Purple Love Balloon: Shiiine On Weekender Wrap & Photos

It’s near closing time. Paul Hartnoll, of legendary techno duo Orbital, plays a marathoner’s marathon slot Sunday midnight. Those with long drives in the a.m. have gone to bed, but the core who put this set on their must list are here, and the turnout is strong.

It’s a tremendous set, well worth the wait, with Orbital remixes and perfect oddities like the mash up of Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven is a Place on Earth” and Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love A Bad Name”, two songs that uncannily mirror each other yet ironically clash with messages of fluffy love vs. swaggering anger, at one point playing Belinda backwards so the vocal sounds like an Icelandic pop marvel.

The inspired booking of Paul Hartnoll is not a fluke. The after parties at this music festival are programmed as well and more broadly than the main stage headliners, with a number of large rooms to fill out, and almost as many hours of music.


Like the main stage from afternoon to late evening, the side rooms are well-rounded with a winning combination of heavy-hitters like Hartnoll, BBC Radio’s iconic Steve Lamacq, and last year’s Graeme Park and Dave Booth, who were there for the very first days of the one and only Hacienda in Manchester back in the early 80s, and going strong as hell today. The DJ and club culture that exists in this country is worthy of special mention for visitors from outside the U.K. In most of the U.S. and Canada, the once shimmering scenes have given way to an overabundance of hipsterism (a good excuse to go the economical dive bar route) and back to a landscape of worthy indie bands struggling to get a foothold in struggling corner bars. To be sure, the late-night offerings at Shiiine are a treat for the Canadians (who just go ahead and stay on their own time, bit of a cheat, that) as well as the diehards, those admirable zombies who always get themselves “home”, sometimes with a little directional help in the end.

We must rely on other reports for much of Friday (missed all but headliners due to travel delays) and for some bands we had planned to see, including The Black Jackals (Liverpool), Cellar Doors (San Francisco), and The Train Set (Crewe). The omissions of these and others in our pretty full photo gallery is due to these events & does not reflect a lack of interest.

We put together detailed reviews of some particular personal high points for us, notably Thousand Yard Stare, The Farm, Echobelly, and a side trip through some cover bands we enjoyed a lot. That said, there are so many highpoints we share with our Shiiine Family, and a more articulate group we’ve never met. We know that like you, we’ll be revisiting and discussing this weekend throughout the year. We’re also developing a podcast so look for that if you like those Canuck tones.

Those who would call us all nostalgists can note that social media chats mark tonight (Friday) as the one week anniversary of the time The Wonder Stuff took the stage, when they immediately ramped up the evening with a terrific high energy set, saying they were happy to be back, just as the crowd was happy to receive them. The Stuffies are so solid and it was a treat to see them at the beginning of the weekend this year instead of the end as main stage closer (we also didn’t want to be seen crying during “Size of a Cow” again). Next, Echo and the Bunnymen took us right into the evening with their entirely different groove, Ian McCulloch’s voice as clear and deep as ever. “Lips Like Sugar” is still sexy as hell, dark and lovely. All the headliners delivered as promised: Ash, Cast, Shed Seven, The Bluetones (photos at bottom of all of these performances) with even the reported unplanned stage departures of a few singers somewhat befitting the reputations of the artists who left their assigned spots. That’s Entertainment.


Cud (or as a few fans have christened them, Magnificent Bastards) gave a terrific performance in the perfect venue that is Centre Stage (at a smaller festival this would be Butlin’s main stage, and here is where everyone floods after the Skyline stage closes at 10.) Back from last year, Cud, who formed in the mid-80’s in Leeds and have recently come back out of hiatus, touring with the also reformed Ned’s Atomic Dustbin (ahem, festival curators) is something different than most of the bands out there working today. There’s the rare and beautiful throwback punk feeling of slight danger about Carl Puttnam, who postures and uses the space in a way most singers today never do; not preening for cameras but communicating with an invisible god/demon/muse. A friend who knows music made a new discovery in this band, in communication with his own muse in an epic talk & drink session, and as we watched him fall in love, it was another facet of a long and memorable night.

