Yeehaw! Saddle up and ride into town for the UK’s strangest festival
Uniquely for a British festival, lo-fi folk-meets-prog shindig Tapestry Goes West takes place in a Wild West theme park in rural Cornwall. It’s a curious place, run by a group of authentic rednecks so dedicated to permanently living a fantasy cowboy life that they’ve recreated the set of Deadwood in a field just outside Newquay. For three years now the Spirit Of The West Adventure Park has been taken over by London’s long-running Tapestry club, whose organiser Barry basically buses in a load of his mates’ bands to play on outdoor stages in the Spirit Of The West’s two towns. Fort Smith is the good town, where all the folk and country bands play, and Silver City the bad-guy town, where all the rock and prog bands are. The end result is not unlike a Clint Eastwood movie crossed with a busy night in Camden. Everyone gets dressed up in cowboy hats and ponchos, small children with bandannas, masks and cap guns run around demanding money, and the locals watch with bemusement as them there city folk get insensible on cider.
The bands can broadly be split into one of two categories: The Good and The Ugly. Brighton twee-poppers The Pipettes’ sugary Shangri-La’s pastiche belongs firmly in the former, especially as they wear matching A-line dresses when severe rain means that most of the audience are clad in distinctly non-cowboy plastic macs. Likewise Swearing At Motorists, who make a passable attempt at recreating The Who’s ‘Live At Leeds’ album, despite being a duo from Ohio. Over in Fort Smith, meanwhile, amazing bluegrass trio Kitty, Daisy & Louis sound like grizzled extras from O Brother, Where Art Thou? – until you get up close and realise that they’re actually 14-year olds from London.
Unreconstructed ’70s rock fans Tokyo Dragons are definitely ugly, but in the best possible way: their denim-clad, splayed-leg Thin Lizzy thing is the perfect Friday night soundtrack for the scrumpyheads. Likewise space-jazz freaks Chrome Hoof, whose interstellar overdrive tunes and silver suits will make more sense in 2067 than they do this weekend.
Of course, where you find Wild West theme parks and space-jazz bands called Chrome Hoof, you’re also sure to find 14-legged medieval-prog freak magnets Circulus. Starting their set by drinking from a huge bejewelled goblet of the kind favoured by Henry VIII at his most bling, they draw the biggest crowd of the weekend, provoking massed freestyle morris dancing, despite torrential downpours. It’s final proof that, as festivals go, Tapestry is friendlier, weirder and more fun than the Lost Vagueness Field at Glastonbury. And everyone knows how friendly, weird and fun that is. Best of all, though, is the fact that it feels like an annual secret party, which means that we should really be doing everything we can to dissuade you from coming next year. So: you won’t like Tapestry Goes West, it’s total rubbish. Please forget you ever read this.