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First of all, a fantastic Womad.
Family and "Festival" camping areas = excellent, especially with Molly's Bar for the "Teen set". Named streets through the campsite worked well, just need signs to say Family Camping added to these, and signs pointing to the "up all night" area will finish the job.
Love the music, love the food, love the atmosphere. Loved the procession. Love the Siam Tent decor, love the big lettering - W O M A D.
Don't mind the sitting - standing - chairs mix, so long as nobody complains - I saw no trouble, I always stand or sit on the ground. Had my (flip-flopped) foot trod on a few times - hey-ho - it's a festival!
Love the fun-fair, the sound of it at night lulls me to sleep somehow. The teens near us got the message on Thursday night that chatter travels and were good from then on, they were good anyway - no mess or antisocial behaviour.
Little kids mesmerised by my bloo hair - lovely!
Music and in general the festival was very enjoyable. Couple of points since the Festival moved from Reading we have taken advantage of having a tent put up for us in the Nook, initilally because of time but after Womud and my tent constructing skills! Well this year a metal road was constructed a few yards form my tent up and down which obviously lorries and cars seem to travel all night this was like having atrain drive by your tent every few minutes not good for sleeping. Can the positioning of the Nook be re-sited for neat year? Since I assume the road, which is very sane will be still there.
Security a bit over zealous this year - handling of some teens and the Vodca Jelly man were to be honest daft!
Big screens please no, it will a bit like when you had all those camera things at Reading!
Didn't really get warmed up properly until Sunday this year, but that was probably more to do with me than the festival, But by the end of Sunday I was ready for another week.
Random thoughts in no particular order.
Overall I thought it was a great festival, but musically not the best ever - last years festival still takes that prize. For my taste there was far to much Dub on the Friday and not enough "Traditional" music overall..
CG stage area is just not big enough or loud enough. Several times I turned up for something I particularly wanted to watch but had to leave because I could not get close enough to see or hear properly.
Health and Safety gone mad !!!!!!! for the second year running I was told to put out a candle which was situated in a purpose made lantern (not a naked flame) sitting on a metal table top yards away from any flammable materials. All recent camping equipment is fire retardant. I could not set fire to my tent if I tried to and camping stoves - which are a far more fierce source of heat and far more dangerous - are allowed. The WOMAD camp site at night has zero atmosphere because of this silly rule. In more than 30 years of attending festivals I have never known a fire to spread out of control, even in the days when cars and tents were allowed right next to each other and everyone started bonfires! - Sorry I have a bit of a bee in my bonnet about that one. I don't enjoy being treated like an idiot.
Beer prices a little too high!
I saw a security guard tip away a full bottle of Jack Daniels - this is a crime against nature.
If this post sounds negative I don't mean it too. But this is the thread for constructive criticism. If I were to write a list of all the positives It would be much much longer.
I can't understand why people get so upset over the Boutique Camping, WOMAD Camping and PodPads, or the SPA. To suggest that these facilities change the atmosphere of WOMAD or that the people using them are 'stuck up' is absolutely ludicrous. There were only 13 tents in the Boutique camping area, and the fenced off area containing WOMAD camping and PodPads was relatively small compared to the rest of the camping area. How such a small number of people could possibly affect the festival is beyond me. If people can afford to pay for these facilities, why shouldn't they? Perhaps the next facilities some will want withdrawing are the camper van areas.
My wife and I have been to more than 30 WOMAD festivals in over 25 years. When the UK festival was based in Reading we used to stay at the 4 star Holiday Inn. In the 70s we used to rough it at festivals, often sleeping in plastic bags, not showering or washing for days, now we are much older we prefer more comfort, should we be excluded from enjoying festivals because I want to sleep at night in a comfy bed? I find it rather perverse that some seem to think I shouldn't be at WOMAD enjoying music I love because I'm not prepared to rough it. I doubt anybody would have been able to identify me as a 'Glamper' from the way I behaved or dressed.
I think there is a bit of inverted snobbery being expressed by some on here!
