For a festival that started of as an almost exclusively techno/psy-trance experience and especially for one with a maximum capacity shy of 3000, Noisily certainly makes an impression befitting of a much larger festival. Everything you need is within a ten minute walk. You are unlikely to ever lose your friends and even if you happen to be drunk as a skunk and on your lonesome, you'd have to be an almighty prat to have a hard time finding your tent.
Beneath the shady haven of the Coney Woods are a selection of beautifully decorated and well chosen spots in and around the stages, perfect for a cheeky break from the music or a catch up with a long lost chum. These spots never seemed to be crowded, something which can probably be attributed to the restricted capacity of the festival. With a variety of workshops, seminars and activities to choose from, you could have been learning capoeira or taking permaculture classes. Even learning the basics behind cognitive behavioural therapy was possible, all showing that Noisily was not just a haven for hedonists.
One of the busiest tents in the 'Mind Body Soul' area of the festival was The Lighthouse. ‘Designed as a safe space from the seas of energy that can get choppy down on the swirling glade-like dance floors at Noisily’ it did indeed provided calm and relaxation away from the intensity of the rave.
Sharing a variety of Tantric-based practises which add a deeper-rooted connection to oneself both physically and mentally, this workshop encouraged participants to go home with a greater sense of freedom and open-mindedness. Hosting sessions in Tantric Flow Yoga, founding member of The Lighthouse collective, Roisin Kiernan, brings a fusion of Vinyasa Flows and the energetic principles of Kundalini, alongside Pariss Elektra who creates and coordinates the musical backdrop. On offer was a Tantric Playshop exploring the masculine and feminine within all, including techniques to give and receive sexual energy, and also a Kundalini Yoga class with Gong Bath. Home-made chai was on offer day and night as were healthy snacks and massage, all within a comfortable and inclusive space laden with a plethora of cushions. The free daily programme included Cacao Ceremonies (raw chocolate used as a shamanic plant medicine) and Kundalini Yoga meditations, all with the mellow ambiance of roots/folk music in the background. All who participated did so with great enthusiasm and left feeling refreshed, or at least with new ideas or exercises to practice.
Highlights from the 3 main stages included Neurodriver, Nanoplex, and the donny Acid Pauli at the Noisily stage, along with the powerful Nuky, Ajja, and Laughing Buddha at the Liquid Stage. Renowned B-Boy Dj JFB and beatbox veteran Beardyman warmed up the Treehouse stage in preparation for the prime sunday night sets. Liquid DnB pioneer LTJ Bukem and jungle royalty Congo Natty proved why they deserve their headline slots, stealing the show for many of festival goers.
Bukem dropped straight into his infamously clinical mixing, maintaining pure fluidity throughout his set. As always, he came through equipped with the crispiest drops and his own wonderfully atmospheric production packed with the mesmerising sounds and samples that he's famed for, mixing many of his own hits into a seamless blend of liquid DnB.
Congo Natty followed swiftly, starting with a pre-set tribute to Bob Marley which came in the form of a short selection of some of his most conscious and unifying hits including 'Roots Rock Reggae' and 'Redemption Song'. The crowd fittingly bellowed out the lyrics, with the sound coming through the speakers being of such high quality that the records were probably original dubs… It literally sounded like a live PA from the king of reggae himself. Soon after he dedicated his set to the passing of legendary vocalist Tenor Fly, dropping some of his biggest features including Pendulum’s Tarantula, a track that has and will always go down a storm with the drum n bass and jungle devotees. The set was laced with jungle classics and iconic jump up tracks, at points pushing the crowd into a frenzy of stomping with all the ravers flexing their hardest steps.
Honourable mentions go to Lucid Stannard, Hamish, and 3RNO holding it down at the Pablo Discobar, with Rinse Charles, Meat Katie, and Aytch dishing out the vibes down at the Leisure Centre. I was safely informed by revellers and DJs alike throughout my time at the festival that the whole event had been a banquet of pumping beats, mesmerising visual arts and absolute revelry.
There were also all the wonderful random sightings that are present at a festival; 2 bubbleologists and a super cute bubblecat floating around, firestaff experts juggling away in the midst of their pyromania, a portable rave dustbin (you'd have to see it to believe it), and several installations that would visually send your brain spiralling.
Building on the success of previous years, this year was certainly no exception. People from many walks of life spent time forming tighter bonds with their nearest and dearest, others unexpectedly learning much about themselves and others, emotionally and spiritually. All this as well as the habitual fun and those doses of intoxication that accompany any great festival. Noisily is a great festival both for spending time with your people and for those not quite ready to plunge into a fifty thousand strong crowd at Boomtown or Bestival.
A place for good times and great memories, you will be hard pressed to find anyone who attended Noisily this year with anything to say other than outright praise. The fact that many travelled from as far as Bristol and Glasgow by car, even a few flying from places as far as Barcelona and beyond to be part of this small, niche, community-like festival for me says it all. The quality of production both in terms of sound and visuals was second to none, especially considering that it is one of the smallest festivals in the UK.
By the way things went this year, Noisily is just going to keep on getting better and better.
Do check out it if you get the chance, it'd be pretty much be criminal not to.
(Photo credits - N Caro, J Davis, J Mendes)