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The festival site could be described as a smaller Boomtown, the decor and attention to detail was truly astounding for it’s size and value. Definitions of Balter can be seen as to tumble; to dance clumsily, or to become tangled or matted, or even to tread down in a clumsy matter. All of these in which can be used to describe this place, with a lot of aloof and loose legs swinging around and dancing to whatever speaker they could find.


The 10 stages covered all corners of the musical spectrum from genres such as dnb, bassline, jungle, to the likes of hardtek, punk-rock, hardcore, the list really is endless. 


We pitched up our tent and ventured around the site to get a feel for the general atmosphere and vibe; it didn’t take long to know that seriousness, anti-social behaviour or just genuinely bad people did not exist here. This notion was further implied as I lost both my phone and wallet, then to find they had both been handed in so big up to those guys.


The first stroll saw the In:Flux Audio crew taking over the Garage Girls, starting the weekend with the wonky vibes. Then the infamous Buckyham Palace is where I jammed for a fair while, with Bristol local Audiomission shelling down lovely jungle tracks. The speakers at Buckyham hummed all weekend, although all stages provided humming speakers. As the sun set and night time came over, everyone, or what seemed like the entire festival, crammed into the Jigsaw for the almighty Mandidextrous. This was not for the faint hearted, my jumper was dropped and ruined yet found and saved: definitely one of the most hectic sets of the weekend, and the best was yet to come. 

I woke up Saturday morning with the wonderful sound of jungletek at 7am, the energy levels never seemed to drop and every single person went hard 24 hours a day. As festivals go, food and beers were pretty cheap (beers somewhere between £3-£4). The Irie Bingo stage was a nice place to avoid the beaming sunshine, with Shire Roots, Joe Burn and Pharmatis providing the chilled reggae jams.

I had heard a lot of good and interesting things about this festival, and for the price of £120 it would have been rude not to go for it. There are too many artists on the line up that caught my attention from the start, and the ease of an hours drive down the M4 made it an almost definite answer. 


We arrived at the Chepstow race course at 12:30ish: I was aware of the rowdiness, the debauchery and the scattiness that was about to take place over the next few days, although I didn’t think my body or mind was ready for the events that were about to entail. The three hour long queue was made bearable with the rig setup they had plonked in the middle of it, people were getting impatient towards the end when someone had the misfortune of a half full can of Stella lobbed at their head, nevertheless the excitement only grew.

It didn’t take long to know that seriousness, anti-social behaviour or just genuinely bad people did not exist here

The festival was shaped in one straight line, with all the stages sprouting out the sides, with The Disco Ball stage slap-bam in the middle. DJ Theme Tunes was a highlight, mixing classic theme tunes in a midst the huge rotating disco ball. It was a surreal experience, skanking from the smooth basslines from Vital Techniques at the Garage Girls, to the hardtek heaven of the Amen4Tekno takeover at Buckyham, then the Eastenders song and various other random samples from Theme Tunes, the variety of music was truly overwhelming. Saturday night I found myself stuck in The Drawing Room, a very sweaty drawing room at that, for the Off Me Nut takeover, and boy did those guys not disappoint. 


Vincent Van Sloth’s set was honestly something else, I think it changed me as a person, he out did himself on that one! I crossed between here and The Hex for Ed Rush at 1am, a set of lovely dnb was nice to come to from the pure wonk of K-orse & Basshound b2b with Vens. The Hex had really impressive production alongside the music, I say this but the same can be said across the whole festival: from the Devon-based sound system Irie Bingo to the famous Sika Studios, all stages delivered individually unique and atmospherical production.


Sunday morning I was greeted with beaming sunshine, for it to stay that way right until the evening. My feet were not so firmly planted in the ground at the Garage Girls once again, for a plethora of wonkiness from Ali Monsta, Phatworld, Shosh and a whole load others, followed by getting lost in the Sika tent for too long at Inja and Kelvin 373. The weekend was finished with the Sunday SoundClash with Rumble In The Jungle vs Tremor Soundsystem. Rumble won although I thought both teams went off and that it’s way too hard to choose a winner, everyone smashed it!


Despite the surprising lack of police attendance the festival felt so comfortable and relaxing, no bad vibes only pure love and respect for the music and a mash up! The price of the ticket undersells this festival and it is a must for people who love proper sound systems, musical diversity and all things bonkers.


Big up to everyone behind Balter, the artists, the sound system crews and any person on that racecourse!

Matt Knight

June 26th 2018

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