Shakedown Festival began and developed much in the same way as Bambi; legs wobbling to start with, but gathering strength as time went on. On first entrance, the welcoming scene was largely one of the loud and drunk youth of Brighton donning neon sunglasses and trying to smuggle bottles of Lambrini onto the site down their trouser legs.
For this, no one can really blame them, but the overwhelming feeling was that the rave tent, situated at the entrance, had started somewhat prematurely, creating a hazy, slurred atmosphere that didn’t belong in the early afternoon sunshine.
Perhaps more strange however, was the way in which the festival decidedly split in half, with students and families sitting sipping cider near the main stage and those with a seemingly endless amount of energy jumping up and down to Kissy Sell Out on the other side of the field. It was clear that as a new festival, Shakedown didn’t really know what it was about yet.
This distinct separateness began to fade with the day, however, on the appearance of Ed Sheeran. For a relatively new artist, Sheeran was bubbling over with confidence and a desire to get the crowd excited and involved. Hits ‘The A Team’ and ‘You Need Me I Don’t Need You’ were received with elation by those who had spent much of the day waiting for the big acts to arrive, Close friend of Sheeran, Example, came to the stage next, armed with an almost aggressive demand that the audience ‘jump and scream’. To that they complied, and with the sunset and a multitude of his hits that were incredibly well received, the atmosphere of Shakedown really settled into itself.
The rave tent came into its own too, more appropriate in the darkness, framed by fairground rides and headed by like likes of Zane Lowe and 2manyDJs. The small crowd that gathered there held an energy almost paramount to the much larger one recieving Example’s commands at the main stage.
Perhaps as a female who spent much of her youth swooning over rockstars in tight jeans, it would be bias of me to say that headliners Razorlight really stole the show. Sure, it had started raining, the crowd thinned out a little and there were many a pair of tired legs, but the excitement of seeing a band you once believed passionately were some sort of demi-gods was somewhat overwhelming.
Borrell and co smashed out hit after hit with unfaltering energy and humility, and the crowd took it for what it was – an unashamedly proud recital of their greatest hits.
We realised as the day went on that Shakedown was, all in all, actually all it promised to be – the party to ‘end the summer’. It catered well for all walks of life in Brighton, something that as a student it is easy to forget exists. When something is not specifically aimed at the bubble that is the student lifestyle, it is easy to feel that the event is confused. But actually, you could see the genuine enjoyment on the faces of those who worked all week and looked forward to this as a highlight of their summer; those who remembered with delight the sweaty crowds and relentless energy of those being powered by dance music; and of course, girls like me who sang vehemently in the rain to songs I hadn’t heard since I was 15.
The transport that was put on to take everyone back into town was fast and efficient, and carried us and all others home, lethargic but decidedly content. Let’s hope that with a few tweaks, Shakedown can grow to become something that knows itself, knows the community and is always ready to deliver a burst of entertainment to close the summer.