The atmosphere of the festival was bound to change to some extent with the move from the urban area of Reading to the more rural and genteel area of Wiltshire. We've certainly noticed the change in the clientèle and I can assure you it has nothing to do with any of the 'posher' facilities.
Another factor to the changing vibe, IMHO, is the fact that festivals have become the 'in' place to go to. In the early days at the Reading festival the majority went to 'hear' the music or to be introduced to new rhythms and beats, very few stood around chatting whilst performances were ongoing. Nowadays many more are there for the 'atmosphere' and are quite happy to sit, chat, drink and generally socialise, with the artists providing background music. This is fine if they are sat out on the periphery, unfortunately more and more are encroaching into the 'listening area', standing there chatting, not even facing the stage, and ruining others enjoyment, if you say anything you are likely to be abused.
To the festival itself - we both enjoyed it, but do feel WOMAD are trying to put too much on. In the early days at Reading there were less artists with most of the bands playing twice, with many also conducting workshops, giving you more chance of seeing them if they clashed with other artists you wanted to see. I'd like to see a return to this, in recent years I've had to make difficult choices which resulted in missing some artists completely or only catching part performances in order to see a bit of each.
I support the view that there should be an increase in the amount of dance performances and workshops especially from SE Asia.
I agree with others posts regarding the venues for some artists, Rodrigo y Gabriela should have been on at the Open Air Stage, as should Penguin Café. The Siam Tent and Red Tent were just too small for them. Friends of mine that were in the Red Tent for Penguin Café tell me that there were many people laid out on the floor, perhaps if some these had sat up then more of those outside may have got a look in.
People sitting down, each to there own IMHO, if it's quiet music why not sit down, if upbeat then stand and dance. However, one thing that makes it difficult to sit down is the fact that all the stages, with the exception of the Radio 3 stage, now have barriers in front of them. Why? Womad isn't the type of festival where people are going to leap on the stage. The trouble with the barriers is you can't see through them so if you wish to sit down, you have to sit several feet away from them, this encourages people to come and stand in front of you. This happened at the Charlie Gillett stage on Friday night when Ballaké Sissoko & Vincent Segal were doing their Kora and Cello duet. Those several feet away from the stage were getting quite irate because others moved into the clear space behind the barrier and stood in front of them. This performance was ideal to sit down for, to watch the musicians perform their magic and for the audience to chill, but the barrier made sure that wasn't going to happen.
I remember, years ago, none of the stages had barriers, but they were initially introduced to the Open Air Stage and Siam Tent, probably for the BBC TV crew and press photographers, then slowly spread to all stages in the main arena.
Getting rid of these barriers would be a big step forward in improving each venue, especially at the smaller stages.
I can never understand why we have DJs at music festivals, I thought they were for live music.
I didn't think it was so busy this year, there were more crowds on Saturday, but I felt the previous two years were busier, and overall a big improvement on Reading where the amount of people was becoming unbearable.
I can't say I noticed any issues with security. I did see some teens being searched for booze at one of the gates but they were treated respectfully. This year I felt there was less trouble from teens, much less barging through the crowd going on.
There appeared to be many less stalls this year, both food and general merchandise.
Overall, still THE best festival to go to, I'll be there next year and I defy anyone to identify me as a Glamper! ;-) (Without looking at wristbands.)
I returned to WOMAD for the first time this year since the disastrously wet first one at Charlton Park and have to say that I was Very Impressed with the improvements made - the site seems to have been completely redesigned.
The food was wonderful as always, and I didn't have to wait for long at any of the bars - remember the bad old days at Reading when there was only one bar at the Open Air Stage and you had to queue forever at busy times for a pint of rubbish keg beer!
The loos in the arena were plentiful and only a couple of times did I get one that had run out of paper - fortunately, I always carry emergency supplies. It was also good that the loos on the campsite were emptied on Sunday and were therefore still usable on Monday morning. But there didn't really seem to be enough of them on the campsite.
Musically, I really enjoyed it but my comments reflect those of others:
- there was too much dub
- there were two Cajun bands on Sunday - Feufollet being the much better of the two. Could they have been spread out a little more evenly?
