REVIEW: Maui Waui festival ‘a round the world ticket to new musical discovery’
- Credit: JERRY TYE
It is the mind-boggling diversity that sets Maui Waui festival apart.
For three days, a quiet corner of the Suffolk countryside is magically transformed into a wonderland of international music, arts and culture, offering a cornucopia of sonic delights for all tastes.
Across six stages, crowds could watch acts veering from the mind-bending electronic dance of British rave pioneers Eat Static, through to afrobeat, reggae, folk – and everything in between.
For festival-goers seeking to broaden their musical horizons, Maui Waui is like a round the world ticket to new discovery.
Personal highlights included the politically tinged “roots reggae folk-hop” of the Undercover Hippy, the charming folk of The Shackleton Trio and the raucous energy of London dub-punk outfit Smiley & The Underclass.
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Asian electronica pioneer Talvin Singh, who is now based in Suffolk, delivered a mesmerising performance in the Flavour Parlour, dance influenced folk three-piece Headspace led what seemed like a barn dance in an asylum and Bloodshake Chorus offered up a unique combination of horror movie theatrics and rousing rock ‘n’ roll.
The Scribes, a new wave hip hop three piece from Bristol, were my unexpected favourites, with a performance filled with energy, humour and lyrical skill. Their set fired through catchy hook-laden tracks interspersed with jaw-dropping feats of beat-boxing and a freestyling master class in which Ill Literate challenged audience members to wave random objects at him to weave seamlessly into his rap.
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Alongside the music there were circus performances, children’s activities, body art, craft demonstrations, storytelling, wrestling and an endless variety of stands and stalls so that at times the site seemed more like a massive bohemian village fete than a mere music event
The diversity was reflected in the audiences who represented as colourful a cross-section of society as you’d ever be likely to encounter within such close proximity. There were festival veterans in psychedelic costumes, country gentlemen in tweed suits, young families with babies in buggies and scores of children playing happily.
At one point, I ventured into a lively rock ‘n’ roll set past a group of leaping young fans to find an elderly gentleman sat serenely on a walking stick seat in the midst of the action.
Elsewhere, ravers danced alongside young children wearing shoes that flashed different colours.
The organisers’ attention to detail was evident everywhere. From the sculptures around the ground to the models of strange nautical creatures, which enveloped the stages, down to the waltzer cars that doubled up as seating.
If I had to find fault with the festival it would be that the audiences were almost too spoiled for choice, meaning that some great musical performances were played in front of crowds that at times seemed unjustifiably small.
However, that could be easily rectified by more attendees. So here’s hoping “One of Suffolk’s best kept secrets” doesn’t stay too much of a secret for long.
Visit Maui Waui for more.