Arriving on a gloomy Friday morning in the land of dragons, sheep and people who hiss, Festival No. 6 instantly comes across as the sort of festival I shouldn’t be at. The quirky signs welcome you in as the weight of 20 cans teases a crippling crush on my struggling wrists, they immediately put me in a bad mood. Why do this? Why taunt me with lines borrowed from The Prisoner? Its themes further impacting the idea of being trapped and stuck in morbid routine, forever breathing and playing within the lines made by other’s ideas, the exact shit I want to escape from. The 60s cult classic appearing to be the only inspiration and catalyst for this 3 day posh accented skirmish, I start to question whether this festival will hold as much musical worth as expected. With bright UK poppers Bastille, dance fuelled Hot Chip and boisterous Noel Gallagher set to headline, it can either be really good or really shite.

After pitching our temporary home and slogging through the brown slurry always present at festivals, we venture to the arena and wander around the tents, bracing ourselves for the weekend to come. I’m immediately disheartened when looking at the pricing, £10.50 for two pints… for fuck sake. I know festivals are usually expensive but that’s taking the piss. 8 quid veggie burgers are also a turnoff but I get the feeling most of the punters in here aren’t strapped for cash. Accompanying me is the wonderful Georgia though, who has an excellent taste in music and instantly reminds me of some good acts that are scheduled to play. Echo & the Bunnymen in particular proving an exciting prospect, Scousers on tour!

10527605_10154425754815215_5844438075721610543_nFRIDAY: Nothing really jumps out at us other than the saddening cancellation of Roots Manuva who was supposed to play the Pavilion Tent. To hear the warm sounds of his dub and hip hop electronica would have been a great early evening experience. The Portmeirion village however is a stunning example of architecture, resembling the variation in colours you would find on CBeebies’ Balamory. So this cancellation doesn’t keep us down for too long as the gorgeous Welsh scenery pulls us in, despite the windy nature of our public perch overlooking the beach. Emblazoning the sand are the words “I AM NOT A NUMBER”, further hammering home The Prisoner inspiration FN6 is spawned from.

Our first real live viewing of note comes in the form of indie/pop nice guys Kaiser Chiefs, fronted by Voice judge Ricky Wilson. Playing energetic tunes from their relatively successful back catalogue including ‘Every Day I Love You Less And Less’, ‘Never Miss a Beat’ and ‘Ruby’ they definitely warm the cockles and get the crowd going. It’s a nice introduction with family friendly banter from Wilson surprisingly bringing a smile to my face, despite the flaccid nature of their sound. Debuting new tracks like ‘Parachute’ however, remind me why I stopped listening to the Leeds five piece in the first place. There is however enjoyment to be found in the mediocrity.

London four piece Bastille aren’t really on our radar however, playing tracks from their successful album ‘Bad Blood’ and their upcoming record entitled ‘Wild World’, they pull in a large crowd for the first headline set of the weekend. I’ve never listened to Bastille with any real enthusiasm for the music but I must admit, they write and produce catchy tunes. Something for the mainstream alt music teenagers to get their teeth into, as the bulk of their audience seem to be under the age of 16. This for me is a good thing though, sometimes music isn’t about writing serious political or social commentaries, made to entice listeners to thinking the artist knows his/her shit, somehow validating their existence and importance. A good sing song will do, especially at a festival, where the drinks are being gulped at a much quicker rate than usual, with most using the weekend as a three day sesh.

SATURDAY: Playing on the Tim Peaks Diner stage is Beds In Parks, curated by Charlatans man Tim Burgess, this DIY punk rock outfit set a relaxed and cool mood. Featuring red bobbed hair and a lovely beret, this band can definitely be considered shoegazey, even if their guitars aren’t shimmering stars and more like gnawing crocodile teeth, I get strong whiffs of Velvet Underground too. Beds In Parks aren’t setting the world alight but they’re a tight group, taking it easy and doing their own thing. Songs like ‘I’m A Warhol’ and ‘Mabel’ may be a bit long in the tooth but since we’re not at a normal gig, where it seems less understandable to leave at any moment, the pressures of listening to something which may not be very stimulating seems to enhance what the trio is about. They suit the venue’s aesthetic incredibly, edgy as fuck.



Cabbage, probably Manchester’s best new band, and in my opinion already one of the greats, the vegetable based 5 piece prove that the smaller the space, the greater the atmosphere. Fronted by a man with hair reminiscent of a 70’s school pupil and joined by a pair of guitarists with the smallest nipples in the business, the lads slay the cramped crowd with their raw rock n roll. Playing as part of the Tim Peaks Diner curation, they’re definitely the highlight of this particular stage. Startling the audience with extra rowdy renditions of ‘Fickle’, ‘Dinner Lady’ and a host of other blistering manc-rock slappings, the crowd sway and giggle with an energy I feel unique at this festival, no one else so far has matched Cabbage’s heart and necessity. A cover of ‘These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ is like watching karaoke from the depths of Satan’s balls, and despite the tongue in cheek nature, it’s actually quite a scary performance. Cabbage aren’t spouting any bullshit and have definitely made an impression on this ray ban donning, uncool kettle of tits in attendance. Cabbage are destined for great things and even if the lifespan is short, let’s hope their upcoming debut will be as smelly and dank as my brown New Balance trainees.

