‘Alright Hop Farm! Now I want y’all to sit back and relax with yo’ beer and yo’ spliff…’ And so the Rythmites’s Denis Wint sums up the One Love 2012 philosophy of laid-back, Rasta-style hedonism.
Not to be confused with the (larger and arguably more mainstream) Hop Farm festival, One Love is a haven of dub-step, reggae and all things Rastafarian. Wellies are a no-no: Jamaican flag-themed tracksuits and flip-flops form pretty much standard attire here. And with the blazing hot sunshine, the fleeting waft of jerk chicken and a preponderance of dreadlocks, this is probably the closest thing Kent has come to a Jamaican cross cultural exchange. Created in 2008 for the UK’s 30th anniversary of Bob Marley’s concert of the same name, musical nods to the legend himself come from artists across the weekend; on Sunday’s main stage, it’s Don Campbell who performs a crowd pleasing, if tad banal rendition of Marley’s ‘Redemption song’.
Meanwhile, a healthy dose of east London grit comes from The Skints whose disappointingly short set nevertheless showcases a punk-edged, Madness-reminiscent track ‘Rat-a-tat’, which amasses the largest crowd of the day. ‘Things are going to get sexy now. Fellas – grab your ladies’ growls vocalist Joshua Waters Rudge before launching into the slightly trippy ‘Rise Up’.
Nevertheless it’s impossible to escape the perception that One Love 2012 is experiencing a decidedly poor turnout. On the main stage the Dualers, comprising Tyber Cranstoun and an eight-piece ska and reggae band, are in very near danger of outnumbering the only members of the crowd up and dancing. As the evening wore on the inexplicable emptying of the site only increased, not helped by the emergence of elderly DJ Radio Riddler, whose attempt at a West Indian patois failed to mask a broad Geordie accent and a bizarrely amateurish DJ set.
But even if numbers were a little thin on the ground, One Love 2012 provided an enjoyable and sunshine-filled foray into the reggae, dub-step scene. It might not be Glastonbury, but you’d be hard pressed to find a more chilled out festival.