THERE’S something special about getting wet watching bands at festivals - a sense of solidarity in standing out in the open with all the other (fool) hardy spectators is one reason. It also helps when that band is Dutch Uncles.
Having only the one day to sample this year’s Deer Shed Festival, we were determined - armed with our six-year-old son - to make the most of it. It didn’t disappoint.
It was obvious from our arrival at Baldersby Park that the organisers ‘family friendly’ claims were going to be justified - whether it be from letting kids simply run and jump about in bales of hay by the main site entrance or finding out how to make the ultimate paper plane. Not a tablet in sight.
Having been unable to get into a packed Obelisk Tent to listen to an ‘In Conversation’ with Billy Bragg we headed over to the Big Top for the excellent Funz and Gamez.
Billed as a family show, while there was plenty to keep the children entertained - and not just the copious amount of sweets being hurled out from the stage by lead man Phil Ellis - the adults standing further back were not short-changed either, particularly when it came to ‘Life Lessons’ being handed out Life Lesson No 2: “Kids, remember, a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet”).
A trip to the science tent to see various experiments conducted by students came next, while - if you were early enough - others could book into to do a ‘Minecraft’ session or solve a whodunit.
Having agreed to a request for a temporary (hopefully) kids tattoo, we then had time to catch a bit of Shopping on the ‘In The Dock’ stage before queueing for an hour to get an ice-cream - the things you do for your kids.
Then came the rain that had threatened for a while, shortly before the Dutch Uncles were due on the main stage. As the majority of people headed for whatever shelter they could find, there were initially only a handful of us who braved the elements to watch the six-piece from Manchester strut their stuff.
Front man Duncan Wallis will always stand out from the crowd because of his canny ability to mix self-deprecating humour with his unique style of dance. By the end of a brilliant 45-minute set - in which ‘Flexxin’ and ‘Be Right Back’ stood out along with an “awesome” (as cheekily claimed by Wallis) cover version of Seal’s ‘Kiss From A Rose’ - the Uncles had not only managed to coax the early-evening sun back out but, with it, the bigger crowd they clearly deserved.
Back over in the Obelisk area, ‘psychedelic sci-fi folksters’ Maia were having a ball on stage and their enjoyment was mirrored by an audience who clearly found their irreverent, deadpan patter and quality tunes – some from new album ‘Pepper Stars’ – a delight. It was just a shame they weren’t on for longer.
With the rain long gone, and the sun back out, there was a generally blissful feel everywhere you turned. Villagers kept everybody nice and relaxed on the main stage, while The Wedding Present (on In the Dock stage) and Damien Dempsey (on The Lodge Stage) both drew large crowds.
After washing down a pancake with a final beer and cup of tea, it was time to take our tired, young one home, heading back to the car with the sounds of main stage headliner John Grant ringing out across the fields. A perfect ending, confirming our wish to return next year - only this time with a tent.