Big up Lee(Fest)
LeeFest 2012

Firstly, who put the Lee in LeeFest? That would be Lee Denny whose garden this is. Well, it started in his garden six years ago as a party for his mates and over the past six years has grown into a 2,500 capacity weekend festival with numerous stages and acts. Safe to say Lee’s garden isn’t big enough now so we board the yellow LeeFest bus from Bromley station to Highams Hill Farm where it is now held. With there now being hundreds of festivals, it’s becoming a bit saturated with many reporting poor ticket sales and cancelling, but this is one of the home-grown festivals that we’ve heard lots of good things about and as we arrive on the Saturday everything is in full flow and the many revellers are out early for the day.

First band of the day for us is Sound of Guns. Fresh from a tour with The View, they look like them, play like them, but frankly haven’t got the tunes to back it up with. It’s definitely not bad, just fairly average lad rock. Luckily Bwani Junction are up next to liven things up. These four scamps from Edinburgh have the sun on their side for their afro-tinged sound. Unluckily they’re scheduled the same time as the paint fight which has half the festival sight getting colourful at the back, but a few songs in everyone comes down to the front and it sets the scene as they play a mash up of The Pogues’ ‘Dirty Old Town’ segued in with African classic ‘Shauri Yako’. Now everybody is livened up and has their dancing shoes on they get a rapturous reception for latest single ‘Two Bridges’.

Suitably warmed up by Bwani Junction, we head for a wander to see what the rest of the festival has to offer. There is definitely a Secret Garden Party type of vibe here with so much effort gone into everything and something for everyone, from a poetry tent, a shipping container pumping out beats to a chill out area with sofa cushions and shishas. Whilst we were off exploring we missed most of Man Like Me but they got the first big crowd of the day, and from where we were at the back it was going off, bringing a carnival atmosphere together with brass, beats and basslines, we’ll definitely make sure we don’t miss them next time!

It seems like everybody here has come down for Mystery Jets’ headline set, straight into first single off ‘Radlands’, ‘Someone Purer’ has everybody singing along and this clearly is one of those moments where you can see how far they’ve come, with four acclaimed albums under their belts. There aren’t many bands around now who have managed to create four masterpieces that each have their own distinctive sound and meanings, and they really are in a position to play latest single ‘Greatest Hits’, as that’s what this set is. With the usual absence of tracks from first album ‘Making Dens’ they play a handful of each of the other three and leave us with huge sing-along’s with ‘Behind the Bunhouse’ and ‘Flakes’. 2012 is definitely the year of Mystery Jets.

We hotfoot it over and see the last couple of songs from Ghostpoet. His hypnotic delivery of ‘Survive It’ over its simple beats should have Roots Manuva quaking in his boots. It’s time for us to get the big yellow bus back into London. LeeFest, we’re coming back next year, a gem in the abundance of corporate and plain old boring festivals that there are so many of every weekend, and what’s more all the profits go to charity, big up Lee(Fest)!

Words by Paul Melbourne

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