- the Radio 3 stage is too small for the bands being put on and unless you're at the very front, it's hard to see with the trees in the way
- I stood behind the sound stage for Rod and Gab on Saturday expecting to hear them clearly. Instead, the sound was muffled and very quiet and I ended up leaving in frustration. They would have been much better on the Open Air Stage as others have said.
- there were too many bands from the UK; I know we contribute to the world music scene,but I would hardly put the Boxettes into the world music category.
- there was virtually nothing from Latin America
But overall, I had a wonderful time. Charlton Park is such a cool venue and it is big enough for the volume of people who go now. I'll be back next year for definite.
Well done to everyone involved in the process of making it happen - we take it all for granted but it is an incredible thing that they achieve.
I love Womad and had a brilliant time this year. Have been coming since the 80`s and am thrilled to see lots of young people coming and enjoying the vibe. To my contemporaries who would like it to be Ambridge, its a FESTIVAL. I did think security were over the top this year, fair enough if an individual is posing a threat to themselves or others, but womad has always had light touch security, especially in the arena, Vodka Jelly man is a womad institution in himself for god's sake! And for those complaining about drug use, drugs and festivals have always gone together, did you have a drink at the bar? That makes you a drug user too.
So.. onto the festy itself
Sound problems on several stages with feedback etc, please sort it out
San Fran Disco - much too small, was bigger last year. With good well known DJ's and many people wanting to boogie it was hellish in there, especially for the bar staff I imagine. Think it is important to have late night dance options (as there always has been grumpy gits). The "club Womad" had massive queues at Reading, demand is still high so please make a venue able to cope.
Agree with all comments about CG & R3 stages. CG definately needs resiting in a cul de sac. Also agree with the comments about bands playing twice, I used to feel I got to see most things as there was usually a chance to catch up.
Bars - v well run this year. but why not leave SFD open till late as was tried (and I thought worked quite well) after noise complaints about the campsite bar.
I do miss the circus/cabaret element and whatever happened to the stand up/political stages.
Loos were good, shame that some women still cant read the no sanitary products in the vacuum La Di Da loos as this is the reason that they had to close some at busy times, according to the lovely people that worked there. Communal showers back please, they work and people move through much faster than the cubicles. Couldn't we have both options?
Overall a really fab festival, Womad society is so full of lovely interesting people of all ages and origins, a real melting pot and I had some sublime, uplifting and magical musical moments. Best bit - seeing the joy on a 16 year old first timers face after she saw Baaba Maal. I remember that feeling, it's good to see it growing still. Though having said that hope that there will be some kind of ticket limit for next year, it felt like capacity on Saturday.
Thank you one and all. Best wishes xxxxx
Absolutely fantastic festival, great atmosphere, great facilities, great food - I thoroughly enjoyed every minute, and I thought the overall standard of acts was possibly the highest I've ever seen.
A couple of tiny quibbles, which in no way outweigh the positives:
1. The family camping/festival camping division was a good idea, but not all of us are families or caners. It seemed a bit like a choice between being kept up late by party animals or woken up early by children (neither of which groups I have anything against - I'd just rather not be woken up by them...) Any chance of a "quiet camping" area next year?
2. If we're going to have individual shower cubicles, there need to be a lot more of them. I queued for about an hour on Saturday and Sunday mornings (not too much of an ordeal, I'll admit, but I'd rather have been having my breakfast...) I'd happily welcome back the communal showers run by Tracy's crew, which were much quicker.
3. I was amazed by the amount of talking during sets, even near the front of the stage. Even for Rod & Gab, who had a large crowd who were obviously passionate about their music, the quiet passages took place against a constant rumble of conversation. Watching Baaba Maal from fairly near the front, I was surrounded by people chatting quite loudly all the way through the songs and making it very difficult to concentrate on the music. I can understand people wanting to sing along (though you don't get so much of that when the song's in Wolof...) but I just found it weird that they would go to the bother of getting themselves to within 20 yards of the stage and then try to carry on a conversation. Nothing much Womad or anyone else can do about it, I guess.
