This is a bizarre one-day festival based around the corporate image of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, it costs £5 and you can eat all the ice cream you want. In addition to this they have a variety of events which one can only describe as fun for all the family (helter skelter, petting zoo, coconut stalls, toe-wrestling). A number of environmentally sound and ethically positive elements were added to the mix including fair trade produce and green electricity production. All in all it was family friendly fun for the environmentally conscious generation. I was quite surprised that David Cameron didn’t turn up.
The music tended to reflect this concept with much, what a kind reviewer might call, radio-friendly music. Others would call it AOR shite, but there you go. The first band that I witnessed certainly were shite. Breaks Coop have received a lot of coverage due to the fact that MTV2 VJ and BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe has helped them out and appeared on the record. They sound as if they are attempting to become the ‘band of the summer’ with an almost Athleteesque pop-rock brilliance, however it all fell apart as the band entered into some adlib rapping over an extended instrumental break. It was at this point that I went to find some more ice-cream.
Next up were the best band of the bill, Vincent Vincent and the Villains. They play 1950s style rock and roll mixed with some elements of the Clash (in fact blink and you could swear that the lead singer is Joe Strummer). Their music would not feel out of place on an episode of Happy Days and they were unashamed in this. If there is a genre that hasn’t recently been plundered for inspiration, then it is Buddy Holly and 1950s rock. Myself, I’m glad to hear this kind of music being performed on stage again – especially after the atrocious Breaks Co-op.
Nerina Pallot is a local singer-songwriter from Clapham. She’s had quite a bit of media buzz surrounding her and in many ways she is being presented as another KT Tunstall – a pop-princess with attitude. However, what we had on stage was an Annie Lennox wannabe that completely lacked originality. Her attempts at crowd interaction were pitiful, and I almost felt like going to see what animals were on show in the petting zoo rather than endure the rest of Ms Pallot. She played piano and guitar (although not at the same time. If she had done then this may have made her songs more entertaining.) and was relatively proficient with both, but for me there was an overall lack of passion on display.
Captain were on next. Their music is difficult to define, it sounds like the Editors without the edginess of the Joy Division wannabes. There was much stage banter which I assume was their attempt at disguising the fact that their songs were awful (and too few in number). The lead singer was almost instantly annoying. This is definitely one to avoid in the future if at all possible. They were so poor that I can not be bothered to find anymore words to say about them! They have a debut album out on August 14th in the UK – please do not purchase by mistake.
The Wonder Stuff were the band that most in attendance had come to see. But before that we had a chance to see the real star of the show: Jerry, of Ben and Jerry’s fame. Addressing the crowd was a true highlight, but all I could think about was the fact that I had read an internet rumour that his business partner and friend, Ben had died suffering a heart attack brought on by eating too much ice-cream. Whether this is true or not, it stuck in my mind and I managed to block out all of Jerry’s words of wisdom.
Fans of the Wonder Stuff would now all be in the target audience for Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream (now in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties) and it made perfect sense for them to be included. However, looking back at the Wonder Stuff, one must ask if they were ever really any good? Their music is reminiscent of the Levellers, albeit done in a more simplistic, poppy manner. I remember reading a quote from Noel Gallagher who said that before Oasis, all there was were bands like the Wonder Stuff. And you know what? He’s right, Britpop blew the Wonder Stuff out of the limelight and rightly so. However, perhaps I was the only one thinking this as they graced the stage. Many in attendance were happy that the band were there and they certainly created the largest buzz among the crowd with many electing to stand up from their picnic rugs, sunbathing and ice-cream eating.
Last and by no means least was Jose Gonzalez. This diminutive Swede with a Spanish name has hit fame thanks to a TV advert for Sony. He comes onto the stage and is as interactive as the first computer I had – a ZX Spectrum. The music is pleasant and there is nothing wrong with it but he is probably not the ideal headliner for a festival that is based around eating copious amounts of ice-cream and sitting in the sun. His solo acoustic songs barely registered with many finding the people dressed as dancing bananas more entertaining. He then started playing his ‘hit’ from the Sony advert which turns out to be a lot less interesting without thousands of brightly coloured bouncing balls. Bored I turn to leave the festival but I still manage to get another few free scoops of ice-cream and pick up my free tree sapling on the way out.
Overall, this event was marred by some poor choices of performers. The first day’s festivities had the better line-up with Badly Drawn Boy and Echo and the Bunnymen entertaining. Jose Gonzalez was a poor choice, his solo acoustic music came as a let down after the energetic Wonder Stuff (even if they were not my cup of tea). But having said that with all the ice-cream I wanted and the low entry price, I can’t really complain. I’ll be back next year, but probably more for the apple pie flavoured ice-cream than for the music.