The rest of this review/analysis was a bit hard to recall as the sesh was in full swing and by Saturday night, I was a bit twisty; can’t lie about that. I’m not gonna sit here and write garbage to cover my sinful acts of gluttonous, hedonistic pleasure. Don’t worry though, I was watching bands, not lurking around the portaloos with a permanent sniff and third degree gurns. Unlike a few daft Welsh twats who had appeared to peak too early.

Back to the mainstage, cleverly called the No. 6 Stage, and eccentric singer songwriter Roisin Murphy bores the living daylights out of me. It’s either she’s trying too hard to be weird and surreal or I’m simply too pissed to care. When she gets that stingray mask out I’m a little disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, she puts in some serious effort and her on stage antics can be fun, but the music went stale very quickly. The Irish art-pop artist really gets on my nerves if I’m honest, her latest album ‘Take Her Up To Monto’ has been critically acclaimed and I’m struggling with this concept greatly. Ah well, each to their own.

London psych four piece Temples produce a lively and tight set of songs I consider underrated. They are in my opinion the best of their style and if Tame Impala didn’t exist, this band would be the ones riding high on the want and need of young, colourful teenagers of the UK. There’s a lot of psych inspired music at the minute, no more it seems than in my neck of the woods and quite frankly, with the exception of a few, they’re all a load of wank. Temples however, manage to keep the integrity of their influences and mould it into a more modern shape, unlike others who just copy and do nothing to change the tone of concepts and ideas within psychedelic art and music. Tracks like ‘Keep in the Dark’ which has T-Rex like ambition, and ‘Shelter Song’ enter my ears and put me into a state of bliss, what a fabulous group they are and I’m highly anticipating their second record.

Hot Chip

Hot Chip

Thankfully, the second headliners are out and ready to party. Hot Chip have always been a favourite of mine and I’m extremely excited at the prospect of seeing them perform bangers like ‘One Life Stand’, ‘I Feel Better’, ‘Over And Over’ and ‘Ready For The Floor’ live. We aren’t disappointed. In terms of sound, they have brought the bounciest, feel-good bass and electronic intrusions at FN6. Stood right at the stage’s centre, surrounded by thousands of people having a good time, it’s a very satisfying experience. Playing many album tracks during their lengthy set, every tune causes mini riots and there are scores of people merging into one another like powerful yet friendly waves. It’s a world class piece of music performance, a handful of talented individuals not taking themselves seriously and making people smile, job done.

SUNDAY: As the rain pours hard into the early evening, Welsh heroes Super Furry Animals bring a new level of energy to the flagging punters with their charming alternative rock. Featuring many weird and wonderful sounds from Gruff Rhys, including an epic consumption of a leek (maybe a celery stick), songs like ‘Bing Bong’ go down a storm. The fact that the band all speak in Welsh too, despite flashing over our heads, instantly wins the crowd over. As the weekend has gone by I’ve grown quite jealous of people who can speak both English and Welsh. Wish I could speak another language common with most people around me, it’d be really useful for calling people “cunts” when out in public.

Echo & the Bunnymen now and Ian McCulloch, the coolest man in British music as far as I’m concerned, smokes and swaggers his way through a set of classic 80’s post-punk. Songs like ‘Do It Clean’, ‘Villiers Terrace’ and the almighty ‘Killing Moon’ have me at my most excitable. It’s probably the best live performance of the weekend by far, topped off with a cracking rendition of ‘The Cutter’ which turns into the dirtiest, drunkest sing a long in the history of Portmeirion. I’m off my chops, Bunnymen have impressed and the weather is still shit. At least I have Georgia to help me belch out “SPARE US THE CUTTTTEERR”, which to be honest before the festival began, wasn’t the expected highlight.

The former Oasis man Noel Gallagher is annoyingly good. I fucking hate Noel most of the time, preferring Liam’s antics and personality far more than the highly praised song-writer. Noel ‘Gallagher’s High Flying Birds’ is a fantastic record, but the second does fall far from the nest. Because of this, it’s no surprise that NG brings out the big guns with versions of ‘Wonderwall’, ‘Champagne Supernova’ and ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’. Similar to the Bunnymen performance just half an hour previous, it’s a massive sing along which is always good. Better to know the words and connect to other beings around you rather than just stand still and sip your beer in silence, nodding in a very conservative fashion. There are arms in the air, phones and iPads out filming the small manc legend and the appearance of Paul Weller makes for a solid hour and a bit. I have to hold my hands up, he’s a great showman, despite my less than positive feelings on his latest stuff and most of Oasis’ back catalogue. The ‘Town Called Malice’ performance is extremely entertaining.

To be honest, I’m leaving a little disappointed. I know everyone has the responsibility to make the most of their festival experience but I’m genuinely a bit concerned that it was left to the old guard to impress me the most. Other than a handful of acts like Cabbage, Temples and around three others, no one really grabbed my attention. In this regard, the line-up was weak and it’s not like all the other stuff going on, like talks with music people and film showings, made up for the light roster on show. Even though the village of Portmeirion is a beautiful place and can be enjoyed for its wacky, quirky layout and construction, it’s the music that matters at the end of the day for me. And frankly, most of it was bands and acts you wouldn’t look twice at. Even if legends like John Cooper Clarke and Craig Charles were performing, this “cool” little festival seems a bit forced and a tad too pretentious.

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Liverpool born music writer with passion for punk and Everton FC