The competition amongst festivals is stiff, with many very good events taking place all summer - and all year - long. It's something I feel the UK does pretty well, and as consumers, that means we can see a curated mix of artists that suit our tastes, and hear a tonne of new, innovative stuff, too.
I think the appeal comes from being able to tailor your experience, and just doing what you want to do as and when you want to do it. I remember learning about the impact of fracking at 1am on the first night of Glastonbury a few years back. Then I went and ate mezze and had a beer. Routine is all well and good, but it's nice to really mix things up for a few days and get rid of the rules. Of course, there's also the fact that music is pretty brilliant, and watching a tonne of your favourite artists back to back for days on end is a lot of fun.
With competition for ticket sales so stiff, and tickets generally costing a pretty penny, new festivals have their work cut out to catch up with the competition. That’s something that the guys behind Boundary Festival have been working on this year, building toward a one-day event in Brighton at the end of Summer and festival season (September 17th, to be precise). We were lucky enough to be invited along to check it out, and it’s safe to say that Boundary will have made its mark as an event to be remembered when it comes to swapping festival stories in months and years to come.
A one-day festival is rather different to a weekend-long affair, and there's something really nice about not getting super muddy and getting to head home to Match of The Day and a warm, comfy bed after an ace day out. They are generally a little smaller, too, making them easier to navigate, meaning there’s (far) less to pack, less missing artists as you trek 30 minutes from stage to stage and less drinking with a raging hangover.
The setting of Boundary was pretty nice, with the rolling hills of the English Countryside on one side, and just a short walk from Falmer station, which is just a 7 or 8 minute from Brighton. After arriving at the festival at around 3PM, we set about making our most of the lineup on offer. In particular, the relatively small size of the lineup (4 stages) meant that there was always something on that we wanted to see. Standout sets came from Jackmaster and Seth Troxler, two people I’ve not seen sets from in years, taking me back to dingy, super fun nights spent in and around Sheffield as a student.
The festival is certainly ideal for students, taking place at the end of University of Sussex’s freshers week, which made for an extra care-free and fun vibe - there was certainly nothing this cool on offer when I was a fresher in 2009. Drinks prices, however, were pretty high, with a pint of Frontier costing £7.50, making me wonder if the student audience might have struggled to scrape together enough for a day’s worth of drinks. Really, I think my problem is more with the cost of living in the UK, as it’s fair enough to pay a little extra for drinks when they’ve been brought along to a field for you to enjoy.
The proximity of Brighton to London and the fact that Brighton is full of bands, club nights and general creativity means there’s a super captive audience for this kind of event. The plus for me was that Boundary comes right at the end of the Summer season as plans and holidays begin to die down, so it’s one you can imagine making a habit year on year, ensuring you see the Summer out in style.
Brighton also has The Great Escape, an insane showcase of the UK’s hottest talent and label picks. This takes place in May, so it’s certainly good to see another festival serve up a different experience and mix of music for the city toward the end of Summer. There's also Wildlife festival in June, so despite Brighton's proximity to London, there are now three class festivals that collectively are proving you don't need to go to London for touring music, which is great.
For a festival in its infancy, there’s a lot to get excited about, and with one year and one lineup under its belt - which boasted Craig David, Solardo, Joy Orbison and more - I’m pretty excited to see what will be on the cards for Boundary next year. No doubt it will be bigger, better but with the attention to detail that made this year feel very intimate, a little different and totally Brighton.