It’s been a while since I attended a festival… Obviously, there were so many cancellations throughout the last couple of years due the pandemic, and I missed out on 2019 as I was busy hosting my own (well, my wedding which I aimed to be as festival-like as possible). So, this year I was desperate to find one that was as lovely as possible and suited my needs of being perhaps a little older than the average festival-goer without missing out on any of the best new music. Sadly, the last festival I went to in 2018, and my favourite ever festival experience – Indie Tracks – did not survive Covid, and so I was looking for a replacement; something equally as inclusive, chilled-out, family friendly, and of course hosting plenty of amazing female and non-binary bands and artists. And then I came across Deer Shed… And it was just what I was after! Highlighting a real family-friendly focus, whilst hosting an incredible range of exciting new artists, the North Yorkshire based Deer Shed perfectly filled the festival-shaped-void I’d been feeling for the last few years.
With the rain having relentlessly poured down from about 8pm on Saturday until lunchtime on Sunday, I greeted the last day of Deer Shed with a desperate need for some great live music to distract from the mud seeping through my tights (and ideally some sunshine), and I wasn’t to be disappointed…
After some much needed tasty sustenance from Earthworm Kitchen, and a visit into the In The Dock stage to catch the immersive psych-rock of Leeds band Van Houten, we put our hoods back up to head to the main stage to see the swirling alt-pop of Liverpool’s Natalie McCool. Combining gritty hooks with her lush, sweeping vocals and endearing charm, she delivers a joyous set providing a bright start to day, despite the dark clouds.
I’d shamefully not heard of the next artist to grace the main stage, the wonderfully named Bored At My Grandma’s House (not be confused with GIHE faves Grandma’s House or Let’s Eat Grandma….), but I will certainly be listening to them a lot from now on. Treating us to their dreamy lo-fi offerings with a shimmering allure, they manage to entice the sun to shine on us for the entirety of the twinkling splendour of their set.
Our first and only trip to the little Acorn Stage offers an experience I’ve been waiting for probably for a few years now: seeing ME REX live. And they’re just as lovely as I could have hoped for. Oozing a swirling emotion alongside jangling melodies and luscious harmonies, they deliver a rich, soothing catharsis with each of their lilting indie-pop offerings. A truly immersive set flowing with the band’s stirring lyricism and impassioned energy, I could lose myself in their glistening musicality forever.
Returning to a packed out In The Dock stage, Welsh trio The Bug Club deliver a fantastically expectation-exceeding set. Although I had been looking forward to seeing them live ever since interviewing them for Get In Her Ears last year, their immense frenzied energy and vibrant charisma is even more incredible than I’d hoped for. As their uniquely uplifting, frenetic brand of garage rock blasts throughout the tent to a sea of buoyant fans – singing along to every word -, a playful sense of euphoria fills the air as the band deliver their gloriously scuzz-filled, fiercely catchy offerings.
Back to basking in some very much welcomed sunshine, we return to the main stage to catch Liverpool’s The Mysterines deliver their seething rock anthems. With a fierce, driving energy and sultry splendour, each offering oozes a colossal, gritty power propelled by a soulful, angst-driven spark.
Despite the tinge of disappointment at Dry Cleaning not being able to make it to the festival (hope they feel better soon!), all is not lost as Dutch band Pip Blom take their spot on the main stage to deliver a gloriously uplifting collection of their trademark sunny indie-pop. Having been a big fan of this lot ever since first hearing the catchy fuzz of 2017’s ‘I Think I’m In Love’, it’s wonderful to finally see them live. As the crowd shimmy and shake to their scuzzy, whirring hooks and Blom’s distinctive honey-sweet vocals, the band showcase their ability to create the slickest of lo-fi anthems, juxtaposing a subtle gritty edge with an endearing radiant charm.
To end the surprisingly sun-filled day, and the festival as a whole, it’s a wonderful surprise to happen upon drag queen Ash Kenazi at the In The Dock stage – first being treated to their fantastic fusion of traditional opera and fun-filled lip-syncing, and later dancing the night away to the perfectly pop-tastic choice of tunes at the Silent Disco (hearing Shania’s ‘Man, I Feel Like A Woman’ for a second time this weekend being a particular highlight).
So, thank you Deer Shed – not only did you offer a fantastically dreamy line-up consisting of favourites old and new, but the warm, family-focused vibes and inclusive sense of unity that persisted throughout the weekend was particularly heartwarming to experience. Here’s to the little moshers of tomorrow!
Words: Mari Lane / @marimindles
Photos: Paul Dawes / @paullikesrobots