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Supernormal Festival, Braziers Park, Oxfordshire, Aug 10 to 12
Do you remember when arts festivals were about the utopian ideal of a creative gathering of minds, rather than fat profit from ticket sales?
If you do, you were probably either a teen in the 1960s or dreaming of some mythical time that may never have existed. Whatever though; this spirit lives on.
A not-for-profit event from forward-thinking promoters, Supernormal sits beside a research commune in the beautiful Chilterns, with performers playing for free and the ticket price ploughed back into the show.
With a decidedly underground ethos and no household names, instead we got endless psychedelic rock, experimental performance art and exquisite noise.
Headlined by doom metallers Ramesses, sax-punks Blurt and Warp act Seefeel, this was all good, though the real story was of stunning smaller acts (such as prog beast Anta, DIY rockers Kogumaza and the sludgey Hey Collosus) pairing skill with a massive sound.
With Sussex promoter Tatty Seaside Town involved, many acts made the Brighton pilgrimage, providing highlights in the form of digital noise merchant DJ Scotch Bonnet (and family), the lunatic cult of Thee Bald Knobbers’ woodland procession and the chaotic Sly And The Family Drone’s democratic bandand- crowd drum racket.
But the music was only half of it. With art everywhere, workshops from life drawing to bookbinding and even people made entirely of bread, Supernormal isn’t quite like any other festival.
Evidently, the modern hippy is less about bongos and more about amps. Still, that idealistic vision of genuine musical community remains in safe hands.