Every year London’s Hyde Park plays host to British Summer Time – two weeks of curated day festivals, each with spectacular line ups and lots of fun surprises. In the past I’ve been lucky enough to go to BST to see Blur (twice), and Stevie Wonder, but this year I wasn’t planning on going despite there being a stellar line up:
Luckily for me, I have a friend called Chloe who works for Barclaycard. She was given two tickets to go to the Kings of Leon gig, but couldn’t make it herself, and so she gifted them to me! (Thank you Chloe! Xx) I’ve had a very lucky year so far when it comes to free tickets; I must have deserved some good karma! I invited Thom to join me as we were both suffering from post-Glasto blues and had the day off already, and we arrived half an hour after doors had opened at 3.30pm.
It was a roasting hot day, so we spent time exploring the site, grabbing cold ciders from the bar, and chilling in the Barclaycard area. It was quite fun in there; almost like a kids playground, with seesaws, roundabouts and swings. They also had trampoline bungees, and a balloon pit where you could win prizes. We won Barclaycard bPay wristbands for sharing a photo on Twitter (however I use Apple Pay on my Apple Watch so I have already regifted mine) and also giant foam glow sticks!
I loved watching Nathaniel Ratecliff & the Night Sweats while sitting on the sun scorched grass. Thom & I had managed to bump into our friend Lily, so we sat all together to watch them whilst catching up on each other’s lives. We really couldn’t have asked for better weather. Thom and I used the time before the Pixies to get some food, and I was ecstatic to see my favourites, Smokestak. Obviously I went for their beef brisket bun and I was in heaven for a few minutes. I honestly feel like I could eat one for two meals a day, every day for a year and still find them delicious. It was made even better by the fact they took contactless card. In fact, all bars and food places in the arena did, which made everything super convenient. I should have guessed as much for an event sponsored so heavily by Barclaycard!
At around 7.15pm, after we’d watched the first half of the Pixies, we broke off from Lily to go and watch The Cuban Brothers who are another long time favourite of mine! Great tunes but also great comedy, they’re brilliant fun but maybe not for all the family! Although Miguelito is the king of telling filthy jokes that kids won’t understand, so maybe you can still bring them. They played on the Carnival stage, had a good crowd watching them, and got everybody dancing. As always, Kenny & Archerio’s dance duel stole the show, with backflips and break dancing in their fabulous fringed outfits. It’s so difficult to describe these guys without seeing them, but I’ve tried to give you a flavour with some photos & a video I took on the day…
Finally it was time for the main event, and we had a very small amount of time to find Lily again and get a good spot. Once reunited, we made the mistake of trying to get a spot on the left hand side. This year the unfortunate slight slope of the ground seemed even more pronounced, and even Thom, Lily and I who are all blessed with the gift of height couldn’t see the stage from this side. We tried to make our way back to our previous viewing point, but the crowd was too dense to get all the way. We ended up slightly on the right hand side behind the sound desk, with a better view than before but still not ideal.
Kings of Leon played a really long set, and although there were some highs from the likes of The Bucket, King of the Rodeo, Crawl, and Notion, it felt like for the rest of the time the band weren’t really connecting with the audience, and in general the gig felt a little lacklustre. My friends and I found ourselves talking to each other and surrounding people in the crowd rather than fully concentrating on the Great Oak Stage. For the second half of the set, the band made more use of the huge stage and impressive curved screens, and upped the tempo slightly with more of the singalong tracks, (which honestly are the reason most people buy the tickets) including On Call, Use Somebody, and of course the huge crescendo into Sex On Fire, their biggest hit.
For me it was a great day, made even better by the sunshine. It’s obviously a huge corporate event, with sponsors around every corner, but for a series of one day festival-style concerts; freebies such as mini Coke Zero cans and the convenience of everywhere taking contactless payment were welcome, even if it did come with a slice of faceless corporate advertising. Kings of Leon were pretty great but I would have preferred a more upbeat set… I was hoping they would do Molly’s Chambers and Four Kicks but sadly not. Smokestak made my tummy very happy, and the mojito bar quenched our thirsts. I’m excited to see what British Summer Time have up their sleeve for 2018, as they do manage some cracking line ups every year!