> Despite the success of the two previous Bristol Festivals, 2010’s Brisfest was undoubtedly the best to date. New features such as clearly defined zones and a large patch of turf for those in attendance to sit upon, as well as decent weather ensured that the event was a huge success. Sophia Jarvis attended on behalf of Westworld…

DJ Derek in the house y'all. He love hula-hooping.

One of the primary purposes of Brisfest is to showcase local musicians and one of the first bands I watched was Bristol-based rock band Dead Legs who played The Lanes stage.

The band consists of three members, Harriet (lead vocals), Chris (drummer) and Louis (guitarist). I really enjoyed their set and afterwards Chris and Louis told me that Brisfest is ‘a really nice place’ and that ‘it’s good to see local bands being given a chance to play’.

‘I hope you all have your passports because we’re about to take you on a trip around the world’ stated 6 piece reggae and blues crossover band Laid Blak. They played a varied set crossing many genres and became masters of puppetry, manipulating the audience to ‘get low’ on cue with their great singalong tunes that were enjoyable even if you’d never heard them play before.

You know you’re in Bristol when a rather dazed and confused actor from Skins (JJ to be precise) is prancing around nearby. At one point we even bumped into Big Jeff (if you’re new to Bristol and haven’t witnessed Big Jeff head banging at the front of a gig or club night, you really need to) who was, as ever, at the front of the Mr Wolfs stage trying to encourage a rather sombre audience to move to the music of Get The Blessing.

At one stage I encountered a lovely man who cycles around Bristol on a fold away bike carrying a 120 year old camera. Not only has he mastered the art of using this Victorian contraption but he was also very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about photography, using his skill to teach others just outside the main arena.

On the Wondering World stage I managed to stumble across an interesting 3 piece folk band named ‘Green Angels’ who played instruments such as bagpipes, a banjo, shells and a clarinet. The stage also hosted poetry recitals, including a set from Dreadlock Alien who had the audience spellbound with his poems.

Although he is from Birmingham, Dreadlock Alien tours his poetry around Britain and said of Bristol ‘I know about 50 people here today, it’s like a family’. I asked him how he got into poetry and he replied, ‘my dad is Jamaican and didn’t want me to do poetry, he told me “you need to feed your kids”’. But he said if Linton Kwesi Johnson (a prolific UK based political poet) approved of his poetry he could be a poet. So he sent him a letter and is still performing to this day.

Just before I left I caught up with Big Jeff again and asked him about Brisfest, he said ‘it’s been pretty good, but not as busy as I had hoped, it feels more creative really. My highlight was Scarlet Rascal and the Train Wreck on the Lanes stage. They’re a 4 piece garage rock band. It’s actually a bit depressing as they’re only 19.’

This year’s Brisfest was almost unrecognisable in comparison to last year’s. It was bigger and better and reminded me of a mini Glasto with something to suit everyone, from a chilled out chai tea area to a penalty shootout zone and a kids spot. I will definitely be buying my ticket for 2011.

By Sophia Jarvis