This years Over The Moon Festival was reviewed for Psychedelic Press UK by Thomas Connolly.
The festival formerly known as ‘Out of the Ordinary’, which ran from 2007, changed its name this year to ‘Over the Moon’ and shifted the dates slightly to coincide with not only the autumn equinox but also the new moon. The three day festival is primarily powered by solar energy with support from wind turbines and biodiesel generators.
Set against the tranquil Sussex downs, only a short journey from Brighton, the tree lined field hosting the festival was once used as a land fill and sits adjacent to ancient woodland. The theme for this year was ‘Great Journeys’; drawing inspiration from classic stories such as ‘Alice and Wonderland’, ‘Wizard of Oz’ and ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’, which were cleverly woven into many aspects of the décor, art instillations and processions.
My friends and I arrived on the Saturday morning in a small convoy of campervans, quickly and easily finding our way to a spot in the vast field allocated to camping. Although the sun was blazing in the clear blue sky, a gentle autumnal breeze refreshed the air. Half way walking to the entrance, Tim turned back, suddenly remembering he had not locked his van door. A man who was passing over heard this and commented: ‘You don’t need to lock your doors here mate!” To the apparent annoyance of the stranger, Tim merely laughed this off, said nothing and continued with securing his vehicle.
Once inside we ambled around, casually taking in the sights and sounds, starting with the usual selection of hippy paraphernalia shops before stepping out into the open space that separates the two main stages – the sun stage and the moon stage. This area was filled with children and adults of all ages jumping on trampolines, playing with hula hoops, walking on tightropes and spinning poi or simply lying with beer in hand on the grass. A horse box containing a fully functioning piano bar sat between numerous open craft workshops separating the main field from the healing area beyond, which hosted saunas, gong baths and massage tents.
Keen to continue with our exploration we moved on in search of the woodland. Passing through an inconspicuous gap in the hedgerow we discovered an entirely different world from the one we had just left. Various up-cycled percussion instruments hung from spindly moss-covered trees surrounding a small natural glade. Whilst I engaged in an impromptu jamming session with others in the area, Tim wondered off a short distance and climbed impressively to the top of a tall sapling to assume a flag position.
We returned to the sun stage in time to see Carnival Collective play – a Brighton based band with around 40 members playing a live mix of drum and bass, hip hop, funk ska and reggae. The 25 strong percussion section, akin in style to a samba band, played along side a nine piece horn section, a guitar and a bass guitar and was accompanied by two soulful female vocalists. At one point, the conductor was cutting between two tracks played by each half of the band; cross fading between them seamlessly with only a subtle gesture to produce some seriously heavy beats and foot stomping mixes.
Having run out of beers we decided to head back to the campsite for fresh supplies. As I returned to the van I realised I had left the back door fully open all day right next to a main path with all my beers and other valuables clearly visible and still in the place where I had left them. The truth of the passing mans comment on security had now became glaringly obvious.
The evening’s entertainment brought great music punctuated with a slightly bizarre and generally underwhelming fire show, but the evening was spent dancing, laughing and talking with newly made friends in the secret hidden bar that remained open all night.
The following morning the whole place felt noticeably emptier, almost deserted. Those that remained were mainly families with small children who partook in the procession wearing the recycled junk based costumes they had made over the weekend. The characters from the Wizard of Oz were leading the procession, in an almost pied piper fashion. They were stilts and were accompanied by raggedy looking clowns, musicians and several faeries blowing a plethora of bubbles.
After a huge and actually really quite delicious roast lunch, for only a tenner, we began to make our way home. We reached the vans in time for the mornings dose of LSD to kick in and simultaneously to witness a sunset so brilliant and beautiful we could only talk in hushed whispers as we stood watching in awe, marking what would be my final journey home this year from a truly fantastic summer of festivals.