Review: Glade Festival

Sarah Fortescue 4 July 2012

For those unfamiliar with Glade, it began its journey as a stage at Glastonbury, and has been edging its way towards an annual full blown creative festival ever since.

Having endured its fair share of logistical nightmares over the years, it now looks set to achieving its aim, with a little help from the organisers behind Huntingdon’s Secret Garden Party and the unlikely new home of Houghton Hall, one time residence of Sir Robert Walpole

Arriving on Thursday, it was clear to see the SGP influences coming to life in the main arena, namely at the ‘Dance Off’, a musical mash up modelled on a boxing ring with a break-dance floor, in which revellers with no ability, lots of pills, and a hugely inflated sense of talent attempt to perform wonders. It was a welcome addition.

After a few hours hopping between stages, it dawned on us that the messy party vibe synonymous with Glade was lacking somewhat… There was hardly anyone there. Naturally, this is an exaggeration. The festival capacity is huge, and the campsite was almost full, but there was a distinct lack of any sort of crowd gathering. As the weekend went on, rather than filling out, it became even more noticeable that uptake on tickets may not have been as expected. A notable victim of the shortfall was the Gouranga tent, which continuously played some of the best underground talent at the festival to a depressingly small crowd.

An additional SGP borrowing was In the Woods, the vibrantly lit woodland walkway leading to some of the more abstract and creative concepts that Glade prides itself on – notably the Meteor stage. With the DJ booth housed in a giant UFO, and the dance floor set below in a giant crater, this original contribution offered a good mix of Hip Hop, Breaks and even some Funk, played to a constant stream of satisfied revellers. A little further along came the baffling display of Polyphant, the rating of which moves between unapologetically dreadful and an inspirational masterpiece depending on how many drugs you’ve been offered. (In essence, it’s a bunch of kitchen foil hanging from a hut).

When in full swing, the main arena offered genuinely diversity with its acts in a variety of artistically designed stages; ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ housed live ska from Cambridge’s Killamonjambon, the Glade Stage hosted an incredible set form Krafty Kuts and A Skillz and Dynamite MC, and on Sunday the Pyro-mid spontaneously combusted. Either that or it was set on fire. Either way, it looked incredible.

It looks as though Glade may have found permanent residence at Houghton Hall. If so, under the care of SGP Productions, the creative course of the event is likely to branch out in all sorts of wonderfully abstract ways – pushing it back to the forefront of the UK festival scene and enabling its unique identity to attract bigger and better crowds. Definitely one to keep watching.

Sarah Fortescue