Georgia Smith || July 30th
So it's official, the festival season well and truly started with one of the most awe-inspiring festivals of them all; a Welsh wonderland they call Gottwood... The festival takes place within the gorgeous surroundings of Anglesey, with a panoramic stretch of grassy hilltops and green rolling farmland acting as a blanket to the entire site. It sounds rather recluse doesn't it; yet with the beach a 10 minute drive away and the same for local supermarkets, you are pretty much able to roam free, with Gottwood being relaxed with its guests leaving and entering the festival site. I recommend you head to the beach one afternoon, at first you may feel you are missing out on the festival, however, as soon as you lay eyes on the breath-taking sandy landscapes, with its rocky surfaces and hung over cliffs, it creates the perfect afternoon spot to have a picnic or even a hike (if feeling extremely adventurous).
Not only are Gottwood's external surroundings a source of beauty, but just wait until you take a look inside. Situated within the grounds of the Carreglwyd Estate lies a country manor at the heart of the site, which overlooks a dazzling lake filled with lily pads and the occasional water feature. You are able to walk around the lake, with the aid of handmade wooden bridges (a new feature to Gottwood this year) reminding me of a setting from Hansel & Gretel. During the day the Lawn Stage - which stands aside the water - is the perfect chill out spot, where many start their afternoons, laying on the grass, preparing themselves for the day ahead, with the pleasure of exotic live music performances.
Gottwood is renowned for it's ability to completely absorb its inhabitants with its tranquil mind and mystical ambience; not forgetting its muchly accomplished efforts to bring the funkiest of party vibes. The intricate decor take your eyes to a world of psychedelica in every direction you look allowing you to fall deeper into the cornucopia of comfort and colour. As you enter the woods, you become side-tracked by a display of illuminating figurines and laser-like string co-joining the trunks of trees, emphasising the beauty of the Welsh realm. The Moonstone installation team have to be commended by how naturally they were able to complement nature, dismantle individuals' perceptions, as well as being able to subconsciously bring people together, through their synonymous love and connection to art.
As the woods come to a clearance, it gives you a time to pop your head up for air with a heavenly selection of quirky street food stalls. Please, take note; the mac n’ cheese stand is the place to be and if its your first time at Gottwood, you will hear about the relics of mac n’ cheese before you even lay eyes on any. This year, I saved my annual snackage for the Sunday as a pot of this goodness really does give you an essence of home comfort. However, don’t make this mistake as the sheer disappointment of there being no jalapeño or bacon toppings left, did deflate me slightly. Moving along the food stalls, Badboy Wraps also kicked up a storm, making another strong appearance at this years festival; these were the talk of the town (well in my friendship group anyhow), to the point where tucking into one became a daily affair.
The Gottwood crew had surely thought of everything for the 7th time round, with of course, a commendable line-up filled with pure underground electronic artists. Jigsaw's Mr. G was the initial party starter bringing his luscious annual live set to the Walled Garden on the Thursday night. Friday's musical specialities undoubtedly had the weekend accelerating through its journey with a minimalistic, yet oozey set by John Dimas at the Mother Owl stage. Darkness crawled over the festival in no time at all; the evening consisted of pumping sets by Optimo followed by the legendary John Talabot at the Trigon stage. Although that evening the Treehouse Stage had me coming back for more with the Back to Basics crew keeping it real with performances by Dave Beer, Tristan Da Cunha, Denney and Ralph Lawson, all serenading the crowd with strict party vibes, and as expected impressive tunes from start to finish; 'banger after banger' seemed to be the quote of the night.
Throughout the rest of the weekend Gottwood presented to us an array of widespread tones; at the Lawn stage, the lake held fort to day-time grooves from the likes of Awesome Tapes from Africa, the Max Graef Band as well as a beautifully composed live set from the naturally gifted multi-instrumentalist Bastien Keb. Both Andrew Weatherall and Roman Flugel who gave us a b2b vibe, displayed an acidic alliance between each other, allowing the crowd to transport themselves to a pure and raw 90s rave type party at the Walled Garden. The pair managed to make acid-house seem like Mother Nature with trickly, intrinsic sounds and 90s beats.
On Sunday the newly revamped Curve stage, saw Louche take control of the evening with the likes of Nicholas Lutz who filled our boots with 90 minutes of strictly Detroit Techno; Sonja Moonear who impressed with some monumental techno tunes, many holding ranks as some of the best I heard all weekend; as well as Thomas Franzmann (a.k.a Zip) who created strictly feel-good vibes with a combination of groovy tunes and house classics. Once the music ended at the 3am curfew, Monday morning surely began perfectly with the Gottwood residents continuing their high-spirited party back at the campsite, accompanied by crazy hats, beaming smiles and of course, the beautiful sunrise in which Gottwood is blessed by each year.