The first official We Out Here festival took place this summer from the 15th to the 18th of August in the picturesque site in Cambridgeshire that was once home to Secret Garden Party. Giles Peterson curated an incredibly diverse line up of acts that showcased talent from a far stretch of different genres of music. A vast majority of the acts within the line-up can be accredited to being a part of Peterson’s record label Brownswood Recordings; KOKOROKO, Mala and Auntie Flo to mention a few.
The festivals tagline “A Worldwide Family Gathering” is a truly accurate way to encapsulate the feel of the event. This family friendly festival was not only the host to an assortment of different music but also to food and activities. I found myself spoilt for choice with the various options of food stalls to choose from including Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen, BACON’s vegan hotdogs and Anna Mae’s macaroni cheese. There was never a dull moment with the range of fairground rides scattered throughout the site and the various shops that offered all types of funky print festival wear. You could even pick up a new record to add to your collection at Near Mint Record Store.
Arriving quick and smoothly on the Thursday and settling in to camp, it was time to explore the grounds and see what Giles had done with the place. With 10 separate tents and stages for music, you wouldn’t know where to start. However, stepping foot into the grounds of the arena the melodic voice of Charlotte Adigery pulled us in instantaneously, as she had the crowd moving with her rhythmic and enchanting stage presence at the Lush Life stage. Having the chance to catch up with Charlotte off stage around the festival after her performance with warmly welcome, it set the tone for the friendly feel that surrounded the festival for the next few days. Later into the evening as the sun set over the tents, The Forest stage was discovered. Surrounded by trees that felt like they never ended, was the DJ booth that almost felt like it truly belonged there where Matthew Herbert gave a feel-good and beat driven disco set which had the crowd non-stop dancing and singing alongside him that they too are a ‘freaky motherfucker’. Exploring further lead the night into the Near Mint Record Store, where Me Gusta offered a much more afro-beat vibe and fast paced atmosphere. The evening finished with Theon Cross at Lush Life stage again, whom transcended his audience with his live jazz and confirmed the diversity of music that was on offer for the weekend. Time to get ready for day two.
Friday bared no different with it’s vast offered range of music. Despite the wetter weather, we ventured to the Main Stage in the early afternoon and the day kicked off with high energy brought by the loved and adored, Awesome Tapes From Africa. Awesome Tapes From Africa is the record label started by Brian Shimkovitz that provides a cultural mix of undiscovered and forgotten artist’s music from all over Africa. He had the crowd transported across the world engulfing them in rich musical culture. The tempo was brought down a notch by the unique Yazmin Lacey, who mesmerised her audience with her beautifully tranquil voice. With every song you fell deeper in love with the talent she brings. Friday I had the chance to get myself some of Anne Mae’s Mac and Cheese at their trailer that was impossible to miss with the amusing neon sign “Mac Not Crack”. The softness of the mac and the creaminess of the cheese with the bonus of rich flavour hit the spot so good you simply wanted more and more.
As the rain persisted, so did the crowd; nothing was going to stop anyone from experiencing the wonderful music. Friday evening saw the incredible Tirzah’s peaceful and soothing set on the Main Stage, unexpected from what is typically known of Tirzah’s classics but the new rendition and spin on her work was pleasant surprise and translated well with the crowd who felt the emotions with her. Straight after, Mala & The Outlook Orchestra brought something many people hadn’t seen. Genres like dubstep and ska presented by a 20-piece orchestra of some of the UK’s finest musicians conducted by Tommy Evans, We Out Here Festival was establishing itself as the go-to place for music you’ve never experienced before. The music didn’t stop there as DJ sets from Haai, Call Super and Objekt at Rhythm Corner provided the techno the real party goers needed until into the early hours of Saturday morning.
A drastic change from the rain meant Saturday’s hot weather made for a joyful setting to see acts such as KOKOROKO and Steam Down who graced audiences with extraordinary sets at the Main Stage. One of the noticeably special things about We Out Here was it was obvious they wanted you feel calm and comfortable as the Wellbeing Area was discovered, hosted by Klarna that offered a peaceful view of a pond from the various deckchairs and hammocks that you could relax within, a calming retreat between acts. During the day was another chance to try more of the festival cuisine which was a chicken curry from Mama’s Curry Pot that was bursting with flavours and spice that you needed to wake you up and keep you going throughout the day. My personal highlight of Saturday night was to see the man who curated and brought everyone there together, Giles Peterson. On the main stage Giles was accompanied by stunningly vibrant visuals and upbeat tracks that had the vast sea of a crowd dancing. This was followed by the chance to see Auntie Flo, who almost got the Main Stage shut down after inviting over 30 people on stage to dance. After security seizing control, two of these people managed to maintain their position on stage and provided some of the best dance moves we’ve seen all weekend for the rest of the set. Auntie Flo was one of the special acts who broke down the wall at We Out Here between the artist and the audience; we’re all one.
The final day of the festival boasted the likes of Channel One’s vibes, Children of Zeus’ tranquillity, Brilliant Corners with Donna Leake and many more. The Main Stage was the home to Lee Fields & The Expressions who delivered a wonderfully energised set as the evening sun beamed down on the crowd who both sat and swayed to his deeply soulful voice. Later that evening the likes of Romaal Kultan had an intimate high-spirited set within the Lemon Longue tent, which is the place that also provided Rihanna Reggae remixes earlier in the week. The last chance to try cuisine was time to give the Ethiopian vegan medley a try, the mix of spices that seasoned the lentils and beetroot made for a flavoursome meal. The end of the day was finished by the impeccable track selection and mixing of Carista, who’s a DJ to look out for right now and the OG Mr Scruff at The Forest stage which left for a lively and energetic finish to the festival which made the reality of it ending easier to handle.
Moreover, the first year of We Out Here will definitely not be my last. Giles Peterson created something special, a festival that exposes people to a hugely diverse and multicultural range of music all throughout one space, whilst heavily focused on ensuring comfort, tranquillity and positivity was not forgotten. The atmosphere within the place is unbelievably joyous and fun, filled with laughter and energy, there truly is something there for everyone and definitely something new for everybody to discover. I can’t wait to be out here again.
Connor T Egan | WRITER
Melissa Santos | SUB-EDITOR