FESTIVAL REVIEW: Krankenhaus Festival @ Muncaster Castle, Cumbria (24-27.08.23) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Sea Power by Hollywood

Muncaster Castle sits overlooking the Esk Valley, just outside of Ravenglass in Cumbria, a part of the world which marries severe post-industrial decline with astonishing natural beauty. The castle is owned by the Pennington Family (some of whom I encountered doing unglamorous jobs during the festival, and the ancestors of whom were confoundingly right-on for landowners) and provides the perfect site for one of Britain’s best-loved cult bands to invent a little patch of paradise at the tail end of the Summer.

Sea Power have always had a particularly rabid and committed fanbase, and write as evocatively about Great Britain and British lived experience as any contemporary group; the combination of these two factors in a celebration of beauty, community, connection and art combine to make a pretty special festival.

The festival embodies a level of inclusivity you’d expect from Sea Power; it’s built on love, trust, and mutual respect. The sense of solidarity and the awe-inspiring beauty of our surrounds are (almost!) enough to make the music and culture secondary. Happily, though, due to an astutely curated line-up, the weekend provides many jaw-dropping instances, from Deerhoof’s frenetic turn on Friday evening, to The Go! Team’s transportatively euphoric slot on Saturday Night. Jeffrey Lewis provides a suite of beautifully observed COVID-inspired numbers on Saturday afternoon, before Sea Power’s career-spanning romp through some of their very best songs in the evening. Bo Ningen confound and delight in equal measure on Sunday afternoon, having previously helped six-time world snooker champion Steve Davis with cosmic bingo earlier: those are the levels of irreverence you’ve got to get on board with here.

As Sea Power’s Sunday night set – a run through of much loved third album Do You Like Rock Music? – galvanises the barn, the set culminates with drummer Tom accepting a marriage proposal from their partner, and it’s this moment of heightened joy and emotion that embodies the level of connection that this festival is all about. Sea Power have, briefly, built a patch of paradise ruled by art for art’s sake, and long may it continue.

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