Fat Butcher's Photosonica
North London V-tard splicing beauty to the beats

Fat Butcher @ Secret Garden Party

Just got in the door from SGP, furry mouth, crusty soles and all. Photos coming soon. We were praying for rain by the end of Saturday. All available shade was packed tighter than a suitcase with hungover revellers (dehydration was rife; there were about 5 taps to provide water for 125,000 people – sort it out SGP) so when some drizzle leaked down and cloud washed over the sun the party picked up where it had dripped off. The atmosphere was charmingly playful; costumes, characters, games and silliness, Mud wrestling and flinging oneself down a hill in a tractor tyre, wheelchair or customised bike, makeshift waterslides, and canoe trips out to a beautiful pirate ship moored in the centre of the lake.

We scheduled a trip out to the pirate ship for Sunday morning, thinking we would appreciate the shade and relative quiet (once the sun starts to rise in this weather, sleeping in a tent turns your face into a friend egg and your clothes into microwaved clingfilm – fugeddaboudit) but never made it as they burned the ship down in a blaze of fireworks and floating lanterns that rose into the sky in a perfect staggered column of light to announce the arrival of a certain Grace Jones to the main stage that night. She made an imposing entrance with typically harsh but beautiful visuals, but the steep, crowded and oddly shaped terrain and dodgy sound quality motivated us to drift off to be drummed to sleep in the Peace Circle by a growing troupe of tripping percussionists.

For me the standout festival act was Beardyman, who now loops his vocal acrobatics in real-time onstage using a sampler to create rich layered beds over which he spat some deep DnB riffs. The Home and Away theme re-engineered as a beatboxed mash-up in the Valley of the Antics tent got a particularly rowdy reception. The kamikaze downhill death derby (people nearly died, it was invigoratingly reckless – the child who, by the skin of his teeth, ducked a man in a tractor tyre as it flew over a ramp of hay bales got a huge cheer, topped only by the cheer that went up when the tyre and its passenger then rolled into the lake HAW HAW FAIL LOL) proved a huge spontaneous hit and was a pretty memorable occasion, a highlight in a lot of Gardener’s memories no doubt.

Yet there was so much more going on than music. We were treated to impromptu poetry by Hammer and Tongue, a collective led by Angry Sam and some brilliantly boisterous wordsmiths, chilled out on cushions and watched massage, games, mud wrestling, boating, swimming, knocked back energy drinks laced with guarana and lime, lay on straw watching experimental film, climbed stacks of bales, made friends with strangers who turned out to be neighbours (back home in the East End), painted faces, posted secrets, fed zebras, cut loose, kicked back and generally let the festival happen to us. St. Etienne were usurped by a straw fight, which leeched their crowd away in the prayed-for drizzle. Their crass visuals didn’t help; alternating between basic shapes and the band’s name, matched only by light-entertainment chancers the H**siers’ projections, which again relied on the sight of the band’s brand in cursive script.

Security was lax between sites and on the gate, everything was a bit pricey, choice was narrow and barely any of the stages were signposted (deliberately, most likely, to ensure visitors explore thoroughly and don’t stick to their schedule of bands they already know) and no timetable of acts available (ditto), but there was something genuinely magical about the festival, and authentic passion for silliness, play and imagination that set it apart from its commercially sponsored peers. My set was an hour long and closed the Valley of the Antics stage on the last night, minimal and bold, graphic and simple, centred imagery isolated from the edges of the screen with negative space. The crowd extended out into the field, poured over bales, crashed into the barriers and pogoed in the mosh pit even after we pulled the plug.

As usual the best thing about the festival were the people. Thankyou Mtnz for the photography, Bunny, Alex, Emma, Nikhil, Felix, Lucia, and Al, and Neil and Simon at Productions London for such a winner of a weekend, and see you all next year.

6 Responses to “Fat Butcher @ Secret Garden Party”

  1. Yes, agree with most of your opinions. For me it was the best festival I’ve been to so far, the atmosphere and great human silliness factor was top hole ol chap!

    Head the last minutes of your set and for me valley of the antics was the best tent so when I heard it announced that a festival by the antics chaps was due I went hoppin to google but cant find details. Can you help? Penny pink flamingo in the sky….sigh….

  2. It’s called the Antics Banquet, check it out on http://www.anticbanquet.com/

    They were saying there’s going to be a huge banquet on the last night for everybody… food fight massacre anyone?

  3. yosh! thanks for your blog fat butcher, just stumbled into it, andre here, I was the programmer and compere for valley of the antics, yes helene as mr frank butcher says our website is http://www.anticbanquet.com , tix are still on sale at only £62. you can access the we got tickets page via the ticket page on our website.

    also, if you’re interested in becoming a ticket rep, please email wormfoodlondon@gmail.com – we’ll give you a free ticket if you can get loads of your mates to buy tickets – we’re always up for connecting with keen people in networks different to our own. so please email if you’re keen for that and we’ll see you at the banquet!

    thanks both of you for your lovely comments about valley of the antics – we certainly had fun!

    and you’ll be pleased to know beardyman is confirmed as our friday night headliner at antic banquet. yes indeed


  4. Hi, nice write up, SGP is definitely Creatures favourite festival, everybody is there to have fun and we had a really great time exploring the site, very sad to leave.

    I thought this might interest you: http://www.creaturemag.com/blog/?p=47

    It’s a short story about our exploration of the Garden. Hoping that it captures the feeling of the festival. Have a read and let us know what you think.



  5. Butcherous Ed, great post! So I take it we’ll be seeing you down at the Banquet?

    I’ll drop you a line to discuss.

    Spread the word creative brethren…!

  6. hmm, and i think i like this idea of a giant food fight. i guess it falls under the remit of the antics.

    let’s do it!

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