Set in rural North Yorkshire countryside, the second Deer Shed festival has become one of the most family-friendly events. There are children everywhere, their families lured by the low (£59) ticket price and the prospect of kids' activities from a miniature railway to a "Make a Plasticine space alien" stall. The biggest queue was for candyfloss, while the adult male is denied admittance to the sand and soft play tent (alas, under fives only), but can enjoy the unique experience of urinating into a bale of hay.

"This is all very civilised" is a frequent comment from the stages. The mid-afternoon bands seem to be picked to mix with real ale and sunshine, sharing beards, banjos and at least some of their sound with Mumford & Sons. The Leisure Society were lightweight and innocuous, the lesser-known Matthew and the Atlas darker and more heartfelt.

Evening brought a touch of spice. Frankie & the Heartstrings – "Sunderland's premier boy band" - mixed Dexys/JoBoxers bounce with Wearside banter: "Where is the deer shed anyway? Oh, I thought that was the bogs." Six-headed indie/hip-hop groove machine the Go! Team's singer Ninja was showered with good-natured boos when she appeared not to realise that she was in Yorkshire. Nashville's Caitlin Rose mixed sublime country, folk and zithers with a wonderful description of the site: "There are trees and rabbits, and fish and chips! Occurring naturally in their own habitat!"

As children tired and news spread about Amy Winehouse, I Am Kloot's stunning songs of "drinking and disaster" sound ever-more mournful underneath the stars. When an otherwise chirpy John Bramwell dedicated an almost unbearably sad I Still Do to the departed singer, he provided something that seemed unthinkable at 2pm: the Deer Shed moment.


Dave Simpson

The GuardianTramp

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