Festival watch: Festival No 6 2016 review

Portmeirion, Gwynedd
Extreme weather threatened to become the headline act but a wonderful set from Super Furry Animals and a carnival spirit saved the weekend

The vibe

Heavily weather-dependent. On the Friday, Portmeirion’s Italianate architecture was framed by blue skies and you could kid yourself you were at a party on the shores of the Med. On Saturday, heavy rain reduced much of the site to a more familiar muddy gloop. A largely dry Sunday helped the festival discover its carnival spirit but good vibes must have been in short supply among those awaiting tractor rescue in the waterlogged car park.

The Crowd

A happy blend of those looking for a boutique festival experience and those who’d come to get pissed in a field. Hummus-sampling thirtysomethings rubbed shoulders with swaggering lads. Pedantically costumed, cult-TV nerds (Portmeirion was the setting for the 60s show The Prisoner) mingled with stag parties in Vicky Pollard outfits.

Best Act

‘Epic silliness’ and ‘a big reassuring hug of performance’... Super Furry Animals.
‘Epic silliness’ and ‘a big reassuring hug of a performance’... Super Furry Animals. Photograph: Richard Johnson / Fanatic 2016

It’s hard to imagine a better act for a damp Sunday evening and a crowd running out of steam than Super Furry Animals. Their set delivered epic silliness (Bing Bong), blissed-out wishful thinking (Hello Sunshine) and emotional potency (Mountain People), proving that you can deliver a big reassuring hug of a festival performance without sacrificing wit and invention.

Worst Act

Far too much to see and do here to bother with acts not to your taste but the biggest buzzkill of the weekend was undoubtedly the weather. Once the rain had died down on Saturday, high winds took over, forcing the temporary closure of stage after stage and swirling the sound of Hot Chip’s excellent headline set round your ears like a dodgy pair of headphones.

Best Discovery

Arms were flung ecstatically into the air for the Showhawk Duo’s medley of 90s trance classics on acoustic guitar, and it was great to stumble across Cinescora’s performance of the fabulously weird Ennio Morricone film scores of the late 60s. These were as nothing, however, compared to the discoveries made by the children seeking shelter from the rain in the cinema tent during a presentation on the polysexual performance artist Leigh Bowery.

Best Dressed

Best dressed... the Brythoniaid male voice choir at Portmeirion.
Dapper dressers... the Brythoniaid male voice choir at Portmeirion. Photograph: Danny North

The Brythoniaid male voice choir, resplendent in evening dress, dark-blue bow ties and daffodil buttonholes.


“Whatever he’s had, he’s had enough.” Sage words from an off-duty doctor to a pair of teenagers and their staggering mate.

Best Tweet

@hi_im_abi tries to see the bright side of the car park floods:


Ally Carnwath

The GuardianTramp

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