Set across the stunning backdrops of Watergate Bay, Newquay in the UK, festivals goers up and down the country flocked in their thousands to the Cornish coastline for the triumphant return of Boardmasters Festival 2021.
Whilst festivals across the globe have experienced the hurdles that arose from the pandemic, Boardmasters' return was a particularly special occasion given the festival had also been cancelled in 2019 due to severe weather conditions. With its unique seaside location, combined with a globally respected surfing competition and of course a stellar lineup of music, Boardmasters marked the perfect staycation that could give European beachside festivals a run for their money.
Alongside its picturesque settings, a sense of freedom and belonging intertwines through the fresh sea air. Those longing for a festival since their last before lockdown, combined with those itching for their first taste of the iconic British festival scene marked an unforgettable experience with welcoming smiles in every direction.
With music matching the energy, Boardmasters was a true celebration of of live music as one of the first major festivals to return in the UK this year. Friday kicked off proceedings, and The Point stage glistened as a highlight of the weekend, showcasing the very best in dance music, including sets from Kettama, Honey Dijon and the Bristol don, and Eats Everything. With the stage set right above the cliff edge, the crowds towered down hill with a clear view from every angle as lasers projected across a sea of eager faces.
Friday’s Main Stage also showcased some of contemporary R&B's best in the game, including Kojey Radical and Lianne La Havas, whilst the Land of Saints tent welcomed grime and R&B stars Mahalia and Kano. Drawing Friday’s antics to a close, Eats Everything delivered an eclectic set of house, techno, jungle and undeniable crowd pleasers with the likes of 2020 original "Honey," a remix of Sandy B’s "Make The World Go Round," The Prodigy’s "Out of Space," DJ Zinc’s "Wile Out" and his own "Dancing (Again!)" making an appearance. Ending on a pummelling edit of "Pump Up The Jam" with crowds crooning in unison, Eats Everything’s set defined the the return of the dance floor we’ve being craving.
Continuing Saturday’s lineup of glorious soul and hip-hop fusions, Loyle Carner graced the Main Stage. His mellow tones and clever lyricism on a live stage sent shivers on a warm Saturday evening, treating us with debut classics like "Damselfly" as well as more recent cuts like "Loose Ends" ft. Jorja Smith, where he welcomed a talented fan on stage after a plea in the crowd to perform the sentimental hit.
Shifting the energy up a gear, the Unleashed tent’s Saturday highlight was from none other than Lady Leshur. A legend in the rap game leading the unstoppable force of female rappers in the UK, Lady Leshur oozed energy from start to finish. Combining tongue-in-cheek lyrics with fierce bars, fans witnessed favourites like "Where Are You Now?" and "Queens Speech 4," unravelling crowds into a frenzy.
Making their Boardmasters debut, iconic band Gorillaz made way with a steady set of their newest material that was greeted with a sombre tone as the crowd patiently wait for classics like "Feel Good Inc," "Clint Eastwood," and "Dirty Harry" to reignite their attention. Closing Saturday in style, legendary duo Basement Jaxx supplied the dance floor cuts for another mezmerizing DJ set at The Point stage. Bringing one of the largest audiences of the weekend, the duo dropped classics from Groove Armada to cuts from US producer Noizu as well as their own timeless hits into the early hours.
Sunday marked a poignant day for a lineup of rising talent. Standouts include Maverick Sabre’s serenade on the Main Stage with husky, soul drenched vocals that could halt the stampede of attendees in their tracks with his signature vocal flair. Other Sunday specials saw easy life also take to the Main Stage. Skyrocketing in the past year, the indie-R&B band delivered favourites likes "skeletons" and "daydreams" from their latest LP.
Meanwhile, the Land Of Saints tent overflowed with fans eager to witness Arlo Parks and her internationally acclaimed talent in the flesh. Greeting the audience with her warm and soothing presence, Parks exceeded all expectations with stunning performances of tracks like "Caroline," "Hurt" and "Hope".
Whilst the Main Stage saw its biggest crowds fronted by Dizzee Rascal and Jorja Smith for the final headline performances, The Point stage saw golden hour sets from the likes of Adelphi Music Factory and Folamour amongst a stellar lineup of female talent. Slotted alongside each other, Helena Star and Jaguar merged into a b2b set that deserved peak time billing with grooving, bass driven cuts spanning house and garage realms.
Undeniably, Boardmasters provided the perfect recipe for freedom. Refreshing sea air, camarderie and breezy beach scenes fuelled with a jam packed line up that puts one of the UK's largest festivals firmly back on the map.