Words: Amanda Cunningham
Before I write my review on Audio Soup, I feel it is necessary to share an abiding memory. Deepest Scottish Borders circa 1992 (ish), there was to be an under 18’s rave in a small village hall, it was not going to be shit, someones big brother knew somebody who knew QFX and it was going to go on ALL night, it was going to be mental! The Rezerection and Fantasia nights were at their peak, stories were legendary, the excitement was feverish and….well, it pretty much sucked. This night could be considered a template for many nights out in my beautiful homeland. That is until Audio Soup.
Audio Soup did not disappoint on any front. At Glastonbury there is a venue called the Minuscule of Sound, a perfect miniature replica on Ministry night club in London and Audio Soup turned out to be a perfect miniature festival.
Although there were 6 main music venues, there were other little hidden gems, like the chai tent that double as the Psytrance Tent in the evening, which did an outstanding chai latte, taste of Goa. Also Venue 42 playing excellent old dub vinyl, with scatter cushions and chilled vibe. I would like to congratulate the organisers on their site, which is in a stunning valley, close to Whiteadder Reservoir, near Duns. We were within feet of, when leaving the festival, an Osprey, clutching a twisting salmon in its talons. A festival (lifetime) first, for me. The camping was well spaced, well organised and well facilitated. If toilets are one of the things which put you off a festival, then try Audio Soup. At T in the Park or Glastonbury, it’s not unheard of to queue for 20 minutes plus, for some toilets and they are foul. Rarely had to queue and could let the kids go unattended – Big bonus! There were plenty of water butts and recycling points and the whole site was kept immaculate, both by conscientious campers and site clean up crew.
Audio Soup also scored very highly of the food front. I was discussing festival food with a friend and she too judges a festival on their food concession stands. Once the concessions start getting too commercial, you know the heart has gone out of a festival. Audio Soup was all over that though, it has a festival essential, in the Beat Root Cafe. They provided good coffee, vegetarian delights (savoury and sweet), all served alongside a wide range of bands and a by donation face painter. You could brave the hay fight and pick up some fruit from the grocers cart or grab some yummy noodles inside the Cackle Bar; then over by the main stage, the children’s favourite, Mutley’s Crepes. They saved up their money to share a sweet and savoury crepe.
It really is a family friendly festival. The children got stuck at the kids area and could not be moved until it closed around 6pm. It was great! There were an array of sensory and arts activities to just enjoy, a soft play space, that then doubled as story corner for the mesmerising storytellers, there was a fairy dance disco and workshop, that all good fairies completed, then they made their masquerade masks and were eventually persuaded to take a look around the stalls. Another pleasant surprise! The kids had around £10 each to spend and the stall were able to hold their attention for well over an hour, they were also able to get a few beautiful little novelties. Wooden moustaches on sticks can cause a huge amount of entertainment for a couple of 9 year olds and the lovely Fairy Croft was an agony of decisions trying to decide what to buy. I was delighted to eventually purchase a stunning Woolly Pedlar poncho that I have coveted for some time now.
The art installations were also of an exceptionally high quality too. The lovely pyramids around the Collider area, the beautiful peacock in the hareem bar by the mainstage and the stone spirals and stacks by the entrance. There were a couple of fire pits for huddling around in the later hours and an enchanting evening fire show to the delight of all ages.
I realise that the music has not featured prominently in this review, but fear not Audio Soup has that covered too! Eclectic is a word made for this festival. The range of music is staggering considering the scale of the festival, you may not have heard of all the acts, but they are all solid and respected in their field. Brainstorm and Neil Templar have been some of the safest hands on the decks for more years than I care to remember, Electrikal Soundsystem brought along the fantastic J*star on Saturday night and Rumba de Bodas provided an international feel for the opening night.
Bombskare and the Mickey 9’s were recommended by everyone. Had never heard of and unexpectedly loved, the very shouty Certain Death, proper metal. Audio Soup is the kind of festival, if it’s your kind of music you will like the band, if it’s not there are at least 6 others to go and see, you will definitely enjoy something. For me the best name of the weekend was Edinburgh MC OneTzu, who again, was very good.
Audio Soup was a great little festival, you would struggle to get a better value festival anywhere in Scotland. Thank you Audio Soup for redeeming the Scottish Borders from the terrible rave of my youth and other similar evenings. Thank you for holding a perfect miniature festival under an hour from home and thank you for a long overdue night out dancing until someone switched the speakers off. It’s good to know I’m not too old yet.