Live Review: BC Camplight, Gruff Rhys, Pigsx7 and more at Deer Shed Festival 2019

Gruff Rhys performing at Leeds Church, November 2018 (Scott Smith / Live4ever)

Gruff Rhys performing at Leeds Church, November 2018 (Scott Smith / Live4ever)

Make up your own cliché about Yorkshiremen – that they’re too tight to miss something they’ve paid for, or if you prefer it that they’re used to the rain – either way nothing as trivial as a torrential downpour or three was going to lessen anyone’s enthusiasm at this year’s Deer Shed festival.

A decade on from launch, it’s become as much of an arts festival as a music event with comedy, cinema and a mind-boggling range of activities for grown-ups and children alike spread across a compact site in rural North Yorkshire. And fun there was to be had.

Brian Christinzio has been performing as BC Camplight, he quips, ‘for fifteen years – but I’ve only had an audience for one’. Nevertheless, expanded to a six-piece, the Camplights smash their way through an eclectic set, finishing with the Theresa May-baiting England On Fire and a feverish I’m Desperate.

Festivals of course can be where invention meets luck: from London and Bahrain, Flamingods have been creating their own brand of burbling neo-psychedelia for several years, but here the damp conditions have done for some of their instruments. The flipside is the tent is packed to capacity as another punter-soaking cloudburst erupts, with many who came to shelter then staying to absorb the group’s beguiling mix of pan hemisphere influences.

There are no such issues with being exposed to the elements for Gruff Rhys (although somewhat confusingly there’s a man stood in the audience wearing a gold cardboard minotaur head) even if, he confesses, he hasn’t brought a raincoat. With a solo career ensconced in lo-fi rock, folk and country a well-judged retrospective including Candylion, Frontier Man, Negative Vibes and Gyrru Gyrru Gyrru – a song about a Yorkshire battle sung in Welsh – eventually charm the crowd out from underneath their umbrellas.

Playing the more intimate Lodge Stage, former Slow Club-er Charles Watson is enjoying his first live outing since becoming a dad, treating a small but happy crowd to an Americana-leaning performance culled mostly from 2018’s Now That I’m A River. Eventually, they’re blessed with a rendition of Voices Carry Through The Mist, one of that year’s finest songs; a slow-burning, post-Californian ballad lit with smouldering atmosphere.

We’re in the region of course where a spade is called a spade and in this case the Pallet Stage is a stage made of pallets. As intimate as performances can get with the front row sat at your feet, The Leisure Society remind everyone that they played the inaugural Shed a decade ago, reveal they’ve gained a fiddle but lost a bass player, and then charm the assembled flock with semi-unplugged versions of A Bird, A Bee Humanity and Another Sunday Psalm amongst an hour which feels like it’s spent amongst friends.

It wasn’t the weather but ill health that had forced Dublin post-rock mavens Fontaines D.C to withdraw, but cometh the hour, cometh Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs who, accompanied by another monsoon, rip into a noise wall assembled from their particular corner of Sabbath/Hawkwind/Stoner/Doom metal. Singer Matt Batty enters dressed in a cape, making you wonder whether he’s taking this thing a bit too seriously, but the show is headliner theatre from minute one, the band leaving no downtuned chord unbludgeoned in what is a jaw dropping spectacle of raw power.

Deer Shed then: where everyone from 3 to 103 can go wild, wild, wild in the country. And still be up in time for yoga.

(Andy Peterson)

Learn More

Leave a Reply