If I new anything about web design and hacking I would attempt to add another couple of stars to this review. Other things I've given five stars are no where near as good as the Rise Festival was.
The parks in London make it a city worth living in. They are free and very well kept and I just love them. A place where the alcoholic and the athlete, the child, the gangster and the elderly can all find a bit of room and do their thing.
Summer is welcomed into London with a series of free festivals accross its parks, with perhaps the biggest being the Rise festival. The web site states that well over 100,000 people attended and I can well believe it.
Having said that it felt much more spacious than Clissold parks' Stokefest a month of so earlier. You could move around at the Rise festival, making it much easier to sample more than one music show - or to go and get beer or food. My favourite barometer for the quality of a festivals organisation is the length of time you have to queue for the toilet. I wasn't so pedantic as to time it, but I would have to say that the wait was always less than ten minutes. Admirable!! Especially compared to the likes of The Notting Hill Carnival (an important part of the London music scene seems to be the ability to keep drinking and dancing whilst your bladder explodes.)
Now a free concert like this is never going to attract the likes of Radiohead or Fatboy slim so direct comparisons with music between The Rise Festival and say Hyde Park the week earlier are probably unfair. None of these acts, which I list below, had appeared on my Ipod.
Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings
Dub Pistols featuring Terry Hall and Rodney P
Kitty, Daisy and Lewis
Trojan Sound System
But the music I heard, particularly The Aliens and some African dance music on a smaller stage, was excellent stuff.
Add to this quality music the fact that you can carry in your own drinks and food, that I was able to walk to the venue, that there were rides and food and interesting cultural things going on - AND IT WAS FREE! - this was just a spectacular day out.
Another great thing about this festival was the atmosphere and the general crowd behaviour. People were just friendly and happy. I didn't witness any crowd misbehaviour and I felt that the police were really restrained and respectful in their presence. Unfortunately, I have to delcare that if this event happened in Australia - there would be a lot more drunken idiots. Especially teenagers.
The Rise Festival made the headlines because Boris, our Mayor, removed the specific focus of Anti - Racism, with a little last minute meddling. It was apparantly the biggest Anti Racism festival in europe. He changed it to the Celebrate Diversity festival. Now I don't disagree with it neccessarily but I don't see any reason why he would have done that except as a little statement that he can do whatever he wants.
First he gets rid of drinking on public transport, then he starts mucking about with festivals. I bet next he will extend areas on the streets where you can't drink and then he will ban drinking in parks, and the free festivals and their special nature will go out with.
Londons park festivals, especially The Rise, are wonderful events that bring the community together and reinforce everything that is good about living in the capital.
I didn't stay here for long, as I was heading down to the Mela in Croydon, but it was very nice, hot, lovely little plant stall selling lots of strange herbs I'd not encountered (what is grapefruit mint please?) free Supermalt from the malty drinks stand, which is like liquid sweet bovril/horlicks for those not familiar, and free cans of drink at teh entrance as well. Bit gutted i missed out on Jimmy Cliff, but I did see him at the Croydon Festival last year. Worth attending. However it was so loud that I could only stand about ten minutes of music, so I don't know what condition your hearing would be in after eight hours.
Taking place in July, this is another of those times that you realise that Finsbury Park is a damn good place to live. Rise is an anti-racism festival officially and there's a definate feel of unification about the whole thing. What's also great is the yummy food for sale and live music- reggae, jazz, indie. They also have laughing gas which i got ID'd for (mortifying or what?)
Despite the torrential downpours, or, perhaps, because of them, I thouroughly enjoyed my time at the RISE festival in 2007. The police were out in full force, but alcohol could be brought onto the muddy grounds of Finsbury Park, once tipped from a glass container into a more innoccuous plastic one or paper cup. Between the showers there was time enough to sit and have a picnic. We brought our own food, which turned out to be a good thing seeing as the food stalls were prohibitively expensive. There were some good acts, some bad, but you could avoid the mainstage to slosh around in the mud at the Reggae bus (a la Glastonbury) or dance away to middle eastern, latin or other eclectic sounds at the smaller stages. The main event was the Skatalites. I felt so guilty having this much entertainment and fun for free that I helped the dedicated and unflagging volunteer crew tidy up the messy grounds at the end of the day. I would recommend volunteering to anyone - it's a great way to give back to a great community (and you get one of the sexy RISE t-shirts)!
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