Match report: Tribal Earth, August 2017, East Sussex

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Tribal Earth is a wonderful thing. It might just be a unique thing too.

A friend described it as half-village fete, half-hippy festival. And she might be right. That captures the vibe of a festival that has a capacity of just 500 people.

Its size and its lack of bars mean kids can and do run free. They are never far from their parents or friends. The lack of booze (for sale) also eases the tranquillity factor. This is a festival to relax into. You can bathe in its loveliness without a care in the world.

However, it is a proper hippy festival. You have to be into some or all of the following: folk/world music, kirtan, 5 Rhythms, yoga, didgeridoos, drumming circles, gong baths and other hippy shit. If those things are anathema to you, then it’s probably best you don’t bother. But even still… you might enjoy the vibe. You can buy some herbal tea and a slice of gluten-free, sugar-free cake and relax under the beautiful Sussex sky overlooking the South Downs.

But it’s best to dive in and enjoy the hippy shit. There is bound to be an almost life-changing experience in the next tent. Personally, I was overwhelmed by the dark beauty of ambient overlords Blackmoon 1348, who teamed up with the horns and chants of Tibet’s Tashi Lhunpo Monks to produce a set of brooding menace and finally, extreme beauty.

The monks had their own tent at the festival. During the daytime they could be found making Dhukar prayer wheels and play-do (it would be butter in Tibet) flowers and figurines with playful souls of all ages.

Others were lifted higher by Nikki Slade’s kirtan or transported to an Irish pub session with The Devines’ jigs and reels. The Carrie Tree Band played a spellbindingly delicate set of English folk, Yap gathered his brilliant and passionate poets and Batch Gueye brought the hypnotic African funk.

Those highlights were all preceded by the mysterious Arfur Cardboard’s Tribal Upstarts, whose wonderful narcotic lullabies belied the comedy moniker chosen by the festival’s music curator Storme. And it was brought to a close by the Amazing Tribal Earth Sound Bath, a festival tradition that sees 100 people lying flat out in a tent, while Storme and friends wash them down with a symphony of gongs, didgeridoo and chimes.

With all those musical wonders, it is easy to forget Tribal Earth’s workshops but for many, they are the heart and soul of the festival. From weaving and sprouting, to jew’s harp and (a lot of) African drumming. From chaga mushrooms to tai chi; and from transformational breathwork to family constellations; there is almost every form of meditation, therapy or sheer fun activity on offer.

Add in the opening and closing circles and you have a festival like no other – a lovely community of like-minded souls enjoying a blissful weekend in the countryside.

 

 

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