Some of the festivals you’ll attend this year are basically some bands on a stage, with a few burger vans and beer tents. Not Playgroup. Not by a long chalk.For those familiar with their Pop-Up Playgroup (née Hectors) it won’t be much of a surprise that they take the festival concept and breathe something magical into the experience. Bestival and Secret Garden would be its closest relatives, but this is on a smaller scale – no massive toilet queues or tent tenements, just an amazing experience in the countryside. Oh, and also some cool things to go see – as well as a top music bill there’s cabaret, games, art, magic, film, healing and of course great food and drink. Here’s just a few to look out for.
You already know all about our cover stars, as you’ve just read the interview on page 14, right? A messed-up mash-up of vintage synths, crashing drums and electro chaos on an ever-unique improvisational tip – don’t even think about missing them as you won’t see this show, or any other they do, again.
Well he was our cover star last month, so refer to your leather-effect SOURCE collectors’ binder for his interview. Another one whose shows are never the same twice, Benji takes the art of mixing records and telly ephemera together and makes it, well, into an actual art. This will be a big crowd-pleaser.
STAY SICK DJS
This is a set at the decks that threatens to take everything green and lovely about the Playgroup setting and turn it Bourbon-brown. Filthy rock’n’roll and dirty funk’n’soul from a Tardis-like record crate – this is your soundtrack to getting messy, flattening your quiff with flying booze and generally dragging up the party from the past.
A 45-piece band – yes, 45 – makes for slim pickings on the backstage rider, but luckily this collective’s only hunger is to make you move. Drum’n’bass, kicks and beats from every dance genre you can think of are fed through traditional Brazilian instruments, with horns, guitars and electronics backing some sweet vocal styles.
DR DAVID BRAMWELL
The genius behind the Cheeky Guide to Brighton that everyone owns (right?), David’s also host of the Catalyst Club, an author and radio guy. This is his second one-man talk show, The No9 Bus To Utopia, based around his various travels through Europe and America in search of something better than rain-soaked Brighton.
Ninja Tune’s Grasscut make the kind of electronic music that suits Playgroup down to the ground. Esoteric and ethereal, the duo of award-winning soundtrack composer and classically trained musician take live programming, Stylophone, toy piano, double bass and guitar and arrive at a truly beautiful festival-esque sonic destination.
Don’t just sit there and gawp – here you can actually get involved with the music. In this performance the audience are invited to play along to a 1925 Lotte Reiniger piece with an orchestra of musical saws, toys and other unusual instruments. Bring your own percussion, bells or whatever you like, or pick from the band’s surplus gear, and help make a glorious racket.
Playgroup regulars since 2007, this duo’s blend of vintage swing and jazz together with drum’n’bass and breaks now finds itself at the centre of the White Mink zeitgeist that’s packing out bigger and bigger rooms on an almost monthly basis. Come watch the masters of the art doing their dapper thing and you’ll see why.
WORDS BY NICK COQUET