eden festival

Back In The Garden Again - An Eden Report - NHC Gonzo Division


The Garden of Eden appeared to us in a dream-like Shamanistic vision, reminiscent of the enchanted flying Island of Laputa... Our journey was long and arduous, we had grown weary from our travels, but we were close to discovering the entrance. Forests thinned and we could see patches of clearings beyond the old road. A flash of light sparked and fleeted between the trees out of sight, just a faint glimpse, glimmering far off in the distance revealing an incandescent row of multi-coloured orbs which flickered as we passed more trees before vanishing in the grey oblique farther along the road. We found a way into a field by the trees and pulled in. An overwhelming feeling of expressively empathic energy drew on the soul among swirling eddies of mist as we departed our carriage. We stood beneath towering pristine white clouds that billowed into the skies as rays of sunshine lanced our eyes unexpectedly amidst gathering rain. A jet black Rook cawed at our arrival and flew off in the direction of a brook that followed the contours of the meadows behind the trees where fog had pooled like some vast ghostly figure writhing in the undergrowth beyond...

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So we followed in pursuit. We were, in a word, armed to the teeth as you would expect from such an entitled mission of utmost importance as I was granted. We were well equipped for this adventure, after all I was charged formally with protecting 'Her Rajesty' - The Queen of Eden herself Ms Jay Coleman, also known as Red Jester in some circles... A task I was sure to complete with levered precision in accordance with regard to 'Man-At-Arms', Ben-Jitsu Escobar - who planned our meeting's location prior to our undertaking of this journey. We set up camp and established contact with him shortly before dusk and using 'The Force' we walked off into the mist and rain, our foot prints heavy in the wet-lands.

As darkness fell around us in the cloaked veil of night, the stars lit our way like a map in the sky to the mythical gates where the Garden lay in wait for us to explore. We were met with rows of perpetually changing lights and bizarre trinket stalls, with music of all varieties coming from every direction. There were people of all kinds wandering among artistic sculptures, mazes and a huge Ferris wheel decorated in light which towered over the whole festival. The smell of every kind of food you could think of hung in the air pulling on your appetite like a great magnet. One which all things flow according to the whim of...

We ventured around the entire Garden stopping to speak to other travellers and dwellers of the fair until finally reaching a Tavern known colloquially as 'Bobs Back Passage' where we were told of a musical group who went by the name – The Twistettes – would be performing. So we drank and schmoozed with the others until the band came on and holy fuck...

Booze flew into the air from all sides and everyone lost their absolute shit to rawkus punk rock madness! Diving about, bashing into each other and then an alien couple with conical heads appeared in the middle of the crowd with a Unicorn and several Pixies. At this point I became rather unhinged from my Ginger Cider and whatever that magical Pixie dust was so things become a little blurry towards the end, but The Twistettes smashed it and marked our highlight of our first night's entertainment... That Unicorn was actually David Blair aka 'Dijancer' of Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5 and I have never seen anyone who can be literally everywhere you look at a festival... Does he have clones? Is there a series of Dave Blair robots carrying out menial tasks while the real Mr Blair pilots them from a control tower? I have no idea and because infinitely confused at this point... All I can say, is he seems to be some kind of Rainbow Warrior of sorts toting the flag for Positivism everywhere he can raise it. Kudos and sincere thanks for the encouragement through the darker times hermano. However, no darker times here... This, is Eden and sunshine awaits...

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Man-At-Arms tried (in vain) to walk me back to the camp site but I just wanted to stagger around looking up at the stars through the rain coz it looked like the rain came all the way from each star in a straight line down to my face, which was really quite epic. Needless to say though, it was like my terrible joke – What happens when you throw a 'Green' rock in the 'Red' sea?

... It gets wet…

At this point of course, I can only apologize profusely for betrothing your mind to this arbitrary malpractice use of bad jokage which is now making me abominably diaphoretic in my floundering apologetic state...

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Eh... Aye so anyway Saturday happened, we woke up alive and it rained... A lot... We got soaked pretty bad. Our tents got soaked really bad. Everything was wet and cold and we did not give one single feck. Man-At-Arms brought tea, Her Rajesty brought tea cakes... I brought everyone to tears with my anus... And so we garden partied like it was 1999 in an upper class garden in the suburbs of Cambridgeshire and made much of our maniacal merriment and enjoyed some bountifully abundant rejoicing...

Then we ate Robin's Minstrels... And there was much rejoicing... Yay.

