XXY Presents: Balter Festival
XXY Presents: Balter Festival
It is that time of year when festival season is on the horizon – and what more to get your musical juices flowing than the third year of Balter Festival, tucked away in a beautiful valley in Wales and taking place between the 3rd and 5th of June this summer. What is the meaning of the word ‘Balter’ you may ask. The definition is: ‘To dance artlessly, without particular grace or skill, but usually with enjoyment’ – sounds about right I would say. Balter incorporates all of this, along with a free-spirited, fun-loving, communal feel around the festival that I have never experienced quite so much at any other.
Whether you go on your own, or with ten friends, you will leave with an abundance of new pals (or as I like to put it, ‘Balterians’). What is special about this festival is the collaboration and collective efforts that go into it. Balter should be an inspiration for other aspiring startup festivals because of the way it takes on smaller production companies (such as 12:34) and makes the most of the little things in life that help it grow bigger and better. It is all about helping the smaller guy out.
Balter is an advocate for the thriving underground South West music scene – with an abundance of artists, acts, DJs and producers and all the best hidden gems you should know about. With acts such as the legendary reggae/dancehall sound system Mungo’s Hi-Fi taking to the stage, you also have the wide-ranging DJ Jerome Hill (who mixes everything from acid house to old skool hip-hop), as well as the contagious Born on Road vs Chopstick Dubplate playing – masters of production across a range of genres and that is just to name a few. You may have first impressions or instinctive prejudices against this sort of festival but undoubtedly, you should let go of those thoughts. Whether you are into the heaviness of kick drums or the frantic wailings of a klezmer clarinet, there will be something for everyone to enjoy and have a darn good balter.
So what makes Balter different from the rest? One of the organisers, Elias E Coli, states:
‘It’s different because of the people that come; everyone that came wasn’t just there to be entertained, they all got involved and became a part of it in their own way. The music is also different to most other festivals, as a lot of our artists aren’t your usual festival acts, but we know there is a strong scene of people who love this music – and this was certainly proved.’
With a range of workshops on offer – ones in the past have included hula-hooping, capoeira and yoga – there is always something to get involved in. The inflatable bath of noodles was also something to remember – and not to forget the bucky cocktails on sale. Balter pulls out all the strings to bring you the unexpected and unpredictable mischief we all need a bit of to spice up our lives. Headliner MC Kie should be one to note for this, with his mincy garage mixes. With the first Balter held in the beautiful and outstanding Baskerville Hall, it made its mark on the festival circuit and was a weekend no ‘Balterians’ will ever forget. Everybody felt they had experienced something special – a head explosion of all the best things. The second one was held on Chepstow race grounds and continued the magic – a reunion of the friends you had met the year before, set in greenery galore, fields of the loveliest people and banging beats. You really could not complain.
With an eclectic range of stages and takeovers, the abundance of fantastically fun music on offer means the party never really stops. From non-stop 80s cheese to unique rarities at Dutty Disco; old skool garage and dirty 4/4 bassline at 24hr Garage Girls; hype UK hip hop, baseline and grime at Silk Studios; fortified bass and fresh beats at Buckyham Palace; street party style dub and reggae vibes at Irie Bingo; jungle, tek and DNB at The Drawing Room; ghetto funk and electro swing at The Black House Hex; late night Gypsy and Klezmer knees-up madness at The Balkanical Circus; punk and ska at The Caravan, and the biggest and baddest non-stop filth at The Jigsore stage – this is one party of the summer you do not want to miss out on. With headliners such as Los Albertos, Carny Villains, Slipmatt, Leaf Dog, Mandidextrous, C3B, Thorpey and many, many more, get ready to be sucked into some ‘bad boi’ infectious beats and a show-stopping line-up as always.
Coming from the rave scene themselves, Elias E Coli and Chris Aplin wanted to push forward the music they listen to into the wider world – something that they believe is often sidelined at other festivals, or just not included at all. Elias and Chris would like to see the festival grow but would prefer to keep the intimate vibe that makes Balter such a special experience. Make sure you are part of the Balter family this year and grab a ticket before they are all sold out.
Tickets can be found on sale here.
And if you can’t wait, here is a playlist of all the Balter 2016 artists, to get you in the mood.
Photographs and words by Louise Harrison,