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Sunday, August 13, 2006

ENDORSE IT IN DORSET: Probably the best festival this century

After a bit of a lie in, it was back to the kids’ area, with Tara and Jasmine in full swing. While they were having fun, I nipped across the field to check out…

Chicken Shed Zeppelin are a three piece from Brighton that knock out hillbilly blue grass punk with attitude. Featuring Ade, formerly of the Tofu Love Frogs and currently with Tragic Roundabout (amongst other things) we felt we had to get up early to check out this, their third set of the weekend. And well worth it it was too. Being an early set the crowd was mainly made up of kids, people hiding from the rain, and friends. But, undeterred, they managed dust off those Sunday morning cobwebs and wake everyone up like a mug of Rocket Fuel Coffee. It was not long before they had a bigger crowd than the main stage! Now that we know the score we will make a point of hunting them down again, ‘cos they are one of those bands that like to turn up and play wherever and whenever they can.

Dub Dada is centred around Jonno, formerly of Community Charge (now there’s a blast from the past) Nucleus Roots and occasionally collaborator with Zion Train. He pounds out some thunderous earth shattering bass heavy dubs today with some half tidy rapping laid over the top, but the set is a bit rough around the edges, with him forgetting his lyrics at one point and numbers coming to an abrupt end because of a lack of time… but the rough and readiness of it all added a bit of character to the set. Not as good as a set by a proper live band, but warmed us up for the dubness to come.

RDF/Military Surplus. Well, what can we say? Festival legends from the good old days, among the first to mix dub and punk they have been imitated by many but equalled by few. They were about as hardcore as it came, true outsiders living on the edge of society and their lyrics reflected that.

This is the first time they have played together for almost 20 years, and the word is that it is just a one off. Although billed as RDF (Radical Dance Faction) many of those on stage were never in RDF but were in singer Chris Bowsher’s previous band Military Surplus.

Bowsher’s contempt for authority is still in evidence, time has not dulled his rage, and the set contained all the venom mixed with beauty it always had. Proper dubs had you skanking away eyes closed soaking in the bass, then the punk button was occasionally flicked to get the old crusties moshing like it was still the 80s.

When making my mind up whether or not to go to this festival, the fact that RDF were on the bill was a major factor. A good decision was made!!!!

Molara always struck me as having a beautiful voice when she was with Zion Train, but somehow that is how I always thought of her, as part of the band. Now she has gone ‘solo’, I have started to sit up and take more notice. I am struggling to think of a better contemporary female ‘reggae’ vocalist. When you throw in a backing band which is substantially made up from members of Dubmerge, you really do have something special on your hands.

The weather this weekend was not quite as sunny as it had been the few weeks previously, but it did have its moments. As I sit here trying to remember what it was like when Molara was on all I can think of is blue skies, golden sunshine and warm vibrations. I don’t think it was very sunny at the time, but that is the sort of memory watching Molara leaves you with.

Senser are well and truly back on form now that the original line up is fully restored. Mashing hip-hop, rap, break-beats and metal to give us a rabid anti-fascist pit bull with a hatred of the system that makes Rage Against the Machine sound one-dimensional. Tonight their full on sonic attack had old fans and people just waiting for the Mad Professor enthralled with the energy, rhythm and anger of their set.

Mad Professor is something of an institution on the dub scene, having been around since the late 70s and working with the likes of Lee Perry, Massive Attack and Jah Shaka. Tonight he twiddles his knobs to create thunderous vibrations and rains peace and love down on the fields of Dorset. Guests float on and off the stage to join in the party, including Molara and Dub Dada, making for a wicked, varied, set that had the gathered masses groovin’ an a skankin’ to the end of the festival.

As all the main stages close down, the Wildcat Stage provided a few final hours of tranceadelic hedonism for those that were not quite ready to go to bed and to finish off probably the best festival of the century so far.

See Sam Samelia's photos from the weekend here


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