And so we greet the latest incarnation on LeeFest- the (once) cottage industry festival that seems to be growing up far faster than its owner, the ever youthful, Lee Denny.
The festival has changed name twice in the last 4 years – From the initial and less ambitious LeeFest to a briefly licensed NeverLand to the now, hopefully permanent, Neverworld.
Having been touted as a “mini Glastonbury” by the likes of previous headliners Annie Mac, Glasto head honchoMichael Eavis could do himself a favour and track the date of when next years Neverworld has been set. So far in their new location of the stunning John Darlings Farm in Hever, Kent the festival has had a clean strike for picking the weekend where the sun doesn’t stop shining for the last 3 years. Admittedly every festival is having a halcyon year but it’s an impressivetrack record nonetheless.
Frustratingly some of the Glastonbury comparisons don’t stop there. For those that can remember 2007 when the Killers headlined and Michael Eavis was met with tens of thousands of people shouting “turn in up” likewise at this years Neverworld similar complaints of the sound system being too quiet were present. The Beach area in particular.
Catching up with a clearly frustrated Lee Denny that evening he explained that he was trying to work with the local community who had “been brilliant” but council noise restrictions would mean he would be forced to move the site location once again unless the matter was resolved.
It would be a great shame as these minor grumbles aside this years Neverworld delivered in every way.
The once tiny crowd (Lee Denny first held this festival in his back garden with 50 friends present) has now swelled to 5,000 and there was a genuine major festival experience to be had.
The Music was a genuine delight with carefully planned sets from indie stalwarts We Are Scientists , rising headline artists the likes of Tom Grennan and Declan McKenna , world class DJ’s SubFocus and dare we say it, So Solid Crew (yes them!) bringing in one of the surprises of the weekend on the Thursday night when they packed The Beach area out with over 3,000 revellers.
Headliners Clean Bandit and Bastille vied for best set position with the former Clean Bandit bringing in a hit laden hours worth of pyrotechnics, synchronised dance routines and more culminating in the what seemed like the whole of the South East chanting to their debut No1 hit “Rather Be”.
Bastille, although armed with fewer well known hits, made up for it in energy with regular step-a-areaobics on the speaker stack system and even walk through the 5,000 strong audience at one stage. Culminating in “Quarter Past Midnight” and set closer “Pompeii” it would be hard to think of a better festival headliner for this audience.
In and around the music the festival took on a family friendly vibe during the day with Bushcraft activities, glitter wrestling, face painting and swing lessons all taking place. At night time however it took itself more seriously . Nanny services were offered for those parents that wanted to party and several dance arenas sprung up. The sunken Gold Mine area in particular was a constantsea of churning bodies flinging the odd limb in the air when the pyros went off. An awesome sight.
Tickets for next years Neverworld are already on sale HERE – Be quick though. Early Bird phase 1’s have already sold out and word is spreading fast on this fine event.