Written by Anna Alexandria
‘Nozstock and its small but mighty crowd of 5000 showed us the kind of beautiful, unique and handmade Parallel World we wouldn’t mind living in forever.’ – Where’s my Tent?
We really couldn’t have put it better ourselves. Between our tireless crew, the fantastic array of musicians and performers who took to our stages, and, of course, our rag-tag family of 5,000 Nozstockers, in 2022 we managed to create a vision of a brand-new world nestled in the Hidden Valley. Our Parallel World was populated with mind-bending walkabout performers, who live in tents and caravans instead of houses and flats; hip-shaking live music and ground-rumbling DJs replaced TV and the radio; and our denizens feasted on locally-sourced snacks and ales while learning new skills like whittling, bookbinding and slam poetry, to name but a few. Couldn’t make it, or just want to take a trip back down memory lane? Look no further…
First things first: what a line-up! In 2022, we were lucky enough to be sitting on a line-up of talent which had been percolating and brewing, maturing and ripening, for over two years – and our anticipation along with it. We tipped our collective hats to drum ‘n’ bass legend Andy C, who made his triumphant return to the Farm, kicking the festival off in true Nozstock style by bringing the Orchard Stage to its knees with a Friday night set packed full of old school classics, filthy basslines and feel-good tunes. Always willing to go the extra mile, he even snuck into the Cubicles straight after to give everyone a double-dose of d’n’b in a secret set that will go down in Nozstock history. Speaking of the Cubicles – a lucky few Nozstockers may have thought their eyes were deceiving them when our Saturday night Orchard headliner, funnyman musician Bill Bailey, stepped in to MC with our favourite cephalopod OctoPi. Maybe we entered into a Parallel World where instead of folk, prog rock and TV theme tunes, Bill Bailey chose drum ‘n’ bass for his musical career – we’ll never know… Sunday night at Nozstock 2022 was truly one for the ages: after a day of clouds, wind and rain, the sky brightened in time for the iconic disco and soul family Sister Sledge to take to the Orchard Stage. Seeing a 5,000 strong crowd of Nozstockers get lost in music was a sight for sore eyes, as Sister Sledge took us to another dimension with a mix of singalong classics and brand new songs. Boogying the night away to one of the biggest soul acts of all time on our little Farm was a pretty decent way to end our first full-length festival since 2019 – and definitely a Parallel World away from our humble beginnings as a backyard BBQ.
Away from the Orchard Stage, there were many more hidden delights to be discovered during a stroll about the Farm. Any Nozstockers lucky enough to be at the Bandstand on Saturday or Sunday morning may have been dragged into a chaotic workout provided by the Drumnbounce crew: combine blood-pumping aerobic moves with drum ‘n’ bass classics to create the most effective hangover cure known to man. Have you ever wished that it could be Christmas every day? Well, if you stuck your head into the Cabinet of Lost Secrets over the weekend, you may well have witnessed your dream come true: behind hidden doors and a false fireplace we were holding the upside-down Christmas party to end all Christmas parties in our Parallel World, complete with a tree, festive jumpers and tinsel galore.
At the centre of the Altered State, in the Department of Cultural Affairs, we had the finest selection of artists, performers, comedians and theatremakers the Farm has seen in a while. We’ve always been really passionate about access at festivals, and in 2022 we received a grant from Arts Council England to help us improve access on the Farm and diversify our line-ups. Thanks to this we were able to welcome Extant to the Department of Cultural Affairs for the first time. Extant are a troupe of visually impaired artists and theatre-makers who brought their show Capturing the Ghost, which centres around one artist’s experience with sight loss, to the Farm. Right next to Wok’s Bridge, at the entrance to the Dingle, we also had a brand new sensory art installation, a great tangle of tubes, pipes and headphones which stimulated light and sound. The installation was also made possible by our Arts Council England accessibility grant, and it was amazing to see so many Nozstockers engaging with it throughout the weekend for sensory stimulation, a break from the hubbub of the festival, or just to have a bit of a giggle.
Speaking of giggles – congratulations to the lucky Nozzers who managed to catch Rosie Jones’s headline set in the Laughing Stock on Saturday night. Rosie’s set covered everything from her Gillian Anderson obsession to the pitfalls of moving back in with your ‘rents as an adult, keeping all inhabitants of the Altered State rolling in the aisles for over an hour. Rosie was our first ever female comedy headliner and, along with sets from the likes of Terry Alderton, Sarah Callaghan, Charlie Partridge and of course everyone’s favourite drunken uncle Phil Kay, 2022’s comedy offering is sure to become the stuff of Nozstock legend. We stepped our game up visually in 2022, too (if it was even possible to step it up any further). Walkabout performers roamed the Farm, engaging you all in games, dances and selfies: from giant land-dwelling jellyfish, glittering fairies and a lost troupe of mimes, to – memorably – a spangly silver stiltwalker with a TV for a head, the population of our Parallel World was truly wild and wonderful. Our dedicated decor crew smashed it out of the park, as always: festivalgoers entered the arena through a vortex, transporting them into our new universe. Stepping into the Bandstand was like being abducted by a UFO, complete with windows showing views of outer space. All across the Farm, crystals exploded into fractal shards, representing the endless possibilities of the different universes created by each and every decision we make (if you subscribe to the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics!). The Orchard was studded with giant barnyard animals, while down in the Elephant’s Grave, huge toadstools towered over proceedings; we truly built a brand new Parallel World out of wood, paint, cable ties and elbow grease.
But, as ever, Nozstock wouldn’t be Nozstock without the lovely lot who come to party with us every summer, and 2022’s crowd really made it something special. This year you were a clean, green, keen lot: from taking part in the Clean Campsite competition, to diligently picking up after yourselves for the Eco Bond, you truly made the effort to leave the Farm in the same state as it was when you arrived. You were a generous bunch too, managing to raise a significant chunk for good causes while enjoying all the spoils of the Farm. In 2022 you raised over £4,500 for charity by indulging in massages and treatments in the Yeleni Wellness Tent, or by trying your luck on the Human Fruit Machine. Plenty of you tucked into iconic burgers from Beefy Boys too, including their Huey Boy, named after Fun Lovin’ Criminal Huey Morgan, who DJ’d on the Garden Stage on Saturday night. £1 from each sale of the Huey Boy was donated to the charity Attitude is Everything, to support their work improving access to live music venues and festivals for Deaf and disabled people. Doing some good while chowing down on a burger – not bad for a day’s work, eh?
Our highlight of Nozstock this year, however, was the Sister Sledge-themed Greatest Dancer dance-off, down in the brand-new Twisted Assembly. What better way to spend a slightly drizzly Sunday afternoon than to watch an assortment of Nozstockers of all ages get up in front of a crowd, strutting their stuff, showing off their moves and having the time of their lives to disco classics? It’s your eagerness to get stuck in, be silly and have a bloomin’ good time that motivates us to put on this big, overgrown party every year – so keep on keeping on! After 3 years off, 2022’s crowd gave us the motivation we needed to get bigger, bolder and even better than before – so watch out, 2023… it’s gonna be spectacular!