Review: Deer Shed Festival 2016

25 Jul 2016 @ 11.20 am
| Entertainment

  Deer Shed Festival 7

  Baldersby Park, Topcliffe, North Yorkshire, July 22 to 24 2016

With fantastic sci-fi b-movie posters and a list of family-friendly events longer than an octopus’ tentacles, Deer Shed Festival 7 had a lot of hype to live up to.

Arriving later than planned, it was clear that everyone else had bunked off work early to get the best pitch. Carting all our weekend requirements the considerable distance from the car park to the camping field didn’t get things off to the most relaxing start.

But pitched, fed and watered this early hiccup was soon behind us as we meandered to the main stage to catch Friday headliners Everything Everything. An indie rock band from almost all four corners of British Isles they were led by a monastically-clad and passionate Jonathan Higgs.

It was an heroic performance, with influences from U2, Alphaville (Big In Japan) and Babybird and a real sense of elevation. They created probably the most enthusiastic audience of the weekend and a great way to start the festival.

Jonathan Higgs leads Everything Everything on first night
Jonathan Higgs leads the first night on the Main Stage

Finding ways to keep a ten-year-old happy without sending our fourteen-year-old off into a sulk is usually nigh on impossible. But not at the Deer Shed.

A walk round the grounds on Saturday revealed a simply enormous number of was to entertain the next generation. An impressive amount of it was at no additional cost and those activities that were, tended to be cheap – £1 or £2.

Models Minions drying in the sun
Minions mischief
Big wheel, helter-skelter and swings at the Deer Shed Festival
Fun for all the family
Monster approaches festival tent
What lies beneath…

Den building, a whole field of swingballs, football, tennis, bmx biking, scooters, skateboarding and a cinema were all included.

3, 2, 1, blast-off
3, 2, 1, blast-off

Possibly the best use ever of Harrogate Spring Water was the ‘build your own rocket’ area in the science tent. Blue Peter style gaffer tape, cardboard and a plastic bottle were launched into orbit by pressurising Harrogate’s finest and the pulling the plug.

Programming the Raspberry Pii, bridge-building and music making were further creative outlets in the tent.

Our children’s favourite, however, was the destruction derby area. Here they could tear apart, unscrew or drill old stereos, computers and sewing machines.

Worryingly life-like Walking Dead or Casualty-style wounds and scars were available from Leeds City College Media Media Make Up & Theatrical Special Effects students.

A scar on an arm
Fear The Walking Dead courtesy of Leeds City College

Aardman Animations had workshops led by one of their model-makers. Here kids of all ages (including dad-age) could create a character from the Wallace & Gromit films.

How to make a Gromit by Aardman Animations
How to make a Gromit by Aardman Animations
Model of Gromit the dog
Say Cheese

After energy-sapping destruction in the Science Tent, we set off in search of sustenance. Deer Shed had a wide variety of flavours from all over the World but we played boringly safe with chile, curry and pizza. All excellent and not unreasonably priced either.

Our second day afternoon music tour started at the main stage and Misty Miller. This tuneful grunge-pop act from London had just the right balance of angst and melody to make it memorable. Not too angry for a Saturday afternoon but catchy enough to engage the crowd sat out on the hillside.

Misty Miller
Misty Miller on the Main Stage

On the Lodge Stage Meilyr Jones had a mesmerising voice, not dissimilar Nick Cave. The tracks were theatrical and playful with unexpected tempo changes and strings alternating between pity and tension.

This was a real stand-out act, one which drew the audience in with anticipation and kept them wanting more.

Meilyr Jones at the Deer Shed Festival 2016
Meilyr Jones in the Lodge Stage

Back in the Dock, Mercury-nominate Anna Calvi‘s intense rhythm and smooth deep vocals wrapped the audience in a rock-trance aura.

Anna’s presence onstage was commanding as she used ‘out-of-control’ guitar to needle the audience from outside their aura.

Anna Calvi
Anna Calvi in the Dock

Saturday headliner Richard Hawley gave a big sound finish to the second day. A clearly enthusiastic crowd joined in with the ex-Pulp musician and his soulful retro rock.

Richard Hawley
Richard Hawley leads the crowd on Saturday night

Sunday lined-up more fun for the kids. One word of advice for Deer Shed newbies though – book your activities early. Our children managed to do everything they wanted, but because we booked late, it was all jammed together on the Sunday.

A slower pace for our second day, the Buffalo Skinners packed the Obelisk stage to the rafters. Festival favourites, they always deliver a perfect blend of catchy folk-rock with a generous side-serving of country and western.

A Young festival goer hides from the rain
Dodging the rain – a young(ish) festival goer finds a creative way to stay dry

The first real downpour of the weekend slowed to a spit for the main stage weekend-closing set by Beth Orton.

Known for her ‘folktronica‘ sound, the thumping base pushed the audience back. Higher up the hill, her harmonious vocals and folk-guitar and synth backings settled more evenly into the beat.

Beth Orton onstage at the Deer Shed Festival 2016
Beth Orton delivers ‘Folktronica’

The final review of the weekend inevitably comes from the kids. Even their teen/pre-teen too-cool-for-skool meh moods couldn’t stop them from smiling, enthusing even, at the events of the weekend.

All sewn-up. Deer Shed done for another year
All sewn-up. Deer Shed done for another year