Event Review: Wilderness Festival 2019 @ Cornbury Park (Oxfordshire; Thursday 1st to Sunday 4th August 2019]

Situated within close proximity to some of the festival’s increasingly populated hangouts at Wilderness, such as the Atrium, if you happened to stumble upon the Level stage, you were almost guaranteed to be charmed by a constant conveyer belt of talented troubadours within the world music spectrum. There were memorable performances by Colectiva, an all-female, tight-knit Afro-Latin outfit, and Dele Sosimi’s afrobeat sensation delivered formidable grooves, a dignified stage presence and the musical proficiency associated with world music at its finest. Analog Africa raised vibrations here, with a profound and comprehensive setlist, and you were guaranteed more than a twitchy leg. Fortunately, for the world music parasites such as myself, the sounds of the Level stage satisfied the senses for a fair portion of the four-day weekend and seduced passers-by.

The Atrium also churned out some of the best quality acts on the music front. Ruby Rushton and Project Karnak, among other jazz names, gave the festival a run for its money. Residents of Ronnie Scott’s club, Incognito, were positively cooking. Three female vocalists took to the stage delivering bright tonal harmonies with a consistent stage show, and of course, the band were sensational.

Fine dining, nature and the arts are so unorthodox at Wilderness, that naturally, audiences soon become distracted, and the volumes of revellers in any one place are neither here nor there. It came as a surprise at this year’s Wilderness festival, the handfuls of observant music enthusiasts leeching at every opportunity to discover some of the festival’s finest talents, of which there were plenty. But, despite the wildly eclectic line-up, it soon became apparent that the attentions were otherwise lost, what with so much on show.

This was not the case during performances over at the main (stream) stage, however. And impressively, Wilderness provided a VIP platform and easy access for the disabled and hard of hearing, to give clear views of the stage. An enthusiastic male dancer extended above the platform to translate performances through sign and interpretive dance; a concert within a concert, both equally magical, and nobody knew where to look!

Whilst the resilient outdoorsy types took advantage of the festival’s suitably rugged terrain obligated by its environment, several thousand immaculate Instagram followers congregated amongst the brand spanking new-age festival merchants and boozy boutique-tents that were strategically positioned about the place. This was a not-so-wild wilderness (unless of course, you happened to be at the clubbing stages at nightfall) and certainly not so self-sufficient. So, if you are interested in environmental issues but unfazed by penis massage techniques, this is the festival for you.

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Photo © Gwen Moon