Deer Shed Festival 2012

“Rain, Rain, go away. Come back another day……..”

Well, it worked. Bigging up the sun and blasting the rain got us the rewards we wanted and last weekend was superb. The first time it had stopped raining for about two months. Just in time for our favourite festival to have its third birthday. The Deer Shed Festival was the winner of our best festival of the year award last year and I think it will be the favourite to repeat that accolade in 2012. The sun shone, the bands were great and the atmosphere was superb. I love the Deer Shed festival……..

So, who was on and who was good? Remember, we don’t like to criticise here at The Northern Line. So, Cashier No 9 played on Friday night as did Saint Etienne. The fact I haven’t included them in this review should tell you what I think of them both. The Dutch Uncles also played and they are fantastic. I have seen them before but hadn’t fully appreciated how great they are. Maybe they had a lot of new songs, maybe they have grown on me, maybe they’re just brilliant. Honestly sandwhiched between the aforementioned bands that I’m not mentioning they were a breath of quirky, off-kilter fresh air. Front man Duncan Wallis looks like Ian Curtis’s younger brother. The band kick out tunes that remind me of XTC, Talking Heads, Sparks and strangely, early Simple Minds. Looking forward to their new album which on this performance is going to catapult them into the stratasphere. This festival is not big enough for the both of us!!!!

So first night over, Thatchers Cider consumped in abundance. How can something called Thatcher’s taste so good? Off to bed then ready for the big day ahead.

As we wake on Saturday the first thing that hits us is the sun!!! Yes, we had forgotten he even existed but today his hat was on and we could hear him whistling hip hip hip hurray as we checked out the bacon and egg butties. First up on the main stage was “Washington Irving”. Now last year we gave the Deer Shed “Festival of the Year”. We made Washington Irving “Band of the Year.” Todays performance was a match made in heaven. Despite the early start and the hangover they were fantastic. This isn’t just my biased opinion but also that of everyone I spoke to at the festival. They should be huge. Despite only having released one of the songs they played; Abbey Gallop; and despite most in attendance never having heard of them they went down a storm. Whiskies were bought, jigs were danced and everyone went away vowing to see them again. When I was young I used to have a favourite band or artist. It began with Buddy Holly in 1978, I know, I know, punk was at its height and I was into Buddy Holly!!! Then I discovered The Police, then The Jam. Then The Smiths blew me away. As I got older it seemed a bit childish to have a favourite band. A bands name to write on your satchel, a band to care about, a band to tell your friends about but, but, I still do have favourite bands. And at the moment Washington Irving are that band. I love them. And before long you will too.

WOODENBOX (with a Fistful of Fivers)
It would seem that these lovable scamps from Glasgow have spent their fistful of fivers as they are only known as Woodenbox now. Probably easier to tell folk and cheaper on the T-shirts but I liked the fistful of fivers name. But no worries I still love Woodenbox. As they leave the stage it is with a heavy heart that I realise I have seen the best 3 bands of the festival and its only 2 O’Clock in the afternoon. There is still loads of great things left but my 3 favourites are done and dusted before its really got going. Next year I expect Dutch Uncles, Washington Irving and Woodenbox to be headliners. Relying heavily on their debut album the Woodenbox boys stomp and strut around the stage as if they own the place. By the end of their set they own the hearts and ears of all who have witnessed their performance. Their second album is out in October. Catch them if you can.

Strange name, I’d never heard of them. Was recommended by a few. Well worth it. Like Other Lives which is a real compliment. Like Radiohead, when they were good!!! Atmospheric, ethereal, other worldly…. superb. Will certainly be seeking them out again.

All dressed in fancy dress. Like the Cocteau Twins if they’d had a sense of humour. I love Beth Jeans and all her Hooves. Great tunes, great rapport with the crowd. Like PJ Harveys naughty little sister Beth strums guitar, looks gorgeous and has that air of knowing she is destined for great things. It is the second time I’ve seen her this year and may be the last before its £35 a ticket in a venue where you watch her on a screen rather than on the stage!!!

I have to admit a strange relationship with Field Music. I’ve come close to seeing them on a number of occassions. I’ve almost bought their albums. I’ve had talks with various members of The Futureheads and Frankie & the Heartstrings about how good they are but I’ve not seen them live or really listened to their stuff. So I made a special effort to catch them. And was not disappointed. They are, like everyone said, superb. A real gem in the crown of North East music. The brothers Brewis swapping guitars for drums for vocals. Delivering tune after tune to an audience obviously more clued up than me. I will certainly be buying their new album “Plumb” and putting their first album on my Christmas list for santa to get hold of. On vinyl, hopefully!!!


Loved their debut album so was a little excited about seeing them in the flesh. Was a little tipsy after copious amounts of Thatcher’s best. But they certainly lived up to my expectations. It is difficult for a festival like the Deer Shed to pick a headliner. They want to keep the family vibe going but they also want someone that people really want to see. Villagers ticked all those boxes. Their folky tunes are both easy listening but also gripping. The sound builds up and captures the audience. You could see there were passionate fans but also casual onlookers. By the end of the set all were enthralled. Only criticism; why do front men feel the necessity to play a drum? Arcade Fire started this and it seems to be the fashion. Drummers drum let them get on with it. Apart from that the Villagers were brilliant.


Cardboard boxes, hangovers, more goes on the big wheel, dancing classes, craft stalls, more cider (until it ran out), a book reading session (see our separate feature on “Has Football lost its Soul?”), more sunshine, making models of Frankenstein, surfing on the simulator, more fun, more games, more sunshine…… I think the Sunday morning is the best time at Deer Shed. Relaxed in the knowledge you’ve had a great weekend but still loads to do before you leave. The girls loved the whole weekend but were especially pleased with all the stuff they got up to on the Sunday morning.


The boy from the Arab Strap in his new incarnation “Human Don’t be angry” which is a musical concept based loosely on a foreign version of the game Frustration!! Now I loved Arab Strap. And I’ve loved most of Malcolm’s solo stuff. I even quite like the Human Don’t be Angry album but I would have much preferred some of his other solo stuff than just this one album. I did enjoy it but became a bit bored knowing he wasn’t going to throw in any surprises. Still enjoyed the set and look forward to seeing him do all his solo stuff sometime in the future.


Final act of the day and a nice laid back vibe to finish off. Cherry Ghost have been away for a while but on todays performance that wont be for long. Lots of festival goers have stayed to see this lot and they go down a storm. The sun, the hair of the dog hangover cures, the stream of catchy tunes makes the final action of the festival a major success.

We leave as the band are finishing their set. Another great weekend. The kids have had a wonderful time and are looking forward to next year’s festival already. Another go on the big wheel and then its back to the car for the journey home. Don’t worry I wasn’t driving. Even the wife enjoyed the experience and she is notoriously difficult to please. Although she did marry me so some may disagree with that last statement!!! Anyway a brilliant time was had by all. Festival of the year??? It’s gonna take something really special to stop it notching two in a row.

A big thank-you to Oliver and Kate and all those who work hard to deliver exactly what it says on the tin. A family festival geared up for families. Thanks to Claire for sorting out our tickets. Thanks to all those who attended for making it a friendly, fun packed weekend. Here’s to 2013!!!



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By peter on July 30, 2012

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