A Walk on the Wyldes Side – Gee Witchalls at Leopollooza : Picture Special

Arts & Culture


By Gee Witchalls

The Wyldes isn’t the kind of place you just stumble across. Hidden away near the village of Week St Mary with no obvious signs of its existence from afar, it feels like a secret world, cocooned in a valley and scattered with all manner of strange artefacts. This is just part of what makes Leopollooza special, and gives it a really unique atmosphere of an intimate, ‘need to know’ festival – only really quite big and with massive stars on the bill. 


The weather wasn’t kind to the event this year, that’s for sure, but the biblical rain and traditional festival mud baths didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits as far as I could tell. OK, at times there were more people in the sheltered bars than by the stages but everyone was still having a ball. 

Aside from the main stage and second stage headliners, this year’s highlights included some banging daytime tunes over at the Temple of Boom, off beat, erm, beats at the Treeline Stage and alternative music plus comedy down at the Mono tent. I’m only going to name one act from all of these that I urge you to go and discover – Lone Taxidermist. You are welcome. 


The most interesting stage for me, however, was the BBC Introducing Stage, set near the food stalls on a flipping pirate ship no less! There were some awesome Cornish acts on there over the weekend and I caught up with a few to get their thoughts on the weekend:

The Rezner – “This is our first time at Leopallooza, and we certainly hope it isn’t our last, as performers and festival goers. It’s one of those festivals which you can tell is made for the people, which is why the crowd is always so good no matter what act is playing.”

Wolf Note – “Leo feels like a second home to us, we’ve played 3 times now and been going to the festival for years, the vibe is always awesome. This year was no different, yeah it was a tad bit wet out, but people still seemed to check us out and enjoy the set. We loved it. Leo is always a great party!”

The Sum Of – “Lepallooza is testament to the Cornish Spirit, and the enthusiasm of festival goers. There is not a warmer feeling than feeling the rain hit your face, mud squelching through your socks, and random electric shocks from your amplifiers; than seeing a bunch of happy peoples umbrellas bobbing up and down in front of the stage. The highlight of our year for sure!”

Another brilliant element of the weekend was the inclusion of a Tattoo studio. After all, who doesn’t want to get inked in a tent? I certainly did, and went for a little anchor, something Eldmer Gill could squeeze in at the end of Saturday! Gill runs Tidy Tattoo, based in Bude, and specialises in black and grey work predominantly. His work certainly lives up to the tidy brand name (have a look on Instagram @tidytattoo) and he’s a very likeable chap with a nice bedside manner, so important in anyone who inflicts discomfort on others for a living! He was having a manic weekend at Leo – people filled up his waiting list within hours of opening shop each day, seems lots of people wanted a permanent reminder of Leo, or saw it as the opportunity to get that first ink they’d been waiting for. Tattooing is such an intimate act that the crowded little tent started to feel very cosy, with a nice chilled atmosphere as people watched others go through this transformation. Eldmer said it had been “crazy, really crazy, but it’s great. How often do you get the chance to tattoo people in the middle of a field? The response has been brilliant, I’m turning people away and I was meant to finish ten minutes ago!”. By the way, if you’re a Welsh ex-pat (like myself) and thinking that ‘Tidy Tattoo’ sounds like something from the old country, you’d be right – Gill is originally from Pembrokeshire but a native of Cornwall for 20 years or so now. Find out more about him at www.facebook.com/tidytattoo

Given that the next event at The Wyldes is the inaugural Cornwall comedy festival, Stand Up In The Wyldes, it seems appropriate to end with a little bit about the comedy at Leopollooza. Comedy and rock ‘n’ roll have always fitted well together, and Leo made the most of that with stand up acts including Cornish stalwarts Hedluv & Passman appearing throughout the weekend, as well as the brilliant PunKomedy – a showcase for “alternative, dark or just plain weird” from across the world, headed up by MJ Walker, ‘the dark duke of Cornwall’ . If Leopollooza is anything to go on, SUITW is going to be one hell of a hot ticket. It’s an unusual set up for a comedy festival, as they tend to be hosted over multiple venues in a town, each individually ticketed and generally not ideal for small children. However at The Wyldes there is a different format, with open stages just like a music festival which means a howling baby isn’t going to mean parents rushing out of the show halfway through, and walking away from a gig you don’t rate isn’t going to cause any grief to the performer (hopefully!). 

If you’re reading this and regretting that you missed Leo this year, don’t make the same mistake twice – early bird tickets are on sale now for next year’s festival  at a heavily discounted rate, and will rise in increments as each tier sells out – get on it quick, www.Leopollooza.com

And there’s still time to get in on the action with the comedy fest which runs over the August bank holiday weekend. Tickets are still available at www.intothewyldes.com – and if you can’t make it, we will be bringing you a full report so watch this space!