Deer Shed Festival

After months of planning, e-mailing, writing previews and generally waiting for the summer to arrive the festival season is now upon us. Here at The Northern Line we have set about covering as many festivals as possible. Not your corporate whore T-in-the-Park or “V” type things. But your more down to earth, organic, customer friendly type of thing. Our summer began on Saturday the 17th of July in Baldersby Park, Topcliffe, Near Thirsk, North Yorkshire. With the first ever Deer Shed Festival. Despite it being their first ever attempt at organising such a thing and the weather being just about ok they have set the bar remarkably high.

It was billed as a “Child Friendly” affair which didn’t mean you could have your face painted and very little else. No, they really went overboard on making it a family affair. The whole thing had the feel of a summer fete or even a friend’s wedding. (No pun with the headliners intended!) Everyone seemed to have brought their kids and the atmosphere and entertainment was excellent all day. There was still good bands, beer and it was a “real” festival but it was aimed at families and it was families who came and soaked all the goodness up.

To begin with they only sold 1000 adult tickets. Despite selling out in advance they resisted the temptation to just pile them in. This made the whole site accessible all the time. There was room for ten times as many tents. This made camping here more like camping at a camp site compared with images of the Somme at most of the “big” festivals. Where you pitch your tent in plenty of room only to discover that what you consider to be plenty of room others consider to be room for at least half a dozen more tents. Where you wake up to discover you cannot even get out of your tent due to the proximity of someone who arrived during the night. No such trouble here.

Then during the day you could walk around from stage to stage, Workshop to Workshop, with as much room as you could wish for. Unlike other festivals where at times you miss bands due to simply not being able to get from one place to another due to the sheer volume of people. Maybe I’m getting old but all these things appeal to me. Then there were the attractions for the kids; loads and loads of them. As well as the usual face painting there was model making, drum schools, a circus, ceramic classes to name a few. A whole days worth of stuff to keep the kids busy and a relaxed family attitude to keep mum and dad happy.


Then came the bands. Our day began with a band fast becoming one of our favourites; Young Rebel Set. We couldn’t work out why they were one of the first on. We concluded it was to guarantee every one getting in early. Well, it worked. A huge roar welcomed the boys onto stage. We have already reviewed them at Middlesbrough Music Live and will be doing a feature on their forthcoming tour so just a quick word to say they played all the faves and were fantastic. I was lucky enough to speak to a couple of the boys later as they strolled around the site. It won’t be long before luxuries like that will not be on the agenda as they arrive by helicopter onto stage from their own private island.

Then our one and only visit of the day to the busker’s stage to see Hope & Social. Much debate was ensuing as to why they weren’t on the main stage. Some even wondering why they weren’t headlining. Well, it transpires that they applied too late to get on the big boys stage. I am sure this will be rectified next year. They were one of the



best bands of the day. Their latest album; April, is a gem. They had the crowd eating out of their hands. Their banter, brilliant songs and free kazoos guaranteed that everyone fell for them. Stardom beckons. They are planning an open top bus ride to the sea-side in September from their home in Leeds. The Northern Line is planning to be on that bus. I encourage you to do the same. They really are one of the best kept secrets in rock “n” roll. Ten years since they began and still no-one outside the chosen few knows who they are. This cannot continue and we here at The Northern Line are going to do our damnedest to make sure it doesn’t.

At a lot of festivals you miss a lot of what goes on as there are just so many stages and too many bands. At the Deer Shed they kept it to only 3 stages. The main two alternating between acts and close enough not to miss a thing if you wanted. We did miss a few on the busker’s stage and became engrossed in other activities so as to miss one or two acts on the main stages but I think we managed to see almost everything. Obviously everyone isn’t going to like everything but because you had a good chance of seeing most of what was going on you were hopefully pleasantly surprised at one or two of the acts. I certainly was.


The next few acts I would not normally have chosen to see but they were all great and I would certainly go and see them again. First up was Danny and the Champions of the World.  

