Keltfest

AKA stage two of the ‘convert Dania to this kind of thing’ project.
Getting up at five a.m. yesterday – my first day of a weekend of freedom – in order to meet Dania at silly o’clock so that we could make our way down to Dordrecht, I simply couldn’t help but wonder to myself “is it worth it”? I dread to think what Dania was feeling at this point as we both shuffled our way like little zombies through the streets and onto the first of three trains. Okay, I didn’t shuffle and was probably rather chatty the whole way – apparently I’m an insufferable morning person.
When we eventually got to Dordrecht it was two buses and then at last we were there. In fact, we were on such an early bus that there were only eight of us there – a far cry from the normal packed shuttles for these kinds of things – which was rather strange but did lead to some kind of socialising which is always nice and, of course, easier when there are smaller numbers attempting to work out where everyone else is!

Arriving on the festival grounds, we were some of the first there. While that does mean that the atmosphere hasn’t quite built up yet, it also means that it’s quite easy to look around and get a feel of what’s going on where without the larger crowds of people. The grounds were quite compact, and logically arranged, meaning that we could do a loop of the stalls and basically be sure to cover everything… which is what we did. I also found that, for me, there was just the right amount going on. I probably could have spent today there too, quite happily, but I don’t feel that I’ve missed out through not being there, heaven knows that I was lucky to go at all!

The first full set we caught was that of Finvarra and this was the first time I’d actually seen them live since Castlefest last year which was also, incidentally, when I really discovered their music. As last time I found their blend of narrative lyrics, danceable rhythms and evocative harmonies thoroughly compelling. I also have to admit that I enjoyed sitting back and watching the audience dance during the set!

We then migrated to watch William play at the Pub Stage which was basically a marquee with some benches, tables and a small stage. In this sense it had a feeling of intimacy above and beyond that of the other stages, something which benefited the solo set and made the session stand out in my mind. It was nice to sit back with a drink and just listen… I even abandoned my camera for the duration, shocking, I know!

Saor Patrol were up next and were, to say the least a little bit louder. I don’t think Dania knew quite what to expect and positioned us directly under a speaker. After a few tunes where she looked rather confused by the idea of rocky style bagpipes she seemed to get into the music (I saw her bobbing along with the beat!). As for me, this was the first time I managed to catch Saor Patrol live despite attempting to go to several shows over the past couple of years. To add insult to injury, they actually played in Glastonbury just after I moved to the Netherlands but that’s another story! They most certainly live up to, and exceeded expectations with their show just so indescribably full of energy coming from the performers and from the audience. Would love to see them again and both my parents are quite jealous that they missed out!

There was a tiny gap between bands we wanted to see so Dania and I wandered off to use the time productively and fulfill our earlier promise to get matching henna tattoos. Yes, we know it’s a cheesy idea but that was kinda the point. Problem was, we might have forgotten to get the same design so we ended up with non-matching matching henna tattoos but hey, it’s the thought that counts, right?

After that, it was time for Rapalje. I’m struggling to think of original ways to describe Rapalje which is probably a sign that I’ve seen them way too many times now. That said, I’m still not tired of their sets as they are invariably of the finest quality yet unique each time. From Dieb playing with a statue of a hedgehog onstage and attempting to balance it on his shoulder to almost the entire audience taking part in a pretty darn huge conga line type thing… it was just really rather fun! Combine that with Rapalje’s signature style musically and you’ve got a great experience, all in all.

Sadly, after that, we had to begin the too long journey home else we wouldn’t have made it home. Absolutely exhausted we made it back and, I don’t know about Dania, but I fell asleep almost instantly. I didn’t even have the energy to make a cup of tea and that is really saying something!

Henna and a Hedgehog… this is what remains of the day!

Now there’s just next weekend to look forward to when the indoctrination friendly introduction of Dania continues with Celt-N-Folk. Just have to survive a week of intensive German classes first… oh no!

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