Barefoot festival is a place I’ve not been to before, I’ve seen things on social media in the past from people who have performed or attended in the past years, but I’ve never been available when it’s been on. This year I had taken a look and realised I was off work for the weekend so took a look at what was on and decided it would be a good time to make it my first visit. As well as a burlesque and cabaret show, there were a few musicians I know who were playing.
I’d got in contact with the organiser and been able to get a photo pass for the weekend, so knew I’d be taking my camera with me. I’ve realised that I could do with some other form of carrying system as all these weekend festivals are taking their toll on my back. Simon Says last weekend and now Barefoot. Either a different way to carry things, or less equipment, one is definitely the way forward.
I knew I wasn’t going to be camping, not being a fan of camping in the first place and only living about 20 minutes away, add to that having the camera equipment with me, even if I was camping I wouldn’t be drinking loads and risking losing my camera or the photos I’d taken.
Some other festivals I’ve been to recently I’ve tried to be there as early as I can and stayed till they finish on each day, but they’ve been place that I can walk around and see lots of music going on all over the place as they are specifically music festivals. Having never been to Barefoot before, I’d looked at what was on and it seemed there were quite a lot of workshops rather than shows, especially during the day, so on each day I arrived in the afternoon/evening time when most of the shows were to be on.
When I first got there I had a walk around to see what was where, I knew I’d be spending most of my time in the Big Top and the Music Tent, so made sure I knew where those were, but then I had a look around the various stalls set up. There weren’t too many people there when I arrived, but being a Friday afternoon, that was to be expected. Plenty more people turned up later that night and into Saturday.
I started off by seeing the opening ceremony around the camp fire, as that was due to be lit and there was a decent crowd around for that.
The next thing I had marked down for the Friday that I wanted to see was a cabaret show involving a few performers I know and have seen before, but that had a time slot of 2 and a half hours, so wasn’t sure exactly when certain people were performing. When I entered the Big Top, I could instantly see an issue with the lighting. They had a small main stage area which was lit, but then a floor space which wasn’t lit, so did have to get my flash out to help a bit, although I try to use it very sparingly in these situation as to not put off the performers or annoy people around me with a flash constantly going off. It did help with the light, but I ended up with a few out of focus photos due to the darkness and my camera not being able to focus properly. One thing I did like was that when there was a performer on a hoop, there were a few nice photos in silhouette when I didn’t use the flash.
At the same time as the cabaret, in the music tent there was GU-RU and then Goldwater performing, so I watched the first half of the cabaret act before heading over to catch a bit of GU-RU during the interval and then back to catch a bit more of the cabaret before leaving to see The full Goldwater set.
I’ve seen Goldwater quite a few times now, most recently last weekend at Simon Says, and they are always a joy to see perform and to photograph. Their energy is an inspiration to anyone watching, looking as if they fully enjoy what they are doing and bring out the energy in the crowd as well. As usual, the lead singer, Grant, ended up in the crowd and climbing all over whatever he could see to climb on, and the crowd loved it. He didn’t have a wireless mic this time, but in one way I like that as I know how he has to get back to the stage by looking at the mic lead, so I can be ready with my camera. Another great set, and I still need to give their EP that I got last week a listen, I’m sure it sounds great.
So that was it for the Friday, I was heading home, had really enjoyed my first day at Barefoot Festival and was looking forward to the rest of the weekend.
On Saturday, the first band I wanted to see were The Brandy Thieves and they were on at 4pm in the Music Tent, so aimed to get there for about 3.30. When I got there I could hear their music playing so thought they may have started early or times been changed, but luckily they were only sound checking so I wandered round for a bit and chatted to a few people I know that I saw around the site.
I made sure I got into the Music Tent on time for The Brandy Thieves to start, and even though I’d seen them only a week ago at Simon Says and it was an earlier time slot, I knew they were going to put on a good show. I was speaking to one of the members the previous day and they have now all gone wireless except for the the drummer, for obvious reasons, but this does mean they can all leave the stage so long as there is no singing required for part of a song.
Getting the crowd up on their feet for such an early time on a Saturday afternoon wasn’t an easy task, but they managed it and had a decent crowd dancing along by the end of their set.
I knew the photos I’d get wouldn’t be that great, mainly due to the mic stands that seem to get in the way. When each member of a band either sings or talks, they need a mic, and then comes the stand with it. I’ve learnt to work around them by now and at least get some decent photos, but it’s annoying when you know you caught a good shot only to realise a mic stand got in the way.
