(Disclaimer: this review is written in association with Sailor Jerry’s, not in any official capacity but we spent the majority of the day stumbling around dizzy on that delicious nectar.)
Grillstock is one of those strange prospects, not quite a music festival yet not quite a simple food festival either. It’s a recipe that can come across stale if not put together correctly but by golly, Grillstock was a delicious combination. Advertised as meat, music and mayhem the first two of which of which were easily found in vast supply, the mayhem however we were unsure of… after trying to navigate the heaving rivers of humans gorging themselves on bbq and booze we quickly discovered the mayhem was inside us all along. Owing to the ridiculously enticing nature of Grillstock it had proved far more popular that perhaps anyone expected, which meant extremely long queues for the more popular vendors. We kind of felt bad for the vendors who were seemingly being ignored, but there was no time to stand around feeling sorry for people when there was such a wealth of gluttony and hedonistic abandon to be explored.
We had foolishly arrived without a trucker hat, which in our current surrounding now seemed like a glaring oversight. Luckily the DJ BBQ team were on hand to rectify this mistake for us, not just a bonnet booth however they were also serving up delicious slow cooked BBQ alongside bouncing beats and their stall conveniently located close to the entrance was an excellent entry point to the festival on whole. From there we did a quick tour of the site and sussed out where we would be eating and when throughout the course of the day.
The first big event for us was the chilli eating contest which beer and burger in hand we posted up to enjoy. Watching our fellow humans put themselves through such levels of obvious discomfort and pain for our enjoyment is an ancient tradition. We would be damned if we were going to miss out on one of the few remaining vestige of this once great spectacle. The chilli eating contest lived up to the hype, excellently compered we watched as the contestants slowly made their way up the scoville scale, each chilli’s time on stage marked with licks of flame from the front of the stage. As we watched hopeful after hopeful fall to the wrath of the increasingly scorching scovilles one man remained seemingly unaffected. We saw man and woman alike reach for their glasses of milk like little children but one man had yet to even break a sweat. When the end of the contest came and that man was crowned king, we were sure he had only just begun. He wasn’t even red. That man’s name was Matt, and he earned the respect of the entire crowd that day. He was a regal and deserving champion.
Next up was a quick pit stop for more food and drink, we’d earmarked the Sailor Jerry’s stand as our number one choice, they had a beautiful array of different rum charged beverages and a delectable menu of rum infused sweet meats, we’d been craving it since we first arrived. We split up, one in the queue for drinks, one in the queue for food. It was no easy task, these were not short queues and we planned to buy at least two drinks each in this one excursion, we would behave a little more civil were food was concerned, especially seeings as we’d been told earlier that the Sailor Jerry’s BBQ had sold out once today already, we clearly weren’t the only ones drooling all over their menu stand. It was a long wait but it was worth every second, the rum was divine and quickly rocketed us towards high spirits thanks to… well a highly spirited alcohol content. The food was equally soul nourishing and as we left to make our way for the main stage and finale of the festival we felt utterly sated.
It would be foolish to pretend that the Fun Lovin’ Criminals were not the main reason for my attendance at the festival. Huey is more than a little bit of a hero of mine and so jacked up on good food and liquor I was in the mood to party, and I wasn’t let down. They kicked it off with the titular track ‘Fun Lovin’ Criminal’ and proceeded to treat the crowd to a fun lovin’ journey through their back catalogue of genre defying jams. Like Grillstock itself FLC on paper seem like a little bit of a suspect prospect, blending together jazz, funk, blues, soul and a fine sprinkling of hip hop if the band hailed from anywhere but NYC it would unlikely come together with such a high level of cool. They quickly discarded ‘Scooby Snax’ early in the set and then proceeded to treat the crowd to a selection of their much more impressive tunes. Huey dedicated ‘Mini Bar Blues’ to the late great BB King and you could almost hear Lucille singing along on stage. It was incredible set and I for one cannot wait for the ‘Come Find Yourself’ 20th anniversary tour, FLC are a pedigree live band.
All in all Grillstock is a fantastic day/weekend that serves up a lot for the price offered. Great music, fantastic food and generally a chill atmosphere. Meat, music and merriment in vast supply. Whilst we unfortunately were only around for the one day Grillstock is a weekend long affair run by the incredible, home grown restaurant of the same name Grillstock Smoke House. You can check out their website, get involved and start making eyes with next years big weekend at their website: http://grillstock.co.uk/
Words by Matt Miles