Deer Shed Festival 2015

At most other festivals you can gauge the mood of the punters by the way they look. On Friday everyone is in bright clean clothes looking forward to the ensuing festivities. By Sunday it looks like Apocalypse Now. People look like they’ve been stranded on a desert island for weeks. Dishevelled and disorientated, hung over and needing sleep. At Deer Shed you can gauge the mood by the severity of the “telling offs” that the kids are getting. On Friday its all please don’t do that, please don’t do this. By Sunday morning I heard a woman shout at her kids that nearly took the paint off the clown’s faces that happened to be wandering past. This was nothing to do with the quality of the festival but everything to do with the weather. As much as we love festivals in this country they are always at the mercy of the elements.

This years festival sold out well in advance. This is due not only to the great line-up but to the previous 5 festivals. Every year it has gotten bigger and better. I’m sure people would come without even knowing who was playing. Knowing it was going to be a great week-end regardless of the line-up. One of the highlights of the year.

First band we saw was Black Rivers. They feature members of Doves. They sound like Doves. They do Pounding. It’s great. Their own stuff is not so great but their legacy means we give them a chance and they take it.

Next up are the Hummingbirds from Liverpool. Good beards, nice suits but…… The odd tune is ok but overall we won’t be fighting to see them again. They do a cover of Folsom Prison Blues, sadly it’s the best song they do!!!

Next up is Du Blond who used to be Beth Jeans Houghton. Loved her first band and this re-incarnation is proving just as successful. Great voice. Great songs. A packed out tent can’t get enough. They cover Where is my mind. And as much as I love the Pixies why not do some Beth Jeans tunes? A minor complaint as overall Du Blond are fantastic. Really looking forward to seeing them at Twisterella in October.

Final act of the evening is the wonderful Billy Bragg. I first saw Billy in March 1984 supporting the Style Council at the City Hall in Newcastle. His passion and commitment then is still with him now. His integrity has never faltered. He mixes classics like Levi Stubbs Tears with newer songs Scousers don’t buy the Sun. He still has the between song rants. His support for Jeremy Corbyn shows he has socialism with a heart. It’s now 31 years that I’ve been listening to him and he still makes as much sense now as he did then. A rousing Power in a Union followed by A New England send us all home happy.

The sun greets us the next morning and the first band we meet is Model Aeroplanes. A sunny bunch of lads from Dundee. They mix catchy tunes with a friendly and appealing manner. They invite us all to call on them next time we are up on Tayside. An offer I’m sure many would like to take up. Keep an eye out for them.

Later on Saturday morning we are again in the company of Billy Bragg. This time at one of the now legendary spoken word events with Dave Simpson. The hour passes far too quickly as Billy tells us stories of wetting the bed at Morrissey’s Christmas party, fighting Nazis in Barking, buying John Peel a curry and fixing videos at the record company who later supplied his manager. Billy has lost none of his compassion, spirit and man of the people appeal. The packed tent love him and appreciate that there are few like him in modern music. Even his Redskins baiting is taken in the humour it deserves.

First band of the day is also my favourite band of the week-end FatherSon. I am an Island was one of my albums of the year and seeing them perform it in the early afternoon sunshine whilst sipping gin and tonic is indeed supersonic. Again, they will be back in the area at Twisterella Festival in Middlesbrough in October.

Next up is Hinds. Spanish indie pop. And a nice afternoon surprise. Like the Breeders mixed with Belly. There seems to be a Pixies theme with the week-end’s bands which is no bad thing.

Then Menace Beach. Grungy, loud and endearing. Like the Llama Farmers. Remember them???

The Wedding Present are an escape from the rain which greeted us after Menace Beach. They play a greatest hits set which for the most part is superb. Opening with Take Me I’m yours from Bizarro and ending with Kennedy and My Favourite Dress. After almost 30 years they still have the ability to excite and new songs are aired boding well for the next 30 years.

As the weather closed in the kids were cold and wet so we retired to our tent hearing John Grant entertain the main stage as we wearily made our way home.

Next day was far brighter than predicted and we made the most of the sunshine as the girls visited numerous tents and play areas including the legendary swing ball park.

First up on the Obelisk stage is legendary DJ Andy Kershaw telling us his life story mixed with the music that formed his early years and beyond. A very entertaining 2 hours from a knowledgeable and very unassuming public figure. Having been listening to his shows for over 30 years it was great to see him in the flesh. His book “No off switch” is on our must read list.

Final entertainment for the week-end is Rick Buckler from The Jam telling tales about the band from its formation to its demise. Tales of lions, tours of the states, TOTP appearances to the final gigs and the lack of any re-union of one of the most important bands in musical history. Despite the obvious sadness at the band calling it a day whilst at the height of their powers Rick seems to bear no malice towards his former colleague. He is down to earth and genuinely interesting. His take on the whole thing seems to be he is proud to have been a third of a band as brilliant as the Jam. We throw around the word legend too easily but Rick is an integral part of a truly legendary band. Yes it would be great to see them play once again but also a bit sad and tawdry. As Rick concedes the money would be nice but life isn’t all about money. We got some photos, a signed book and an insight into a great lost band.

And then it’s finished. Despite the weather being probably the worst in the 6 year history of the festival it was still a great week-end. Great bands, great talks, fantastic atmosphere and some great entertainment for the kids. We are all looking forward to next year already.

Thanks to all those at the Deer Shed Festival.


Deer Shed Festival site:


Picture 10 of Rick Buckler during his talk is from an old friend Dan Blades.

By peter on August 1, 2015

Check out all the pics

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