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Wakestock Festival 2011

Last weekend me and Dave Macnamara from andeveryonesadj had a trip down to Wakestock Festival in North Wales courtesy of Cadbury, who are currently doing the rounds to promote their new TV show, Minute To Win It (more on that later). We were supposed to be down on the Friday, however Dave missed his plane back from Ireland and it took me 8 trains, 1 very long bus and 10 hours to reach our hotel, which meant we unfortunately missed Yasmin, Rizzle Kicks, Chase & Status and interview opportunities with Iwan Thomas and Huw Stephens. However, we were both up early on Saturday and made our way up to the venue at 4pm, only to find that the music started at 6 (par). During the two hours we had to kill, we started drinking (well I did, and Dave had his sixth beer of the day) and ventured over the Cadbury stand to find out more about the TV show, which will be starting on ITV2 in the next few months. The idea of the show is to get people active during the lead up to the Olympic Games in London, whether it be running, swimming or doing small fun games that were available for all to sample at the Festival. There was everything from bouncing ping pong balls into fish bowls, slingshotting Cream Eggs through holes and balancing on Wispa bars (as you can see below, Dave wasn't so good at that one after the amount alcohol that had been consumed) - we played six games, and I won 4-2, of course. But yeah, the whole idea was really cool - it was nice to see something like this at a festival, working in harmony with the music side of the event, encouraging competition and just generally promoting physical activity. As someone who has just finished a Sport Development degree and runs a Music Blog, it was brilliant to have the chance to see my two favourite things on a site like this together. You can read more about the Minute To Win It campaign, HERE.

After the fun and games on the Cadburys stand it was time for more drinking, and finally some music. First stop was the small outdoor South Stage, where Manchester based Punk/Dubstep/D&B/Hip-Hop group Murkage were opening up (see above, right). Dave had never heard of them, but I knew all about them and have become a massive fan of their music and the message that their live shows portray since meeting Murkage Dave earlier this year. Their resident DJ opened up with a smashing set, before the live four piece band took to the stage and blew everyone away. The crowd was rather small to start with, but they built up the hype by playing Dubstep/D&B classics, before moving into their own material, some of which has received heavy support from 1Xtra over the past few months - the show reminded me of an Odd Future show, but with good music and a real message, not just a big fuck you to everyone and everything. We then hooked up with the Murkage crew and moved on to the East Stage for the first time where Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs was playing (I thought it was an Electronic band before we got to the tent and found out it was just one guy who did all the producing/vocals himself). I wasn't overly impressed by the incredibly weird show and vibe of the music, especially after falling in love with the remixes I've heard from him in the past year - also, there were two girls dancing around like lunatics on stage for the entirety of the set, which I didn't really understand. Anyway, after that we moved over the to the West Stage where we got to see the equally disappointing Fenech-Soler and The Joy Formidable who I have to admit were rather impressive. Beardyman followed (even though Dave thought he was Nero. I let him off, because he is very Indie-ey), and left me even more speechless than he did at Creamfields two years ago - his rendition of ATCQ's classic 'Can I Kick It' was a personal highlight. After that we moved outside to see one third of Nero play a DJ set, which was rather upsetting for me - haven't seen them live before and was expecting a full show; I'm sure I'll see them sooner rather than later. Finally, we went back to the East Stage to watch Sub Focus absolutely smash up a tent full of crazy teenagers (see below) - he played all his well known hits from the self-titled debut and dropped some exclusives, including the lovely new single which features Ellie Goulding (I think - I was rather drunk by 11pm). After leaving the sweatbox, we took one last trip over to the South Stage to see Hervé for a little while, who I have seen at least 10 times over the past few years - he was as a sick and bouncy as ever. And yeah, the hours between midnight and 12pm Sunday are ones that we will both probably leave in Wales.

On to Sunday, the final day, which started off with a Burger King and a beer (Guinness for the sterotypical Irish man) in our home for the weekend, which was Haven Holiday Park - safe to say I shan't be visiting one of those again in a rush. After the food we made our way up to the site once again for what I believe to be the best line-up of the weekend. The day kicked off with Random Impulse on the East Stage - the electric guitar playing Grime MC started with a small crowd that increased as the set progressed, utilising his brilliant personnel skills to have some really fun and impressive crowd interaction in-between and during tracks. I also loved the fact that he turns up to every gig without a setlist and decides what to play then and there depending on the vibe he gets from the crowd - hadn't heard much of his stuff away from Overload and the Re-Fix series, but really enjoyed the whole set. After he had finished we headed back stage where Mr. Sheeran and Wretch 32 had just arrived - the tent was filling up by the minute, and by the time Ed went on stage people were overflowing out of the back, which is something I hadn't seen all weekend. His 45 minute set was as stunning as ever, including all the hits from his EPs, tracks from the debut album and of course The A-Team, which was simply incredible for me to watch from behind the stage (see top) - Ed even said to me as soon as he left the stage that it was the best crowd he had ever played to. Wretch then followed with his shades on and silver mic in hand to keep up the incredible atmosphere that was now present in the tent. Although there were a few sound problems along the way, his set was huge, and definitely one of the highlights of the weekend (look out for my review of his album pretty soon). Then it was time for Example, who since last seeing has had a tune that charted at number one and stayed there for three weeks - by the time he went on stage the tent was busier than anywhere else had been all weekend. The packed out tent wasn't to be disappointed, with the high energy/refined set not letting up for one second and creating at least 10 casualties along the way. For me, it was amazing - from being in the crowd and seeing him perform to 5 people 5 years ago, to being able to stand backstage and watch him demolish a 5,000+ tent was mind-blowing - so proud. After that I had to head back to hotel, whilst Dave moved onto Biffy Clyro, who I hear were rather impressive too (not my cup of tea).

On the whole it was a brilliant weekend, but I wouldn't go again. The age of the crowd was far too young, it was the longest journey known to man and the line-up wasn't great. Thanks to Cadbury for the travel and the hotel, and thanks to Mr. Macnamara for being superb company for two days. Oh yeah, you can also hear Dave's very funny, cool and uninformative podcast for the weekend HERE.

Next Stop: GLOBAL!

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