Once Upon a Time in the West Festival 2015



Once Upon a Time in the West is cementing its identity as the quirky outsider with great taste and the perfect recipe for a good time.

This was our second year at the festival in West Ashton and I’m still convinced it’s the simple rough-round-the-edges feel that makes me love it. As soon as there’s a band on your wrist it’s one long party that lets you stumble from sleeping bag to bar to stage in two stones’ throws. The small site (most of the festival is in a single field) means you’re never far from the place to be and can get from the campsite to the front row quicker than you can say Screamin’ Miss Jackson and the Slap Ya’ Mama Big Band, so you’ll never miss a thing.

The music is the raw beating heart of OUTWest and it beat hard for a good 15 hours a day from one of two main stages and the resident after-hours party bus Hotel Bastardos. Those who book the acts know what they like and they know it well. The bill was packed with local bands who made you feel like you’d known the songs forever and who could get your cider-soaked socks tapping even in the white light of 11am. Adding live acts on Thursday night was a solid move and I’d be pleased to see the whole site kick off early next year to really get the motor running for the weekend.

Although fairly huge on roots and ska there was slice of pie for everyone, from the understated acoustic songs of Jim Evans and a 20-minute jazzy jam from Port Erin, to The Jack Ratts’ screaming folk-punk and chants of ‘if you’ve got a little willy put your hands in the air’ by The Inbredz; a pair of rappers so ironic they still use Myspace. The Once Upon a Time stage was a little on the cavernous side but the bright West stage was a muddy man’s Club Tropicana with warm cider instead of Speedos. There was plenty of fun to be had when your ears started ringing, too, with the book bus, festival stalls and great food on offer in the arena.

OUTWest’s close-knit charm is what makes it quirky which is what makes it great. Its charm lies in the people excited to be there; security who decorate you with glitter, camouflaged bands who sneak up and force you to dance, aging men barn-dancing in geisha costumes and so on and so forth. It’s the sort of festival where you spend all day dancing shamelessly to awe-inspiring bands then meet the poor old dogs six hours later rat-arsed and shoeless without a clue how they got there. The crowds are well-behaved and friendly but there’s no skimping on bona fide festival delicacies; you won’t miss out on your share of sick, shit and sunburn.

OUTWest is cheap, cheerful and oozes with self-assured character, quality music and gritty unadulterated fun. This year’s festival brought bigger stages, bigger names and a big step in the right direction. I know where I’ll be next July; I’m going back west where my music plays all night.


By Sam Blanchard