The Secret Garden Party has bid farewell to festival revellers this year but before it closed its magical doors, this wonderful festival put on one hell of a leaving do. I could not miss the last instalment and here is my experience of this weekend gone.
I arrived Thursday afternoon and the sun was there to greet me. When I stepped in the garden it all felt very familiar, the woods, the lake, the stages and the quirky art but also everything seemed very different like I was looking at it for the very first time.
The first thing that struck me (which I seemingly forgot) was how good the sound system was and the quality of the beats. This made it easy to follow the music wherever it took me, be it The Labyrinth or the unknown bands I saw in smaller tents Thursday night.
The real fun started Friday when the official music program started. As the sunshine was out (still) I decided to go straight to the main stage and check out the live music on offer. The day started off with the heavy sound from DMA’s, which gathered a decent crowd although I found them a little generic. They were followed by Brighton’s Fickle Friends, who are just so vibrant and fun on stage, which fit perfectly with the setting.
Music highlights of Friday included an out of this world performance of Peaches. I had never seen the Canadian singer perform live and I was not disappointed. I have never seen so many costume changes in one setting and certainly have never seen a performer get fully changed on stage, whilst her dancers performed in the fun costumes, anything from vaginas to skimpy to really fluffy outfits. I particularly enjoyed Peaches and her dancers energy and how edgy their performance was. Fuck The Pain Away was definitely a highlight and Dick in the Air ended with Peaches in a huge condom that came. Friday night’s headliners were Crystal Fighters, who aren’t strangers to the garden and played so many songs, which remind me of summer such as At Home, I Love London and Follow that all of a sudden rain seemed like a distant memory.
Friday night then turned into dancing in woods whilst occasionally stopping to wander and find more music or fun things to see. The festivities were cut short when the rain started pouring, which was my call to crawl back into my dry tent.
Saturday was much less bright and a lot muddier, which made exploring a far more demanding experience. It was also fancy dress day, which meant everyone got their best VIP outfits out, I saw a few Kate and Williams ready for their big day, Donald Trump and all manner of funny banners. On the Great Stage Kate Nash performed some of her biggest hits and new music, whilst Deap Vally gave an invigorating performance. The two women of Deap Vally brought tons of energy on stage but the rain discouraged festival revellers from the main stage, which was a shame. On Where The Wild Things Are things got strange as Let’s Eat Grandma performed their tracks whilst also showing off how many instruments they could play. I also enjoyed Toothless’ mellow rock on the same stage. Some of the best music I saw was in the small Night Garden stage, where some of the most hypnotic singers were performing. Back on the main stage I caught Jagwar Ma’s set, which I found quite repetitive but I was there to wait for the Saturday’s fireworks and headliners, Metronomy. The fireworks were beautiful and ended with the burning Lake Stage as is customary and it later revealed a burning heart at its centre, a burning heart which would not be extinguished.
Saturday night was spent at the Temple of Excess, which provided a dry space and excellent beats whilst we waited for Steve Davis and Kavus Torabi to start their set in the Lost Woods Disco. We stayed there till the rain scared us back into into our tents.
Sunday was another wet day and the mud was fully part of the festival but this didn’t dampen spirits as people found ways to enjoy it by playing in it. Luckily the lido was at hand so that muddy festival goers could have a quick wash. Music wise, Sunday was very chilled out, my personal highlights were the sets performed by Ray Blk on the main stage, who blew me away and The Correspondents in the Kitsch Inn stage. The last festival revellers who didn’t leave Sunday partied in the woods till 6am I hear, trying to make the most of the very last SGP.
So it is goodbye for now or perhaps small hints such as the heartbeat at the end of the Secret Garden Party memories video, the Phoenix on the program and the undying fire on the Lake Stage mean that the party will continue elsewhere reincarnated. To be continued maybe…