Kelburn Garden Party 2017

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Kelburn Garden Party 2017

Kelburn Garden Party 2017

The Channel 7A team have just returned from Kelburn Garden Party 2017, and here to talk us through Saturday is festival veteran & singer-songwriter, Lou Mclean.

If you haven’t been to Kelburn Garden Party, you’re missing out on the most unique and friendly festival in the UK.  Set in the grounds of Kelburn estate, the graffiti covered castle may be world famous but the real star is the ‘Garden’, The Never-ending Glen. Being a notoriously early riser, I took the opportunity to explore it whilst the sun was shining. As I descended, the sound of rushing water immediately took me out of the festival, and I felt as though I was in the middle of nowhere.

As I walked along to the cavernous surroundings which houses the huge waterfall, I sat on the rocks and contemplated how many people had sat here in this spot, over hundreds of years… how many of us have bagged off in this beautiful and ancient place? We will never know, campers. As the patrons of Kelburn are pretty free spirited, feel free to take a dip in any of the beautiful little pools which are dotted throughout the glen (clothing optional). No comment on whether your intrepid reporter did such a thing. 


I made my way back through the forest into the main festival, and stopped off at the visitor centre café. Even the most glaikit, hungover person will be looked after here, gently prodded to remember their order number & handed a hot breakfast roll made with love. I highly recommend you visit the centre at your most desperate moment over the weekend, you will be rejuvenated.  Also, I don’t mean to brag guys, but Kelburn has real toilets through the day. Like, actual flushing, porcelain toilets. 

But what would a festival be without music? First up on the Square Stage were Edinburgh based ‘The Micro Band’. Still the infectiously tropical pop band they always were, TMB have come into their own over the last year. They have a wonderful on stage connection; it’s a joy to watch a group of talented musicians having fun together and performing so seamlessly. The Micro band are the musical equivalent of realising you’re in love, butterflies and un-self-conscious joy. If you don’t crack a smile within 30 seconds of hearing them, then I’m afraid you have no soul.

I headed back up the Glen to take some shelter from the rain, and found solace in the tea cave. The tea cave does what it says on the tin, providing hot beverages and a cosy fireside by which to chat and chill – in a cave. It’s a great place to watch the world go by, and make a new friend.   ‘Fail Better’ had staged a takeover at The Monument, so I took a seat to see what Glasgow’s spoken word & acoustic scene had brought to Kelburn. Rapper Loddzilla was performing sans beats. I’m a fan of hip hop, but can find the topics covered by some local artists (weed, bucky, how great their skills are in bed/on the track) quite repetitive. However Loddzilla has the talent to back it up. His lyricism is particularly advanced & it was clear he spends hours perfecting each rhyme. I found a lot of humour in his set & look forward to hearing more from him. 

Sometimes festivals can just get a bit too much – so it was at this juncture that I decided to take a break and head to the Cinema. Housed in a yurt, Cinemor 77 are a new addition to Kelburn, but one that I found really welcome. They will be travelling around a number of festivals this year, so pop in and see them, if even it’s just to cosy under one of their blankets and take a moment to recuperate. 

As I was writing this review at Kelburn, a 7 foot tall cat dressed as a bell hop just passed me, commenting only ‘miaow’ nonchalantly before walking off into the festival. You really have to experience this place to believe it. Possibly my favourite thing about Kelburn is the amount of sound people that come to work & play here. You will have a great time if open your heart & mind to the experience, and soak up the sounds & scenes.

Closing the main stage was headliner Akala. As I mentioned earlier I am a hip hop fan, and was intrigued to see the man with a message deliver a headline festival set. He didn’t disappoint. As an MC his flow was flawless,  his set was tight and I admired that he wasn’t afraid to shit on the party atmosphere by giving us his take on the state of politics in the UK. A weirdly affecting but uplifting set. As day turns to night, the forest canopy is lit in a spectrum of colour and the thumping bass called me up the hill to the Viewpoint Stage for the Numbers takeover. Jayda G was phenomenal – an energetic performer who’s rhythm and understanding of the power of music shone throughout her set, which was packed with funk & soul vibes. Her energy had the whole crowd moving, and there were many hands in the air. I’m not an expert in dance music but my tail-feather was well & truly shook. 

Wandering away in a disco daze, I headed back to the Smuggler’s Field to purchase a Bedtime Burrito and…well, what happens in Kelburn, stays in Kelburn kids. So get yourself along for the ride in 2018. I’ll see you there.

You can find out more about Kelburn Parties here: www.kelburngardenparty.com

Live dates and releases from Lou Mclean can be found here: http://facebook.com/loumcleanmusic

Thanks: Sandy from 7A  / Kyle & KGP for booking me as a performer. / Ross & Viewpoint stage peeps for allowing me to realise my childhood dream of being a podium dancer. / Kelburn Crew & Smuggler’s crew  for putting it on!

Words: Lou McLean

Images: Lou McLean and Sandy McGhie

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