LIVE REVIEW: Holme Festival @ County Durham (30.06.23-02.07.23) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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County Durham’s Holme Festival is the creation of local heroes Harriet McBain and Tom Bullen, who last year opened the farm gates for their inaugural celebration of music, arts and wellness. The programme runs from Friday until the early hours of Sunday morning, and things were well underway by the time we arrived early on Friday evening, with an assortment of DJs warming up the main tent as an excitable crowd percolated around the site.

The festival area is comprised of a main tent and the Rookery Nook, which is nestled among the woodland. The weekend’s highlight in the former was an early evening drag show, which captured the anticipation across the site perfectly. As night fell some of Newcastle’s most revered resident DJs hit the booth, with Diz and Richard Finch digging deep into their superb record collections.

The intimate nature of the festival site meant that the Saturday morning of the festival avoided many of the annoyances of their more expansive counterparts. Showers, water points and shade were all readily accessible to aid the recovery, with even the food options being more nourishing and affordable than your typical festival fare. If that wasn’t enough to shift the hangover then a wellness programme, including a sauna, massages and gong bath, eased you into the morning from around 10am.

Once suitably refreshed, the music kicked off again a short while later. DJ Mayonnaise warmed up the main stage with some more ethereal cuts of downtempo house, before the Saturday evening featured eye-catching performances from Becky Woodcock, Sie_B, Pad Thai Hifi and Jozette.

The Man of the Match award, however, is reserved for DADs, the latest musical project from local DJs and producers Simon Leeks and Callum Hays. Their set featured over a dozen of their own productions, interspersed with a handful of records held dearly by themselves and their friends. Overmono’s thumping remix of I Have A Love, from the outrageously talented Dublin-based wordsmith Daniel Balfe, was one such track. It was right at home among the brooding, muscular sound of their own tunes. Vocal samples sat on top of some of the track’s more ambient moments; with voice notes from friends nestling in the breaks before the drums and synths began to sing. It was an extraordinary set which showcases the depth of musical talent that runs through the region. Their debut single, Love, dropped on Strand Audio at the end of May, and illuminated The Nook and the beaming faces within it. The wider success that will inevitably come their way is richly deserved.

Put simply, it’s an excellent festival that is both ran and frequented by lovely people. You can listen to good music in beautiful surroundings without spending a fortune. Basically it’s everything the incumbent government stand against and I implore you to check it out before it’s banned entirely.

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