Wilderness festival

A left-field line-up, gourmet grub and a distinctly boutique vibe: Wilderness (Aug 7-10) could be the country's coolest festival


What is Wilderness festival?

It’s the biggest middle-class love-in of the year, and for 2014 Wilderness is set to deliver more ukulele-twanging, sustainably sourced sausage-scoffing fun than ever before. The festival’s capacity has been upped (although we’re promised the site layout means that won’t be noticeable) and so has the quality of the headliners, with London Grammar, Metronomy and legendary ivory-tinkler Burt Bacharach among the big names on the bill.

Music at Wilderness: six of the best

SuniBurt Bacharach
It’s the Burtmeister! Headlining Wilderness! He’s written over 70 all-time greats including ‘I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself’, ‘Close to You’, ‘Walk on By’ and ‘I Say a Little Prayer’, and worked with everyone from Marlene Dietrich to Dr Dre. Summer festival headliners don’t get classier than this.

London Grammar
It seems like only yesterday that everyone first heard about a young, downbeat pop trio called London Grammar, when their debut album ‘If You Wait’ suddenly became the bookies’ favourite for the Mercury Prize shortlist. Now they’re headlining Wilderness. Haven’t they grown up fast?

With three albums and headline slots at the Albert Hall and Brixton Academy under their belts, Metronomy have evolved into one of the finest, wittiest and wonkiest electronic acts going. A huge slot at Wilderness is the next step on their path to pop world domination.

Jessie Ware
‘Devotion’, the sultry debut album by Brixton singer Jessie Ware, was one of 2012’s very best records. Despite the fact that she spent most of the last year touring it around the world, JW’s also found time to work on new material. Expect the temperature to rise by several degrees as she debuts it at the festival.

Connan Mockasin
Equally sexy but a whole lot freakier, Kiwi singer-songwriter Connan Mockasin makes squishy, feather-light psychedelic funk. At his last London show, he sang from under a duvet, and his latest album was called (and sounded like) ‘Caramel’. He brings some welcome weirdness to Wilderness.

Gregory Porter
When we interviewed deeply soulful Californian jazz singer Greg-Po last year, he claimed to be a huge fan of Skegness and Basingstoke. Apparently he’s keen on Oxfordshire too, as he’ll be delivering tracks from his awesome ‘Liquid Spirit’ album at Cornbury Park in August.

And the rest...
Also on the bill for Wilderness 2014 are Joan As Policewoman, Slow Club, Chet Faker, Jack Savoretti, Teleman, Hozier, Josh Record, Mount Kimbie, Submotion Orchestra, Soak, Sivu, Flyte and more.

What else is going on?

SuniAs in its three previous years, though, this is a festival where the multifarious sideshows are as big a lure as the music. Food comes from chefs Simon Rogan (who’s behind a new restaurant opening at Claridge’s this spring) and Angela Hartnett (of Shoreditch restaurant Merchants Tavern), who’ll be masterminding the fest’s famous long table banquets, with the cream of London’s street food scene providing support.

And it’s not just top cooks and mac ’n’ cheese vans upping sticks and leaving the capital for the weekend – the V&A and Shakespeare’s Globe are signed on for the theatre and arts tents, while talks and debates will be handled by Huffington Post, Intelligence Squared and How To Academy, among others.


Nicola Mills
Nicola Mills

Arrived with minimal planning on Saturday afternoon - taken aback by the size of the grounds (don't know what the word is for grass even bigger and posher than, "grounds"), lack of map and signage and requirement for over 8 quid for a programme. Also taken aback by low key security - especially after Gentlemen of the Road - pleasant, but probably only possible because of the clientele and distance required to do a runner. Didn't stop someone nicking all one stall's lip balms though. Punters far too nice to use vacant disabled loo, even with queues, but didn't stop the shoving and shunting at the main stage - which could have been cut down if they'd forked out for some screens. Finally found my niche at Friends of the Earth busking tent on Sunday where really impressed by a young man with musicianship down to his fingernails. Event did make me need to check he wasn't an Eton graduate pretending to grow up on a council estate - he wasn't and James, aka the Cartoonist now has his first middle aged female groupie. Will look up Debrett's first if I go again,