to the Electric Gardens and pretty much came to the conclusion that the only way was by road. Hmmmm…..Ok, I understand that this festival is probably aimed more at people from the local area (it is sponsored by the Kent Messenger, see photo), but the only way of getting to the site from the station (we travelled by train) was by a special bus going to the site. Great! But it was for weekend ticket holders only and we didn’t have weekend tickets. There were taxis, but having spoken to one of the drivers they told us that it was unlikely that we would be able to book a taxi back to the station that evening as the drivers weren’t too keen on having to wait around for festival goers leaving the site then arriving late for their taxi / getting lost / being sick in back of cab etc.

So we decided to walk part of the way there (figuring that we’d need to know how to get back) and managed to get a lift the rest of the way from three lovely gentlemen (see photo). We also managed to get a taxi back by booking it from a pub near the festival site. But seriously, please sort out your transport! There were people queuing in cars for ages (which in the heat was pretty bad) and there were many people who’d travelled down for the day from various towns and cities, who had to either hitch a lift or convince a taxi driver to come and pick them up near the site. Not good.

But, enough about the transport, the actual festival was great. There were three main stages, the obligatory dance tent (we did go in…..and met some fairies and some sweaty guys….then we got out – see photos), the main stage and a smaller 2nd stage (tent). There was also the ‘myspace’ tent where we had the absolute pleasure of seeing the amazing ‘Scroobius Pip’. A thinking man’s Mike Skinner, part poet, part MC, part preacher, he is probably best known for his ‘Thou Shalt Always Kill’ track with Dan Le Sac, which became an online favourite recently. We also watched a singer called Gillan Edgar who my friend Rowena declared was ‘lovely’, ahhhh. He was very lovely and his music was pretty good too.

I would like to say we went to the dance tent and danced….But as you read earlier on, we didn’t (mostly because dance tents scare me and living with a certain Mr Jon Burns means that I don’t feel I could possibly comment properly on such things as breaks beats and bleeps). So, we headed to the 2nd stage (tent). We listened for a while to an all girl duo (which seemed all strangely familiar to Row…), then caught part of the Holloway’s set and the New Young Pony Club. The New Young Pony Club, were really excellent. A mixture of rock and Latin beats and a lead singer who took over the stage, they were brilliant to watch.

But, because of the sun and perhaps the beer we’d been drinking (we did have a lovely bottle of wine but it was confiscated due to being an alcoholic drink…..) we spent most of our time watching bands at the main stage. We’d met Calvin Harris on the way in thanks to his crewman Mr. Jon Bond, and we watched part of his set before we left. He was pretty good, but I think we needed to have listened to the album before we saw him. Pull Tiger Tail were wicked (say with London accent). They’ve just come off tour with Kasabian and were rockin’!!! Definitely worth going to see. Kate Nash made me fall asleep and Blood Red Shoes were doing a role reversal of the White Stripes. Their singer, Laura – Mary Carter (proper rock name!) explained that they had only just got there and that she was feeling car sick. It probably explained her slightly lack lustre performance, along with a broken guitar.

The Electric Garden Festival is a perfectly formed smaller festival with a really friendly, chilled out atmosphere. It definitely had that ‘local festival for local people’ vibe about it but I think their line-up was excellent and the setting was gorgeous and the sun shone, yay, so that made everyone happy! 🙂

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