On 8th July 2016 me and my boyfriend went to see Mumford & Sons at a one-day festival called British Summer Time in Hyde Park. It was, to say the least, unbelievably astounding. They run loads of free events during the week to celebrate the start of summer and to get people in London and the surrounding area out and about. But at the weekends there are one day festivals in which 15ish bands play across various stages all afternoon building up to the main act. The main act for the day we went was Mumford & Sons.
We were a little late for the start of Baaba Maal as the whole surrounding area was packed with people trying to get to the park in time for when the gates opened. So we killed a bit of time before hand and went in a little later when the queues to get in had gone down. The security and people organising and helping out at the event where all super helpful and really friendly. That made the event even more enjoyable! Once we were in the event we stood outside of the standing area and watched the middle part of Baaba Maal. They were pretty incredible and really involved the crowd in every song they did, getting everyone to sway in time to the music.
Looking around the whole event was not what I expected it to be one bit. There where little houses with different types of food and drink in them. They were themed as to what they sold, some where pubs others where Mexican houses and there was also a fair few ice cream vans. No British summer based festival is complete without ice creams, let me tell you!
Me and Tom then wandered over to the Main Oak stage after getting food just to see what all of the commotion with the standing wrist bands was. I still don’t really know how it all worked if I’m honest because we walked past the person minding the entrance and they just gave us the ‘special wristbands’. We had some time to kill before Wolf Alice came on the Main stage so we sat down in this special area and watched Nick Mulvey. I had never really heard of him before but recognised some of his songs as he started playing his set. I have to say if there are any Passenger fans who are looking for some new music this is the guy to listen to. He was so emotional and sweet on stage. Nick was really good with the crowd and got into it all pretty quickly. Starting out, he was swamped on the massive stage but after his first song he found his roots and played his guitar darn well. The best song he performed had to be Mountain to Move which is going to be from his next album. For me it was really passionately sung and as it was an acoustic song it made it even more personal to the audience. He sung every song by himself with his guitars which bought the whole event back down to earth. I really loved the whole set and I can’t wait for his next album.
We waited around for a bit before Wolf Alice came onto the stage. We both went into the abyss of people standing in front of the stage for this and that just added to the whole experience. They came on and the party started. They did all of the classic Wolf Alice songs from Fluffy to Giant Peach and one of my favourites You’re a Germ. They were insane and they made the crowd go crazy as soon as they started. They were a little swamped by the stage and didn’t do as much talking/build up as I thought they would. BUT they were still, none the less ridiculously with Ellie Rowsell’s vocals holding out in the most perfect way. The whole crowd was all bouncing off each other with every song that they played. They are a band I definitely want to see live again.
Another band I really want to see live again, indefinitely, is Mystery Jets! As soon as Wolf Alice finished we pretty much ran over from the main stage to the Barclaycard stage. We unfortunately missed the first song as the two sets started and ended at the same time which was a shame. However, this crowd along with the Mumford & Sons crowd was by far the best. There was way more people than I could have ever imagined for this performance and I think they though that too. Small stage, amazing band and a massive wanting crowd made for an amazing experience. Even though to start with I had to wiggle my way through the masses so I could see, dragging my rather tall boyfriend along with me, losing him several times. Getting closer to them made the time they played even better. It was definitely an act that people just made space and danced around too. It was definitely a more ‘we play; you dance’ set which everyone in the crowd absolutely loved. Thankfully we didn’t miss them perform Bubblegum which they played in the middle of their set. We both danced and cheered along to every song they did. Mystery Jets where not on for as long as many people had hoped but my god did they use the time wisely!
The next band we went to see was one that my boyfriend really wanted to see, Matthew and the Atlas who performed on the smallest stage, the Summer Time Stage. This, for me was one of the best stages as we were at the barrier as there weren’t as many people at this performance as the other ones. This smaller sized stage suited Matthew and the Atlas as they used it to play a variety of different instruments and create different sounds. They did a little bit of rock and a little bit of folk but I would say they are firmly the alternative type. A few sad slow songs, a few up beat songs and their whole set seemed to be over as soon as it started which was a real shame! They played a lot of songs, my favourite being Temple as the live version, for me, is way better than the recorded. One question about this band that was a running query throughout the set is, who is Matthew and who are the atlas’s? Me and said significant other are going to be seeing them again in November when they support Bear’s Den on their album tour.
Once Matthew and his atlas was all done and dusted we ran over to the main stage to the queue for the standing section with our special wrist bands. We got in in good time and as it was already packed out I wormed my way through dragging Tom with me and saying I was trying to get to my friends. In actual fact I was trying to find somewhere I could see! After finding a good place next to some drunk Tom Hobden (the fiddle player in the band) fan club who made the day by fangirling every time he came on the big screen, everyone was on edge waiting for Mumford and Sons to come on. There were a few times when the sound technicians came on the stage and everyone cheered in belief that it could be Marcus Mumford. But as always the biggest cheer was saved for the headline act when they all came on stage in a line. There where smiles on everyone’s faces as the whole crowd came alive. This was one of the best crowds I have been in to date. Everyone was suitably drunk but ever so polite and apologising half way through songs for bumping into each other. It was such an amazing crowd that everyone no matter what age got involved in. There where small children to elderly people to middle aged people who you would not expect to be there but where anyway. There were also parents being dragged around by their teenage daughters.
Mumford & Sons did old songs from their past two albums and some songs from Wilder Mind. They also did a couple of songs from Johannesburg which is a mini albums of new recordings with Baaba Maal, Beatenberg and The Very Best. They all came on stage half an hour into the set and again before the last half hour commenced. Let’s just say these songs are incredible live and I defiantly prefer them live to the recorded versions but as not many members of the crowd where willing to sing along to the African parts it sort of lost its vibe. Which was a real shame as the crowd seemingly really wanted to get involved in all the songs. Apart from that the whole gig and set was unbelievable. There was crowd surfing from Marcus himself in which his shirt was ripped open which sent the crowd into a frenzy. Marcus ran to the smaller stage in the middle of the crowd and sang by himself with a flare to light him, which looked and was just fantastic in every way. They also did a couple of songs, just the four of them, a guitar and one microphone and he said ‘I have never heard 60,000 people go that quite so quickly before. He was right, everyone instantly shut up.
The end of the whole gig was in one of the saddest ways the best. There where fireworks over the main stage in the background which made the stage look even more daunting and bigger than it was. There were also confetti shot into the main standing crowd where me and Tom where stood that was timed so it was released when the song got to its final point before the build-up all broke. Overall the whole day was truly amazing and I would say one day festivals are by far the best. They are good value for money, you meet amazing people and the music is just insane.
We both recorded some amazing videos of each band but as I currently have little money I am not able to put them on blog posts. This is due to the type of plan I’m on on WordPress, which is a real shame. I do apologise if that’s what you came here for. 😦
Charlie (and a little help from Tom)
All images photographed by Charlie Hall and Tom Coller-Jones