Advertised as the only reggae & dub festival with camping, One Love relocated this year to the Hop Farm in Kent. No longer will a working farm, in recent years it has played host to several annual festivals and concerts including the likes of Bob Dylan, Neil Young & in September hosts A Day Out with Leonard Cohen. But last weekend saw a host of artists, djs & the author of Rastamouse descend of the Garden of Kent for two-and-a-half days of reggae and dub with a twist of dancehall, jungle, drum n bass and dubstep thrown in for good measure.
The festival consisted of a main stage, aptly named the One Love stage, three main DJ tents – the Dub Shack, Lively Up & a third that was hosted by Jamaica’s famous Saxon Sound System. There was also a film tent and a VIP building that unfortunately never got going due to a lack of crowd participation. In fact the whole festival appeared to suffer from a poor attendance. Whether hit by a final weekend of the London Olympics hysteria, a victim of the current economic climate or more likely, a direct clash with a month of London concerts to celebrate 50th of Jamaican independence. Whatever the reason for the light crowd, those that had bought tickets or turned up on the day was in for a glorious weekend of sunshine and chilled vibes at the friendliest festival I have ever been.
When Rastamouse was added to the line up, I genuinely expected an actor in a 6ft fancy dress costume to turn up, sign books & have his photo taken with the festival kids that had assembled. I wonder how disappointed they were to be introduced to the author who invited them to read exerts from his books! At that point I was pleased a friend and her five year old daughter was unable to attend. That would have put a cat amongst the pigeons. As it was, I quickly got over my disappointment and along with my son and a couple of competition winners headed to the Dub Shack to sample some heavy, heavy dub sounds…. and the Red Stripe, of course!
Everything seemed to come together on the Sunday for me. The Stints, Dawn Penn & the legendary Tappa Zukie on the main stage, Don Letts played some heavy sounds in the Dub Shack and what seemed like a whole day of jungle in the Lively Up Tent peaked when Nicky Blackmarket pushed everything up to 11 for an awesome set of the hardest, fastest, most aggressive jungle music I had ever heard. Whilst the tent was steaming crazy with arms and legs flailing in every direction I was serenely asked by a woman if I would like some ‘K’. I smiled and said ‘no thanks’ which was enough to get a respectful ‘lion paw’. I couldn’t see how that drug and this music would ever be further apart!
The Saxon Sound System tent played a good mix of crowd-pleasing tunes which erred towards dancehall and lovers rock. Whenever I ventured in, there was always a good vibe. A blonde-haired middle-aged man skipped and danced his way around the whole tent, in and out of the gathering for hours (god knows what he was drinking!).
There was a good mix of male and female, black and white, young and old; and I can honestly say, the festival lived up to its name – One Love. It was the friendliest, chilled music festival I have ever been too.
One Love indeed. Roll on next year!