Somerley Tea Party 2015
At the end of May, the South saw Somerley Tea Party return for its second year. The day festival is set in the grounds of the Old Somerley Estate, within the old walled garden. The festival is overlooked by the large mansion still inhabited by the family that owns the estate.
The festival offered a good bus service from Bournemouth train station, and although it wasn’t free is got from A to B. The car park was about 100m from the entrance, which is a nice walk on a sunny afternoon. The festival is definitely non-corporate, but there was minimal signage; not sure if that’s a good thing. Nothing that said Somerley Tea Party was anywhere.
There was short queue on entry, but getting our wristband was an easy affair. The main stage, in the Walled Garden, was a large area, and gave enough space for everyone to get in. Being such a small festival, made the site intermit and allowed you see the acts up close. The main stage was surrounded by a mirrored section, allowing you to see the decks from a farther distance. The main stage lineup had a lot to offer with Jonas Rathsman, Redlight, Route 94, Jackmaster and Seth Troxler making up the array of acts in The Walled Garden. The house and techno styles definitely complimented the festival, giving it a more chilled out vibe, to that of Southampton Soundclash earlier in the month.
Somerley’s The Dome, an inflatable tent, hosted the festival’s Drum and Bass lineup. The tent had a great atmosphere, and as dusk was falling it was easy to get lost in TC’s uptempo set. The buzzed area was incredible, and following TC, came on the Godfather of DnB, DJ Hazard. Unfortunately ten minutes into Hazard’s set, sound was cut off, and security started ushering the crowd out. There was no communication, and everyone was confused as to this abrupt end. Rumour spread about someone slashing the inflatable stage, but either way it was closed for the remainder.
A short walk out of the garden took us into the woods. The deep sound of techno echoed through the trees creating a very different atmosphere to The Walled Garden. Attached to the tree were long strips of LEDs that danced about with the music, only getting better as night fell. The hanging lights and neon paint, there was a sense of seclusion from the rest of the festival. As the sun began to set there was a strong transformation of the area: From chilling in a wooded glade straight to raving in the woods.
Somerley happened to be on the day of the FA Cup final, and so the festival cleverly catered for the fans of Arsenal and Aston Villa by showing the game live on a projector. Now I wouldn’t usually choose football over music but being an Arsenal fan I gathered with a group of forty-odd to watch. There was a great atmosphere, and this was a nice touch before we headed back to raving in the woods.
It was a shame that we were not able to stay and camp in such a picturesque setting, but maybe it was a blessing in disguise as the rain began. We were lucky enough to be backstage for Seth Troxler’s headline set; being behind the DJ made it no less exciting, and we could see the extent of the crowd Troxler pulled.
There was an organised After party in Orange Rooms in Bournemouth featuring Ame. However, due to a delay of the bus returning to Bournemouth, when we arrived the place was shut! No note on the Facebook page or any communication. It seemed a shame to cut the night short, even though the rain had set in. Perhaps the place was empty, and they shut before we arrived. Either way communication is key!
Somerley Tea Party is definitely a day out worth the money. Shame it wasn’t spread across two days with camping, but perhaps that’s what’s in store for next year. My only gripe with the festival is the lack of communication to the public. The After party was cancelled and we didn’t know that until we got back to Bournemouth, and even when closing the Dome tent nothing was given as a reason. The day just seemed like it lacked something, but I couldn’t say what. Either way we enjoyed ourselves, and hope that we can return in 2016.
Site Setup 6/10
Festival Communication 2/10
Attention to Detail 6/10
Creative Content 6/10
Value for Money 7/10