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Bearded Theory 2016 - Sunday | FESTIVALPHOTO

Bearded Theory 2016 - Sunday



One highlight of Sunday at Bearded Theory is the beard competition where the best false beards are voted for. It always displays a huge variety of ideas and you get a huge number of people dressed up. You have to look through the photos to see just how impressive some of the beards are, and a huge amount of work must go into creating some of them.

The Bar Steward Sons of Val Doonican took to the woodland stage in front of a huge crowd (in fact with the exception of Stiff Little Fingers later in the day, this was probably the biggest crowd the woodland stage saw all weekend). It would be wrong to just dismiss them as a comedy band as they can play, write great songs and are so entertaining that they've rapidly become firm favourites at Bearded Theory pulling large crowds whenever they play. Antics like crowd surfing with a pint of beer or as they do today, crowd surfing in a rubber dinghy just add to the entertainment. It would be hard to watch these guys and not have a good time.

Back on the main stage, Bristol based Reggae/Roots band Talisman had a disappointingly small crowd, which was a shame as they were really enjoyable to listen to, but it just shows the popularity of The Bar Steward Sons of Val Doonican - any band on at the same time as them at Bearded Theory is going to lose most of the audience. Talisman were a great band to watch in the warm sunny weather, and were a great addition to the festival.

Bad Manners are an amazingly fun band - there's something about ska anyway that makes you want to party, but Buster Bloodvessel and his band seemt o make it extra fun, and their set realy does have a fun party feel to it.

Over on the Maui Waui stage was the interestingly named Barbarellas bang bang. The name was interesting enough for me to want to go and check them out, and I'm really glad I did. One bit I love about Bearded Theory is the mix of music - reggae, punk, rock, folk and anything else you can imagine, plus stuff you'd never imagined. It's the odd bands that stand out that help make it such an interesting festival, and Barbarella's bang bang certainly stand out as different. I'm not sure how to describe the music other than there's a gypsy folk element to it along with a hole host of other stuff, but there's something fascinating and addictive about the music that means I watched most of their set rather than just a few minutes of it. A great band that is well worth watching.

Back on the main stage, From the Jam, led by former bassist of The Jam, Bruce Foxton were running through a set of songs from The Jam. It's almost like a cover band even if it does feature a member of the actual band, but the songs are so good it's great to hear them played live.

Squeeze came on earlier than advertised, having swapped with Asian Dub Foundation. Although it wasn't announced why the change happened, there was speculation they didn't want to play at the same time that Stiff Little Fingers were playing on the woodland stage. It was actually a good call anyway - Squeeze were great, but lack the dance vibe of Asian Dub Foundation that left the festival to end on a high. I was slightly puzzled by the decision by Squeeze to include a couple of covers in their set, including one by Dolly Parton but they did play plenty of their own songs and it really was a great set, and a chance for me to see them live for the first time.

Asian dub foundation were the final act of the festival. It's an explosion of light and sound as they deliver a really high energy set packed full of music to dance to. They're not my taste, but are a great choice to end a festival on a real high, and the fireworks at the end are just the icing on the cake. A great end to another fantastic weekend at Bearded Theory.

So, another Bearded Theory is over. It really is an amazingly well run festival - everyone is friendly and helpful, the toilet facilities are some of the best I've seen at any festival with large numbers of toilets around the site, although the organisers were still talking about how to improve things for next year. The food stalls are excellent - cheaper than at most festivals and great quality - Gandhi's flip flop being a stall I visit every year for their great Indian food. The bars have an excellent selection of real beer rather than just the usual mass produced tasteless lager sold at big festivals.
The convoy cabaret tent and something else tent had music to enjoy - in fact the something else tea tent was almost invisible behind the crowd that gathered when the bar-steward sons of val doonican were there. The convoy cabaret tent is a new addition to the festival and with it's unique vibe I really hope it's back next year.
There's also random entertainment around the arena, whether its belly dancers, drum machine, jugglers or other entertainers, life is never boring here.
The arena and site was well laid out, car parking worked well - in fact if I was asked how they could improve things, I'd struggle - in fact I can only think of one thing I noticed all weekend, which was that nowhere sold energy drinks, which I consider essential for surviving a long weekend of music and fun.


Writer: Anthony May
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