The first festival of the season is always one to look forward to, having counted down through the dreary months of winter waiting for the sun and daytime partying. I was dead set on kicking off the season earlier this year after setting myself the challenge in 2016 to make it to 50 different festivals before turning 30 (duplicates not counting) and so was overjoyed when Grinagog appeared on the calendar. A new festival for 2017 I was intrigued to see what it was all about and knowing it was organised by Chris Tofu, the man behind Shangri La at Glastonbury, I knew it was going to be a real corker of a weekend. As line up announcements started rolling in my excitement kept building and when the day finally came round I was left with that tingly feeling in my stomach like I did as a kid on Christmas Eve!
We’d arrived a day early to avoid faffing with parking on Friday, and settled down the coast at Meadfoot Beach which was an absolute stunner of a sight to wake up to! Glittered up, perry and all (AKA space wine) we strolled along the front to Torre Abbey to get our tickets. Wristbands on, with a few hours still to spare we sat on the green near the beach to absorb some sun. It was really beaming down, it’s risky business putting a festival on in April but the weather paid off! 6 O’clock came round fast it was finally time….
We thought we’d suss out the venues and do a little perimeter walk of the festival before heading into the Spanish Barn for Rambunctious Social Club DJs. They kicked things off perfectly with good vibes bouncing off the walls drawing revellers in from outside. The decor on the stage was bright and colourful, and along the side walls were stacks of face in the hole boards you could pick up and play with. Dancing solidly for 2 hours we left at the end of their set to meet the third member of our group off the train.
Bags dropped off and we were straight back out just in time to catch the end of Infinite Collective. With punchy brass, bold bass, jazzy vocals and some seriously funky ska/reggae beats they were a brilliant warmup for Jah Shaka soundsystem’s beefy Dub sounds which were already rattling the walls a few doors down at the Rosetor Stage. I stayed in there for an hour or so standing close to the speakers embracing the base as it pulsated through my body.
Taking a break from Jah Shaka we shimmied our way over to Temple Funk Collective. They blew the roof off the Spanish Barn with a shining line up of horns and reeds. The played a mix of party starters and floor filling classics all arranged on brass and brass only. Their 90’s dance medley went down a real treat, as well as ‘Korobeiniki’ which always gets my dancing juices flowing. To sum them up, they were funky as a monkey in a top hat wearing a tiny sequined waistcoat. We left them a little early to watch a bit of Sam & The Womp and I’m sure glad we did! Bold trumpets, rhythmical drums and wompingly good base make them a dancingly good force to be reckoned with.
The Ghetto Funk All Stars took to the stage in the Forum next, big wobbly baselines, breaks and of course a whole lot of funk made up their set. This collective of DJs started in 2010 and have continued pleasing crowds and filling dance floors ever since, and Friday the 7th was no exception. 1 am was quick upon us and with that the much anticipated start of Slamboree. If you haven’t seen this lot before all I can say is sort it out and get yourself along to one of their shows! The music created and performed by Mike Freear and Kathika Rabbit is enough of a reason to go and see them, then there’s the other musicians including drummer Charlie Stirzaker, and trombonist Joe Rogers who add a whole new layer to the ensemble. Basically if you like DnB, Breaks, Gypsy, Balkan, Electro Swing, Dubstep and (all the rest) then Slamboree is the band for you! The original songs are topped off with a seamlessly well put together show with a troop of top rate performers. Fire dancers, fire fans, fire breathing (did I mention fire yet?) sword eating and hula hoops made up some of the spectacular on the night. Fair to say they were one of my highlights of the weekend!
Totally pumped and full of energy we headed back through to the Rosetor stage to carry on our night dancing to the dubtastic sounds being thrown out in there. We did attempt to go watch Hong Kong Ping Pong, however we unfortunately got our timings wrong, but from what we heard from a guy handing out stickers his set was well received. Happy with our stickers we proceeded to bounce around from room to room, finishing our night off back by the rib cage burstin speakers that was Jah Shaka sound system. Day one complete, and what a day it was! Worn out we wandered along the coast and home to my van.