It was our first year at Wickerman Festival and we were unsure about what to expect. After hearing many positive things about the small event, we made our way travelling through the winding country roads.
On arrival, your first view is a sea of tents and cars set for the festival’s action. We arrived later on Friday night and discovered that most of the camp sites were already full to the brim, as festival go-ers had camped from Thursday.
We made our into the arena to catch the Scissor Sisters headline slot. Anticipation was high as the band were rumoured to play new material and with current positive UK tour reviews, the crowd were expecting a lot from the American 5-piece. As soon as they bound on stage their infectious high energy and passion for what they do was contagious. Promising that despite the Wickerman not setting on fire that night, they would “promise to set the crowd on fire”. Highlights in their set included older tracks ‘Take Your Mumma’ and the band’s newer release ‘Only The Horses’. Vocals were exactly as recorded and the crowd were fully appreciative of the band taking their time to headline this night. Their outfits made an impact as ever with bright colours and outfit changes, from flower trousers to metallic silver for front man Jake Shears. Their set was split cleverly including a theatre element, much like Lady Gaga’s Monster Ball tour, the band divided their set into different sections with a new ‘storyline’, lighting and costumes to match. The crowd certainly had a ‘kiki’ – as the band taught us that despite it’s many meanings – in America this means “a good ass time”.
We then wandered over to the acoustic village, walking into the main stage the atmosphere was completely different. From dancing and singing out loud in the darkness with pints in hand to a relaxed seating area with revellers taking time for a breath from the mayhem post-main stage. With dream catchers hanging from the roofs and benches scattered across the tent, this was an excellent way to kill time between stage performances and to allow your feet a rest after exploring the festival site.
Up bright and early for a full day of Saturday action, the main stage was opened by The Sunday Herald unsigned band competition winner GingerBeardMen This act was very different to the usual style of bands who win these kind of competitions – with a more dance feel and heavy bass for a 12pm stage time! The duo only gained a small crowd, as most were possibly suffering from the late 5am dance tent finish, but the band performed as if the crowd was much larger. It did seem too early to be listening to that style of music and if the set time had been later in the day, the same act would have received a much stronger reception. The band however, showcased their instrumental talents switching between songs and held their presence well. However, bringing female vocals into the mix for one track added no difference to the set and vocals seemed a little shaky.
We headed to the GoNorth tent, which turned out to be one of our favourite Wickerman destinations. Despite it still being early in the day, Café Disco had pulled in a large crowd. With their songs very easy to move along to, the band were all synchronised on stage perfectly. Their set allowed individual talents to shine through with ease and the band looked at home on the festival stage. Everyone in the crowd seemed very impressed with this up and coming band from Scotland.
The festival did not only provide a fantastic mix of artists, there was plenty to keep you entertained. With a bike display team doing regular shows, Segway riding, large section of shows including a massive bungee for all your daredevils and even fire-walking – there was no point you could possibly be bored!
We headed back to the main stage for Finding Albert who had managed to gain a large crowd despite the time of the day. The band were very old Muse-sounding with the 5-piece who maintained strong band interaction throughout.
The Solus tent was alike Go Norths providing up and coming talent with the chance to showcase their material. Julia and the Doogans provided a very easy-listening set with a relaxed atmosphere in the tent. With Julia’s strong vocals, the pop/folk band created a fantastic sound with the all girl 4-piece providing something different. Despite nerves from the band being visible, front woman Julia Doogan maintained good stage ‘banter’ with the crowd and was an extremely likeable character. The addition of the The Hidden Lane Choir was a nice touch, again providing something very different but connecting with the band extremely well.
