Firstly, I’d like to take a moment for the people of Boardmasters who had their makeup and mirrors taken away on entry. We all thought there was some sort of clause to the “No Glass” rule that would allow for L’Oreal True Match – but evidently not. I like to think the excessive glitter around the festival was due to it being used as an alternative.
Boardmasters Festival is the biggest music festival in Cornwall, with up to 50,000 people in attendance this year. What attracted me to the festival, other than the lineup, was how they incorporated one of the most popular sports in Cornwall – surfing. The Cornish surf is experienced at Fistral Beach, one of the top surfing spots in the region, with frequent shuttle buses from the main camp & arena at Watergate Bay. It’s a simple journey to escape the typical festival landscape of tents and mud to a picturesque sandy beach with pro surfing competitions, yoga classes, BMX/Skate ramp, a beach bar and plenty of food venues. The stage at Fistral Beach mainly hosted alternative reggae acts, such as Dreadzone, Congo Natty & Slightly Stoopid, adding to the chilled-out vibe the area aims to provide.
At Watergate Bay, however, the tone is completely different. The clifftop music festival provides views over the Cornish coast from almost anywhere in the main arena, most notably the Corona SunSets stage, and is separated into two parts: The Main Arena, where you’ll find the Main Stage, Unleashed Stage, Samsung’s Hypercube, House of Marley & Corona SunSets; and also the Land of Saints, home to the Land of Saints Stage, The View Stage (hosting acts such as Natty, Sen Felu and Off Bloom), The Wild Oyster Restaurant (hosted by Lee Skeet), Funderdome and Keg & Pasty.
Friday at Boardmasters was headlined by Two Door Cinema Club, with performances from acts such as The Flaming Lips, Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls, Giggs, Newton Faulkner, Kurupt FM, Slaves and Lucy Rose. TDCC Members Alex Trimble & Kevin Baird had their flight to Cornwall cancelled, forcing them to embark on a 6-hour train journey to the festival and “exhaust all downloaded Netflix shows”. It gave them some material on stage, however, as the band discussed their favourite shows to binge-watch. Glaswegian gunge-pop duo Honeyblood gave an energy-fuelled performance at the Land of Saints stage, with front woman Stina Tweeddale introducing their hit “Babes Never Die” by addressing the crowd, “Are you all here with your best friend? I wrote this song about drinking tequila with my best friend.” Later, Lucy Rose took to the same stage to deliver a soothing set and charmed the crowd, playing numbers such as “Shiver” and “Middle of the Bed”. Rose introduced “Second Chance” as “a song I wrote about looking back at photos of yourself. My great-aunt was looking through photos of herself at Christmas saying, “Look how lovely I was!” but she didn’t know it at the time. It struck a chord with me”.
Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls brought all their energy to the main stage and performed to an extensive crowd – Frank also took a moment midway through his set to talk about SGFW (Safe Gigs For Women), the initiative established by regular gig goers with the aim of creating a safer environment for women at gigs, and told his audience, “Communities look out for each other” before singing “Eulogy” in Cornish.
Saturday was headlined by prominent 90s band Jamiroquai, with performances from The Vaccines, Lethal Bizzle, Laura Mvula, Kate Nash, Jake Bugg & Wild Beasts.
The Vaccines proved once again to be one of the best live bands to date, with thousands joining in with their hits including the most unironic sing-along to “Wetsuit” I’ve ever heard.
Kate Nash’s performance at the festival was amidst her Made of Bricks 10th Anniversary tour, therefore her set-list was filled with feel-good throwback hits such as “Mouthwash”, “Birds” and the best version of “Dickhead” in which Nash called out numerous high-profile people including Donald Trump, Theresa May and Piers Morgan. Nash included two tracks from her new EP “Agenda” and “My Little Alien”, written for her dog, and culminated the vibrant set with “Foundations”.
Sunday at Boardmasters was not the day of rest but rather the day of reckoning. The headliners were Alt-J with performances from Stormzy, Ziggy Marley, JP Cooper, Fickle Friends, PINS & Idris Elba.
The calibre of acts on the Main Stage on Sunday meant that the huge crowd almost never wavered throughout the day, with a large number present for Ziggy Marley’s incredible set and tribute to his father, as well as a fantastic number of mosh pits for Stormzy (which he initiated most of). Stormzy’s performance of “100 Bags” with an image his mother on the screen behind him was the highlight of his set, along with “Cigarettes and Cush” & “Shut Up”. Alt-J closed the festival with an incredible performance and their fan-favoured light shows, bringing Boardmasters Festival to its end and taking us into the night.
Despite the variety of alcohol available throughout the festival, including Corona & Cornish Orchards, it’s no surprise to me that my attentions drifted toward something a bit homelier (and worth the money). My best find was Daffy’s Gin, named for the goddess of gin and crafted from juniper, coriander seeds, cassia bark as well as Lebanese mint and rare variety lemons, who had quaint stall paired with Fever-Tree tonic. This may be one of my favourite gins this year, and I preferred the beverage with Fever-Tree Elderflower Tonic and a mint leaf garnish – look at me, Mum! I’m a gin connoisseur
(Hello @DaffysGin please may I have a free bottle)
Source: Instagram | @pan_n_ice
Like any festival, the food wasn’t cheap and I prioritised alcohol. Due to this, I didn’t try as much as I would have liked to, but there was one place that I did return to on multiple occasions. A popular dessert stall at many UK festivals, Pan-n-Ice deliver frozen desserts in a new way and were probably the most delicious, weird ice-cream rolls I’ve had; I’m getting hungry writing about them so I’m just going to stop and insert pictures taken by people who didn’t wolf down their desserts straight away.
Source: Instagram | @proper_grub | @churrosamigos | @carolannbossom
Other notable food vendors include Black Pig Catering: Chorizo & Halloumi (the burgers are to die for) & Los Churros Amigos (I would’ve consumed that Belgian chocolate sauce through a straw). Also, not at Watergate Bay but nested in Newquay’s town centre is Concho Lounge – the food is affordable and delicious and you will thank me.
Boardmasters Festival is definitely something for all festival-goers to try and is a nice transition from the usual weekend of getting drunk in a field and catching ticks (as well as other things). I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it, although if I were to return I’d definitely get more involved in the surfing side of things. Cornwall is beautiful and I honestly wish every music festival could be situated in such a place.
Time for me to sleep for 4 weeks.