Peace in the Park 2012

EDIT: There was a spot of a misunderstanding. “Shithole of a site” refers to Sloucher, not the festival.

“Why the fuck would I want to go to Peace in the Park, panzón? No Renegade Brass Band and no Screaming Maldini equals no mojo and no Orestes, geddit?”

A solo review, then. For all the haranguing that one does in life, it seems that when things go your way, the results vary from what you expected. Aye, fortune cookies are getting weirder.

It was a rather overcast Saturday, with strong winds and little coy heavy rains when Peace in the Park 2012 happened. Whereas last year it was sunny (proper), this time around it looked a bit on the “abandoned castle with gloomy music” side of things.

Nevertheless, it was the call of good music, good food and a relaxed atmosphere (you could smell it when you arrived…) for the one day that the Ponderosa Park gets its due.

Slightly underattended, Joe Banfi was well accompanied by Ben Eckserley (of Legend of 7 Black Tentacles, Captives on the Carousel and Woolly Mammoth fame) and Annie Maldini (from Screaming Maldini and Twins fame). Between gusts of wind and the odd onlooker that decided to stay, the sounds were nostalgic but intense (including a cover of ‘Where did you sleep last night?’). It finally broke the curse of not watching an entire Joe Banfi set too.

Quick trip to the Main stage (there were several and only one reviewer/photographer for this shithole of a website). Ham Pocket started a bit late, so only had chance to do 3 songs, in the vein of funny folk rock songs. Sheik Yer Bouti followed, still mostly acoustic but with a straight sax (I think) and a more funkier vein.

Dash, dash, dash. It was still cold but running between stages is a good idea in this morose Sun weather. Captives on the Carousel, ah, they always peddle their fairytale like folk, full of magic and literary imagery. Songs from their previous EP were played, mixed with some of the stuff from their recent EP, The Garden. ‘Charms’ sounded truly wonderful and their famous stage banter is always a good half of the argument of why their shows are great. I’ve heard a lot about Louis Romégoux before and having seen him, I understand it. Minimal but fierce, a lone(ly) man on stage with an electric guitar and an amp. Just right.

A shame to miss Carl Woodford, one of Sheffield‘s unsung heroes. I hate this Salomonic decisions. Burleskimo got a lot of people busting moves at the Main Stage, the vocal harmonies of the two lead singers felt like a good call-and-response musical dynamic. Mudcats Blues Trio always give a crackin’ show, playing one loud, fierce brand of blues with plenty of virtuosismo displayed in all areas. ‘Blues for Buddy’ is grandiose, ‘Whiskey and wine’ delivers and ‘Voodoo Chile’ made more than one cheer with rebel yells.

Yes, there were more stages and tents with tea, relaxation, dancing and even facepainting, but time was of essence when you try to cover as many bands as you can. There was  a wide variety of food options too. The pulled pork sandwiches were good and the Thornbridge ales tested were good (Peace in the Park, Jaipur) and so-so (Tzara – not my cuppa).

Back to the main stage, the sounds of many wind instruments creating a wave of good vibes (mostly covers) beckoned. It was New York Brass Band, who pretty much packed the stage. A cover of ‘Never gonna give you up’ raised a few momentary smiles, the ‘Faith’ cover was cool and ‘Misirlou’ mixed the rocking attitude of the Dick Dale version with the mystic movements of the original Greek song. They ended up with a cover of ‘Take on me’ and the audience provided vocals. Ruddy fun.

Speaking of fun, Blood Sport always do a fun set. Usually feeling like one long jamming session (with a carefully hidden pattern), the band pretty much seems to be playing one song, a megalithic composition carefully cemented by a steady drum beat that managed to surpass a few technical problems. Loved the #1 Echo tricks (perfect for atmospheric stuff).

The Mother Folkers are a band that always me think of the musical Sweet Charity. It’s the combination of voices and the catchy choruses, really. Take one part folk rock, one part Americana and two parts of a sing along on a road trip. ‘Stella’ is so swell-ah (sorry) and ‘Hey Cowboy’ is pretty much the reason to see them live (they still do a little choreography for it).

The sun started to peek around the time The Mother Folkers finished their set, so King Capisce had the golden hues of the afternoon as their limelight. Rocking the double saxophone attack, the band’s experimental sounds are interwoven perfectly, like a punto de cruz tapestry (but trippier). It’s funny that both the shoeless guitar players of Blood Sport and King Capisce were wearing non-matching socks. Is this a clue? Whatever it was, they were excellent (and the Zvex fuzz pedal was begging for more time in the mix).

A friend from México once told me that Balkan music is the grandfather is the mould of many popular types of music, including the always danceable banda music from the north of México. Judging from the sounds of Bell Hagg Orkestar and the stampede-like reaction they got from the public, he’s probably right (te debo una, Puebla). Completely using the whole of the stage, the dashingly good looking people of Bell Hagg Orkestar simply owned the public from the get go: between the funny banter (including borrowing of sunglasses) to the manic pace of their hypnotic, thoroughly danceable music, they were the best possible choice to end the day. Incidentally, I’m pretty sure the guy with the flugelhorn (I might be wrong about the name) is the mack daddy of the band.

It started gloomy and cold but it ended quite warm and festive. All the dancing probably had to do with it, but also the general atmosphere was grand. Sure, there was some rubbish around, but there were many a volunteer with bin bags doing their duty. Also, charities around like Names not numbers and Cresst where doing their bit to help after the festival. I’ll probably sound like a hippie by now, but it was a feel-good day in all senses and sometimes, that’s all you need from a festival.

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Words & pics: Sam J. Valdés López.

2 thoughts on “Peace in the Park 2012

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