It was still before noon at this point and we decided to be there for our friends - Melisa Kelly & The Smokin' Crows, and wow... Just wow. We were shaken by fiery funkalicious righteous awesomeness, stirred like a Madman Martini wi half a pound of mandem flung in it (aka The Weegie Sunrise), moved to tears by the poignantly delicate genius of that beautifully laced romantica ballad version of “Devil's Luck” right in the middle where the absolute gold unity of the backing vocals' harmonies intertwining with Melisa's really shone on the whole audience from every musical angle and for a moment even the weather seemed to become one with the music as the sun warmed us during those intricate melodies then when the song grew back up in crescendo, a gentle breeze blew over which induced goosebumps raising the hairs on the back of the neck and I think I am safe to say everyone felt it. Melisa's vocally empathetically expressive nature is so powerful and ranges through more octaves than a Piano can handle with techniques that bend and flex your own perception of the music you are listening to into physical reactions. Her abilities and musical definitions are so mind bendingly varied that not one vocalist anywhere that I know of can even come close to her virtuoso performances. Her voice actually affects me in a physical nature where the hair on the neck stands in every song and really pulls you in to the words and other instruments. She really took me by surprise with her cover version of Tom Waits - “Big In Japan” which drop kicked funk up our asses and right out the top of our heads with explosive depth and more bite than that guy fae James Bond that could chew through a steel cable, with his actual teeth...

Melisa is truly nonpareil. She puts Etta James to shame, she could jump Janet Jackson & Janis Joplin in a Celebrity Death Match with a Jack Hammer and bog-wash Beyonce all at once without breaking a sweat or missing a cue. Note perfect, rhythmic pulse oriented masterclass song writing paired with a passionately inspired stage presence all wrapped in a tightly packaged bouquet of exceptional musicianship on a level that deserves a worldwide audience on the global stage! Once you have had Melisa Kelly's music as an ear-bound aural feast for breakfast it's quite hard to locate an appetite for anything else afterwards because nothing else compares. In a perfect world, if Melisa's band could play all day it would prove the existence of Heaven right there in the Garden of Eden but alas, no one in the right mind is ever gonna play for an entire Saturday at a festival, and especially not when you give everything you have got into an hour long performance. C'est impossible... So after some hugs and compliments to the band we retired to food land and scoffed our asses off then went for a lie down to digest everything we had just witnessed in a state of shock and awe.

Back at the camp site, we lay in a crumpled heap, beaten by weather and the effort of wading through mud and had a light snooze to recharge before Mickey 9's headlined the Melodrome stage. I managed to get a small charge in my phone courtesy of a friends power brick and was able to find a message from my flat mates who were telling me they were playing a set at 5pm with Josephine Sillars in Vishnu and it was now 6:15pm... The annoying thing is we had walked by not far away while in search of food but trying to catch everyone at a festival is just impossible. Whether you don't have enough time, or people playing at the same time on different stages, or you are asleep, or too tired or cold or get side tracked... or lost and forget what you are doing (which seems to happen quite a bit to me) I guess it is what adds to the whole festival experience. Every individual who attends has a unique individual experience tailored to them which no one else gets and that is really quite a beautiful thing in itself. I still hate missing a friend performing though, but the main thing is that everyone enjoyed themselves. We did see an ambulance taking someone off site, not sure if that was over enjoyment en-route to the rubber walled funky farm in a smokin jacket, or maybe a prolapse they were unable to push back in with their finger but we hope whoever that was is actually ok and now home safe. Anyway, I digress... feckin tangents... pfft...

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Ahem! So we gave each other electric-shock therapy and got out of bed and went in search of the Melodrome stage which was located up a hill in the woods in what felt like the Ewoks back garden on Endor. There were rope swings and a log fire and lights strung all through the trees which looked amazing in the dark with the rest of the festival lit up down below. Some two hundred-odd people descended on the Melodrome to see Mickey 9's and as I arrived they had just begun their first song. The crowd were already fired up and diving about the swirling half-skank pogo-mosh-pit to 'Shark in the Water' with everyone doing the fin moves. Much to my delight I found Mr Master of None himself who some call Damo with a fetching silver cape dancing with his partner in crime Lucy and some of our friends and even bumped into a couple of Reiki Masters who also happen to perform under the guise of The Well Happy Band and up popped Ayrshire's very own Hit-man himself Colin Bilby along with John & Susan Soutar with some of the Yellow Movement in tow...

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At that moment a certain Pub Quiz Master known for his work with 'Jackal Trades' and 'Girobabies' (among many other musically promotional things) got up on stage to sing (my favourite Mickey 9's song) 'Rang Wi Me' with the band, however, the stage steward thought he was a random invader and tried to drag him off, but half the crowd simultaneously shouted - “Ho! That's Mark!”... Although the guy was clueless as to who Mark might be, he seemed to get the sentiment and the song continued much to the uber excitement of the now comparatively chaotic yet ultimately synchronismic crowd. The last song I can recall might be 'Psycho Control' as they wound everybody right up into a total frenzy! I am really not sure as to my whereabouts after this, vague recollections of talking to some friends as everyone filtered back from the now closed Melodrome stage, there were some tours through a few totally mental rave arenas with psychedelic painted ceilings - all mad shapes - and I realized that was the intense beats that had been calling to us from the festival while “asleep” at the camp site. (Nobody sleeps in the campsite haha).

