Musically speaking, the Sixties got it all. It was 1964 and the times, they were a-changing. By the end of the decade you had the Beatles and the Stones, myriads of rock subgenres and all were sublimated in the king and queen of the rock fairs: Woodstock. The Sixties were music with an inspiring, passionate and revolutionary soul.
It is 2012 and the ultimate festival fairy is indie pop, the granddaughter of the Sixties belles Beatles, Beach Boys and Velvet Underground: inspiring, passionate and revolutionary music. Back then the enemy was the War, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the ‘Wars’ for the Civil Rights; today’s war is against money as a moral dictator. The battle ground is still the same: open sky, open space, open mind, fighting with guitar riffs, sweat and mud.
|Hackney Downs Studios during Once Upon a Winterland, also organised by Yard Life|
The Twenty-first Century rebellion is called no profit. Imagine a music festival where musicians perform for the sake of it and all the money goes to charity. Tickets for the event are invitations sent after a suggested £10 donation to Multiple Sclerosis Research. And if this weren’t yet substantial proof of a passionate soul, imagine that the festival is environmentally friendly and besides the show the public can get directly involved in art and fashion projects. Oh, and the headliner is the Dark Prince of English music Pete Doherty. Ladies and gentlemen, ex hippies and vintage addicts, here is Yard Life Festival.
Yard Life Festival will take place on April 28 at Hackney Downs Studios, a once-wrecked-now-inspirational building that fits with the concept of fresh, unpolished and underground. It is the Final Major Project of Jen Lloyd, student of Fashion, Design and Styling Promotion at Middlesex University. “This is not about money”, she explains, “This is about music, to support live music, for people genuinely interested in music, not for people who go to festivals because it’s cool to be there”.
|Babeshadow. How predictable would it be to put a picture of Pete Doherty? We all know how he looks like!|
The musicians are mainly Londoners, mainly independent and from either an acoustic/folk/indie background or DJs. They were carefully selected, first of all because Jen liked them, and also because “they had to believe in what this is all about, they really wanted to help”. Since November these new bands have been playing gigs at the Lauriston (Hackney) and at the Lock Tavern (Camden) under the label ‘Yard Life loves’, in order to “get people familiar with the names, to give them a taste of what the festival will be like”. On stage with Pete Doherty there will be Babeshadow, a duo on a stairway to Heaven after a successful tour in Italy, Gaoler’s Daughter, Hatcham Social, Storm Cat, iC1S, the Recusants and the Savage Nomads. In the DJ arena the main attraction is probably Rory Philips, together with Alex Egan, Lemmy Ashton and the Filthy Dukes, last year’s DJ highlight at Glastonbury. And this is not even the WHOLE line-up!
Arts are at home at Yard Life like ducks in a pond. Initiatives include Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair, Stitched Up, Vintage Tea Party, the Powder Room, the Beauty Parlour and the Wow Project. “The idea is people come along and get themselves a new outfit”, they immerse themselves into the festival spirit of open minded creativity and they interact with the environment, instead of merely being spectators. One of the most entertaining and creative activities is the make, do and mend experience of Stitched Up, another University Project born with the aim of “making something undesirable, desirable again”. Singer has sponsored the project donating ten sewing machines, which will be used to teach people how to transform old unwanted garments into stylish outfits… have you ever seen a dress made from a waterproof poncho?
The Sixties’ allure breaths in what seems to be the art form of the new century: interactive art. People can lend their minds and drawing or writing skills to accomplish tasks assigned by Jojo Townsend, the creator of this experimental project. “It is about celebrating the individual in a group. More than that, it is about overcoming boundaries of loss and how this translates into the unease of marking a plain white sheet of paper”. Previous tasks ranged from rice art to writing a message to someone you cannot deliver it to, but the new challenges are still surrounded by the fascination of surprise. The result will be a Floydian wall of reflections captured through paper and ink.
What adds some golden dust to music, art and style is thoughtfulness, and Yard Life got that right too. Jen followed the supreme inspiration of Glastonbury and other English music feasts in promoting environmental consciousness, and asked for help to Chris Hardy from no profit organisation UpCycle, which deserved one blog post on its own last week. It is refreshing to see people like Jen and Chris who care about people’s feelings and thoughts instead of merely providing ephemeral pleasures… all of this without the motivation of money!
After unfolding the petals of this rare flower which is Yard Life Festival, we can see at the core those values inspiring the great music of the Sixties: getting involved, promoting awareness, sharing positive and creative emotions. Or, in John Lennon’s words, “if someone thinks that love and peace is a cliché that must have been left behind in the Sixties, that's his problem. Love and peace are eternal.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO GET AN INVITATION GO TO www.yardlifefestival.co.uk
Pictures 1 and 5 by Amy McCarthy. Picture 2 by Idol Magazine. Picture 3 by Yard Life. Picture 4 by Stitched Up