As you get older the love of gigs and festivals doesn't go away, but the pain you feel afterwards takes a lot longer to recover from. So generally these days I just go to a festival for one or maybe two days, even then I'm hanging out my arse for a week after the event.
So, it was with trepidation that I booked for the full 3 days at Black Deer Festival - the lineup and promise of good food was just too much to resist. From what I had read and heard this was going to be unique and ticked a lot of boxes for my love of Outlaw, Americana and Country Music.
The thing is, generally when you get your hopes up and hype up your own excitement something inevitably disappoints. So i tempered my giddiness until I was actually on site with the first pint of lager in my hands.
Let me tell you this from the outset, IT DID NOT DISAPPOINT. This was without question one of the best festivals I have ever been to. Look, there were one or two tiny teething problems but absolutely nothing that would be worth whining about on this blog post.
From the moment we walked through the Black Deer signage, a brilliant homage to the wild west, we knew we were on to something a bit special. Everything was in site which is rare for a festival, bars to the left of me, burgers to the right, there i was stuck in the......anyway!
I had made plans prior to getting to the festival as to who I wanted to see, but you know what, as soon as I arrived in the arena that went to pot. The reason was because it was just so damn chilled out, nobody was running from tent to tent, nobody was barely even moving. Everyone had seemingly entered a blissful zen state the likes of which everyday life seldom allows.
We passed from stage to stage, bar to bar, eatery to eatery without incident, queue nor accidental bumpage. Get this....there wasn't even any litter on the floor for the entire weekend. You heard me, everybody put their rubbish in the appropriate recycling bin. AT A FESTIVAL!!!
The music was insanely good and the beauty of ditching the plan was that I got to see some bands that I would probably never have heard. Before I list my personal favourites I have to stress that nobody was rubbish, every band that appeared had quality and deserved to be there.
For me, the highlights were:
Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit
Dana Immanuel & The Stolen Band
..but this list is far from exhaustive and could go on for many more lines.
There were food joints serving everything from burgers to jerk chicken to hot dogs but I fell truly madly deeply in love with the Mac & Cheese van. Who knew! It was an accident that I should happen upon it that first night, but love often happens that way. My only disappointment was that I never got more time with it and could only manage 3 helpings! We will meet again Mac & Cheese van!
So to summarise it was the stuff of legend. Brilliant from beginning to end and left me with serious festival blues on the way home and ever since. Suffice to say I am already booked up for next year!
If you're so inclined, you can book your tickets for next year here: https://blackdeerfestival.com/tickets/