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So anyway after getting my compatriots back to the tents, I grew restless and so I ventured back down to Rabbie's Tavern for last orders at the bar and to grab some food before consigning to lying down for a few hours and bumped into Sharleen and Debbie, Mark and Bilby, and a new friend known only as “Andy who knows the Girobabies” (if you know this guy please tell him he is a legend and thank you for being such a funny random sound person), we ended up Joe Mangle'd and talked several shades of shite into the night, much to the dismay of our fellow campers in - what I later found out to be - the fecking quiet section.... hahaha!! Sorry... Not with me about it's not hahaha!!! I should really come with a warning sign...

Suddenly Sunday happened... It was sunny... Like really sunny... All the mud and trenches had dried enough to walk on without breaking your neck or losing your hard earned pint or ending up looking like a victim of “Shat-Pantitis”. That's a pure real condition by the way. Some bloke down the pub told me. Must be true! Anyway, we started the day slowly, needless to say really and took a slow walk into the festival for a scran and a rescue beer. We decided to go take a look at the Drive In Cinema with Vintage Cars to sit in which was quite a novelty that we could have done with in the rain. Some mad 'cant' had written shit loads about Beef all over the inside of the car we sat in... I decreed that we must take it as a sign that the band 'Beef Monk' are on the rise and that these were disciples of the Monkery that is Beef.... by Beefy G, Beef Steg McBeeferton and The Beef Cake Blues Band... and Beefy Bum whoever you are, you made us laugh so hard that poo fell out, so we tip our hats to thee hombree, you sir are a comedic beast.

We happed across a very intimate and chilled performance with the Book Shop Band down the Great Mountain stage and I found thee best vegetarian food I have ever had at the 'Allotment' – I thank you from my toes to my Stellar Chakra for that eatery experience while enjoying the music in the belting blue sky sunshine. Just what the doctor ordered after a mental Friday and Saturday in the rain and midgies. However, some guy showed decked out in a freaky looking outfit made of baby dolls heads with some horror psycho mask and we were ultimately perplexed... We left that arena... and went in search of some other friends. At some point in our wanderings I bumped into 'The Sauchiehall Street Shakedown Squad' featuring Stefan Celosia, Lizzy Biggs, some others I can't recall the names of and the vocal legend that is - 'Matt The Hat' as some kind of Wizard nicely seasoned with Bourbon. Really cool to see so many familiar faces from the Glasgow music scene at Eden. We were headed to catch a band though and parted ways... Then we noticed some Police were getting their faces painted and joining in some games with a bunch of cool people who I thought were The Levellers at first glance. I reloaded my hand with pintage and aimed for the forest again...

We were headed back to the Melodrome stage to witness 'Root System' who really know how to put the Punk in Ska! As they were starting there were about 20 odd people all chilling round the tables... After the first couple songs and dancing through the gathering audience, even getting their wee kids up dancing and singing along with them which really was an absolute crowd pleaser and suddenly there were loads of people who had heard the music from down the hill and came up to see what was happening and we had people skanking up and down the place, dancing in the tree swings and falling off the hill, and... as if that wasn't enough the lead singer jumped up on a table to perform a Russian dance which takes some amount of strength and stamina. Now at that time I did not know the name of this dance and was intrigued to find out what it was called or where it came from because all anyone seemed to know was it's a mad Russian leg dance hingmie... Naw.

Kozachok” also “Kazachok” (Russian: Kaзaчoк) (Russian diminutive of Kazak “Cossack”) A Slavic dance, chiefly Ukrainian with a fast tempo featuring a step in which a squatting dancer kicks out each leg alternately to the front switching with the other leg back under them to squat on, whilst maintaining the squatting position height without dropping or bobbing

I would like to rename it “The Thigh Slaughtering Knee Crippling Ankle Bastard”. My hat is off squire! I think my defining moments of the whole set had to be “It's Up To You” when the band first invaded the crowd, “Wake Up” coz it is thee best Ska Punk tune anyone ever wrote, anywhere, ever and if you try to tell me otherwise... Well... In the words of Dave Lister... “Why don't we strap a bomb to my forehead and I'll nut the smegger to oblivion!” hahaha!!! I loved the double encore at the end as well, muchly enjoyed that set and it gave us a good charge to go venture around the festival again. In my opinion it was over far too quick. Root System should get at least an hour and a half minimum. People need that in their life!

