Article by Ben Mercer
I think Lee Denny actually is a modern day Ferris Bueller and Leefest is simply the result of 80”™s inspired shenanigans. In these deeply cynical times it took one man (or young adult) to defy his parents”™ request and carefully avoid litigation which prevented him from having a house party while they were on holiday. Seeing his rents”™ wishes more as a challenge than a command, he hypothesised that holding a festival in the garden would, ”˜technically speaking”™, not break the rules. Boom. Leefest was born. Decamping from the Denny estate a few years back (due to popularity) we find ourselves in a wet field somewhere in Bromley, staring at a volley ball court, complete with sand. In the rain. Despite the elements, the court was in session.
Three stages, a bar, a ”˜chill out”™ tent and the aforementioned volley ball court are all packed into a relatively small space. ”˜Charming”™ is the word I would use to describe it, every element has a handmade quality to it. The intermittent rain paves way to regular trips back to the campervan [Editor: and from personal experience, what a campervan it is] for gin and tonic. With lime (festivals are middle class now. Fact).
Hot Club De Paris is our first order of musical business. Lovely, precise and fun; it”™s a nice start to the day. Rain hits again. We bump into some of Professor Penguin (who played earlier) who pester us into buying one of their CD”™s. We comply to get to the van quicker. Taking shelter, we slice some limes and listen to PP on the stereo in the rain. Lovely Folktronica mixed with a bit of Get Cape, I”™ll be honest, gutted I missed their set.*
The sun flirts with us and shows us a bit of blue sky. Cheeky bitch. We return just as Mean Poppa Lean take to stage. I always wondered what happened to Ska Punk since I last touched base with it in 2002. To fill you in, it”™s pretty much the same except it now wears spandex. Bright, distracting, neon coloured spandex. Their music is very much Ska by the numbers, but is done well (Editor: it’s funk, Ben…). A very contrived break down into a Michael Jackson cover half way through the set is clearly rehearsed but is ultimately funny. Still though. Eyes kept getting pulled in by the spandex. It was like a fluorescent black hole.
I saw the familiar eccentric hairdo of King Charles bobbing around the site but missed his set. People said ‘it were good’ though. I was much more interested in the face painting and plastic tea set we”™d discovered in the chill out tent. We saunter back to the main stage in time for Does It Offend You, Yeah?. James Morgan (lead singer) has apparently fired everyone from the old line and up and replaced them with children. Despite looking out of place amongst the youngsters (seriously, did he just go round Shoreditch like the Child Catcher from ”˜Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”™, stealing scene musicians off the street?), the set is raucous one. I fucking love their debut album and the newer tracks thankfully sat well with the older ones. Late afternoon mosh pit? Yes pls.
The King Blues are late and utterly, utterly shit. With a rather gravelly voice, and a rapping style that should have Jamie T”™s lawyers on the phone, Jonny ‘Itch’ Fox (fuck me. Is that really his name?) is just a terrible front man. Recent single Holiday, with it”™s insipid chorus and awful lyrics (”˜we’re going away on hooolliiddaayy”™) that implore the listener to imagine holidaying in far off exotic locations to escape the ravages of the city/modern day life/blah blah blah, is clichÃ© indie pop by the numbers. The only holiday I can envisage escaping to upon hearing the song is a recession busting budget caravan trip to Devon. Only miss-step of the day. Torrid.
I was getting a bit wet in anticipation of seeing Fenech-Soler and I was not disappointed. Cannot get enough of this band at the moment. If there was some way I could drip feed their music into my veins then I would do that. A sudden urge to randomly break into dance and to start wearing spangley tops and white trousers would probs ensue, but I”™d be a happier person for it. Donning the stage in said attire, they immediately plunge into the first track and conjure up images of Friendly Fires with their stage presence and excellent execution of material. The set is short but sweet, but it’s synth-laden pop at its best; stand out track Lies is the highlight in a set seemingly packed full of highlighter pens, with its catchy chorus and oh-so-bitter lyrics. Amazing.
Sweaty but blissful, the vibe is defers dance oriented. We forgo Futureheads after the opening track (they appeared to be on form) in favour of the double billing of Starsmith and Jakwob in the dance tent. Both DJ sets are text book, with Starsmith, unsurprisingly, showing his pop production roots by dropping the more radio-friendly electro hits and Jakwob throbbing out the dub. After that the day trippers head home and the campers gather around a fire to discuss the days’ events. Probably. I don”™t really remember what was said. I was apparently far too concerned with setting up an elaborate camera shot that resulted in the demise of my phone after a gin-induced end.
For 35 quid (inc camping) you could do a lot worse (like Clapham on a Saturday night for eg). The excellent billing was worth the ticket alone. Yet it”™s the authentic home baked feel to the fest that you leave with. You can”™t help but feel you”™ve just stumbled upon something rather special that not a lot of people are in on. Upon surfacing in the morning i see Ferris himself, Lee had taken it upon himself to grab a bin bag and start cleaning up the camp site of his own festival. Legend.
* Did I just review listening to a band that played a festival, but on a stereo in the festival car park? Yes. Yes I did.