Friday/Saturday 25th/26th August 2023
Newark Showground, Nottinghamshire
Firstly, this is a festival review not a band-by-band review.
So, after the highs and highers of Stonedeaf 2018 and 19, then Covid wiping out 2020 and a name change to Stonedead for 21, and 22, what would the 5th Anniversary bring us in 2023? Well I certainly wasn’t expecting a deluge of biblical proportions on the Friday night, okay, it only lasted for about 15 minutes though, but what a downpour. So, I thought we were in for a Download style wet weekend. Now I know the organisers are good, really good, but that deluge was about it, only a couple of brief showers to cool people down after that. Maybe they do have a contract with higher powers, who knows!
Even with the addition of around 1,000 people this year to raise the crowd to 5k there was still loads of space around the tents, no nighttime guy rope laser quest and easily room for another 50 or so around us. This year I was almost 80 metres from my car, oooh that long walk. The grass held up well after its watering, a few puddles on the airstrip for the kids to play in, and my grandson loved that bit, and we were all set to go.
The one thing people always want to know.
Well, the pricing was once again more than reasonable at around £5.50 per pint and around £10 - £12 for a meal, obviously depending on what you wanted. So, once again, no rip-offs. Hand on heart, most festival food is a damned sight better than my local take-a-ways. However, if you are being frugal or you simply can’t afford the prices, this has to be the only festival that I know of where you can take your own beers into the arena, a 4 pack at a time, but you can pop back to your car or tent for more. So, you can make it as cheap as your budget allows, you can even pre-book your beers to be collected inside, all nice and cold too, so probably and hopefully the same in 2024.
One of the best things about Stonedead, is it is still growing and learning, they are also listening, and trying to correct any faults, and they will be some as it grows, it’s obvious. They have only been going five years so technically still in their infancy.
Here’s my rant bit.
With success comes the inevitable attraction for the ‘idiots’ that bigger festivals attract. With every festival, everyone’s pet peeve is the toilets. If you are reading this and you were one of these idiots, firstly, grow up, secondly, please don’t purchase a ticket for 2024, let someone who has a lot more than your one shared brain cell buy a ticket. Stonedead prides itself on its cleanliness, its common sense approach, the willingness of all its punters to assist in keeping the place clean, if you can bring it, you must have space to take it away as there is only the packaging left, hence I took one bin bag away and put it in my own bin at home.
It is a festival for adult minded people, not idiots. Allegedly some people were using excessive amounts of loo paper, now none of us want to see what the last person has eaten, but we are all grown-ups, so just don’t look down is the answer, reverse in if need be. Hence, some of the toilets by Saturday night/Sunday morning were a little ‘choked up’ sadly. In the arena, I found there was never a queue, and the toilets were still stocked with paper and hand sanitiser but one of the four portaloos between D and E areas of the camp suffered a bit, however the addition of a gents urinal was an excellent idea and certainly eased any queues.
Talking to a few guys whilst waiting for the loo (as you do) on the Sunday morning, one was buzzing about King King being the best band of the weekend. For me it was South of Salem, a younger than me lad favoured Black Star Riders as he had Irish parentage and loved Thin Lizzy, and an older guy (I am 59) was delirious about seeing Blue Oyster Cult as he hadn’t seen them since ye olde Monsters of Rock back in 1981. So, Chris has got that spot on again with peoples varying tastes, they genuinely do try and cater for everyone.
The buzz, the vibe.
In my honest opinion, Stonedead has probably reached cult status now. I don’t mean in the Koolaid or Charles Manson level of cults, but the feeling of being proud to be a ‘Stonedeader’ wearing the t-shirts and merch with a true sense of pride, a sense of belonging to something and being part of a community. The social media team is a 365 year-round thing, not just the odd throw away comment making an announcement, but an interactive ‘live’ entity we are all part of. It is simply a stunning, unequalled, package and I am happy to say I feel part of that, and I have made some good friends, both in reality and in Cyberspace. At Download, Bloodstock et al, we always have a meet up, usually near a bar which is nice, so come and join us next time. The atmosphere is quite unique, like nothing I have felt elsewhere.
Obviously, there were lots of newbies there, Stonedead virgins, call them what you will. I got chatting to several people (I do talk a lot, and I am not shy) and I asked the obvious question of "Would you come again?" Answers varied from "Defo, Yep, oh shit yeah, without a doubt to ‘already bought my ticket" and yes, I have already bought mine too. I can see this festival selling out faster than Glastonbury one day, so just remember there’s only 5,000 tickets available. Get one before it is too late. I seriously doubt that you will regret it and at £70 what have you got to lose? Oh, and as I finish writing this review three days after the festival, 2,000 tickets have already been sold.
Neil, Chris, Louise, Karina, Dewi, to name but a few of the year-round volunteers, and every single volunteer who takes a week or so off work to help out, take a bow. You have done yourselves very proud yet again and made about 5,000 individuals very, very happy.
See You At The Bar in 2024.