How strange, how wonderful, how of the 90s the feeling of Saturday night is. But be advised, this is not nostalgia, but rather a grasp of the tail of something these bands were inventing and we were experiencing and defining ourselves by, in all our relative youths, then. It’s still needed, it bloomed but was soon extinguished (like the fad it wasn’t) cruelly killed by shallow media agendas, boy bands and belly tops, quite premeditated, too, because gender equality and musical diversity had been happening for a decade for the first time in history before our cultural Y2K disaster. And that achievement, that hope, and that feeling, that’s all we’re celebrating here. And in celebration there is new life.

And so to our Shiiiine Friends/ Family:

The friends we met, and re-met, well.

The ones we didn’t meet, who yet rotated around us sharing and being part of the same creation of happy memories as ours, with their own groups of friends, overlapping in circles – or never to meet.

The people who will duck under to not spoil a picture whether from a long lens or a camera phone, these observant and thoughtful people.

And those who instead, jump in front of it, giving you something else to see, and to photograph. (Was there really a leprechaun?)

The group who photobombed a passed out, sitting up man one afternoon near the Skyline stage, and another who created a massive dance floor huddle, that we photobombed ourselves. “Peace Sign!”

The musicians who came and joined this party, many who returned for year two, already family, from afar, are in it together, with all of us.

Musical artists roam and mix freely with their audience in the massive after-parties that make up the second festival once the main stage ends at 10:00 p.m. Centre Stage and Reds go dark, and alive, and everyone comes together in perfect rooms that are really the return to the 80s and 90s we crave and miss most of all: The camaraderie of youthful timelessness that extended way past your table of friends, bound only by a yellow flyer, a happy face, a flower T-shirt, a catchphrase, not yet co-opted; a beloved short-lived magazine, subtitled “Music & Beyond”, as it summed up life itself; a search, for our kind, in the faces of big, anonymous cities where our music was never so popular that it become uncool. If it never became uncool it is still intact. Deal with it, journalists.

But the 90s scene(s) once blossomed, triggered alarmist reporting about noise and drugs and the clucks of the boring and the critics shouting from the dull comfort of their homes. Dehydration, indeed. Club culture has had its casualties, but in truth, there was so much more that was good and authentic. Our youth was so much more and so different than any headline could reach for. Like everything worthwhile, and everything cool.

Worldwide, in our 90s, everywhere you could get a 12 inch record, an import or a bootleg tape or hear John Peel or read the NME, community could arise for 5 or 6 hours every Friday, Saturday or Sunday in the cities we grew up in, planted our flag in, ended up in, or tried for awhile, when we still believed adventures might lie in that garden patch we knew almost too well, former kids dreaming of archaeology in the back garden, innocent to the truth of the sewer lines below, or the fact of our dry suburban ahistory, our little world’s irrelevance. We still dared to hope in the early 90s,  were shortsighted then, tied to grueling jobs of youth and knew not how to jump a plane, a train, or a border.

But now we do.

Weekender people leave whatever their ordinary day to day life is and create something on a closed circuit that is yet a continuum from year to year, and from one great festival to the next. And Britain suffers no fools when it comes to music and to music festival offerings, or to the price of a pint. The competition is fierce, especially in summer, but even now, in November, the pull of home is calling (if you are so lucky to have that nagging pull, intact) and most of the land is marathoning through year end, an effort to put 2016 behind all of us. And so we lurch toward New Years Eve, nowadays with a bit of dread, since things sometimes get worse instead of better, for nations, for culture, for the fate of music, for our currencies we live by, or for our loved ones. Who could use a weekend away?


But it was never truly easy, even when we had youth and a massive buffet of end of the century music offerings, to be present, to party, to cheer, or to hit the road. And it takes a persistence to row against the tide, to ignore the nagging mother within ourselves and to carve out a bit of the beautiful 90s here and now. Not because we are simply nostalgic, that’s not it, if you were there, you know that. But because we are relevant, we are right, and so is this music.

It was put away unjustly. It lives again in spite of industry, press, denied riches and the devils that have claimed the name “music” for so long, that create sounds in factories that are not good enough for our children, and are bad for the world. Musical heritage, musical life, is as worthy of a long life as any other art form. The trends & promotional cycles forever insisted upon by the uncreative money men are false, and everyone old enough to remember the early 90s is wise to all of it.

