SESE 2014 REVIEW by Mark Goodman – Magpie Records

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There are festivals and there are festivals. There are festivals with corporate sponsorship and Independent festivals. There are big festivals and little festivals. There are good festivals and there are bad festivals, and there is something else……………….

In this case Something Else Somewhere Else, a festival hosted by the redoubtable Gail Something Else and held at the Crouch valley showground this past weekend of May 16th – 18th. Gail has been hosting her now well-known and always sold out Something Else in the Dean for a little while now, to say nothing of her famous Tea Tent that graces many other festivals up and down the country.

This however, was something new. The first of three such festivals this year and for the first time held in Essex. I was particularly interested in this first one as I originally hail from Essex and have never actually attended a music festival in my native county. Also the festival is limited to 500 places and this helps to engender a really friendly and intimate atmosphere, a bit like we are all part of one big family.

So how did it turn out? Well, to start with it is not my intention to write a number of different reviews of the bands that were playing at this festival. Suffice to say, that when you have bands and artists of the calibre of Leatherat, Gaz Brookfield, Dan Donnelly, Inner Terrestrials, Stevie Simpson, Doozer McDooze and Ferocious Dog, then the quality speaks for itself and that comment can be extended to every act that took part. It also shows the incredibly eclectic mix of music on offer. Everything from Reggae to Folk Rock from Ska to Space Rock and so much more besides. In short the music here could not be faulted and this was certainly borne out by the reaction of the audiences at each set. Something for everyone indeed.

I want to focus on the festival itself. First of all, the location. Very easy access from the Southend arterial road and just tucked away from the main road to give a pleasant country feel. Easy parking and camping all a very short walk from the main festival area. I had to smile as I walked underneath the massive electric pylons at the edge of the site to be greeted by the solar panels used to power the whole festival. Very impressive indeed and no doubt will be nominated for eco festival of the year again this year.

The next thing that really struck me was the atmosphere and vibe around the site. It was brilliant; the mix of people was as eclectic as the music on offer, with many families in attendance with Mums and Dads and Kids all equally soaking up the fun. It was also great to see many dogs in attendance clearly having fun as well. The children were well catered for with Trampolines, water balls and the like on offer.

Well, within minutes of arriving, I needed to get the bar and again found everything to be exactly as it should. Plenty of coke, orange juice and lemonade for the celibate and the youngsters. For the rest of us a wonderful selection of Ales from the Dean including Wench Quencher, Gail’s Dark Side, Something Else and A-Maze-ing ( Tipping a nod to the Elton Mazes venue in the Forest of dean ) all at only £3 a pint. There was a fifth ale that I favoured but I think I drank so much of I actually cannot recall what it was called !! On top of that there was also a fine selection of Ciders and spirits and not to forget the excellent cakes up for grabs.

Food was provided by the excellent Nana’s Kitchen, the Mushroom and Potato Curry was particularly splendid as was the selection of different types of jerky I purchased from Cowley’s Fine Foods. There was also reflexology on hand for those who were so inclined. I was tempted as I walked past, but alas, Ned the Kid’s Dylan was on stage. A young man with a very confident attitude, a good voice and no slouch on banging out the chords. One to watch in future for sure.

Finally, what of Gail herself? Well on this occasion she was directing matters from a wheelchair. The result of a fall by the stage the night before at the end of Leatherat’s set. Gail assured me that alcohol was not involved. Hmmmmm I wonder ?

That said, Gail and her excellent crew with everyone from the gate to the bar to the sound desk all did brilliantly well. It always appeared as though nothing was too much trouble and all delivered with a smile on the face. I am sure this all helped to add to friendly vibe throughout the whole weekend. In fact I am astounded that you get all this including camping for a mere £30. Should also endure a nomination for best value for money festival 2014 as well.

I hear from Gail that she is already plotting a return for next year, in which case I will be first up for an early bird ticket. In conclusion all I can say is that if you have not experienced one of Gail’s festivals then now is the time because you will not be disappointed. Something Else in the Dean 2014 has already sold out, thank goodness I have my tickets. However, there are still a few tickets left for Something Else a bit North, so don’t delay come along and join us at what is one of the best small festivals on offer in this country!!