Review | Big Chill 2010 Hertfordshire England

Big Chill 2010 | Grown Up. But Not Old.

Words and Photos by Roy Shay

Lurk around the perpetually active Big Chill forum pages, talk to the random punter whose been going to the Big Chill “when this was all fields, this”, and the consensus seems to be absolute: Since Chillfest, the operating company behind the festival, went into liquidation last year and the behemoth of the festival industry, Festival Republic, took over, the Chill has gone corporate. The patchouli-scented festival has been chugging along for fifteen years now, but in the last three years has barely made enough to cover expenses and started hemorrhaging spectacular amounts of money yearly. This led to it being picked up by Festival Republic (the people behind the grand daddy of them all, Glastonbury, among others: Leeds, Reading, etc.), who, through insensitive cost-cutting and the kiddie-oriented bookings (Tinie Tempha, Plan B, Lily Allen) have sucked the life out of the festival. According to most anyway.

Ask Festival Republic and they’ll say their goal was to keep the spirit of the festival and change as little as possible. Is this the case? Shitty toilets (as it were), an alarming count of 16 year-olds gurning on pills, odd reshuffling and renaming of stages, prevalent corporate sponsor logos emblazoned on the sound towers—Sky TV, Vodafone, Uggs—It seems as though FR almost went out of their way to piss off the regulars.

Reading through endless pages of people whining on said forums and even reading what Pete Lawrence, co founder, had to say—“it has followed the general trend of blanding out”—I had to stop and ask myself if this is in fact a bad thing. Sure, not being able to see Lily’s face when she announced to the 35,000 14 year-old girls that she’s pregnant was a shame (no video screens on the main stage? FFSWTF?!!), but boy if my testicles didn’t rumble during Kruder & Dorfmeister’s Depeche Mode remix. In other words, having more money (for things like, say, awe-inducing, brown-note validating sound systems) isn’t necessarily a bad thing for a festival. Ask some of the families that go to the Big Chill, and most will attest the their camping conditions have improved vastly, too.

Ultimately however, if you ask me, it’s about the music. Honestly. And while the Orb were tragically omitted from this years’ lineup in favour of Plan B (Say it ain’t so!), I still managed to find a cohesive, satisfying path through this years’ talent (Gilles Peterson—>Greg Wilson—>Joker) on Saturday night.

What I’m saying is, catering to a new generation of festival goers and not just aiming to appease the dinosaurs—and all this in an attempt to keep the Big Chill alive , mind—isn’t the worst outcome we could have hoped for. And if the Chill isn’t for you anymore, there’s always Festinho.

(note from the editor: It's somewhat irrelevant to the post, but this remix of Beach House's "Lover of Mine" by Roman Ruins is groovy and a great listen while you read. Download here. —JPF)


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