Deer Shed Festival 2017: Day 1 Roundup

By on Monday, 31st July 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

Words and photos by Martin Sharman, formerly Head Photographer at TGTF, except where noted

If last year’s Deer Shed was the impeccably-behaved child who eats with their knife and fork and never speaks with their mouth full, 1 year on that same child is bigger, a bit more difficult to get on with, but still manages to bring joy in virtually unlimited quantities when they’re on their best behaviour. The first signs of growing pains come when we are introduced to a brand new parking field, easily doubling the distance ‘twixt vehicle and pitch. Still a modest trek in comparison to some, but the extra luggage distance is a sure-fire recipe for sore arms. The new field was needed because the camping areas have been enlarged at the expense of parking spaces, meaning that there’s almost too much camping space: there’s acres of room, so nobody has to camp near anyone they don’t want to.

Deer Shed 2017 signpost

It was sunny.

On Friday, the dulcet melodies of Happyness (of whom more later) and Honeyblood (a brilliant two-girl Scottish duo of various grungey textures) spill on the gentle breeze as we have line-of-sight of the main stage from the campsite: such luxury!) But by the time airbeds are firmed, John Shuttleworth is the unanimous choice for first act in person. His deadpan delivery is spot on, as always. The “soundcheck” joke deserves to be repeated at stages across the land, and in his delivery of such postmodern classics as ‘Two Margarines’ and ‘I Can’t Go Back to Savoury Now’ live the ghosts of such diverse entertainers as Les Dawson and Fred Dibnah.

John Shuttleworth by photographer Simon Godley for Deer Shed Festival
John Shuttleworth by photographer Simon Godley for Deer Shed Festival

Kids are dispatched, and it’s time to finally see Teenage Fanclub live after many a year of listening to them on record. I believe they were alive, just, although from the one-dimensional dynamic built from the same metronomic handful of chords played in slightly different orders, it was difficult to be sure they were fully awake. The breathless fanboyism of Deer Shed’s own review tells a different story, but let’s set the record straight here: unless your idea of fun is watching the result of an accountants’ team-building session shuffling around a stage, stick to their recorded oeuvre.

It was still dry.

Teenage Fanclub by photographer Simon Godley for Deer Shed Festival
Teenage Fanclub by photographer Simon Godley for Deer Shed Festival

This was mentioned back in 2015, but it bears repeating now: presumably in an effort to swell the audience for a headliner who needs such assistance, there is nothing scheduled elsewhere on the site during the final main stage band. There was little point in escaping Fanclub so they received the benefit of the doubt and a full viewing in case they got going a bit towards the end (they didn’t). The Obelisk tent is Deer Shed’s traditional late-night party venue, and it kicks off just after the headliners finish around 11 o’clock. Revellers flock there to continue the party, in the hope of a fresh beverage and some tunes of increasing intensity.

The former: yes, the latter: not so much. Bryde is excellent in her own way, with a beautiful breathy voice and songs of drama and poise. I wouldn’t mind her in the sun earlier in the day, but in essence she’s just a girl with a guitar, at gone 11 at night, when there’s nothing else on and everyone wants at least a boogie, basically. And after her there’s another solo singer/songwriter, Lewis Bootle, who I like less. His patois-hip-singing is annoying and falls far short of satisfying an increasingly impatient crowd. They’ve even taken away the piano that’s been in the corner of the bar for Sheds past. Sacrilege! (I’d find it the next day, looking damp and forlorn, abandoned on the grass some way outside the tent. With the lid locked shut.)

Someone faffs around with a mixer for ages and finally, well past midnight, some danceable music comes on. Nothing special mind, just an indie disco basically, but it’ll do. They say you make your own entertainment, however, so meanwhile all number of just-about-remembered faces from festivals gone by are reacquainted, along with some new ones (shout out to Jen, Billie, Alex, Chris, Neil… and all those others whose names I’ve forgotten), so a night in the Obelisk is always memorable. But please, Deer Shed, can you schedule something upbeat every night as soon as the main stage ends? Many thanks.

It still hadn’t rained as I crawled into bed.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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