And so bands that have been quiet for a decade are back with regularity this year. They are here. No doubt, many are here due in part (or wholly) to the work of the organizers of Shiiine On Weekender, music lovers whose own path is circuitous and no doubt interesting. There’s real currency at work here, one that holds fast against the unseen pressures surely faced by all festival organizers to pull it all together. The currency here is invented out of credibility, trust, and maybe even fate. The journey is part of it, down to Minehead, and yes, down to Butlin’s. Location, location, location. And there’s a reality, an immediacy, to the whole thing that makes phones onsite a necessary evil to be put away when we find each other. Or when the battery dies. In that one way, and that way only, Shiiine On Weekender is retro.

This is a new but quickly established Weekender. The Shiiine On Family are in it together in an uncommon way. No one ever calls Beatles or Stones fans nostalgic, retro, or bald (even when they are) or implies that their enjoyment of these well-played records that to some of us are no more resonant than Muzak, is but a quaint attempt at reliving a flash in time known as “the 60s”. But for too many journalists, claims like this about our music reveals only the limits of their own ability to connect, their truncated imaginations and their stingy way with passion. A shame. And a detriment to the accurate reporting of all eras since the accepted peak of the late 60s. But enough about the absent. In our scene, a band as brilliant as Joy Division tragically dies, and another brilliant band, New Order, forms in a whole new way. Our artists are adaptable. We’re all adaptable.

We came here in year one because to see the first year’s bill was to think it was a made up wish list. Because one of our own important musical heroes was quietly added in an intimate gig that shattered us just as much as Peter Hook and the Light and The Farm did. Because we had just seen a mysterious and never to be seen again perfect Stone Roses cover band in Toronto, sharing wide eyed awe with a like-minded musichead across the room, a not-easily-impressed DJ turned Chef, no less. Because our work had been leading us toward what we’d only seen from “across the pond” forever, in strange happenings and signs. It was time to run, hop a time zone and take a leap. Right past that back-garden gate. And now we are among the addicted, loyal, devout – we’ve found our FC at last. We’ll be cheering at home and away. We are, like so many others we met or did not meet, open-hearted and discerning and we will not hear anyone celebrate the demise of “the 90s” as people were and still are quick to do, outside our culture. Tourists.

The 90s needed to come back, and so it has been on the return, without much help from the old powers that be that are crumbling like despots always do. 90s bands, tunes and culture has been steadily coming back to fill a massive void in music, culture and life different than the Beatles nostalgia trip of the mid-eighties, and with a whole lot less commercialism. It rolls on, like this weekend, on just the steam of passion, generosity, grassroots efforts, authenticity and the truth that sincerity is cooler than irony, after all. Everyone here belongs here.

See you next year.

With our thanks to Shiiine on Weekender, James & Steve, the bands we photographed (and a few we missed) The Cobbie & Mrs Cobbie (& Al!) Phil, Mark, Charlie and absent friends Gareth, Adam & Greaves – we returned to the scene of the crime and we found the irons. You were much missed. Weddoes in Toronto in April? 

The Farm: All Together Now at Shiiine On Weekender

In short order (probably as it was happening) The Farm’s gig this past Sunday at Shiiine On Weekender was firmly established as an absolute high of a weekend packed full of great bands and diverse DJ parties that went on until 4:00 a.m.

Our friend Charlie summed it up better than I can.

Here is what The Farm did in just about an hour on Remembrance Sunday under a big top in Butlin’s: per Charlie, they gave a “performance showing respect to those who lost lives in war; about wishing for more love in the world and about stamping out racism. Genuine people. True people who use music to show passion.”

And that’s exactly right. The set list for an established band can go in many directions, considerations among them are fan service, time allotted, and band preference (possibly in that order). But in just an hour that flew by, The Farm managed to meaningfully address the events of our distant past (that we must never forget) the resonance of thoughtful, sensitive anti-war messages still very much needed in the world today, launch a new song (seamlessly) “Feel the Love” (not Viva Love…) that reminds us who were there, why the 90s optimism is no less urgent today, and make a clear call against the vile disease of racism, that is today front page news in our leading nations, as it troubles our politically unstable policies and has come screeching out of the long shadow of Brexit and the Reality TV horror show of last week’s US Presidential election.

