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Five Lessons Learnt from our first Gottwood Festival: Review

With Gottwood festival entering its 9th edition, we thought it was about time we got the Exposed lowdown, so we sent Ben Slater to experience the idyllic Welsh festival first hand. He left with 5 worthy lessons worth learning.

It dawned on us early on Thursday morning as we sat in a train carriage jammed packed full of twenty-somethings and festival weathered backpacks that Gottwood would be about more than music. Immediately we felt out of place. A sea of bleached blonde highlights, baggy trousers and platform shoes greeted us at Holyhead Station. It was almost as if we had taken the train back to a time when Destiny’s Child and Atomic Kitten were still in their prime. We obviously didn’t get the 2000s-cum-Groovy Chick aesthetic memo. A scenic taxi journey though the beautiful local surroundings to the festival site with two seasoned Gottwood goers confirmed our suspicions. Unlike the vast majority of the 5000 other attendees, we were the new kids and would have to learn the lessons already picked up through trial and error by Gottwood’s committed crowd for the eight years previous.Lesson 1: The real Gottwood starts at 7pm and finishes at 4am. As night falls, Gottwood starts to make more sense. A crowd seemingly preoccupied by everything else that the festival has to offer, aside from the music, dissipate in tandem with the endless barrage of disco edits which kept them going through the day. We learnt this on the Friday after uninspiring sets from the likes of Jive Talk and Percolate’s Krywald & Farrer were well remedied by Mr Scruff, DMX Krew and Andrew Weatherall as the day progressed.

Lesson 2: The lawn is your friend, and it’s not unacceptable to spend upwards of two hours there per day. Two days of dancing had already taken its toll on us by the time Saturday came around. We joined the bulk of Gottwood goers lifelessly splayed out on the lawn overlooking the lake in the middle of the festival site. The Stamp the Wax crew provided a first-class soundtrack to cure our hangovers.

Lesson 3: Trust the stage takeovers and avoid the headliners, you might surprise yourself. We moved from one musical institution takeover to another as Brotherhood Soundsystem took to the blissfully sweaty Barn stage for a welcome rest from the four to the floor flavour of the weekend. One of the standout sets of the festival came from Leeds based Tami and Luce who provided the weighty bass – well crafted breaks we carved.
Lesson 4: Make sure you attend the festival with a Gottwood veteran. It was more clear than ever by Sunday that the we may have learnt the sacred Gottwood lessons a little too late. We lacked the inside knowledge of a Gottwood pro. Rhythm Section’s head honcho Bradley Zero and Buifman raised spirits however with a set at The Curve stage that was sluggish in all the right ways. Little to no isolation of the turntables however, soured what would have been flawless sets from Willow and San Proper. The ever constant record skips and ground hum were picked up by the majority of the crowd.

Lesson 5: For the love of god go to the beach. Much like the lawn, the beach is your friend. Take a mini-rig and some snacks down the beautiful coastline that is just a ten-minute walk away from the campsite. We found ourselves there most mornings, nursing a packet of Oreos and a sore head in a welcome break from the festival which was a little too much at times.If you were to ask me if I enjoyed Gottwood this year, you would probably be met with an indifferent reaction. The reaction of a man uneasy in the knowledge that the only sizeable problem with the festival, was probably him. Having learnt the sacred lessons of Gottwood, I feel more than ready to return as a somewhat seasoned attendee and experience the festival in its full glory as it celebrates its tenth year.

Gottwood Festival will return next year for its tenth edition. Early birds are now sold out.

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