Shakedown stage by Sam Neil

Before I begin. Wildlife had its inaugural festival last month in the Brighton area. Curated by Disclosure and Rudimental, it managed to attract some notable acts and had a rather attractive PR campaign. This is obviously excellent for Brighton’s broadening range of festivals, but will this detract from Shakedown’s appeal? Or has the festival built enough of a character and reputation to embrace its new comrade in Sussex? Or will most kids be going to both festivals anyway and is this just meaningless drivel? Probably.

Shakedown isn’t normally, or to be more accurate, isn’t my type of festival. I’m getting old and have found myself enjoying Countryfile and cheese boards. I might be going for purely masochistic reasons. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with Shakedown. I thoroughly enjoyed my last encounter with it and its drug-fuelled patrons. In fact, never have I before been offered so many free drugs and face paint in my entire life. In fact, the more I write, the more I’m unsure if I subscribe to my own views. I’m just increasingly becoming a pretentious bore.

Stanmer Park

I first went to Shakedown three years ago in the quaint local nature reserve of Stanmer Park. Due to what might be deemed as a drunken excavation of a National Park from 20,000 pairs of ketamine fuelled wellingtons – providing council approval reps with more nervous ticks than the shoe bomber – the festival is now five miles west at Waterhall, Brighton. Shakedown is also providing a free shuttle service from the Old Steine bus garage. Please, take this shuttle bus. Unless you want to wake up feeling like a clubbed seal, take the bus. Take the bus. Take the bus!

What feels like an anti-climax in comparison to last year’s heavy hitters Basement Jaxx, Groove Armada and Zane Lowe; this year might not be as disappointing as you or I feel. Fear not! 2ManyDjs, Example, Jaguar Skills and a Mike Skinner DJ set should put your ugly commercial popular-music driven reservations aside and aid you in basking in the abundance of underground dance acts to Spotify the crap out of later. People will be in awe when you tell them you’ve seen Fred V & Grafix! Awe! Hosts Defected, Hospitality and Supercharged are providing a line up for those who just love to dance.

For me, 2ManyDjs and Jaguar Skills sets will be highlights as will DJ EZ after I last saw him in the deep depths of hypothermia at Freeze Festival. Despite my early cynicism, I know I’ll find some great acts within that unknown trove at Waterhall. For example, SIGMA who’ve put out some rather good remixes of Kanye West, Paloma Faith and Labrinth tracks recently, will be worth planting your lovely ears next to. It seems with the ever growing landscape of festivals comes peoples forgetfulness of what festivals were originally about. I’m not talking the Wickerman here, but the inaugural Isle of Wight, Glastonbury and even Woodstock. A field with music… and happiness goddamnit! We’re provided with toilet facilities and a free shuttle service! This is the dawn of festival luxury you ungrateful bastards! No pilgrimage or hitchhiking required!

Shakedown crowd

Shakedown 2014 by Sam Neil

This all might sound like I’m deflecting for Shakedown’s sake. It has the reputation for being what one could describe as Ministry of Sound, at 4am, with the lights on. Basically, it’s not Latitude. Hell, it’s also easy to be fairly dismissive of the great acts on the bill. I suppose what’s great about Shakedown is that it’s not Reading, Latitude or even Wildlife. It’s sat on the beautiful South Downs, puts on some great dance acts and exists purely for fun. A one day summer holiday for £45. Butlins can go fuck itself.

I feel this year will be an interesting one for Shakedown. With the arrival of Wildlife it looks like it has put complete faith in its curators, its four year history and its patron’s loyalty. There are none of the side attractions that you’ll find at most festivals these days; a straight forward ‘four stages in a field’. Essentially, what you can take from this preview is that I have commitment issues and a borderline personality disorder.

Whilst I’m still unconvinced that Shakedown really knows what it is; four stages, a field and a drink in hand won’t be the worst thing to ever happen to you. I’m really wanting them to do well. See you in Brighton.

Shakedown Festival takes place at Waterhall, Brighton on Saturday 15th August 2015. For tickets and more information, see our Shakedown guide.

Main image credit: Sam Neil