Shiiine On Weekender –Butlin’s Arena, Minehead, Somerset UK. November 6-9th, 2015.
Day 2: Friday
With no less than 40 band and DJ slots on 5 stages from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. as the festival opened wide, Shiiine On staff had their work cut out for them for Day 2. Yet it seemed to kick off seamlessly. Of the several ways to pace oneself for a long day of festival-going, we Canadians went the sleep in /sleep it off, start later and close it down route.
Everyone worries and wonders over set time conflicts, a fan dilemma that is not always handled with care by those in charge or ideal given Artiste availability. Here is one of the ways that Shiiine excelled and showed that as cool as they are, they are also thoughtful. Conflicts were very minimal and set times were practical. There was also a great deal of attention paid to flow and a class DJ’s ear applied to the overall timing of the weekend with respect to what people need when: The DJs in between live music gigs and late into the night were the caffeinated kick that made tired brains get overruled by happy feet (many of them Adidas clad).
Friday’s offerings started with main stage shows by Kustombuilt and the reunited Thousand Yard Stare, whose announcement on the bill had some of the most excited online comments in the lead up to the festival. This gig definitely was a special draw for their fans who’ve missed them, and did not disappoint. They were followed up by Milltown Brothers, the very cool Space, and The Farm who are the pure best merchants of the early Northern sound: chunky bass lines, issue songs that are danceable, and effortless cool. The Farm are bearers of this music’s history and were in top form including solid a cover of Bankrobber by The Clash, hits Groovy Train and epic sing along All Together Now where strangers danced and embraced each other, eyes wide. And we all are, All Together Now, in a brief respite from a dead zone of music and culture, art forms that we thought were eternal in our youth. All this was capped off by the closing set by Inspiral Carpets who were stellar and a perfect choice to end Friday. They brought down the house to a chorus of Moos. No sign of Noel Gallagher popping round to haul gear for them for old times’ sake, though we kept an eye out.
The other stages were each different: but generally the larger ones were great night clubs with multiple levels, ample seating and kick-ass sound, light and video systems. And were nice and loud. Electronic/Dance pioneers The Orb who brought ambient house to the world were one of the key bookings that bridged the experience from evening to late night (1:00 a.m.) in a PACKED huge dance stage on the first very full day. For those looking for a chance of pace/vicarious living that still suited perfectly, there were great film screenings all weekend including the legendary, perfect Trainspotting.
Some of the artists and many DJs moved from room to room, helping to define the groove that carried everyone through the days like a happy, nodding, shuffling wave. These included Space Monkeys, The Spitting Pips, and DJs Will Nicol, Terry Farley, Gareth Crilly, and Dave Booth who took a devoted crowd to church from 2:00 to 4:00 a.m. New Order songs were played here that would be played by the man Hooky himself in less than a day: both versions succeeded in hitting us right where we live, as eternal as this music is. And some Sympathy for the Devil was mixed in to boot.
Thursday’s house party vibe was replaced with a full house at Butlin’s, but never too full to have a little room to dance. Bars were ample and well-staffed, and anyway, you could go around with your own pitcher of cider, beer or whatever pleased you. Even if that might be 6 straws for 6 sharers in a pitcher of something slushy and toxic looking. If you were friendly, you would never go thirsty, as we found. Rounds were bought at lightning speed. Rounds are still owed! Lively talk carried on over loud music. Many lost their voices and may have entered boardrooms today in far corners of the U.K. bearing this mark of the Shiiine class of 2015 like some kind of (non-violent) Fight Club.
By Friday music heads were all easing into the unreal fact that this whole vibe was not a moment or for the life of a good couple of tunes but an energy that quickly filled the place and all of us with something lasting and contagious, both necessary and well earned by all involved. It was a team sport we could all chant to with no rivalries or regional tensions. Canadians slipped in discreetly (we think). We are officially ruined for festivals now that do not have cohesive line ups that excite us, so that’s it for the bulk of North America.
From DJs, the steady throb of music of Pulp, Stone Roses, New Order, Underworld and James and the sudden vastness of a new world utterly free of and insulated from bad music and celeb “news” was stunning. The lack of rigamarole and hassle that we’ve become used to at other festivals, the tension that is too much like work, was a fading bad dream. We realized moment to moment as the crushing boredom, irritation or strain to smile never came, that we’d been taught to accept piss poor service, overcrowding and inadequate beer offerings for top dollar from the cynical, the handcuffed and those with questionable taste and sense at other festivals for too long, where we counted on one or two bands to not just entertain us, but miraculously make all that other stuff go away for an hour. And by god if they failed in that alchemy, 30 people will tweet nastiness about it. We can never go back down that slope again. This Shiiine, theirs and ours that we have all found and really, are rediscovering right out in the daylight here, is something actually organic, actually surprising, unprecedented, focused and pure, the good stuff, not stepped on.
More to come. The assault of happiness, ease of enjoyment and the pace that promised no days off and a firm resolve to sleep “later” (still too wired anyway) along with the big gigs ahead meant that Saturday and Sunday were only going to get crazier, more surreal, and more like everything Shaun Ryder threatened and promised a night with him would contain…
Words by Jacqueline Howell, photos by Dave MacIntyre.
With very special thanks to Shiiine On Weekender & North Country Boys.