Review: Livestock Festival

It may have only been the second Livestock Festival in existence but the organizers made sure that the whole weekend feel like it had been happening for years. Everything was carried out down to the T – you could rely on the bars to be well-stocked, the sets to start with impressive punctuality and the sound being second to none. They even provided seating (deckchairs and haybails), cover for the main stage (even though we were lucky enough not to need it) and plenty of shade for when the sun got too much (vital for the energetic kids). You could even detach yourself from the busy main festival arena and hide yourself away within the woodland area that was home to the magical woodland stage, only accessible by a beautiful natural walk through a canopy of trees, lighted by the warming presence of fairylights. I’m sure that those who went to this perfect weekend away left feeling fully detoxed of the negatives from the outside world, safe in the knowledge that they can return to their new-found favourite festival in just another year.

From the get go on Friday, festival-goers were submerged in the full power of Livestock. Throughout the day, they were treated to the Skaletrics, Other Animals and DJ sets on the Woodland Stage. But, the further into the evening you got, the better the sets became. Quigley took away breaths with those resonant and powerful vocals before Late Night Legacy, donning their lilting Leeds accents, brought a high energy set that got both young and old moving along to their blasts of infectious, speedy rock’n’roll gold. Dead Sea Skulls were then the band on everyone’s mind as they unleashed some monstrous punked up rock, forcing the audience into a frenzy over those thunderous melodies. Reef successfully closed the night with their 90 minute set, fitting in their iconic ‘Place Your Hands’ as well as their latest single ‘How I Got Over You’. From the expressions on the audience’s faces, this was a performance they weren’t going to stop talking about any time soon.

There was no better way to wake the crowds up on Saturday than with Heir who were busy reaching pitch-perfect harmonies on the main stage. Whether you’d been out late drinking or had an early night, Heir’s was a sound that everybody was welcoming. Saturday also brought with it the extra excitement of an Acoustic Stage and the opening of the Woodland Stage for a variety of live music sessions, leaving room for everyone’s tastes and desires to be fulfilled. If you needed a bit of time out, the covered intimate Acoustic Stage was the place to go, with sets from Meg Haydn and Martha Makes Mistakes delivering pitch-perfect sets that inspired and moved the audience to feeling stunning emotion. The Woodland Stage was a magical get away from the humdrum of the main festival arena and boasted faultless sets from the likes of Lila J and Anthony Price, with Dry Clean Only making sounds just as colorful as their bright Hawaiian shirts.

The day then fell into an easy flow, with Brad Dear delivering rusty vocals over gorgeous folk harmonies that you couldn’t help but love and Bengal Lancers acting as the first band to leave the crowd literally begging for more. Our favourite Rupert Stroud was better than we anticipated as he flaunted that statement voice with perfect valor over grand melodies before Imprints took everyone’s breath away with that infectious gypsy rock that went straight to the crowd’s head. The band had managed to bring the sun out for good and even enticed screams for more, which is no surprise considering the contagious energy of the set. Johnny Kowalski and the Sexy Weirdos well and truly lived up to their name by delivering a shambolic sound that reached an inexplicably ‘weird’ and ‘sexy’ climax as the band flitted across the stage as they let the music completely take over their bodies. It was mesmerizing to watch, but not as compelling as the set Reverend and the Makers delivered. Speaking to people in the crowd it was obvious that this was the band that had stolen peoples hearts on the second day. Their music was one to dance to, wave your arms to, release every pent up emotion to. Then, after Reverend and the Makers detox, The Fratellis took over to end the night, their crowd-pleasing tunes enough to leave the festival-goers with happy faces for the night.

Whilst the crowd may have been feeling a bit more worse for wear on Sunday morning, it definitely did not put them off. The Dirty Smooth brought a variety of tracks to their set, including covers that helped perk up even the most tired of the largely reclined crowd before Torn Atlas continued with the polished smooth melodies. It was down to Done By Sunrise to get things fulling moving though. People were finally getting up off their feet to dance to their addictive sunny music that spread dazzling feelings through your body. They went through a variety of covers and originals, the best of the originals must surely be the ‘TOWIE Song’, an unexpected, funny delight. The humor-charged music was not over though as Gaz Brookfield took to the stage armed with his delightfully honest quips and humble songwriting that brought a smile to even the most cynical of the crowd – making it evident that his is a name to remember.  Wet Desert lived up to all of our expectations, rocking through a set that turned even the most pop-orientated listener into a rock-lover. But even this young writer couldn’t argue with the fact that Chesney Hawkes stole the spotlight on Sunday, asking his adoring audience to help him take part in the #22PushUps charity initiative to help raise awareness for veteran suicide prevention as well as belting out various tracks, including his one famous hit ‘The One and Only’.

I’m sure that everyone one of the 4,500 crowd that descended upon Livestock’s field’s this weekend will agree and say that this is perhaps one of the best small festivals out there at the moment. They may need to work on getting more camping toilets and more water points but you can’t argue with the smiles that reached from ear to ear on both the families, the music fans, and the people who were just there to enjoy festival life.

Livestock takes place in Longdon, Gloucester.
More info

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