LeeFest claims it is in Bromley to attract Londoners but it is in a field on a hill next to Biggin Hill Airport. It sounds less accessible than London but London doesn't have Lancaster bombers flying over and the cell phone reception still worked, so that was all fine.
It's a tiny thing, the size of two cricket pitches, less a boutique festival than a jumble sale festival. The price is appropriately cheap and cheerful, £55 for the weekend or £35 for the Saturday. The organisers are going for nice and friendly, admittedly pretty low targets, but the weather held along with the calm bonhomie.
KAYA were the first band up. They are jazz/soul/hip-hop with two vocalists; beardy rapper Natty and beautiful diva Aina. They got the party started correctly and were lots of fun as well as being excellent drinking buddies after their show.
Actually, they were superb drinking chums so I missed the next band, some indie nonsense. A group called BORDEAUXXX came on afterwards and they were alright. They have a xylophone and ringing guitars and sound like Metronomy fans. There was a girl with a pink bass which was very cool but she spoilt it by wearing a horrible mustard shirt. The intention was probably rhubarb and custard but it looked like weak blood and bogies.
The crappily-named PROFESSOR PENGUIN were up next, all thumbs-up and joviality. They sound a bit like James but the male singer had unexpected Kate Nash type inflections and lilts.
This lily-livered indie was getting a bit annoying so it was time for lunch, an excellent balti burger with far, far too much chilli pickle (my own fault). Belching and sweating and recovering, I doddered to the Wonderland tent. They are a bunch of nice hippies who decorated the site with lanterns and crap they got out of dustbins and their tent was full of fun stuff, a guy playing his accordion and cups of tea. I sat on a bed with a shisha of cherry tobacco and a glass of whiskey and a DJ played twitch house. It was excellent.
The intention was probably rhubarb and custard but it looked like weak blood and bogies
Some other band came on, they were called LOOSE TALK COSTS LIVES and they were not as urgent or as fun as their name suggests. It was the sort of fast African guitar music Andy Kershaw and John Peel liked. The singer looked like he was really into Vampire Weekend and they sounded like it too.
GET CAPE WEAR CAPE FLY are very good and had tasteful sundown lighting to go with the poppy, holdy-handy tunes he dished out. The fellow desperately needs a distortion pedal on his guitar though. None of his songs seemed to be about video games which was a bit unfair considering his act's name. Prick tease.
The YOUNG KNIVES were popular with the crowd but rubbish to cultured ears (a name like that suggests dynamism, sounding like The Lighthouse Family/Scouting For Girls is very disappointing) so it was time to go back to Wonderland. I played pass the parcel while a DJ spun upbeat hip-hop, N.E.R.D., Luniz etc. and I won a prize! Fucking superb! It was an orange rubber sea cucumber sort of thing, so I chucked it back into the throng, watching it get passed around to Dr. Dre's finest beats. There were fist bumps and high fives all round.
BRITISH SEA POWER are an odd choice of headliner. One is either a blood-oath fan or never heard of them. My girlfriend is one of the former and had fucked off backstage to hang out with them, leaving me alone to puzzle over their generous stage show of woodland, a fox, a gorilla, a robot and lots of expertly performed power rock. I wanted to like them very much more but they wouldn't announce any songs and the audience banter was only for the hardcore so it was irritating until a very drunken friend beckoned me to the dance tent.
It was a good idea. Most of the day's DJs had served up prison-slop house for back-of-the-bus mobile phones but the evening saw far superior music. There was dubstep, but not too much wub-wub-wub wasting everyone's time. There were lots of bass drops and hands in the air instead, the DJ nodded benevolently, we grinned like twats.
LeeFest, a hearthside cat of festivals, is never going to get Metallica, but it's probably quite hard to get a nice cup of tea at a Metallica gig. It's nice, and as thin and reedy as 'nice' sounds, there's fun to be had at somewhere so pleasant and inclusive. It was plenty family friendly, too - I saw an infant playing in a bin while its parents smiled and cooed.
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