To paraphrase one of Beans On Toast’s lyrics from ‘Death Of A Festival’, Slamboree’s huge summer track; there really does seem to be fifty different festivals every weekend. The main payoff for all our country’s S.A.D. inducing weather is that living in the UK, you are exposed to one of the most vibrant musical and artistic landscapes in the world and a festival scene to match. The flipside of that awesome coin however, is that with such a crowded field, varying from the miniscule to the massive and from the dog’s bollocks to the just plain bollocks, you have to filter a little. Luckily for us, our season finale after a packed few months, wasn’t just the aforementioned dog’s bollocks but so damn good that the furry little bastard would sit there licking them until he starved to death! (Yeah, we’re not sure if that metaphor works either…) So cast you minds back if you can, to the last rays of summer, as we at JAM present: The best of Mischief Festival 2013.


At a capacity of around only two thousand or so, Mischief is a small fish in a very big pond and on its third outing is a mere baby in the grand scheme of things, but as anyone who’s ever been to V will tell you, size and longevity are by no means an indication of quality. In fact, pound for pound, this little cracker packs more of a punch than most of what you’ll find out there on the UK circuit. Clearly taking its cues from the more immersive events such as Secret Garden Party or Boomtown Fair, with art installations ranging from the absurd (a giant, pink, wooden clothes peg) to the imposing and creepy (a twelve-foot high child’s doll), as well as a small army of walkabout performers (for ‘walkabout performers’, please read ‘mobile lunatics’), really underscoring the Mischief Fam’s emphasis on creativity. The whole site just feels alive.


Unique is an overused and often misappropriated word in today’s increasingly homogenized world but it applies, with bells on, to Seas Of Mirth. Playing in the world’s most appropriate venue, a fifty foot long pirate ship stage, powered by the awesome IRD Soundsystem, their sound fuses Balkan and foot-stomping, ceilidh style folk with a punk edge, even managing to squeeze in some elements of Hip-Hip; while the band themselves come bedecked in the kind of pirate costumes that Adam Ant’s mum might have made him, had he chosen a slightly different look. Seas’ even pack their own version of Bez, basically it’s some dude dressed as a giant crab, going sick in the crowd! Songs about ghost ships, unconvincing Turkmenistani Ladyboys and the joys/dangers of 1000% proof rum, should eventually get old as the one-trick-pony comedic element submits to the natural law of diminishing returns. The thing is though, they don’t! I’ve been listening to these guys regularly since seeing them at Mischief and I can’t get enough. At the end of the day, you simply have to get on board with the kind of lyrical genius that can rhyme ‘Copenhagen’ with ‘mistaking’ using nothing but an OTT pirate accent. Way, way too much fun.


Who doesn’t want to party in a what can only be described as a giant version, of a cheap child’s toy version, of a fairytale castle… painted neon pink?! The Tat Palace is one of the most fantastic things that I have ever seen and one of the few places you can go and wake yourself up by shacking out to Jungle-Tek first thing in the morning. If you’re not already sold, and you bloody well should be, then you might like to know that this arena also played host to some of the dirtiest, heaviest, nastiest electronic music that you will ever hear. Deathchant Records head-honcho and renowned innovator Hellfish, is without a doubt one of  the most influential and sought after acts on the UK’s underground scene; bringing his own brand of unhinged hardcore to Mischief was a bit of a coup as he’s notoriously difficult to book. The place absolutely went off during his set, that all you need to know. Oh yeah, and did we mention that the gantry around the top of the dance floor became a stage for everything from a seedy Snow White act to body burning pyro-nymphs… BOOM!


Will Tun & The Wasters are JAM’s new favourite people! Not only do they sound like Operation Ivy and Sublime had a foursome with The Levellers and Mischief Brew, preternaturally producing a fucked up bastard child that occasionally likes to spit Hip-Hop in French, but they’re really nice guys! Aside from their scheduled performances, WT&TW decided to play several impromptu, after hours acoustic sets. Any band willing to do that, just for the sheer love, gets the thumbs up; especially a band that, judging by the crowd’s (OK, drunken JAM journalist’s) demands, seems to have a near encyclopedic knowledge of 90’s alt tunes. Up the Wasters!


Saturday’s headliners, The Fat Bastard Gangband are one of the undisputed kings of the Balkan genre; once seen, never forgotten. Although not well-known on these shores, this seven piece from across the channel left those in attendance in no doubt as to why they’d been chosen to top the bill. Mixing Gypsy, Latin and Punk flavours with a raucous stage presence and plenty of costume changes, holding the crowd’s attention was no issue for these guys. Equal parts consummate musicians and unhinged characters; their frontman in particular, during the tongue-in-cheek ‘King Of The World’ managed to pull off a fantastically egotistical persona (“Hey! Mischief Festival! I am your fucking King now!”) and had the audience eating out of his hand. Believe me when I say, you want to see this band next time they’re in the UK.


Bringing together an incredibly well-chosen and eclectic range of music from the european underground, mixing it with a host of performers and professional nutters, then packaging it in a site-build that, considering the size of the festival, is frickin’ staggering, and finally slapping it down in a beautiful patch of british countryside; we here at JAM really can’t praise Mischief enough. Keep your eyes peeled for the 2014 tickets, which go on sale very soon and try not to count the days, because there’s far too many of them. The JAM team will see you all in the field next year for more mischief: be there or be slightly oblong.

Words & Images: Benjamin Paul



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