Festival Review: ValeFest | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Festival Review: ValeFest

ValeFest's unabashed ambition to be the biggest and best student-run festival paid off, reviews Redbrick's Holly Carter

2nd June saw ValeFest pull off another incredible event for the 14th year running, with a record sell-out time and one of the busiest festivals to date. Kicking things off with a bang at the Lakeside Stage were UoB’s Big Band, the 40-piece handing out cover after cracking cover to the early birds gathered on the grass. With a new location and smaller tent size, the revamped Alternative Stage of previous years (now the Lakeside Stage) allowed for a healthy mixture of space to dance and room to chill, and the stage’s varied lineup was perfect for both. Birmingham a cappella legends Uptones provided sassy covers and sweet harmonies, perfectly contrasted by the later indie bops of Portobello, Deafpony and Qualms, while Fes and Coffee Breath played heavier sounds later into the evening.

Kicking things off with a bang at the Lakeside Stage were UoB’s Big Band, the 40-piece handing out cover after cracking cover to the early birds gathered on the grass

The Acoustic Stage, this year run collaboratively by New Street Records and Burn FM, provided a relaxed space away from other stages to hear some of the festivals best bands in a more intimate setting. After the many horns of Big Band, it was time for an acoustic set from Selly music scene staple, DAME. With a main stage slot later in the day, it was refreshing to see Shannon Farmer and pals in a more low-key setting, still playing tunes like ‘Runaway’ and ‘Habit’ for which they are known and loved. Half of Odd Soul came next, also warming up for their later mainstage set.

It was refreshing to see Shannon Farmer and pals in a more low-key setting, still playing tunes like ‘Runaway’ and ‘Habit’ for which they are known and loved

Surrounded by market stalls, the soft sounds of Rylands Heath and Silas Burke and Rainy Day Woman later in the day provided the perfect backdrop for exploring all the non-musical delights that ValeFest always has to offer. One such delight that comes back to ValeFest year after year is UoB’s Battle Reenactment Society, BatSoc. Taking their usual space on the Vale’s Hill, those who preferred relaxing near the dance tent with a few drinks watched the society battle it out in full costume (despite the high temperatures), gaining claps and cheers after every battle.

Back down on the Lakeside Stage, fourth-year indie poppers Summer Daze played bops appropriate for their name to the fan base they’ve collected over the past four years. However, just before their final (and best) song, ‘Downtown’, both Lakeside and the Dance stages lost power, much to the dismay of attendees. The silence didn’t last long, however, with technical difficulties sorted in time for both Portobello and DJ Pete’s sets.

Gabriella Iñutu Liandu’s voice stole the show of Odd Soul’s set, and all six members seemed chuffed to have moved to the main stage after their performance on the alternative stage last year

Odd Soul’s set on the main stage was something special, the funky six-piece leading the biggest dance party of the day so far. Having released their first EP earlier in the year, with a following sold-out Sunflower Lounge show, the crowd had a lot of familiar songs to sing along to, include massive tunes like ‘BDBBD’ and ‘Shire’. Gabriella Iñutu Liandu’s voice stole the show, and all six members seemed chuffed to have moved to the main stage after their performance on the alternative stage last year.

As always, ValeFest provided plenty of delicious food and drink to sustain punters throughout the day, and the Comedy and Performance tent was the perfect place to enjoy some alternative entertainment while eating. As always, Footnotes comedy society performed stellar stand-up, while societies 3 Bugs Fringe, Panto and Watch This provided a variety of dramatic arts throughout the day.

Fickle Friends lead singer Natti said that she wished she’d attended UoB just to come to ValeFest

After a day of wandering and drinking, it was finally time to take our places at the main stage for the biggest names of the day. With more chilled-out indie vibes, it was nice to relax on the grass towards the back of the crowd for Little Comets, while we built our energy back up for chart-toppers Fickle Friends. When the time came, we were definitely glad we’d made that choice, as the Brighton five-piece performed tune after summer tune. The crowd they pulled was impressive, and the band seemed delighted to be at Europe’s largest student-run charity festival, lead singer Natti saying that she wished she’d attended UoB just to come to ValeFest. Tunes like ‘Say No More’ and ‘Wake Me Up’ had plenty of people dancing on shoulders, and it really was the perfect end to a perfect festival.

Valefest, once again, have absolutely smashed it. Probably their most ambitious line-up to date, it’s unsurprising that attendees from the University and Public alike have been calling it their best year to date. It certainly sets a high standard to follow next year, but there’s no doubt that they’ll do an amazing job and I for one, cannot wait.

Final year english lit student, beanie wearer and vegetable enthusiast (@holscarts)



Published

4th July 2018 at 1:00 pm



Images from

Elafris Photography



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