4. Please, no big screens.
After last year's stella line-up, I was wondering if the relatively little known (to me anyway) line-up this year was going to be disappointing. But I should have known to trust WOMAD as I cannot remember a more sustained set of brilliant music at festivals, the whole way through Friday and Staurday. It may even be the best WOMAD I have ever attended (I have been to every one for the last 20 years apart from the last one at Reading as i had found the previous year too crowded).
There seemed a bit more on to do late at night this year too, which was nice, music in the cafes at night! Tiny Tea tent, Lizard Lounge, San Fran (bit packed), never got to Molly's but we were camped over the other side.
Teens: Seemed to this middle-ager that the youngsters were really well behaved and were there for the music. It was also great to see lots more over 18s, who were obviously there for themselves now rather than being dragged by the parents. I think that's great, young people bring an energy to the festival and are it's future so hurrah for that.
Sound quality: can't believe there were grumbles about this, the sound for Baaba maal was amazing for an outdoor concert, i was spellbound (highlight for me as well as some of the other smaller concerts). Only band i couldn't get into were gogol bordello, seemed a bit incongruous amongst such master musicians and i didn't find their energy infectious. i should have bailed!
many thanks to all who put womad on for a very splendid and memorable time, can't wait to see what you cook up for us for the 30th Anniv!
It sounds as though we missed a pretty good one this year - Sounded like a pretty good (and unexpected) line-up, nice vibe, a good crowd (of all ages), and none of the problems with the disruptions to the camping that some of us experienced last year (this may explain the reasons for the division between family and non-family areas?). I agree that it would be nice to have a "quiet" area for those of us who tend to sleep in!
Congratulations to WOMAD and everyone else involved.
We're definately not missing out on it next year - The diary's been blocked out and I'm keeping an eye on the countdown for the early bird tickets......
I'd agree with much that is said already. It was a great festival with some excellent well know acts and some great new discoveries.
In general I think the programme notes were correct that WOMAD has now grown into Charlton Park and also that many previous postings have been picked up by WOMAD (although it would be nice to see some feedback from WOMAD on this site).
I thought sound quality and soundspill were acceptable. Not perfect - but few festivals are. I think it was 1988 which was disastrous and most of those issues are gone. As others have said, programming was generally good but the fantastic Penguins were just in the wrong place (and that left other acts rather sparsely attended I suspect.
I was pleased to see Molly's Bar moved to Festival Camping. The old bar used to be adjacent to Family Camping and pumping out music till 0400 which was farcical. At least its now fairly remote and so people know what they are opting for.
I didn't see much problem with security myself. Given the problems last year my bigger fear would be the withdrawal of the licence - so I guess there was little option but to step things up. One way or another there didn't seem to be too much trouble with kids - and in many ways its also reassuring that a young audience means a rosy future for WOMAD. Perhaps the new routine for teenagers provide effective.
I was less happy with the colonials extending mini garden centres or drapery across the site - and then often going off someplace else or sitting reading or chatting. I started coming to WOMAD because the Cambridge deskchair culture became intolerable and I worry that there is a similar risk at WOMAD. I have no problems with stools and shooting sticks for those who genuinely need something to sit on, but solid lines of chairs for entire families of kids are really not acceptable. For sets like Vieux Farka Toure amongst others there was loads of room at the front because people simply couldn't fight their way through.
I confess to being an awe-struck Ballaké Sissoko & Vincent Segal standee. As was said previously, and as Vincent Segal commented - life would have been nicer with a less solid barrier and better interaction. If we have a larger CG stage in the future then perhaps this will improve and there would be room to sit. Overall I think the fact that most acts had audiences on their feet is a credit to the quality of the line-up and the enthusiasm of most attendees - far better than seeing an apathetic crowd snoozing till the headliners. There have been some posts about "Womad-like behaviour". At Rivermead acts tended to run on more so the Open Air or Siam would be almost empty and the audience would drift across - I don't recall any significant encampments at all or difficulty moving from stage to stage. Personally I think that chairs should be restricted to points behind the mixing desk so the audience is more fluid
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