It’s glorious midday Sunday sunshine when your DJ Mag hack arrives at the festie. The site — which attendees have been informed about by email a little while before the event — is easy to find, thanks to the wonders of Google Maps, and we immediately run into Barry Ashworth from the Dub Pistols. A tireless supporter of independent festivals and the like, Barry’s a part of the furniture at Shindig Weekender already — so much so that they’ve named a stage after him (and he’s co-curated the stage).
Ashworth’s Dig Inn has boasted the likes of DJ Yoda, Terry Farley and Ali B on previous nights, and all talk is of how good Andrew Weatherall’s four-hour set was on the Friday evening. We’ve also missed bonkers beatboxing bloke Beardyman, punky reggae dread Don Letts and drum & bass hero LTJ Bukem playing in other spots on previous nights, but feel well set up for the day after a quick guided tour from one of the crew.
Situated amongst rolling green hills, the festival spreads out along a strip — with the Dig Inn down a small valley, surrounded by a horseshoe of food stalls. At one end of the strip is the Ghetto Funk Nightclub, which is a bit similar to the NYC Downlow at Glastonbury — a permanent ramshackle structure made for erecting and dismantling at festivals. The Tutti Frutti Cocktail Bar is decorated by all sorts of cute kitsch flowers, and the Kids Area is already busy with little humans at play.
We dump our stuff in a teepee, just taking a bag of tunes down to the Dig Inn to play an early set. Festival-goers are clearly still waking up, lounging around in the sunshine, so your hack eases from dub into disco and then various shades of house before handing over to hip-hop expert Mark Rae.
The ex-Rae & Christian man (check their impeccable ‘Northern Sulphuric Soul’ album on their own Grand Central) drops classic party hip-hop and loads of re-edits of old skool electro, disco missives and fresh funk cuts to get the joint jiving. His set is a revelation. Top bloke too, we discover later.
The tent is rammed for when Guy Williams is in full flow, the hard-working London DJ dropping a couple of the groovy remixes of S’Express — possibly the Horse Meat Disco one — and generally creating a velveteen electrodisco vibe.
He gives way to Jon Carter, one of the most versatile — and brilliant — DJs around, and although he’s semi-retired from DJing due to business interests he can still expertly rock a crowd. The former Monkey Mafia man throws down the Finnebassen remix of ‘When Doves Cry’ for a little Prince tribute, then drops in the skankin’ ‘Boops Apocalypse’ by Harvey K-Tel (from which Blueboy nicked the vocal for ‘Remember Me’), shimmery deep Tiefschwarz cut ‘On Up’ and chugging, inspirational party tune ‘I Am Somebody’ by Carlos Fauvrelle & Peter Bailey — and the Shindig faithful lap it up. It’s a great set that draws in many party headz who’ve been lounging in the welcome sun outside the Dig Inn for a while now.
Strolling up the strip, DJ Mag runs into good friend Lauren and her kids, and then Marshall Jefferson, who’s just about to play in the Tutti Frutti Bar. The house music legend elicits much grooving with his ‘Move Your Body’ anthem and other Chicago classics, smiling like a Cheshire cat throughout and cheekily mouthing the words in appropriate places. Verily, the guy has still got it.
Just time for a quick veggie burger before heading back to Dig Inn to catch a bit of Lindy Layton’s set. The voice of Beats International’s ‘Dub Be Good To Me’ has reinvented herself as a top-notch party DJ, dropping a selection of tent-trembling drum & bass classics to warm it up nicely for the Dub Pistols.
Barry Ashworth’s seasoned gang of outlaw reprobates really are the quintessential festival band these days. As much informed by drum & bass and breakbeat as they are by punk, dub, ska and hip-hop, they crash through Dubs classics like ‘Alive’, ‘Cyclone’ and ‘Problem Is’ with wild abandon. The heaving throng parties with them, a clearly somewhat ‘refreshed’ Barry exchanging licks with fellow mic-man Seanie Tee like a trooper.
Barry is possibly the hardest working man in dance music, forever playing a festival show here, touring a far-flung country there — and marshalling his troops everywhere with few major mishaps (these days). Their version of ‘Gangsters’ by The Specials is off the scale, and they’ve whipped the crowd up to boiling point by the end for the Stanton Warriors to finish everyone off.
Dressed all in black, you could mistake Dom and Mark at first glance for a Dutch EDM duo — except they play good music! Why they aren’t even bigger worldwide than they are is a mystery, as they’ve completely refreshed the breakbeat template they started off making and playing to cover the whole gamut of bass music.
Booting up their Punks imprint has no doubt helped too, as they can draw on cool stripped-down cuts like ‘K1’ by one of their new proteges Aloka, and rinse their own collab with Cause & Affect, ‘Bounce’ — just released on Mad Decent offshoot Good Snuff.
As we lark about at the side of the stage with various DJs from the day, the Stantons bring the night to a feelgood ending and the crowds stagger back to tents in high spirits. We’ve had a ball, and will definitely be returning next year.
“We’ll be heavily investing in the site and venues to broaden the line-up and raise the bar once again next year,” Will Lardner from Shindig tells DJ Mag outside. “Shindig is all about the party — we don’t follow trends or styles, we just book amazing musicians and try to create an unforgettable experience.”
Pics: Leora Bermeister