A South London gang who by virtue of landing in rural Yorkshire get to appear on a Northern web Site. Their mix of folksy Americana with hints of Bruce Springsteen and Ryan Adams made for a great afternoon treat. I spoke to the boys later and found them to be as personable as their music is beguiling.



Then a young Scouser called Delta Maid. Probably being pushed as the new Ellie Goulding or Laura Marling but really nothing like that at all. Earthy vocals and lyrics condemning the lifestyle of wags and wannabees. She has a charm and sophistication that will challenge all the lazy comparisons.

Justin Adams and Juldeh Camara were names I had not come across before but seeing as they were the first people to actually get people dancing they must have been doing something right.

Then a band that I have been meaning to see since their inception but just never seemed to get round to it. Young Knives look like a bad mix of Timmy Mallet and Teddy Duchamp (from Stand by me). But looks can be deceptive. Their sound is a heady mix of The Fall, New Fast Automatic Daffodils, XTC and lyrically a bit of Half Man Half Biscuit. They performed one song about punching their dad which conjured up memories of I, Ludicrous. Anyone remember Preposterous Tales? A story of their friend who does nothing but tell lies and exaggerate; “He said he saw the Sex pistols play, he once saw Palace score four away”. I thoroughly enjoyed their whole set and wondered why it has taken so long for me to get round to seeing them.

Then a man I thought I probably wouldn’t see play live again. Miles Hunt; he of The Wonder  stuff fame. Now I have to admit that for a time in 1988/89 I really loved the Stuffies as they were known. 


Eight Legged Groove Machine is a great album. But then I sort of fell out of love and by the time of Size of a Cow I couldn’t stand them. Well, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. With the help of Erica Nockalls on violin it was a mix of old favourites and new tunes. Miles’s between song banter was both interesting and humorous. His tale about Kirsty McCall brought a few tears from those of us who still miss her. He seemed genuinely pleased to be there and had the crowd baying for more. I even dug out my old vinyl copy of Eight Legged Groove machine when I got home to remind myself of why I used to love him. I might even indulge myself in some of his new stuff.

 Then the band most of the crowd had come to see. For those of a certain age The Wedding Present are legends. From 1986 to 1992 they were one of the best bands in Britain. The 3 albums they released in that time are classics. Seeing as they had chosen to do one of those albums in its entirety tonight they really couldn’t fail. The Northern Line did manage to have a word with David Gedge before he came on



stage but didn’t persuade him to wear one of our t-shirts. Hopefully he may be seen in one sometime in the future?  They began with a mix of old and new. Everyone thinks he looks daft and Corduroy began to stir the crowd of late 30s to 40 something’s into life. Then they began the real deal. A complete run through of Bizarro, their classic 1989 second album. Containing two of their best known songs; Kennedy and Brassneck. As well as great tunes like Granadaland and Take me. The crowd loved them. It was like being transported back to the late 80s for an hour or so. Despite the fact that Gedge is the only original member of the band it still feels like the Wedding Present.  The songs are all his and like Mark E Smith it doesn’t really matter who plays them with him. The beer bellies may be bigger and the pogoing less intense but the spirit lives on. They even have a cut n paste montage of John Peel introducing their songs. Many, like me, first heard The Wedding Present on his show and without him probably wouldn’t have been here tonight. Gedge owes him a great debt as well and this clip obviously shows that he knows and appreciates that. They capped a great day in some style and I hope they now do the same for Seamonsters. Come on David, you know it makes sense.

As we take down the Northern Line banner which has been withstanding the rain we turn our thoughts to next year. Deer Shed 2011 is going to be the first date on my calendar in the new year. A big thank-you to all the bands, performers, workers and those who attended. A special thank-you to Kate and Oliver who actually got up and did it.

More photos of the day are at our Facebook page (see link below)!/album.php?aid=195600&id=153421781639&ref=mf

By peter on August 1, 2010

Check out all the pics

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