Described by Lianne La Havas as “the most beautiful festival ever” Into The Woods certainly lives up to the hype. Celebrating their 10th anniversary set in a secret location in – you guessed it- the woods of Kent, Into The Woods provides the opportunity to discover some of best in independent music. Walking into the festival itself feels like you have stumbled across a secret that belongs only to you and the people you are with, the outside world forgotten and pale. Striking artwork and cosy resting places are scattered throughout, with nods towards Boomtown and the Shangri-La areas of Glastonbury.
Written by Sinead Tess. Written by Maggie Koo.
Singer-songwriter Benjamin Francis Leftwich was the highlight of Friday evening with songs that told delicate stories with an addictive quality, still being hummed and sung by passers-by the next day. Benjamin cites Bruce Springsteen amongst his inspirations which can be heard in the echoes of his songs. Certainly he has the same cinematic quality that Springsteen is gifted with and his songs are easy to imagine accompanied along with major motion pictures- watch this space.
Friday was bought to an impeccable close by The Invisible + Friends hosting a much welcomed Prince and Bowie tribute. The Invisible were joined on stage by the London Contemporary Voices Choir and the exceptionally talented EKSA to deliver an emotional and moving tribute to both Prince and Bowie that had everyone in the audience contributing their voice and energy. The Invisible’s Dave Okumu states that Prince “saved his life” and has created a wonderful tribute to him in his recording “An Ocean of Purple” of which all proceeds go towards the charity Nordoff Robins, which delivers music therapy for vulnerable people across the UK.
After the final act of the night, we were invited to take part in a quiz in one of the main bars, a perfect wind-down for an exciting opening night of the festival. This was not any dull old pub quiz however; participants had to pin the tail on the donkey, play pass the parcel- oh, and all the questions were based around pop culture from 2006 (which is a lot harder to remember than you first imagine).
Saturday was full of excitement all around, with an array of artists that I was told I “have to see”. Spoilt for choice, the stand out act was Jennifer Evans. Evans’ song writing has a dark but deeply emotional root which is certainly conveyed throughout her performance. At times she looked as though she may cry as she played, and at times it felt as though she were playing only to you. Her vocals soar and have a quality akin to Joanna Newsom and Joni Mitchell, but Evans is a performer in her own right, with no comparisons seeming quite fitting for her unusual and ethereal sound.
Grime artist Trim, who has gained a cult following over the years, pulled in crowds so large that people had to climb trees to see him. Safe to say, I found myself scaling one to get a sight! In what was supposed to be our chill out time, feeling peckish, the irresistible sound of Trim came over the trees and we abandoned food in favour of him and his cutting lyrics. Describing himself as “a bit of a weirdo” Trim is not a typical grime artist of today, many who have conformed and bent to pop standard. He remains rooted to himself speaking not only about darker subjects but also weaving this with general everyday life, at times unexpectedly and bizarrely.
By the evening the talk of the festival was who the special guests would be. The main stage headliners were kept a secret, much like the location of the festival, all which added to the excitement and adventure of the festival. With quite frankly outrageous rumours such as “I’ve heard it’s Madness” and “perhaps it’s Laura Marling?” it would have been easy for the special guests to be very disappointing indeed. However, true to In The Woods’ reputation for booking outstanding acts, the special guests were very much not disappointing and every inch major excitement The Cribs. I think I speak for most of the audience when I say I couldn’t believe our luck. The intimacy of the gig provided a perfect setting for The Cribs and their playful reputation, treating us to a complete festival closing performance and setlist, which had people crying for “one more song” and fighting over who got to take home the printed set list.
In The Woods is a lovely little secret that you kind of hope no one else finds out about…but you want to share with everyone in equal measure.