But here, under a big top, a playground for music fans, all these serious concerns rise in music and words, each song bookended by exciting musical cues including one from touchstone film Trainspotting (which while being about the adventures of heroin addicts is also a cry for creating a life free of authority and prescribed values that all of us 90s kids cherish as bible). Trainspotting 2 will arrive shortly, it’s back. Like Merseyside legends The Farm, like the best of our deeply formed and forever cool music, it’s back in the wider spotlight but it never went away for those in the know, those who love forever. It has never lost meaning and ability to move us.

Instant anthem “All Together Now” from 1991’s Spartacus has always been one of the best story songs ever written in a nation famous for its literary prowess and love of history. It’s alternative history, the story the warmakers will never tell you. It never fails to give chills, even tears for some of us. And it’s all true.

A spirit stronger than war was at work that night, December 1914, cold, clear and bright.”

“It’s about the working classes being sent to war. People across a divide who probably had more in common with each other than the people who had sent them to war in the first place,” said Hooton ( via BBC).

All Together Now, written and shaped through the early years of the band, began as a recording for a John Peel session. It was written about “The Christmas Truce” during World War One in 1914 when soldiers in the trenches on both sides decided to lay down arms and meet in No Man’s Land for a brief time at Christmas. The event, and the song it celebrates, speaks about humanity itself, showing war as an unnatural state, which can be ended by an agreed upon ceasefire, by listening to hearts instead of directives from the powers that be (mostly cozy in warm homes many miles out of range of The Front). Music was often a component of these peaceful periods of respectful fraternization. So was collecting the injured or dead for treatment or burial. There’s the bitter. There’s the sweet. There’s the humanity.

The song’s power has made it iconic as an unusually cool and catchy protest song (as far from folk as you get get) from the creatively rich time of 1991, and has had lives as a football anthem (Everton FC and others) as well as being a catalyst for forming instant camaraderie in festival crowds of all types, as it did for all of us at Shiiine On year one. We were all together, now. In a world still troubled, in bittersweetness, outright sorrow, in uncertainty; music, always the steadying metronome of life to keep us alright.

Tonight it’s sung on Remembrance Sunday, in a country where most people younger and older still wear their specially fabricated, decorated and pretty poppy brooches with dedication, where memories are long, where wars of different kinds persist and encroach, and the significance is lost on no one. If feels particularly poignant because it is. Cheers, hugs, laughter and tears follow a rousing repeat refrain, aided by the thousands in the crowd, who is captured in a photo by the fabulous singer Shona Carmen, for a quick memento.

Peter Hooton has long campaigned through musical activism- tours, recordings and speaking out-for Justice for The 96, the people, children and adults killed in the Hillsborough disaster, the terrible and senseless loss of life in 1989 that, while being the worst disaster in British sporting history (and among the worst in the sporting world) was denied both fair reporting and any sense of justice for decades, an open wound that could not heal in the face of bias and corruption and cover up by authorities and the rags. He spoke to the Shiiine On crowd last year about campaigning up and down the country for this cause as the families of the victims and the wider community of Liverpool fans, and increasingly, the country, have watched in pain as inquests and trials come and go and appeals failed in the face of corruption and cover ups. The Farm played The Clash’s “Bankrobber” in support of this initiative.

And at this year’s Shiiine gig, the issue is revisited again, but remarkably, justice has finally been achieved in the intervening year (2016’s Golding Inquest at last found that the 96 were killed unlawfully due to gross negligence by the police & ambulance services failing in their duty of care.) For a second straight year, fans of The Farm (and of The Clash) and all who happen to catch the Farm’s cracking show at Shiiine On Weekender have been treated to a rousing version of Bankrobber. This is a perfect addition to The Farm’s set; the punk rock ethos of The Clash is our shared, impeccable and incorruptible living cultural shorthand for resistance, for individuality, for free thinking, for music as protest and protest as music. And, occasionally, like tonight, despite all the shit of the wider world, as unity, as celebration.

