Knee Deep Festival returned to Cornwall this year for the fifth anniversary of the festival, and after last year’s event, it brought high expectations along with it.
If you are a new reader to HOLDUPNOW, or you would like to refresh yourself on last year’s coverage, you can view it here.
A Quirky Set Piece On The Site
The site included a range of non-musical attractions including an arts and crafts area, independent market and outdoor cinema, all of which ensured the event was more interesting and communal. There was also an unusual double-decker bus which hosted the charity group Book-Cycle running the lower deck and a tea area on the top deck, providing a quirky set piece on the site, as well as raising money for a good cause.
Musically, Knee Deep continued to not disappoint. The site had two stages (Titled Stage 1 and Stage A) which were the same stages as last year, with one being a larger, more traditional stage and the other being a smaller stage looking as though it was made of wooden logs.
However, the difference this year was that the divide between stages wasn’t as prominent, with performing acts alternating between Stage 1 and Stage A. The effective use of alternation between these stages meant that there was very little time without music between each act and for the most part, this also resulted in all people playing having the bulk of the crowd attending their performances.
Very Little Time Without Music
The Jam Tent also made its return to the festival, providing an area with a range of DJs and other artists playing right into the late morning. The tent once again included a piano off-stage which was played by more than a few festival-goers (regardless of their skills or state), bringing a lot of laughter to the crowd, as well as the odd person who could actually play. It seemed liked the Jam Tent was a lot more organised this year, with a variety of people playing sets including more live elements, such as live bass guitar parts and sampling, which was really fun to see.
Impressively, the festival organisers claimed on the website that the sound system in the Jam Tent would be “bigger” with “live visuals and even more DJs…”, something which was evident at the time and a welcome addition to the tent.
Also coming back to the site this year was the dBs Music tent. dBs Music had set up a tent for festival attendees to jam themselves, with the dBs team bringing along a mixing desk and a variety of instruments and interfaces for people to play with. Staff mapping MIDI keyboards with sounds and playing a few backing parts for people to play along to really encouraged people to jam with each other and it was a fun place extremely suited for the creative atmosphere of Knee Deep and definitely added to the depth of the festival spirit.
Across Knee Deep’s Stage 1 and Stage A the music was pretty consistent genre-wise, with a large number of artists playing some form of indie rock or alternative pop. The overall feel of the music being played this year seemed to focus on the sounds being very accessible and mostly easy to listen to. It’s not as if the acts which the organisers booked were super generic, overly radio-friendly artists, but many certainly had this kind of ethereal and non-invasive sound which was great to just listen to or have in the background.
The Dreamy Sounds Of Knee Deep Were Extremely Pleasurable
It would be unfair to say that every artist fell into the description above though, and I have to point out that some acts really mixed things up. Some artists in particular (you can read our article on the artists that stood out later today) changed the mood of the festival during their sets and whilst the dreamy sounds of Knee Deep were extremely pleasurable to take it easy to and simply enjoy, every now and then an artist would give a well-needed new lease of energy to the festival.
In terms of criticisms of Knee Deep Festival 2014 there aren’t a great deal of hugely disappointing aspects to point out. One thing I’d say is that it was a mistake to put a softer electronic artist such as Koreless on stage after an intense lyrical performer like Kate Tempest. I found that the crowd were very energetic after Tempest’s performance and Koreless’ performance (although played very well) just didn’t have enough festival material to keep attendees dancing hard. Aside from this though, the Knee Deep line-up had clearly been well thought out, with calmer acts playing throughout the Saturday daytime catering for the heavy Friday night partying and more energetic acts throughout both evenings.
Another issue was the performance by Patrick Wolf. This performance had been highly anticipated by a lot of Knee Deep attendees, but unfortunately it didn’t run very smoothly. The set consisted of Wolf spending a large amount of time tuning and having issues with his equipment, as he bounced between wanting to use one instrument to another. It was a shame that this set didn’t run smoothly and to hear Wolf announcing that he had just been told by the sound crew that he had two minutes to get on with his set, gave the impression that the audience weren’t the only people getting irritated by what seemed to be either nervousness, intoxication or incompetence. However, everyone has bad performances every now and then and Wolf did go on to explain that it was his first live show in quite a while, with his humility and speech about his happiness to be at Knee Deep eventually winning over the audience’s cheers.
Aside from the criticisms above, the only other real issue was that every now and then there would be some clipping during performances. Whilst it was unfortunate that this happened (predominantly on Stage A), it wasn’t overly noticeable and isn’t exactly unheard of at festivals when there are so many acts performing live.
Overall, Knee Deep Festival 2014 was another great experience. The passion that the organisers have for this event clearly shows with such a diverse mixture of creativity evident throughout the festival. In comparison to last year’s event, Knee Deep 2014 did seem to place more of an emphasis on crafting an enjoyable and accessible experience as a whole, and whilst I do feel that Knee Deep 2013 hosted a higher number of more experimental music, this year’s line-up wasn’t anything less than quality once again. It’s a real shame that the organisers are “taking some time off” from the festival, but (and I’m sure I’m not alone in saying this) I really hope that Knee Deep Festival returns to Cornwall as soon as possible, bringing another weekend of art, partying and great music.
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