Let me just start by saying that Festival No. 6 was the best festival I've ever been to.
The festival setting in Portmeirion, Wales is amazing and unlike any other; it felt like we were walking in a dream.
Here's some things from the festival that really stood out to me as being different from ones in the states:
- GLITTER. Glitter everywhere. You're probably going, "yeah yeah I've seen festival glitter before." No. Not like this. Faces, beards, bodies... Actually On the shuttle ride over, everyone had glitter smothered on their faces. "That all looks very similar," I thought. They told us there was a Festival No. 6 party train car that did free glitter for everyone. (They mucked up our tickets so we weren't on it). Damn.
- Someone from every age seemed to be there, and it was extremely family friendly. And even older people had glitter, too.
- There was almost no limit to what you could bring into the festival. I saw a guy wearing a massive disco ball around him. It had a boombox inside of it and it was my favorite thing ever.
- The weather, obviously. But we'll get into that later.
Getting there was a bit of a trek. And by "a bit of a trek" I mean we were traveling for at least 24 hours straight.
Our itinerary looked a little something like this:
Yes, we are crazy.
Since Emily and I went through all of that travel and knew we'd be exhausted traveling across the world, we had splurged and got a yurt.
And let me tell you, it was so worth it.
Not having to deal with lugging a sleeping bag and other camping necessities on our travels was a smart move on our part. Plus crashing in a bed every night in a warm yurt is so much better than shivering out in a little tent on a hill in the mud.
The festival didn't officially start until the day after we arrived so we wandered the grounds a bit.
All of the vibrant colors around us made me so happy. And better yet, it felt like fall: the leaves actually changed colors.
One of the first things we did day 1 of the festival was get a physical lineup. Or as they call them in the UK: programs.
Their programs are very different over there than they are in the states. It was almost bigger than I was once folded out. Think, "old Thomas Guide" style.
On the back of the Festival No. 6 program was an illustrated map of Portmeirion. The far right is where Emily and I stayed, in the middle is the main arena, to the left of that the general campground area, then the village, the estuary and the woods.
If it looks big, that's because it was. One day at the festival we walked 30,912 steps!
- Dance a la Plage
- Bad Sounds
- Beach Baby
- Horse Beach
- Clean Cut Kid
- M. Ward
- Kaiser Chiefs
- The Two Bears
Emily and I grooved on a dance floor floating on a pond underneath a massive disco ball, got lost in the woods for forty minutes trying to find a stage, drank our weight in beer, saw Joe Goddard perform in front of a castle, and jumped around to Kaiser Chiefs. Plus so, so much more. And that's only day 1!
The weather was perfect on Friday - almost a little hot considering it was so much colder than LA. I think that's one of the main reasons we were able to catch 11 bands since it made walking from stage to stage easy.
AURORA was super cute. Talking about her surroundings at the festival she shyly said, "I feel very much like I'm in the middle of Lord of the Rings. But without Mordor obviously."
Not only were the sights stunning... the food and drink was great too. Waffles, banana and cream with a flat white for breakfast, vegan sushi burrito for lunch and jalapeno cheese hot dog for dinner (churros for dessert). Oh and espresso martinis. Can't forget those!
At Sushi Maki, the burrito truck, the guy working turned to his co-worker and said, "There's two dollars under the till. Why are there two American dollars there? We've had no American customers". Emily and I go, "We'll take 'em". He shrugged and went, "Yeah alright". So we got sushi burritos and some money back! Wish they could've been twenties though.
The vintage selection they had on site was great. I found a 70s dress with an obnoxiously long, amazing collar for 10£, and two pairs of earrings handmade in Asia.
Later on Friday night, we stayed for a few Bastille songs and headed back to the yurt. The 2 Bears weren't on until 1 in the morning. We rested for an hour and a half until I convinced Emily to go back out with me.
In between shows we explored. We stumbled upon this tinseled out motorhome and I took quite a few photos before realizing the owner was in the window waving out at me. She hid for the photos.
- Groove Theory
- The Amazons
- Oh Wonder
- Roisin Murphy
- Hot Chip
Saturday we woke up to the sound of rain hitting the top of the yurt. "That's nice," we thought. Little did we know that was only the mild beginning of rain for the day.
We went in to the festival around 11am, grabbed a brekkie boy bagel and watched Hot Chip's sound check. The rain started coming down harder so we went into the House of Rum and saw Groove Theory. Not many people were out as it was now pouring. The burlap floors of the House of Rum turned into an unintentional "Great Lake" art installation.
Sipsmith Gin Shop was the next spot with coverage. I've been drinking salted gin palomas all weekend. They're delicious. When the gin shop literally began to acquire a river we went on our way to see Amazons. I never realized they were so young!
Trekking through the mud, we went to the village for Blueprint Blue. Bummer that Tim Peak's Diner was so tiny we couldn't even get standing room.
Carnival No. 6, a parade where festival goers can get done up in glitter and costumes, got postponed due to the rain. I think that shows how bad the weather really was. We watched dancers on the Village Stage instead. They were swing dancing and did a lesson for the crowd to learn too. We left before the lesson; somehow wide leg movements and mud didn't seem a good combo.
When we arrived back at the main stage it was completely roped off. A tractor was piling wood chips slowly into the pit. The security guard let us know Lawrence Taylor canceled due to the weather. Shit. And the workers didn't know when it would open back up. Slight panic went over me as Hot Chip was that night.
Luckily, Oh Wonder played at the Grand Pavilion next and that's covered. A giant "OW" light lit the back of the stage while they played their slow, dancey tunes.
