It’s hard to believe that, like Gallery, Jersey Live is entering it’s tenth year this year. Always a sucker for getting teary-eyed and nostalgic, we decided to take a look back at the changes to the festival over the years…
2004: Launched on the same day as Gallery, Jersey Live announced its entrance on to the local music scene with a festival that ushered in a new era of world-class bands and superstar DJs. Compared to the festival you see now, its beginnings were rather more humble, with just two stages – the Positiv Main Stage and the Theory Dance Arena, as well as a Gallery inspired jungle themed hospitality tent, the first of many Gallery appearances at the festival over the next decade – with a capacity of 4,000 and one day of entertainment. As if to demonstrate how fickle the music biz can be, the headliners that year were The Thrills, who were big business back then (where are they now?), whilst directly beneath them on the bill were Razorlight, who subsequently went on to shift records by the bucketload and headline such super-scale festivals as Reading & Leeds. As well as DJs Scratch Perverts and Leftfield’s Paul Daley, local d-jockeys Terminal State and Hi Fi Sushi manned the decks, whilst former Jersey favourites Velofax, The Merge and Wilmor rocked the Main Stage. There’s an entertaining video of JL2004 on Youtube capturing some dodgy dancing and even dodgier haircuts…
2005: The success of the two Warrens’ one-day event the previous summer led to the two promoters stepping things up a gear in 2005, with an increased capacity of 7,500 and an even bigger line up. A blisteringly hot September day saw now-cult indie heroes Art Brut and The Futureheads line up alongside local bands The Valentines and Bulletproof, whilst the up-and-coming Kasabian topped the lineup with an epic performance. The Dance Stage bill packed a much bigger punch too, with Belgian mashup legends 2ManyDJs headlining. 2005 was also the year that Jersey Telecom announced their headline sponsorship deal with the festival – a relationship that has continued to this day. The Jersey Live Sessions were also launched, with bands like Art Brut, Black Wire and The Others rocking The Havana for Jersey’s formerly music-starved yoof. Gallery were there once again, having collected many a standard lamp and sweety jar to theme the hospitality area as ‘Grandma’s House’ where our red wine flowed and the jacuzzi bubbled, largely because one of the local bands filled it with palm trees.
2006: 2006 marked the year that Jersey Live experimented with a two-day (sort of) format, with The Levellers and Nick Harper performing on the Friday evening before the main event kicked off on a drizzly Saturday afternoon. Arena stars Snow Patrol and Editors were amongst the highlights, with Erol Alkan and UNKLE’s James Lavelle just two of the standout DJs in the Dance Arena. Compere Edith Bowman described Jersey Live as having “more pulling power than any other small festival.” We’re not sure if she made it into the Gallery tent that year where we’d arranged free Mojitos courtesy of Rojo at our ‘Brazilian Beach’. Shifting and combing two tonnes of sand and setting up fifty deck chairs kept us busy. A great year for sitting and soaking up the sunshine.
2007: Aside from the PA being temporarily blown by Super Furry Animals, JL2007 was a roaring success, the festival expanding to two full days, headlined by The Fratellis and the returning now-megastars Kasabian. NME darlings of the day The Rakes, The Enemy and Pigeon Detectives all rocked the Main Stage, but it was perhaps Belgian electroheads who stole the show, ending up a surprise highlight of the weekend. The Pigeon Detectives made headlines in the never-usually-sensationalist (really) NME for ‘baiting’ Kasabian by asking the crowd, “who are you looking forward to seeing most – Kasabian or The Pigeon Detectives.” Scandal indeed. 2008 was the year we got an exciting delivery of headphones, inspired by the tent at Roskilde in Denmark, and set up the first Silent Disco tent, which people seemed to embrace!
2008: The year that the festival outlined its huge ambition by making one the biggest bookings in its history. International dance legends/icons/megastars The Prodigy headlined the Main Stage with an historic set, and the bill of artists playing beneath them on the bill was none too shabby either. Foals – now festival headliners in their own right – joined We Are Scientist, Courteeners, The Go! Team and Blood Red Shoes, whilst Kissy Sell Out and Scratch Perverts headlined the Dance Arena. 2008 had an increased focus on local artists, with the themed fancy dress area, the Cream Tease Tent, hosting homegrown artists. The festival experienced a last-minute setback when Canadian electro noiseniks Crystal Castles pulled out, but aside from that, it was a good year for the festival, now running at an increased capacity of 10,000 per day. The organisers also launched their sister festival Guernsey Live, which featured performances from Biffy Clyro, Simian Mobile Disco and CSS, but not Pete Doherty, who landed himself in prison weeks before he was due to play, the rascal.