At the end of their set, the three wireless members went into the crowd, I tried to follow them the best I could, but moving about in a busy crowd isn’t the easiest and I always try not to get in the way of other crowd members, so won’t be pushing my way in front of someone just to get a shot. Back on the stage, I know they finish off with a bang, playing their instruments high in the air and you can get some great shots at this time. I captured a few shots I’m happy with, but again, the dreaded mic stand got in the way for a few.
Really good set, got a mention half way through the set from the band, always nice to be appreciated, I’m sure I’ll catch up with them at another gig sometime soon.
The next thing I wanted to attend at Barefoot was the burlesque show, which didn’t start for another couple of hours. Luckily, the weather was really nice, so I spent the time walking around a bit, chatting to people I knew and chilling out laying in the grass when I wasn’t taking a few photos of the things going on.
I was undecided with the burlesque on how to approach it photographically. I wanted to enjoy the show and take a few photos, but after the previous night I knew the lighting wouldn’t be too good. I got there in time to get nearish the front and would be in a decent place to take photos, but I’d be sitting down and if I had to use flash, which I thought I would, it’d be going off right in someone’s face, which I didn’t want. I made the decision to move further back and stand up, as to not disrupt the audience. As it happened, the lighting was different this night and I wouldn’t have needed to use my flash, but for the first part of the show the sun was setting and getting right into the Big Top and on the stage, so you had parts that were really bright or really dark. Up until the interval I only took a couple of photos, realised they wouldn’t work out too well and put my camera away to then just enjoy the rest of the show.
After the interval, I decided to move around to the side a bit. This would mean I’d be stuck pretty much in one place, but not actually having to cover the whole show, I knew if I could get a few photos that were alright then I’d be happy. The sun had gone down, and now wasn’t causing an issue, so for the second half I took some photos.
I’d seen some of them performers before, and each one had a very different type of act compared to everyone else. I can’t deny it, I mainly wanted to see the headline act, Talulah Blue, who I’ve seen a couple of times before in Leicester at The Musician, but wanted to see her perform on a bigger stage.
It was a really good show, possibly not that appropriate for the many children in the audience at times, but you probably should know that when its a burlesque show. It was also past 9 for half the show and I’m sure they have either seen/heard a lot worse, or it just went over their heads.
So many talented performers, and great to see a show with a big floor space for the performers to work in, really does make a difference from seeing burlesque performed on a smaller stage. If it’s on again next year and I’m back, I’ll certainly try to get a better position now I know the lighting is quite good and I don’t need to use flash.
After that was done there was a short break before the fire performers were due to start over at the camp fire, so I went there to try and get a good place to take some photos, although I knew it would be tricky. I was actually in a really good place to get different angles and shots, until one of the safety people stood right in front of me. Never mind, I’m not going to argue and try to get him to move, safety is much more important than me getting a few photos.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but it was an awesome show, starting off with some kind of LED light spinning stuff and then the fire came out. It was a bit tricky for me to photograph, I started off trying to create motion, but then other things were blurry. It was also difficult with the various brightness of the items used. Even when it was the fire, some were bigger and brighter than others, especially when they were breathing fire, now that was bright. I know how I would photograph it if I was setting things up for a photo myself, but it was a challenge to get good photos from this. I’m happy with some of the photos I got, but that was secondary as I really enjoyed the show.
It was getting late and I decided to head home just before the fire show was to end as I had a few things I wanted to do before going to bed. I was going to try and be back for some of the time on Sunday, but wasn’t sure how long and when. I had a list of a few people I wanted to see but there were big gaps in between, I guess I’d just see on the day.
The Sunday came and I was debating on whether to actually go or not. The weather was a bit chilly, but I wanted to see Claire Schofield who was on at 6pm.
I got to the site around 5pm on Sunday and there seemed to be a lot of people who had either left or were leaving, the car park was getting pretty empty. It looked to be similar to when I got there on Friday for the amount of people there. Some stalls seemed to be packing up so I went to the music tent to sit down for a bit and see who was on. I thought I’d probably stay there all the time I was there this day, however long that would be.
I saw Claire perform a really good set, starting out playing to only a few people, but the tent was filling up by the time she finished. Great chilled out music, ideal for a Sunday afternoon.
The next band I wanted to see weren’t on for another few hours so I had a decision to make. If the weather had been nicer I’d have probably chilled out in the sun for a bit, but being a bit cold and many people leaving, I thought I’d do the same, so I was only there for a couple of hours on the Sunday, seeing a couple of acts play.
Overall, it was a really good weekend, great first experience of Barefoot Festival, particularly the Saturday, and the nice sunshine on that day helped. I’ll hopefully be back next year, if it doesn’t clash with anything else as it is a nice relaxing weekend.