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After some meandering and 40 trips to the toilet in an hour we went off to battle aliens on a far away distant planet and found Elvis. He was in a port-a-loo that whole time... Who knew... Anyway, tangents... ssssssake man! So we went for a tea break by the tents and were keen to find out if our friend who had to leave early got home safe so we chilled there for a while and sank some beers. Later we decided we had to have a shot on the Ferris Wheel and it was totally epic... After the wheel we took a walk and found Sharleen, our aforementioned Pixie friend and we attempted the Maze in the dark which was actually seriously difficult once you go in and get yourself stuck haha! We managed to make it out alive though and I got me some White Russian at the Coco-Cabana bar behind the psychedelic Voltan Temple. We chilled out there for a while then went to watch Bombskare who had literally every single person at Eden in a semi-skank bob n weave manoeuvre which seemed to spill out of the main arena, and even people waiting for chips and pints and looking around the boutique stalls were still doing it! I found myself still going long after the Ska had ended... but before I go there... Let me just say that Bombskare were were the absolute cream of the Eden scene and everybody was loving it. Just people laughing and dancing everywhere you looked, even the people working the stalls were all dancing to them! There was a truly righteous moment though, in amongst all that groove, when a highlight within a highlight occurred like some inceptional conception of sheer gallusness...

And that, was when Rory McLeod joined Bombskare on Harmonica to perform the Ska version of his original song “Love Like A Rock” from his 1988 album “Footsteps & Heart Beats”. That was quite a special moment for a lot of people but to see how humbled the band were to have him as a special guest up there with them and to hear him perform live in the flesh was a really amazing and truly defining moment. Their final closing set at the very end of the Sunday night's main stage bill left everyone with a near permanent smile. We managed to scurry over to catch a little of our friend Damo's band 'Jam on Planet Love' in the Vishnu Lounge but we were wet and freezing cold, starving and some guy sat beside me with a spliff that was like Long John Silver's widden leg and kept blazing so much smoke on me... These days I am weak as shit in the lungal region and was forced to retire to grab some air, my inhalers and some food before the stalls closed but it felt like a nice cap on the night to be able to finally catch a friend performing after missing several other friends' bands including missing Josephine Sillars and The Manic Pixie Dreams (which had my actual flatmates playing in Vishnu Lounge on the Saturday) and 'The Well Happy Band' who I actually played with but haven't seen in a couple years. So I was gutted I missed them all but I will make a point of catching up with everyone and getting out to see as much of your live shows as I can cram into 2019 coz I am back on the case, like Columbo, except you can understand what I am saying, sometimes, and I don't smoke... Yeah... maybe Columbo was a bad example, but you know what I mean.

This was a very last minute festival for me, so I had no plans to be there, but got a chance of a last minute ticket and decided to make it as random as possible, no program, just turn up and meet people and see what happens. It was a beautifully bizarre, righteously epic and paralytically unctuous experience wrapped in a paradoxical paradigm of expression poured from the souls of some of the best people I have ever known in my life. There were many friends who I wish so much had made it this far in life to witness it alongside us, but alas, such is life. We remain though, and continue to push for the most awesome new experiences that life can exude in our general direction. The land of opportunity is a fortuitous and fruitful fortress like some mental jungle which lies dormant until the day you realize it was always there, inside your own thoughts, your own perspectives and only ever appears to you when you finally admit to yourself that you accept it as rightfully yours. That it is well earned and deserved. One world, one life, one love.

Even in duality and in synchronicity, the opposite only exists so that the most amazing positivism can exist in harmony with it and vice-versa. Yin Yang. One can not exist without the other. You need the bad experiences or you will never have appreciation of value in the good ones. It is the distance between them that gifts you with understanding and knowledge. It is when you live through them that you gain experience, and when you combine all you have experienced and all you have learned and apply that to yourself and live in accordance with those ideals, that you finally realize wisdom or contentment and joy.

You can't just go looking for happiness like some item in a shop, you can't buy love somewhere or travel to it physically. It is you. The whole time, it was there, right there within you all your life. It is only when others help you realize it that you experience it at first, but once you finally understand it is something you generate by yourself and share externally with others, and that you do have something to share with people that you can really live the life you feel you have always wanted to. The only thing stopping you, is you. Be fucking good to each other, and to yourself, coz we only get one shot at this.

I would like to personally thank “Her Rajesty” - Jay Coleman & “Man-At-Arms” Ben-Jitsu Escobar for general camaraderie and awesomeness :) Also I have to thank Stevie Powers, Martin Windebank and Lee McGilvray without whom I would have missed that post, the tags and lost that last chance ticket, but youz are awesome and it all just fell into place. I leaped at the opportunity, flung stuff in the car, grabbed some good friends and fled the scene like Ricky Bobby's Dad in Talladega Nights... and like the man said...

“If you ain't first, you're last.”

Photography credits to Jay Coleman