Finally I got my arse into gear to get to Bluedot this year. And am super happy that I did. What a wonderful festival! The setting itself is just so amazing, in the shadow of the Lovell radio telescope at Jodrell Bank, which is not only a stunning bit of kit, but perfectly establishes the listening theme.
Saw and heard lots, but am going to restrict myself to 3 here:
1) The Flaming Lips - one of main motivators for actually getting to Jodrell Bank this year. And so well worth it. Love the energy and quirkiness of this band. Giant inflatable robots, unicorns, rainbows, and Wayne Coyne's irrepressible story telling. My favourite moment was when a bloke in the crowd turned to me and asked: "have you seen this lot before? Can you explain what the f*ck is going on?" Totally insanely joyful.
2) Dick Mills Talk - sound engineer from BBC radiophonic workshop. Born 1936 and the most with it, friendly, engaging chap you could hope to meet. Hours of anecdotes of crazy pre-synthesizer sound experiments and bodges and totally random messing around with sawn up pianos, lamp shades, old engine parts... Audio reel that was "more sticky tape than reel" getting stretched out along the endless corridors of Broadcasting House. And moments after finishing his talk to a crowded small room of folks, he appears on the main stage helping perform pieces that have been put together in the last 24 hours from contributions of sound from festival goers. Totally fab!
3) Alice Eldridge - transdiciplinary researcher. Probably the complete highlight of the festival for me. Even though I understood about a 5th of what she was explaining! What a truly inspirational person! Using Ecoacoustics to less intrusively and more economically (therefore accessibly) measure biodiversity. Essentially "learning to listen" to the world better. Her utterly unpretentious care for the world, and her effortless movement between disciplines was awe-inspiring. And the second half of her talk was a duet between a frog chorus and herself on gamalen influenced cello loops (played mostly with chopsticks and drum mallets). So much intellect, initiative, creativity, improvisation. And then nonchalantly recounts how when working in Equador, she went to reach for her machete one morning to flick the vipers from beneath her hammock to find on the handle of her machete there is a tarantula...being eaten by a Brazilian Wandering spider! These spiders are considered the most venomous animal in the world. And she calmly decides that the best thing to do in that situation is take a photo and record it on her biodiversity records
Of other note: Re-Tros, Beijing indie/post-punk/rock. And also the wide wide array of vegan food available. At least at the beginning of the festival. Mostly sold out by the end because "even normal people have been eating it".