Festival Review: Rhythmtree 2016

In what was the hottest weekend of the year so far, I made the trip over to Three Gates Farm, Shalfleet, for my first ever visit to Rhythmtree Festival. I sadly had to miss out on Plastic Mermaids’ headline performance on the Friday night, but was able to enjoy a good weekend of music, featuring some fantastic performers from the Island and all around the world.

I arrived at the site in the early hours of the afternoon on the Saturday to catch the performance of Australian musicians Mal Webb & Kylie Morrigan. The combination of a beatboxer and a violinist seemed to be an ambitious one, but one that proved to be very successful and enjoyed greatly by the crowd. Next up was Southampton afrobeat collective The Sea Slugs with a performance in the festival’s second stage- The Didge Café. The band received great reviews from their performance at Common People Festival a couple of months ago, and it was great to finally see what they were all about.

I then headed back to the Main Stage to check out eccentric John Otway, who drew one of the biggest crowds of the afternoon. He performed all of his ‘hits’ and had the crowd in the palm of his hands with his humourous lyrics and his double-sided guitar. It was then time for Island country artist Claydon Connor to take to the stage. I’ve seen him a couple of times now and he was on form as always. Southampton electronica duo UHURU were next to perform in the Didge Café and it was agreed by many watching that their performance was one of the best of the weekend. They had a very contemporary feel about them, reminding me a little of Disclosure, and they even played an encore, much to the delight of the packed out tent.

John Otway performing at Rhythmtree Festival 2016

The Diabel Cissokho Band then followed with a fantastically energetic performance encouraging onlookers to get up and dance, something which many took up the opportunity to do. The penultimate performance on the day came from the James Taylor Quartet who performed a set of jazz numbers. Hammond organist James Taylor, however, spent the majority of the set shouting orders at the rest of the band, so I walked away and had something to eat. The headline performance came from Kanda Bongo Man who got the crowds up on the feet again with his funky tunes. The female vocalist with him was as equally talented which made for fantastic harmonies.

Island band Doug Alldred & The Silver Lining kicked off my Sunday with their 70’s rock-inspired songs. Their set closed with a cover of Prince’s Purple Rain, proving to be one of the highlights of the weekend. Sarabanda then played a set on the Main Stage and they had a very Spanish-feel about them. Next up was popular rapper Afrikan Boy, emphasising the ‘k’ in Afrikan, who performed hits from his huge back catalog, including One Day I Went To Lidl, which received radio play a few years ago.

The main support came from Rhythmtree favourites Tankus The Henge who drew the largest crowd of the weekend. Their gigging up and down the country has clearly paid off because their experience shone through and looked like a proper festival act. The queue for their merchandise stand following their performance was also very busy, showing just how popular they were. The crowd thinned a little for headliners Ibibio Sound Machine, but they still managed to pull off a great performance, featuring a mix of all different sorts of genres.

Ibibio Sound Machine performing at Rhythmtree Festival 2016

Despite getting quite sunburnt, I still had an excellent time at the festival, and would honestly consider maybe camping one year. The atmosphere was fantastic throughout, the music was brilliant and everyone left the site with smiles on their faces.

Featured image: On The Wight