Next we caught what had to be our favourite act of the festival, Glasgow band John Wean. When we first discovered they were playing the festival, they were on the ‘must see’ list and with the tent filling out within a minute of the first song, it seems we weren’t the only ones! The energetic band provided strong vocals with their catchy songs that you couldn’t help but sing and move along to. Their lyrics are cleverly written with a quirky edge and very relatable in most cases. The band provided crowd interaction points with their high energy set showcasing a mixture of tracks from their EP released the same week. Looking comfortable on stage and playing to the festival crowd with ease, you would think the band have been doing so for a while, yet we learnt this was the band’s first proper festival set. Finishing their slot on track ‘New York Doesn’t Love You’ was a great choice, if the crowd weren’t already engrossed in the band’s music – now they most certainly were. There was even fans down at the front singing back to the band. It is no surprise that John Wean have been spotted by BBC Introducing and it would come as no shock if the band were playing an array of festivals next year.
Over to the Solus tent Hector Bizerk had gained a massive crowd. A host of dedicated fans were down at the front singing and jumping along transforming the front of the stage into a proper festival feeling. With themed masks and flags held in the air, his stage presence was strong and it seems fans were eager to catch their festival set. We also managed to witness a flash mob with Hector Bizerk later in the day, another strange festival moment which also pulled in a large crowd.
It was evident that Kassidy are used to festival sets, taking their performance in their stride with absolute ease.
The Mirror Trap had the unfortunate case of sharing stage times with Kassidy therefore the crowd were smaller. The band were another hopeful act from the festival, yet front man did seem to own the stage a little more than required, particular regarding the size of the tent and crowd.
Newton Faulkner provided an effortless set for the main stage. With fans singing along from the first song, the stripped back feel worked surprisingly well for a main stage appearance. With a simple set with acoustic guitar and foot drum, he proved his instrumental talent with ease with strong vocals – no surprise that he was currently the UK’s number one album. Festival go-ers had even made banners for the singer out of the back of cider boxes! The crowd interaction was flawless and he maintained his stage presence with ease. In his set, he covered ‘Superstition’ – ARTIST, a track which showcased his instrumental talent with ease. To make his set even more relaxed, the singer had a large globe on stage which opened as a mini bar as he filled his glass from a teapot, the quirky relaxed attitude was projected even more.
Fridge Magnets brought their high energy techo sound to the Solus tent. Another front man who could have taken a back-seat rather than roaming around as if he owned the stage within seconds of walking in. Despite this, the crowd were engaged dancing along.
Another main stage performance The View, a band who perform festivals with absolute ease. With a mix of new and old songs they managed to maintain the crowds attention and managed to gain the most energetic crowd of the day. The band do not even need to tell the crowd to join in whilst looking relaxed on stage and old favourite ‘Same Jeans’ in their set, they were bound to be a hit. Everyone was signing dancing along and the band proved why they are picked for so many festival events, particularly in their homeland.
Closing Wickerman in style were renowned Scottish band Texas. The festival crowd were in high spirits singing and dancing along. The band’s set was mostly made up of old classics, meaning everyone was able to join in with ease. This is not to say a few new numbers were sneaked into the seat to provide a taster of things to come. Ending their set on a cover of Elvis Presley’s ‘Suspicious Minds’ was an extremely strange way to end a set. Most bands save their most renowned song till last, but Texas decided to end on a track that most of the crowd, Texas fans or not, could join in. Highlights in their set included ‘Inner Smile’ and ‘Summer Son’. The band look at home on stage and with sultry lead singer Sharleen Spiteri owning the stage, it was no surprise they were headlining this year’s Wickerman.
Wickerman is the perfect starter festival for those who are eager to taste the festival life but worried about the mayhem and risks. Within minutes of attending you can almost feel the friendliness in the air, with it’s more laid-back festival approach. That is not to say there isn’t mayhem, if that is your thing, the disco and bass tents were certainly blasting out their earthquake tunes until 5am. Twinkling fairy lights surrounded the arena underneath the stars and the Scottish sunshine (yes we were just as surprised!) revealed the beautiful surroundings. It’s not every day you can sit in the middle of massive tyre in a field watching a bike display team, listening to music and eating an authentic Indian curry and still feel right at home. We have never seen so many food options at the one event! With it’s versatile approach to music stages, Wickerman truly set our music souls alight and we cannot wait to see what the line-up holds next year!