Jacqueline Howell

Shiiine On Weekender’s 2016 Line Up: Indie Music & Beyond

With a full slate of music festivals and events designed to maximize the fleeting prime weeks of summer, true music lovers should not miss out a chance to keep the party going well into fall thanks to the organisers of Shiiine On Weekender, back for its second year 11-14 November at Butlin’s Minehead Arena in picturesque Somerset, U.K. (near Bristol). With Early Bird Tickets still on offer, this is a prime time to get a group together and plan a memorable weekend away.

We make no secret of our excitement for this newer weekender that is sure to make you remember family caravaning trips ” with a twist-  now alive with great music around the clock, a crowd of like-minded people and a laid-back and drama-free environment with minimal fuss.

Step On Magazine was thrilled to attend and cover Shiiine year one (which was also our mag’s first year) after getting word from a savvy friend in Canada who shares our deep love for Happy Mondays, 2015’s first major headliner, then touring and celebrating the 25th anniversary (!!!) of their masterpiece, Pills n’ Thrills and Bellyaches.

The line up looked too good to be true. It was very different from many bigger festivals that try to be too many things to too many people, then missing the mark with bloated line ups that make less and less sense. Worse, big festivals (particularly in North America) fail to honour so many solid 80s and 90s U.K. artists that are the backbone of this very notion of togetherness and festival ethos, who are still active and still well worth the ticket price. There are legendary names that deserve the call and that would raise the level of North American festivals exponentially.

There’s an extra effort missing with some other festivals at present, a thoughtfulness required, that goes beyond just the viewpoint of the accountant and comes, instead, from the heart. From the music loving soul who can also write the cheques. And here in Hacienda black and yellow was something altogether new, from people who’d been around the festival scene as fans and clearly felt the need for something else, and then, found a way to create it.

U.K. music fans know their music and are spoiled for choice in the busy summer months. The most mobile even jump trains or flights to great, big European festivals. A new player on the scene needed to offer something different, something a little bit bespoke, that didn’t need masses but the right mix to create an excellent party. And so they did. Shiiine On is an all-in experience that manages to be relaxing and exciting at once, at a pace you can set yourself: the more intimate setting (where festival-goers stay on site but do not have to camp out and lug gear) means they can sleep in until they hear the first strains of the early afternoon sets beginning, or get up for daily pool parties (yes, if you weren’t there you missed Bez’s legendary pool party in year one) see cinema screenings featuring 80s and 90s classics that continue the vibe of Indie, Dance, Britpop, and other iconic images, stories and sounds of the day, and become night owls again at epic club nights that keep the party going until very very late (including the bar).

Club nights for 2016 include Keep it Social, Cool Britannia, Burn Down the Disco and Madchester. To top all of this off, in the place of where might be head-scratching place holders at other fests, come the best in relevant cover bands to round things out to the full (2015’s Clone Roses set was a major highlight, regularly noted as the surprise of the weekend, or the major regret of those who did not get in before the club reached capacity). Clone Roses return for 2016 along with Oasis UK, joined by the TRIFECTA that thrills the 80s kid heart: The Smyths, The Cure Heads, and True Order (the last following last year’s barnburner of a set by Peter Hook himself (with his band, The Light, accompanied by legendary Manchester singer and ambassador Rowetta Satchell).

All this and we haven’t even covered the full artist line up. Here it is:

As visitors from abroad we were well-versed in the music but new to the notion of Butlin’s and to the way things work there. So by way of a brief trip guide for those unfamiliar, Butlin’s site is very informative but essentially the weekend works as an all-in package (festival pass to all performances and other offerings + accommodations) best suited for groups (though single rooms are available) and comes with or without a meal plan (and with optional cooking facilities). We suggest you skip all but your morning tea & biscuit before setting out for there is a local Spar onsite (open 24/7) the home of nightly post-last orders funny moments and quick, life sustaining eats, as well as many affordable restaurants on site and the all-important pasty shop which is almost 24/7 (we miss u). For U.K. visitors within 3-4 hours drive, taking the car is probably most convenient but can also be easily organized by train and coach (see official sources for more information/recommendations).

