Every so often, it’s nice to leave the bright lights of Bristol and head to a part of Britain’s beautiful coastline. Luckily for us, the organisers of Samphire Festival brought a good chunk of the Bristol music scene to Exmoor National Park this July – giving us the best of both worlds with a weekend full of great vibes, world-class music and jaw dropping coastal views.
As the sun went down we cornered the coastline and instead of the usual ‘I can see the sea’ pastime, we were greeted with a healthy glow emitting from the rolling hills ahead. Friendly staff welcomed us in and pointed down the line of lights that separated the campsite from the action. As we set up our tents in the dark, we knew tomorrow’s sunrise would bring us a view to remember.
Conscious that we had already arrived well into the evening, we set back down the glowing path to catch genre-blending geniuses The Correspondents as they headlined the main stage.
The hills created an almost amphitheater surrounding to the main stage, as a complementing mix of young and older festival goers danced away to The Correspondents
It was at that point that I took a step back, did a little circle, and realised quite how nice and homely the festival felt. The hills created an almost amphitheater surrounding to the main stage, as a complementing mix of young and older festival goers danced away to The Correspondents’ unique take on nostalgic numbers, like their electro-swing reimagining of the Jungle Book’s I Wanna Be Like You.
The next stage to explore was The Wizard Factory, which was being hosted by one of our favourite Bristol collectives, Young Echo. This was a rare festival appearance for the collective and it was great to see so many of them together on the stage, with sets from Kahn, Neek, Ishan Sound, Jabu and more, they combined lighter party numbers with some of their heavier grimey sounds.
After a night full of dancing and rolling down hills, we set off toward our tents just as the sun was starting to break through some intense redish-pink clouds. Combined with the incredible coastline, we lost a few hours dazing into the distance.
After a bite to eat and a coffee at a rather delightful van in the campsite, we headed back to the field of fun. Now light, all the stages and activities were in full swing and wow, it was a beautiful sight. There was rock-climbing twister, giant deck chairs facing the ocean line, a wheel of fortune and yet another stage with an open backdrop providing an epiphany-inspiring view.
Although despite all the fun things to do around the site, we stayed glued to the main stage for the majority of the day thanks to a ridiculous lineup. Bristol based live electronic outfit, Elder Island were a massive highlight for us. Their classical take on electronic music that could be compared to the likes of The XX, Mount Kimbie or Maribou State was the perfect thing to bring us into the evening.
Next on the stage was another Bristol gem, Ishmael Ensemble. The talented multi instrumentalist and producer, creates a jazzy electronic sounds which seemed to work perfectly, given our current location and sense of overwhelming content in the countryside.
Headlining the main stage on Saturday night was a band that have been at the forefront of house and disco music for the last 15 years, Crazy P. Fronted by inspirational women Danielle Moore and her four talented band mates, Crazy P have provided some of the finest live performances on the circuit and tonight was no exception. It might have been a relatively smaller stage than they have been used to recently, but the sound was great and it felt like a genuine and intimate performance.
When the music on the main stage ended at around 11pm, most of the families with kids went back to their tents leaving the rest of us dancing until the music stopped at 5am. This time, exquisite Bristol party curators Shapes ruled The Wizard Lounge stage. Residents including Late Night Love Affair, ELA 303 and Joe Moss kept everyone bouncing until midnight when Felix Dickinson – a man that has been involved in the underground dance scene for over three decades – took to the stage until 3am.
Felix Dickinson – a man that has been involved in the underground dance scene for over three decades – took to the stage until 3am
On Sunday, we woke to a large amount of people packing up to go home, which was a shame as the music was on until around 6pm. Though sadly we also had to head home, leaving behind the view, the music and what I am sure would have been a wonderful ending to a truly wonderful little festival.
Photos by Matt Stephen