Butlins is a great set up for a festival. Stages, bars, restaurants and accommodation are all in close proximity which helps a good festival spirit build up easily on site. Add a great line up of bands into the mix and you’ve got the recipe for a great weekend.
The focal point of the festival is the Skyline Pavilion where folk can socialise and have a drink during the day. Its also home of the Introducing Stage, where each afternoon four bands get the chance to play a long set to a large crowd in a ‘Battle of the Bands’ contest. The crowd vote for their favourites and the daily winners get promoted to one of the two main stages for next years festival. Definitely a prize worth winning.
The twelve bands that played across the three afternoons were of a very high standard so massive congratulations go out to The Blue Carpet Band, Pete Bentham & the Dinner Ladies and Verbal Warning for winning the daily competitions, look forward to seeing you on a bigger stage next year.
The two main stages both had great sized stages, good lights and sound and plenty of bars to keep a thirsty crowd happy. “This Is Ska” shouted Buster Bloodvessel as he came on stage with Bad Manners. He’s half the man he used to be but can still fill a stage with his enthusiasm and catalogue of great songs.
Introducing stage winners from last year Hands Off Gretel were totally at home on a bigger stage. The more I see this band the better they get, always a visual treat and their alt rock power sound found them more new fans.
The Boomtown Rats clashed with Sham69. I caught the first few Rat tracks and got to enjoy two of my favourites, She’s So Modern & Like Clockwork, delivered perfectly. A mad dash to the other stage was rewarded by a particularly good set from the Hersham Boys! With a set full of singalong favourites Sham69 were great entertainment for a large crowd, the massive gap between stage and crowd not dampening the atmosphere. A special mention must go out to drummer Robin Guy, currently quite unwell and undergoing some difficult treatments, who treated us to an exhibition of fast and furious punk rock drumming. Get well soon Sir.
One of my personal favourite sets of the weekend came from the Witchdoktors. A high tempo show of their garage punk rock’n’roll delivered with style and humour to a large crowd. Keep a Voodoo Eye out for these boys in the future.
Old school punk was well represented with The Members treating us to the Sounds Of The Suburbs, the ever young Charlie Harper and the UK Subs closing out Friday nights fun and a fond farewell from Butlins to Eddie & the Hotrods who are on their last tour after 40 years as a band.
Best set of the weekend? An easy one to pick to be honest. After winning their Introducing Stage heat last year Hung Like Hanratty were rewarded with a Sunday lunchtime spot on the mainstage. Despite the early hour they played to a packed venue and smashed the place with their raunchy, raucous, humorous, inappropriate brand of punk rock power.
Punk has a history of producing bands with a great, and sometimes rude, sense of humour. We were also treated to great sets from the Anti Nowhere League and Dirt Box Disco over the weekend. Hung Like Hanratty gave us a great set, with plenty of props, guests including the ghost of Jimmy Saville (!), and most importantly some of the most catchy infectious songs of the weekend. And the very best bit of the set was looking into the crowd and seeing a sea of smiling, laughing and singing faces.
So congratulations to Butlins. You put on a great event and created a great atmosphere. I’ll be back next year, hope to see you all there.
Find out about all of Butlins musical weekenders at www.bigweekends.com
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