Minehead proper is just a 5 minute walk along the coast with many great pubs and friendly shops as an offsite option for socializing & mealtimes during the day. Butlin’s, to an outsider who had just recently been to Las Vegas for the first time, is something akin to that otherworldly adult playground but much much more walkable, social, friendly, and happily, without one single cheesy magician full of desperate repressed anger (that Vegas staple who charges as much as a third of this weekend for the dubious privilege). In his place, we have, instead, a delightful array of claw games, a big tent which covers the large, roomy, main stage area as well as a number of appealing different clubs for smaller stages and DJ nights, and indoor/outdoor places to hang and celebrate the scene that deserves a full 72 hours to remind us all how right we were in our youthful exuberance; how right we still are to love it and to preach the gospel of this music. The fine tradition of the memorable road trip awaits you and the kids would love to have a weekend with granny, we promise.

Fans, organizers, a few Canadians and visitors from abroad, and essential, iconic bands all came together to create something rare and great last year. Corporate Pop music and the years of digital noise and declining music press were blasted away the old-fashioned way. Our Canadianness permits us to be earnest for a moment: it was a real marvel. And worth every penny and every jet-lagged mile, in fact, way beyond those things. Like all music festivals and all travel ought to be. For 72 hours, a real village was built that made plain and easy for all the vibe promised so easily elsewhere that falls short when their chosen site, focus, line-up and scale is just to large and scattershot to please anybody.

Don’t take it from us. A testament to this claim is the many players from last year returning in some form or another who’ve made it something of a priority (or….is that… a new tradition?) and the festival-goers who immediately rebooked for 2016 before leaving the site. Bez’s pool party has gone down as legend, but there are still pool parties ahead, as well as music from returning artists The Wonder Stuff, a significant percentage of returning Happy Mondays in the form of Black Grape,  Love & the Family Tree (Gaz Whelan & Rowetta) and a Happy Mondays DJ set on Friday. Also returning to great acclaim is The House of Love (Terry Bickers played with his duo, Fij & Bickers last year) The Farm, James Atkin (EMF) and Thousand Yard Stare (who we’ll be featuring in an upcoming interview). The unusually civil and positive social media exchanges around this weekender by past and prospective attendees are worth noting as well. See you there. (More coverage and band profiles to follow.)

Jacqueline Howell & Dave MacIntyre.

Shiiine On Weekender’s website

Link to Early Bird Tickets and Butlin’s Information

Shiiine On Weekender’s Facebook page

Minehead Tourism- general area information

Headliners: Echo and the Bunnymen; The Wonder Stuff;  The House of Love; Shed Seven;  The Bluetones; Echobelly; Cast; Black Grape; The Farm; Paul Hartnoll (Orbital); (and more)

Read more of our Shiiine On Weekender coverage / view our photo galleries

Shiiine On Weekender: Friday – The Full English

Shiiine On Indoor Picnic
A quick mini-picnic in between sets. Grassy carpet and all!

Shiiine On Weekender –Butlin’s Arena, Minehead, Somerset UK. November 6-9th, 2015.

Day 2: Friday

With no less than 40 band and DJ slots on 5 stages from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. as the festival opened wide, Shiiine On staff had their work cut out for them for Day 2. Yet it seemed to kick off seamlessly. Of the several ways to pace oneself for a long day of festival-going, we Canadians went the sleep in /sleep it off, start later and close it down route.

Everyone worries and wonders over set time conflicts, a fan dilemma that is not always handled with care by those in charge or ideal given Artiste availability. Here is one of the ways that Shiiine excelled and showed that as cool as they are, they are also thoughtful. Conflicts were very minimal and set times were practical. There was also a great deal of attention paid to flow and a class DJ’s ear applied to the overall timing of the weekend with respect to what people need when: The DJs in between live music gigs and late into the night were the caffeinated kick that made tired brains get overruled by happy feet (many of them Adidas clad).

