After some years and many obstacles, OnBlackheath finally took place on, er… Blackheath on 15-16 September. We Radical’s went for both days and, although not natural or regular music festival goers, really enjoyed the event. New bands were discovered, favourites re-engaged with, plus good food and drink was imbibed.
On arrival early on Saturday afternoon the Greenwich meantime was spotted and we were ready to tour the site. The centrepiece was the main stage, and as we discovered later, the size of the site and numbers attending meant it was pretty easy to be close to the stage. Near to that free beard trims were available from Gillette! There was a large family/children’s area that included an area for sack races and entertainers including circus acts. Prior to the event there were apocalyptic visions of an event mainly attended by drunk, loutish, under-aged youths. The Revolt was surprised by the number of families attending, often three generations and with picnics, who stayed well into the evening to enjoy the event.
Every group was not to everyone’s tastes and the Radical’s were not familiar with many of the acts but switching between the Main, Village,
Worldwide/Heavenly stages there was normally something to catch the ear. The Rude Vandals were excellent on the village stage (folky music before people start foaming at the mouth), and Anoushka was good on the Worldwide stage. And we saw local band Rhys Lewis and the Relics! In addition we caught a tremendous DJ set by Jarvis Cocker (Pulp next year??).
On the main stage we discovered Tom Hickox on Sunday afternoon and realised the Levellers were not quite to our taste, but they were certainly popular with the crowd. Headliners on Saturday Massive Attack put on a good show as did Frank Turner on Sunday – again, blissfully unaware of him but plenty of people had the t-shirts! For the Radicals the highlight was the fabulous Grace Jones on Saturday evening. She really brought the place to life, entertained the crowd with music and chat, managed at least six costume changes, and yes, spent about ten minutes wandering around the stage hoola-hooping. On Sunday Imelda May was also a highlight with an great set. And yes, the Radicals were jigging away!
Plenty of food stalls adorned the site and burgers and tacos sustained us when we were not sampling food at the chef’s club. Meantime was the alcohol on offer, although we would say that the main bars only served the lager and we Radicals had to use the three smaller bars serving the Pale Ale and Yakima Red. Prices were a little more than we expected at just over £5 for a pint. Still, there were plenty of bar staff.
It was genuinely a good day out, with friendly and helpful staff, good food, music, and yes ‘vibe’. It attracted plenty of local people (we Radicals saw plenty of fellow commuters) and no doubt attracted a wider audience to our village – we think the latter good.
What next? The Blackheath Society have arranged a questionnaire (see previous post) but we also ask that everyone takes part in other feedback opportunities and future public meetings to ensure a balanced view is heard. Some of our local elected members attended too so in future consultations will be able to reflect all sides of the debate.
We know that a vocal group has long been opposed to anything like this and frankly no matter what we say or what action is taken those people will continue to complain (see our OnBlackheath meeting reports). Those will not agree with the Revolt assessment but we ask people to avoid some of the rather petty comment that has been a feature of talk about the festival.