Leopallooza was the festival the weather couldn't sink. On a weekend when other musical events were disappearing into their own swamps, or awash with health and safety crises, we partied on into the wee small hours of Monday in the wet and windy Wyldes, not far from Bude in Cornwall. It was wetsuit weather, but fashionistas opted for ponchos, wellies and broad grins.
If smaller festivals are precariously reliant on the weather and on the often excessive expectations of their clientele, they could do well to pop in and sample this one. For a man not far into his fifth decade, making his weekend festival debut, with a toddler and two teenage girls in tow, this ought to have been a veritable sh*t sandwich of an initiation for me (possibly even without the bread). Parts of the site may have resembled one giant ecological dirty protest, or the World Bog Snorkelling Championships, by the end of day one, but the organisers were on it throughout, keeping things running on time with good cheer. The festival-goers seemed hardy sorts and up for making the best of the experience themselves, rather than making enjoyment entirely someone else's responsibility.
It strikes me that many festivals could be guilty of over-reaching themselves. Knowing what is on offer at many of them, sometimes costing a princely feckload, I wouldn't be surprised if some less mindful and more consumerist punters start to expect the moon on a stick - buying premium weather, constant hot water, cold prosecco and dry ground. Basically, we are at risk of people wanting an indoor experience replicated outside if we forget that the best festivals are basically 'a giant house party in a field', as this festival labels itself.
Working on the premise that there's no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate kit, surely for a festival, you need somewhere dry to rest your head, something sturdy and waterproof to place your feet in, you need food, drink, ears and a resilient sense of humour. And paracetamol for the mornings. Humans are essentially waterproof anyway.
The line up at Leopallooza was a real mix of new and established acts. Of the three headliners, The Cribs, Maximo Park and Gabrielle Aplin, it was the latter who shone, charming the crowd and ending the weekend, as many a splendid 'do' ends, with a chance to dance and a few slow songs to facilitate emotional group hugs and swaying. Many of my mates spent the weekend enthusiastically saying "Who's this?" before making a mental note to take to Spotify when back in the more fragrant bosom of their families during the week. Keir owned the Second Stage on Sunday, whilst Jim Jones and the Righteous Mind gave the performance of the weekend at midnight on Saturday on the alternative rock, Mono Stage.
Krrum, William the Conqueror and Sam Green and the Midnight Heist all shone from the undercard, gaining new followers. Krrum's moodily atmospheric tunes had a similarly substantial presence to some of the Sunday clouds that lingered portentously, yet the opposite effect on those present. Sam Green and the Midnight Heist brought a bluesy hue to Friday afternoon, whilst William the Conqueror's urbane lo-fi folk rock was a welcome warm-up to a soggy Saturday.
From a festival novice's perspective, the market does look over-saturated. When there's a potentially good thing going on, people will always seek to get on it as a business opportunity. The main thing about festivals ought to be that they are run by music lovers, for music lovers. If it feels like you're going to someone's massive party, then it's a shindig, a giggle, an adventure. The more corporate the set-up and the more consumerist the attendee, you're just going to have people wrongly expecting good, clean fun, instead of a wonderfully dirty weekend. I was assured by regulars that this was the worst weather they'd ever had and that last year, your only concerns were sunstroke and over-excitement.
As it was, I spent a glorious weekend at Leopallooza jumping in muddy puddles with my toddler, giving it some serious dad dancing to stand-out sets by Francobollo, Vant and Clean Cut Kid. And as everyone's favourite (?) animated porcine character will tell you, everyone loves jumping in muddy puddles.
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.