The Big Feastival is a concept that shouldn’t work — certainly not in any artistically credible way — yet does. In spades.
Essentially a mash-up of a food fair, farmers market, old-time funfair and a music festival, it must appear to the uninitiated an ultra-safe, solidly middle class affair, with no room for rock chic or cool abandon.
The simple fact is, it is all those things — but with an extra topping of hedonism.
What hosts Alex James (no stranger to hedonism himself) and Jamie Oliver have pulled together, on Alex’s impossibly scenic West Oxfordshire farm, is the perfect distillation of a family weekend for those who love a laugh, dig a boogie, are into their tunes — but also enjoy good food and, in many cases, have kids in tow. Being alpha dads themselves (with nine children between them), they show parenthood doesn’t necessarily mean going all boring. At least not just yet.
They do this by throwing into their fruity mix, a dollop of dance (Fatboy Slim), a pinch of jazz (Jamie Cullum), a soupçon of soul (Laura Mvula) and a handful of hip hop (Kelis). Helping the whole thing rise are the musical equivalent of yeast — the Cuban Brothers — who, on Saturday, featured golden boys Jamie and Alex themselves — the latter resplendent in a gold jump suit.
The beauty of Big Feastival is: it is what it is. Nobody goes looking for Glastonbury or, heaven forbid, Reading, in the Cotswolds. They want a good time, with great music (probably the best festival bill of any in Oxfordshire this summer) and nice people — and they got that — especially the latter. And none were more cheery than gentleman farmer Alex himself — who must now be exhausted by grinning for endless ‘selfies’ with admiring fans, but who remained charming and chatty throughout, as if welcoming 16,000 people each day to his own private party. Beaming to the crowd after Fatboy Slim’s block-busting laser-lit Saturday night set, the Blur bassist-turned cheesemaker invited everyone back to his. He was joking, of course, but you could tell he really wanted to.
The Big Feastival doesn’t set out to be cool — and that’s why it kinda is. Let’s hope it stays like that.