2009: Talking of rascals, Jersey Live did some very good business early in 2009 by booking UK rap artist Dizzee Rascal shortly before the ‘Bonkers’ album propelled him from being merely acclaimed rapper to certified A-list household name. 2009 was perhaps the year that Jersey Live underwent its last major transformation, with a core layout and format that more or less resembles what you see today at the festival. The Tease Tent stayed (although a word from superclub Cream led to the organisers changing the name to ‘The Big Tease’), and the Hospitality Stage was added, with a young Frank Turner playing an intimate set to a couple of hundred lucky punters. The Les Inrocks Stage was added too, hosting up-and-coming artists, with a focus on French acts, including Naïve New Beaters and Kap Bambino. This year also marked the beginning of a long-standing love affair between Jersey and funk n’ soul man Craig Charles, who has returned regularly to perform ever since.
2010: Another landmark year for Jersey Live, 2010 was the first year that the festival sold out completely since increasing its capacity to 10,000, highlighting the festival’s importance to the island’s cultural and social calendar. With headliners like the Modfather Paul Weller and dance stars Groove Armada joining the likes of Biffy Clyro, Chase & Status and Tinie Tempah on the Main Stage, Calvin Harris, Sub Focus and dubstep king Caspa in the Dance Arena, and the fledgling Django Django on the Les Inrocks Stage, this was a vintage year for local live music fans. Jersey Live had certainly come a long way since The Thrills topped the Main Stage back in the early days. This was also the year that Jersey Live’s resident plumber and DJ Griff launched the Full Flow Locale Dance Tent, a platform for Jersey’s many DJs. We decided for 2010 we’d buy an old ice cream van, spray it black and give out glow sticks with our ice cream because, well, why not. You may have tagged yourself on Facebook in the Jerseylivetag crowd photo we did with help from JT. Lots of smiling faces were seen!
2011: The Royal Jersey Showground had undergone some changes throughout the year, meaning that the previously hilly land had been levelled out and the organisers took the decision to change the layout of the arena, the Main Stage moved to the west side of the site. The Les Inrocks Stage was renamed the SoBe Stage, with the likes of Dry the River and Jamie Woon on the bill, whilst hyperactive ska stars Madness and rapper-turned-soul man Plan B headed things up on the Main Stage. This year also saw the introduction of the funfair as the organisers looked to add ever more entertainment to the festival. Once again, the festival was a sell-out. A common theme previously had been festivalgoers tardiness, with many choosing not to arrive until late in the afternoon. Not so in 2010, as thousands flocked to Jersey Live to catch the just-about-to-break-out folk starlet Ed Sheeran’s early Main Stage set.
2012: A contender, along with The Prodigy, Paul Weller, Kasabian and Dizzee for Jersey Live’s biggest booking ever is surely Noel Gallagher, who brought his High Flying Birds to close the festival with a memorable 10,000-strong singalong to ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger.’ Before that though, the Jersey Live audience saw sets from Primal Scream, The Stranglers and Chase & Status. Continuing their knack of plucking young artists from obscurity just before they hit the big time, the organisers cannily booked Jake Bugg early in 2012 – by the time he arrived at JL2012, he was on his way to being one of Britain’s biggest stars. The Tease Stage didn’t appear this year, with the local artists bill instead being assimilated into the SoBe Stage and the brand new JT Stage, which also featured UK artists such as Nina Nesbitt and Bwani Junction. The funfair returned, as did the Full Flow Tent, while the Par 4 Field was added, with interactive installations and performers, including a real live (ish) gorilla, and a human jukebox.
2013: Chances are that by the time you read this you’ll already have enjoyed or missed JL2013. Hopefully you made it in to our Silent Disco in the JT Igloo tent. Check back for photos next month!