Friday’s offerings started with main stage shows by Kustombuilt and the reunited Thousand Yard Stare, whose announcement on the bill had some of the most excited online comments in the lead up to the festival. This gig definitely was a special draw for their fans who’ve missed them, and did not disappoint. They were followed up by Milltown Brothers, the very cool Space, and The Farm who are the pure best merchants of the early Northern sound: chunky bass lines, issue songs that are danceable, and effortless cool. The Farm are bearers of this music’s history and were in top form including solid a cover of Bankrobber by The Clash, hits Groovy Train and epic sing along All Together Now where strangers danced and embraced each other, eyes wide. And we all are, All Together Now, in a brief respite from a dead zone of music and culture, art forms that we thought were eternal in our youth. All this was capped off by the closing set by Inspiral Carpets who were stellar and a perfect choice to end Friday. They brought down the house to a chorus of Moos. No sign of Noel Gallagher popping round to haul gear for them for old times’ sake, though we kept an eye out.

Shiiine On The other stages were each different: but generally the larger ones were great night clubs with multiple levels, ample seating and kick-ass sound, light and video systems. And were nice and loud. Electronic/Dance pioneers The Orb who brought ambient house to the world were one of the key bookings that bridged the experience from evening to late night (1:00 a.m.) in a PACKED huge dance stage on the first very full day. For those looking for a chance of pace/vicarious living that still suited perfectly, there were great film screenings all weekend including the legendary, perfect Trainspotting.

Some of the artists and many DJs moved from room to room, helping to define the groove that carried everyone through the days like a happy, nodding, shuffling wave. These included Space Monkeys, The Spitting Pips, and DJs Will Nicol, Terry Farley, Gareth Crilly, and Dave Booth who took a devoted crowd to church from 2:00 to 4:00 a.m. New Order songs were played here that would be played by the man Hooky himself in less than a day: both versions succeeded in hitting us right where we live, as eternal as this music is. And some Sympathy for the Devil was mixed in to boot.

Thursday’s house party vibe was replaced with a full house at Butlin’s, but never too full to have a little room to dance. Bars were ample and well-staffed, and anyway, you could go around with your own pitcher of cider, beer or whatever pleased you. Even if that might be 6 straws for 6 sharers in a pitcher of something slushy and toxic looking. If you were friendly, you would never go thirsty, as we found. Rounds were bought at lightning speed. Rounds are still owed! Lively talk carried on over loud music. Many lost their voices and may have entered boardrooms today in far corners of the U.K. bearing this mark of the Shiiine class of 2015 like some kind of (non-violent) Fight Club.

By Friday music heads were all easing into the unreal fact that this whole vibe was not a moment or for the life of a good couple of tunes but an energy that quickly filled the place and all of us with something lasting and contagious, both necessary and well earned by all involved. It was a team sport we could all chant to with no rivalries or regional tensions. Canadians slipped in discreetly (we think). We are officially ruined for festivals now that do not have cohesive line ups that excite us, so that’s it for the bulk of North America.

From DJs, the steady throb of music of Pulp, Stone Roses, New Order, Underworld and James and the sudden vastness of a new world utterly free of and insulated from bad music and celeb “news” was stunning.  The lack of rigamarole and hassle that we’ve become used to at other festivals, the tension that is too much like work, was a fading bad dream. We realized moment to moment as the crushing boredom, irritation or strain to smile never came, that we’d been taught to accept piss poor service, overcrowding and inadequate beer offerings for top dollar from the cynical, the handcuffed and those with questionable taste and sense at other festivals for too long, where we counted on one or two bands to not just entertain us, but miraculously make all that other stuff go away for an hour. And by god if they failed in that alchemy, 30 people will tweet nastiness about it.  We can never go back down that slope again. This Shiiine, theirs and ours that we have all found and really, are rediscovering right out in the daylight here, is something actually organic, actually surprising, unprecedented, focused and pure, the good stuff, not stepped on.

More to come. The assault of happiness, ease of enjoyment and the pace that promised no days off and a firm resolve to sleep “later” (still too wired anyway) along with the big gigs ahead meant that Saturday and Sunday were only going to get crazier, more surreal, and more like everything Shaun Ryder threatened and promised a night with him would contain…

Words by Jacqueline Howell, photos by Dave MacIntyre.

With very special thanks to Shiiine On Weekender & North Country Boys.

Thousand Yard Stare

Milltown Brothers


The Farm

Inspiral Carpets

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