Since winning the ‘Best New Festival Award’ first time round, Wild Life returned to Brighton City Airport for its third consecutive year having now established itself as a regular feature on the UK festival circuit. With the event seeing tickets sell-out in previous years the festival once again reached capacity with eager crowds of more than 45,000 passing through its gates over the two days. Though, as the biggest event of its kind in Sussex and one that attracts some of the biggest names in the industry this should come as no surprise.
When launching the festival in 2015 organisers struck upon a winning formula and have since ironed out the majority of kinks and worked it into what seems to be, for the most part, a well-oiled machine. Paramount to its success, however, is actually the one thing that can be the hardest to control – the atmosphere.
Since its inception, Wild Life has curated a laidback vibe that festival goers then channel into a fun and memorable weekend to kick-start the British summer. This relaxed feeling remained obvious this year despite the presence of armed police in response to recent events. This actually offered countless selfie opportunities and seemed to provide a chance for people to interact with the force.
As if to credit this feeling, if you to take a walk through the arena between acts (or even during) you were sure to be greeted by the sight of either an oversized inflatable rhino as it paraded through the site or, more likely, hundreds of people relaxing in groups on the grass. And, when there’s the option to simply chill out to the sound of the nearest stage, burger in one hand and drink in the other, why would you not? On this front, the organisers hit the nail on the head. Offering a host of bars and an abundance of food stalls scattered around, the masses were never left wanting for long.
This year the choice was made to shift the usual weekend dates forward a day so that the event took place over the Friday to Saturday instead of the usual Saturday to Sunday – meaning there can be no room for a hungover excuse come Monday morning. This change also paid off weather-wise with Friday witnessing warm yet overcast skies (perfect for a festival) while Saturday was more of a sunny experience resulting in a spectacular sunset over the Main Stage.
For its third birthday, the festival appeared to champion a theme of strong vocalists on the main stage with Zara Larsson and George Ezra paving the way for pop giant Jess Glynne’s Friday headline set. At the same time DJ and local legend Fatboy Slim headlined the WHP stage while the Tropical Stage hosted grime giants J Hus and Boy Better Know members Wiley and JME throughout the day.
Saturday then witnessed the commanding voice of Sussex-based Rory Grahame aka Rag ‘n’ Bone Man who performed hits from his debut album including chart favourite Human. Damian ‘Jr Gong’ Marley, youngest son of reggae icon Bob Marley, then brought his Jamaican roots to the south-coast with performances from Welcome to Jamrock and new single Medication in collaboration with his brother, Stephen Marley. The pace then changed in the dying light as Hype and Bonkers singer Dizzee Rascal brought the party to its climax rounding off what was, on the whole, a stand-out weekend.
After the successes of this year’s festival Wild Life looks set to only grow bigger and more popular so keep your eyes peeled for the line-up announcements in 2018.
Images by © James Daly