East End Valley Festival - 29-30 August 2009
Set in the village of Harlington near Luton in Bedfordshire, this is a little known festival to anyone not local. Now in it's 7th year it is a small festival with some great local bands. All profits from this event go to The Pasque Adult Hospice, Keech Cottage Childrens Hospice and R.A.T.S. (Rehoming Animal Telephone Service). The stage and lighting were donated, the crew are volunteers and all the bands play for free. Last year they were able to make a considerable donation to the charities. The cost this year was £15 per person including camping.
We arrived early Saturday afternoon just as the music was starting. A steward at the car park told us it was OK to take our dog in but when we got to the gate they wouldn't let him in :( With the dog back in the van we went in. We had been told it was £10 each so we were a bit shocked when we found out it was £15. I don't think it is over priced but we hadn't budgeted for that and they charged my partners mum £15 even though she is an OAP which I thought was a bit tight. I do understand though that it is put on to raise money for charity and they do still have some costs to pay out for the festival to be a success. On the gate were security with metal detecting wands which were passed over everyone as they entered. It seemed rather extreme for such a small gathering in a village. I felt like I was going through customs not entering a festival!
A sign saying 'All food & drink to be purchased on site' was at the entrance. We didn't get searched so our bottle of orange squash was safe. I don't know how strictly they were implementing this but I hope they weren't confiscating soft drinks or kids food & drink.
Once inside the atmosphere was relaxed and everyone was enjoying the sunshine and the music. We had a quick wander round as the site is small it doesn't take long. There was a main stage, acoustic chill out tent and a dance tent for the music. The dance tent was a bit close to the main stage I thought as you could hear drum & bass when you were at the main stage. There was a bar, there was a food stall, I didn't go in but I think it was mainly burgers. There was a bouncy castle and some weird looking church structure for kids.
The first band we saw were Folk 'n' Ska Souls, we only actually saw their last song but we had been able to hear their set from our van. They play ska covers and I think a few of their own (we were listening from the van lol). Next we saw Amy & the Integrals (at least that's what I think they're called after doing some research!). Amy has a great voice, she did a couple of covers by The Noisettes which sounded good. Not really my style of music though.
As it started getting cloudy we made our way to the acoustic chill out tent. A band were just finishing, we stayed and waited for the next band who were called 'My Mate Bill'. They did a funny song about a whole family being on drugs but I can't remember much more about them. Was probably too busy chatting!
The last band we saw was The Defekters, a four piece ska group. They were really good, they have some really good songs and their singer has a great voice. The crowd really got bouncing and were loving it. We had to take my partner's mum back home so we unfortunately missed New Groove Formation who were the last band to play.
We didn't really spend any time in the dance tent but the music sounded good and it stayed open to 2am. Apparently there was some trouble in there later on but we missed all that. We came back to site for the night and stayed up into the small hours chatting to our next door neighbour for the night.
East End Valley festival is a nice little festival for a good cause, marred only by the high level of security. I had been told that they had some problems a couple of years ago when groups of people from Luton had come and caused trouble. Now they have The Hells Angels doing security they have fewer problems, I guess you have to protect your event from idiots somehow.
Below are a selection of photographs from the gathering.