The festival season had finally arrived to Llanfyllin. The early ticket buyers were rewarded with sweltering weather to pitch up and relax in amid a rush for last minute tickets and lifts. The anticipation for a brilliant weekend ahead was summed up by the surrounding smiles aimlessly wandering the magnificently reformed 18th century Workhouse venue.
The courtyard area was alive with the slamming reggae sounds blasting from DJ duo BareRoots; supplying fresh funky techno on a blessed sunny evening from the Dirty Lookin’ Mobile Disco sound system, ensuring that the speakers soulfully echoed across the site to reach the ears of those afar. At long last, the Main Stage was in use by Hel Dinky. The beautifully soothing vocals alongside a psychedelia style light show shrouded the set in a rustic feel that was engrossing from start to finish. Following were Blindsyde, who’s entrancingly heart-felt performance gathered an emotional crowd unable to turn away from such covers as Jonny Cash‘s ‘Hurt’. Oswestry rock group Stay Awake entertained the amassed crowd with an enjoyable range of 21st century rock anthems and some excellent compositions of their own in support of Welshpools finest – String The Marrionette. Their awesome set represented Powys tremendously, as Andrew Bonsall’s brilliant frontmanship led with spine-tingling solos and catchy riffs for an unmissable performance.
Following the thumping basslines earlier led me to the Dance Hall; where outside the windows looked on the verge of shattering to Ms Devious‘s furiously pacy drum & bass, accompanied by a hectic light system drawing in ravers all evening long. Later backstage I saw the room packed with people going in hard to “psychedelic techno funk“, whilst Al & Vortecx back-to-back with Jay Kaye were looking extremely happy with themselves pumping out euphoric tunes into the night. It was Talisman however who ultimately rounded off the night; destroying the stage with his notoriously heavy dark d&b before performing back-to-back with Colon and Pixel in an unexpected yet spectacular finale.
In the afternoon the majority of my evening was spent lazing about the Main Stage, entertained a the diversity of genres. The collectively improvised sounds of Mark Harding (and Sons) were a success with soothing sounds and chilled vibes. They were followed by Dinosaur Garden, whose soulful rhythm, funky slap-bass and charisma left me willing for more; and were certainly a favourite of the weekend. Too Loud for the Legion‘s performance was watched in the shade by many, but the heat didn’t phase the upbeat rock performance. The last set that I caught was from Mountain Of Love: crucial upbeat dubstyle met electronica – a very unique band in their own league.
The sweltering weather took its toll of everybody, but on the other side of the campsite the Dirty Lookin’ Mobile Disco had a lively crowd thriving off the bliss vibes late unto the evening, ensuring that all are within range of fine music. As the sunset dawned the Dance Hall became packed once more. The crowd en-route grinned ecstatically, drawn in from the music thumping from the door left ajar. Huge tunes continued to erupt, the people jumping throughout the evening to the sounds of Pixel, Talisman, Orangudan, Niel Antares, Fat Mike & Baby Dave, each drawing an incredible response from their audiences. Soon the air was stifling, the raw aura of energy gleamed from the crowds faces. ADK, Cutwires, Tony Shamanski, Technotice and Torgue DJ‘s performed tremendously to the occasion before eventually being cut off, moving the most hyper of the crowd to the late night Dirty Lookin’ Mobile Disco for some heavy techno to suffice them.
Recovering under the relief of shade, spirits were high about the camp. In the courtyard those that remained invigorated by the sun practised their hula-hooping with friends to upbeat, refreshing house music from the Dirty Lookin’ Mobile Disco throughout the final afternoon. Shropshire’s Sammy Jay was last to play with his talented clear-cut mix-up of bouncy electro swing which was hugely received. Over on the Main Stage, the worn crowd listened to the likes of ska & indie rock bands, such as Bishops Castle‘s Thin Vision, Fight The Bear and The Nuclear Weasles, as well as Welshpool‘s Andrew Neve on acoustic and blues group The Misty Blue Trio collectively supporting Defy All Reason, Soul Preachers and The Bleedin’ Noses. The Dance Hall endured a final perfomance from Llanfyllin‘s Jak-In-House, and thus ended the sell-out 6th successive Workhouse Festival 2013.
The special weekend was made more so by couple Lucy Payne and Tom Spencer, who together decided to hold their wedding assembly at the Workhouse.
“Me and Tom got together 6 years ago at the Workhouse (music) festival, so its a special place for us. We had a handfasting (ceremony) because it meant more to us than getting married in a church. It was a beautiful day with all our friends there, and it was very special.”
I want to individually thank each volunteer, trustee, performer and associate to the Workhouse for making the weekend what it was: unforgettable; and hope that the tireless work for a revitalisation makes next year’s a bigger and better festival for all.