The main stage opened back up in time for Blossoms. After a few songs from afar, we went back to the Grand Pavilion for Temples. So. Much. Mud.
Roisin Murphy took the main stage next. Emily and I had split up at this point and it was raining again. I can't even begin to count the amount of outfit changes Roisin had, but it was a lot. She did request an umbrella off the side of the stage at one point because of the rain.
When waiting up front for Hot Chip, a procession of red lanterns could be seen from a distance in the side of the crowd. Then a crane came, carrying a geometric-UFO-box-like-thing covered in lights and mirrors. It spun while dramatic music played and then someone was lowered down from the middle to disco music.
Definitely wasn't expecting that. I overheard someone ask, "Does this have anything to do with 'The Prisoner'?" A TV show filmed in Portmeirion in the 60s. Maybe I'll have to watch it.
The rain had stopped by now, and Hot Chip put on a fantastic show as always. My fries sign made it all the way to Wales with me and somehow didn't get destroyed by the rain. They smiled when I held it up. It was Alexis's son's birthday and he brought his kids out for "Dancing in the Dark". The kids played maracas and danced around. Confetti was everywhere. After the show, I asked security for a set-list. He said, "Only if those guys," (pointing to the roadies), "hand me one I can give it to you, sorry". A few minutes later the set-list blew off the stage and on the ground in front of me. I guess I was just destined to have it.
Afterwards I met up with Em again. I got some pasta and her some churros and we slowly walked in the mud back to camp.
- Get Inuit
- Fickle Friends
- C Duncan
- Milky Chance
- Lucy Rose
- Super Furry Animals
- Noel Gallagher
- Maribou State
Sunday, the final day of the festival, our first band was Fickle Friends at the woods stage at 2:15pm. We went in a bit early so we could get food. After Aussie style eggs and sweet potato fries there was still extra time. The floating dance floor seemed like a good time killer, so we danced.
Since the carnival got canceled the day before, it was on our to-do list for Sunday. They never released a new time for it, but I mean you'd think it'd be the same as they initially intended right? Wrong.
Luckily, we happened to be walking through the village when it was going on and we caught the very end of it.
We got to the Lost in the Woods Stage while the 1:30 band was still playing. I actually knew of them and didn't realize they were here. The band was called Get Inuit. Glad we caught them.
It was only slightly drizzly but made the Fickle Friends set-up a bit dodgy. They finally got all set and put on a great show. The awesome thing about a festival with so many stages is you can get close to pretty much whatever since everyone is so spread out.
C Duncan was thankfully in the Grand Pavillion (the covered space). Though, the floor was basically a mud pit now. Their little Irish accents were so cute! And all of them had such great voices.
Teleman played the main stage and the rain had died down. There was a girl in the crowd to our left that the lead guitarist kept looking at with a big smile. She was getting down. Groovin' in the mud, letting it all go. I was jealous of her mustard yellow corduroy overalls and teal tights. So adorable!
Next up was Milky Chance who was kind of "meh". I honestly haven't listened to any of their other songs prior to this show other than "Stolen Dance". They all sound exactly the same. Not impressed.
Someone who surprised me though was Lucy Rose. Emily wanted to see her - I'd never heard of her but thought, "Why not?" Her voice is like a choir of angels; I don't know how it comes out of her tiny body. Sidenote: I was reading the Festival No. 6 booklet - apparently she used to be in Bombay Bicycle Club.
Super Furry Animals had a big crowd and we hung back. We left after they played "Bing Bong" (weird song) and went for a drink before Noel Gallagher came on.
Of course the rain started up again, but not too hard. We got some chips (fries) and hung to the side, stage left. The crowd went crazy when he played "Champagne Supernova" by Oasis.
We headed over to Maribou State at the Grand Pavillion. The crowd was nonexistent. But that's what you get when you play at the same time as Noel, the headliner. It got bigger mid-set though. It was a dance party.
On stage, they had a pack of Moretti, a bottle of Sipsmith Gin and some mixers. These girls got to the front bar and kept chanting, "Sipsmith! Sipsmith!" The DJ confusingly held the bottle out to them. They shook their heads no and motioned for a photo. He obliged and they rejoiced. I'm pretty sure they worked for Sipsmith. Or at least I hope so.
A bit later, the same girls shouted, "The gin! The gin! Sipsmith!" This time they wanted the bottle. The DJ actually jumped down from the booth, gin in hand, and gave it to them. The guards kind of just let it happen. I mean, they'd been dancing with the crowd and joking around the whole time anyways. Also, they literally were bringing trays of water cups 'round to people in the front. So nice!
Later, the same girls called the DJ again. They somehow had a new, full bottle of gin. Maybe vodka? Maybe flavored water? I don't know. Regardless he came down and took it from them. Later in the set, he smelled it and shook his head to his band-mate. Something was off and they didn't drink it. I wonder what it actually was...
We successfully made it back to the yurt without falling and got a good night's sleep for our early shuttle ride back to the trains.
Initially, we were going to head straight back to LA this day. But enough people talked us into staying longer that we extended our trip and spent a few days, including my birthday, in Manchester. (Post on that coming soon!)
Throughout our trip, Emily and I traveled 12,140.5 miles by plane, 240.6 miles by train, 81.2 miles by automobile, and walked 64.21 miles with our own two legs!
Festival Number 6 was an experience I'll never forget. If I could give any advice to someone looking to go to a UK festival, it'd be: BRING YOUR WELLIES! (And a waterproof backpack can be really helpful, too!)
Be seeing you...