You don’t need to be a Nottingham local to know that the music scene in the city is a busy one, from the world famous Rock City to the dozens of festivals spanning every genre that take place inside the city boundaries. Of the multitude of one-dayers Nottingham boasts, there are a few that really stand out, and year in, year out, Macmillan Fest remains one of them. Now in its sixth year, the festival has come back even bigger and better, pulling in not only a new venue in the form of Rock City’s Basement – in addition to the regular five stages – but another date; September 26th sees Macmillan Fest reach back to its roots as a small festival and head down to Bristol’s Thekla. But until then, let’s run you through our favourite bits of its Nottingham appearance earlier this month…
The complex of stages that makes up Rescue Rooms lends itself easily to indoor and tightly spaced festivals, one of the many reasons it’s chosen so frequently on Nottingham’s fest circuit. From the huge main area through the intimate upstairs one to the fairy light endorsed acoustic bar stage, there’s a different atmosphere around every corner – and you can poke your head outside to a buzz of stalls, a barbecue, and more fun reasons to donate a few spare quid. And if it’s raining, there’s never more than a ten metre rush between stages, so there’s not the mud risk of the outdoorsy festivals.
Only the smallest of points marred the day, and they only seem worth noting to highlight how little was wrong with the festival. The upstairs stage, one with some of our musical highlights on, isn’t the easiest stage to find for locals, let alone those unfamiliar with the layout. Though there were signs and general directions towards it, again I felt it could do with more attention pushed on it. Another hiccough came from the lack of stage times around the venues, the “clash finders” as they’ve become known. Again, it’s not a make or break deal, but when you can’t quite remember if it’s half two or half three, or if it’s Stealth or Rescue Rooms that that band is on, it’s certainly frustrating. A Facebook group boasts the set times in the description, but only one stage (Spank Van Dykes – more brilliant food here) boasts free WiFi, so it’s not terribly convenient.
Though it’s easy to get lost in the homely, friendly spirit of the festival, all layered in the community vibe implying you could happily strike up a conversation with anyone and discover a new set of friends, the voice and the meaning of the day isn’t forgotten; it’s written on the posters, it’s all over the (surprising amount of) balloons, it’s mentioned by nigh on every artist – every penny of profit the festival receives goes straight to Macmillan, so you can have a brilliant time and know you’re doing something good.
With the festival now being bigger than ever and showing no sign of slowing its growth, you’re left wondering how long it’ll be till it takes on Rock City’s main stage, and how long it’ll be till it’s Nottingham’s biggest festival. I bet you a pint of excellent cider it’ll be there in another six years.