As I set foot upon the grounds of Poltimore House, it became immediately clear that this was going to be a special day. The whole festival was decorated beautifully, with bunting hanging up everywhere and adorable handmade signs leading the way. With a yoga area in the woods, the Slacklining society set up in the corner, a homemade pizza van and a blind book buying stall – as well as the two music stages – this was a festival unlike any I had ever been to before. As the sun was shining, I sat down on the grass with an ice cream and managed to catch the end of CHEBS’ energetic set.
CHEBS set the chill summer vibe perfectly with their upbeat funk tracks, spreading an infectious enjoyment throughout the audience as they danced around, clearly loving their time on stage. The love and appreciation the performers had for Poltimore became a recurring theme throughout the festival, and was also apparent as National Acrobats took to the stage inside Poltimore House itself. Having apologised for their lateness due to “someone stealing [their] drum kit”, the band launched into a passionate set. They performed with the same amount of ease as a group who had been in the industry for years would have, appearing comfortable yet enthusiastic on stage. Jericho and These Days resulted in particularly excited reactions from the crowd, whilst the slower Twin Peaks suited the haunting atmosphere of Poltimore House nicely. The band joked about this maybe being their last performance together, which would honestly be a real shame – they have bags of talent and their own twist on a Catfish And The Bottlemen/Bombay Bicycle Club style sound is clearly loved by audiences.
The Poltimore House stage upon which National Acrobats played (as opposed to the main, outdoors stage which CHEBS had been performing on), was one of my favourite things about the festival. Set inside the derelict courtyard of the house, the broken windows and chipped walls around the set-up created a beautifully haunting atmosphere. This really came into its own when Daisy Vaughn took to the stage, her melancholy vocals echoing around the space. Despite the technical difficulties which occurred throughout her set, Daisy’s vocals never once faltered and she put on a truly enchanting performance. The audience were left in stunned silence as she sung beautifully, even switching to Spanish for one song. Despite not being able to understand a word, the sheer emotion and vulnerability in her voice conveyed everything we needed to know. I can’t even begin to explain how in awe everyone was – if you haven’t yet listened to Daisy, she is definitely one to discover now.
Delmer Darion also made good use of the historic backdrop, projecting intriguing holograms onto the back wall of the stage throughout their performance. This added an extra layer of interest to a performance which could potentially have otherwise been viewed as visually static – the electronic sound of the duo meant that there was little movement with instruments etc. These projections moved with the ambient music, resulting in a holistic yet intimate set which proved that Delmer Darion are well worth the recent hype they’ve been gaining on the Exeter music scene.
Over on the main music stage, The Little Unsaid was providing suitably mellow tunes for the hot Sunday afternoon, and Black Thistles were amping up the volume in the lead up to the final few headliners. With the Pimms flowing steadily and the sun beginning to set, headliners Wildwood Kin took to the stage. The trio jumped straight into Salt Of The Earth, a track which summarises their folksy, acoustic sound nicely. They performed passionately together, flawlessly executing the impressive three-piece harmonies which are the stand out feature of each of their songs. Whilst I enjoyed all of their original tracks, I was particularly impressed with the covers which peppered their set. Hold Back The River, Pumped Up Kicks and Jolene – each notably different genres – were given a Wildwood Kin twist, being played on their keyboard/guitar/drum set up and of course all featuring the three-piece harmony. These songs allowed the audience to have a bit of a sing along, with some members getting up and dancing too, much to the delight of the band. Their new single Warrior Daughter was another stand out from the performance, with the sudden Spanish sounding guitar and more intense sound adding a slightly different flavour to the setlist.
Poltimore Festival was an extremely well organised and enjoyable day from start to finish. From the tiny details like the decorations to the impressive acts performing, everything was close to perfect. It is a festival which will undoubtedly (and deservedly) grow year by year – if you have the chance to attend in 2017, don’t miss out.