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OneBigStar shine at Europe’s largest tribute festival

Roland Systems Group and Shuttlesound collaborate with event production and rental company OneBigStar to equip this year's 7,000-strong Glastonbudget festival. Paul Watson pays tribute.

An inappropriately sized tent and a momentary fear of hypothermia were the only downsides to an otherwise enjoyable Glastonbudget 2010.

Glastonbudget is Europe’s largest tribute festival. It takes place every year at Turnpost Farm in Wymeswold, Leicestershire and this year it was a sell-out, attracting record numbers: 7,000 people turned out over the May bank holiday weekend armed with enormous tents and boxes of ample supplies to see Blurb (pictured), Oasish, The Fillers and The Four Fighters to name a few. However, I turned up with a toothbrush and the smallest two-man tent known to man…

After pitching my tent (I use the term loosely…) I make my way to the VIP marquee where Roland Systems Group has put together its impressive ‘silent stage’, comprising M-48 personal monitor mixers, RSS digital consoles, V-Drums and guitars and keyboards. This year, rental company OneBigStar collaborated with RSG and Shuttlesound to equip the festival with high-end gear. RSG’s Martin Thomas explains that the general public can benefit from the ‘silent stage’ facility as well as the musicians that were playing at the festival.

“On the silent stage, every musician can have their own digital mix at one of the M-48 stations,” says Thomas, “the sound you hear can never interfere with the main event, so if you want to rehearse, you have a place where the crowd can’t hear you; also, we’ve found that musicians like to come in, have a drink and jam together to try out the equipment, so it’s a great showcase for that.”

RSG also supplied M400 and M380 digital mixers with digital snakes. Simon Taylor of Newark-headquartered OneBigStar believes that the relationship between the three companies is unique and rewarding.

“The event gets to sound and look great,” says Taylor, “we get great support for our kit and the suppliers get to road test and show their products in a real environment.”

Decent local Leicestershire band Ashdown take to the stage just as I am handed my first pint of cider. “Why aren’t they signed?” asks Chris Dunn, co-founder of Glastonbudget, as he takes a seat next to me in the marquee.

Dunn is half of the brains behind Glastonbudget; he runs Soar Valley Music Centre – a large music charity. His mate Nick Tanner, landlord of The Harrow Inn in Thurmaston, is the other half. Since creating the event in 2005, the two of them have been instrumental in increasing attendance by over 1,000%; in year one, only 686 people came along and the event made a significant loss.

“The goodwill flows through; translated onto this field is a lovely warm family-friendly community vibe,” explains Dunn, “and we’ve just signed a three-year deal with OneBigStar, who are just brilliant; having RSG and Shuttlesound on board this year also means the sound quality is amazing.”

By this time the place is getting pretty busy; Blurb, the first tribute act of the day, are next to grace the main stage – and they aren’t half bad. Although the lead singer doesn’t resemble Mr Albarn in any way, they pull off some decent renditions of crowd pleasers including Girls and Boys and Parklife, and even take a shot at The Universal.

OneBigStar worked closely with Shuttlesound to cater for the event’s PA requirements; Electro-Voice equipment was installed throughout. The main stage was kitted out with an XLC line array system; two hangs of 12 boxes per side and 16 Xsubs, all powered by Tour Grade amplifiers. Stage two featured XLE line array boxes and QRx subs, which were powered by EV CP series amplifiers.

EV’s equipment was also installed in the two smaller marquee stages; its Phoenix system was used in the Charnwood Arts-sponsored marquee and the Tour X PA loudspeakers and stage monitors were used in the Campsite Bar.

Shuttlesound promoted the event as its Big Day Outside – a super-sized version of one of its Big Day Out customer days, as managing director Sean Maxwell reveals.

“Working with OneBigStar and Glastonbudget gives us the chance to go a stage further and show our bigger line array systems in action,” says Maxwell, “and it’s great for us to have the Roland guys onboard as it’s nice to have a front end; it completes the whole signal chain quite comfortably.”

When a man bearing a striking resemblance to Liam Gallagher appears on stage, I take a wild guess that this could be the turn of Oasish to entertain the punters. Paul Higginson (the Gallagher lookalike) has the swagger as well as the look; his wireless Shure microphone is tilted downwards and donning a floppy hat, green mac and wraparound sunglasses, he sings pretty convincing versions of Champagne Supernova, Wonderwall and She’s Electric to name a few. Oasish win the Britpop battle for sure and the crowd is growing in numbers and in volume; I am also beginning to get cold…

I realise The Fillers have two problems: they can’t play their instruments and they can’t sing; aside from that, brilliant! I make my way to FOH position towards the end of their set where engineer Neal Allen mixed all the main stage acts from a 48-channel Yamaha M7CL console.

Allen uses 32 inputs and eight returns; his outboard includes two Klark Teknik graphics, a TC Electronic M3000, a Yamaha SPX990 and a Lexicon reverb.

“The console’s great for changeovers; and we’re all on drop boxes, so everything’s prepped backstage,” explains Allen. “From FOH I can talk to the monitor guy and the stage guy – who is on ears – which makes things nice and easy.”

A thought has just dawned on me: Lymeswold was a cheese that failed in the early ’90s. Tonight’s Wymeswold musical cheese seems to be faring much better…

Next up is The Four Fighters. I’m now at FOH position and will be for the rest of the show. The crowd is pumped up and the headline band doesn’t disappoint. Tighter than the previous acts – and sounding great through the EV system, the best has definitely been saved for the end. All in all, a cracking performance: the highlight for me is their rendition of Learn To Fly.

I am freezing and hungry. In a bid to keep warm I queue up to get some Thai chicken and rice, which actually turns out to be a tribute to a real meal: just rice in fact. I head back to the ‘tent’ for a good night’s kip – well, not exactly…

I wake up convinced that I have hypothermia; I can’t feel my nose or my ears; I feel a bout of claustrophobia coming on. I guess the lessons to be learned here are ‘don’t come to a festival without warm clothing, a proper sized tent, or bedding’ – points duly noted.

I wake up to the sound of inebriated Mancunians and bleating sheep – pretty disturbing when you’re not entirely sure where you are.

Perhaps I should never camp again? Time to pack up and leave.

Glastonbudget 2010 was run phenomenally well – especially considering much of its workforce is young volunteers. Dunn and his team are dedicated entirely to the cause and don’t seem remotely interested in financial gain – just on giving the public value for money and young people opportunities in music – adult weekend tickets were just £54.50 (or £30 for a day pass) and discounts were available to under 16s.

This year’s three-way pro-audio collaboration has taken the festival to a new level; and although it is likely to keep on growing in size and stature, Dunn seems adamant on retaining its super-friendly family feel.