Good Vibrations Society is a festival still very much in it’s infancy, yet 2022’s event seemed to shout watch this space! This is the second year that the event has run and thanks to glorious weather, a perfect blend of live music and an audience filled with beautiful souls GVS 2022 was an absolute blinder of a weekend. If you were lucky enough to be there I’m sure you’ll agree, for those who missed out the good news is that early bird tickets for 2023 are now on sale – so get involved!
Good Vibrations Society is a festival offering music, comedy, wellness, wild swimming, ecology and local food & drink all set against the stunning back drop of the Ashdown Forest. The event has been put together by three local’s who are very much in the know in terms of music, ecology and event management – Johnny Scratchley (Gentleman’s Dub Club / Outlook Festival), Richard Morris (Pippingford Park) and Doug Hunt (Sound Guru). The result saw an intimate gathering (around 2500 attendees) enjoying a first class line-up in a truly enchanting setting. This is the start of something pretty special.
I attended the whole weekend of GVS – something I rarely do, especially when an event is so close to home (Pippingford is just 15 mins from where I live). I really wanted to experience as much of the line-up as possible. I arrived with two girlfriends around 5pm on the Friday evening and didn’t leave the site until 9pm on Sunday.
The three of us shared a large tent and took our own cooking gear. We brought far too much stuff and the walk from the car to our pitch really did nearly kill us. GVS are keen to keep vehicles off site so cars are parked on a top field with camping several hundred metres away. Despite taking a trolley we looked like a comedy act trying to navigate 3 peoples worth of luggage across fields and gravel. It took us nearly 2 hours to set up. The lessons we learnt – take only what you need and arrive early.
For such a small event the line-up was incredible. With the legendary Roy Ayers topping the bill other acts included Shola Ama, Lola Young, The Brand New Heavies, Gentleman’s Dub Club and drum n bass master Roni Size. The whole event was awash with awesome vibes and inspiring musical artists – here are my personal highlights:
The Slim Pigeons
One of those good times bands you stumble upon at a festival. The Slim Pigeons were the first act we watched as the festival kicked off on the Friday evening – and they were so much fun! A bunch of happy souls squished into a tent bouncing around to funky disco beats including an Abba medley, what a start to the weekend.
Roni Size and Dynamite MC
Drum n Bass master, Roni Size got the crowd going wild as Friday night’s events came to a climax. With Dynamite MC keeping us in check these two worked their magic with teasers from Brown Paper Bag thrown into the mix for good measure. I have to say the end of the night is a blur of bouncing, laughing and throwing my arms in the air. One hell of a show.
The Brand New Heavies
I’m a big fan of the Brand New Heavies so had high expectations as they graced the Bloom stage on a beautifully, balmy Saturday evening. They played all their hits including Midnight at the Oasis, Sometimes and Brother Sister encouraging us to sing our hearts out as they played. Frontmen Simon and Andrew looked as good as they sounded in their sparkly get up bringing a touch of glam to Ashdown Forest. I loved every minute.
Gentleman’s Dub Club
These guys are high energy crowd pleasers at the best of times but with singer, Johnny being one of the festival organisers and playing on home turf I knew we were in for a treat. They kicked off with Down to Earth followed by High Grade, Music is the Girl I love and the dreamy Honey featuring guest vocalist Hollie Cook. Good vibes were certainly being felt by every single one of us as we joined in with Let a Little Love – job done guys. I can still feel the love two weeks later!
Rounding off my Sunday evening saw one of the absolute musical highlights of the weekend – the funk and soul legend Roy Ayers. At a remarkable age of 81 Mr Ayers had to be helped onto stage, but once he found his feet behind his vibraphone he worked his magic of blending melodic rhythms and stirring vocals to a spellbound audience. With a his band and support vocalists seeing him through, the sun set as classics such as Everybody Loves the Sunshine and Running Away floated over us.
The programme of events, talks and classes on offer over the weekend was impressive. With a host of activities including dance, yoga, ecological talks and comedy takeovers there was so much more to GVS than just music. What better place to immerse yourself in the opportunity to focus on connecting with yourself and the environment than this beautiful setting?
Wild swimming was open to festival goers all weekend in one of the lakes on Pippingford. I love a wild swim so after waking up in a hot tent with a fuzzy head on the Saturday morning wading into the cool lake was an absolute gift. It was a bit boggy under foot but that was easy to overcome once submerged into the refreshing waters surrounded by playful dragonflies.
The Shala tent, located at the rear of the site with rolling views across the forest, offered several yoga classes throughout the weekend, Hosted by Yard Yoga based locally in Forest Row classes included hot yoga, yin yoga, vinyasa yoga and Hatha yoga – every kind of yoga you could possibly wish for. I’m relatively new to yoga but a mid morning session of Vinyasa Yoga was the perfect moment of calm amidst all the chaos. Our yogi, Jana was incredibly clear and easy to follow breaking down the most complicated of stretches for all.
If the goal was to create Good Vibrations then the mission was certainly accomplished. I don’t think I’ve ever been to an event where everyone – from the security staff, to performers and definitely every single attendee seemed so damn happy! I’m sure the glorious weather helped but essentially this positivity stems from the ethos behind the event. Thanks to their expertise the organisers have created something really special whilst delivering in terms of musical calibre and on site experiences. Something I really appreciated was the fact there were no hidden extra costs – free classes were indeed free and volunteers were even giving away cups of tea at the Community Centre. I left Good Vibrations on a high wondering why can’t we live like this all the time? Well, maybe we can? I’ll be back next year but in the meantime I’ll be carrying a bit of this weekend in my heart.
Disclosure: I attended GVS on a press ticket but my love for the event is sincere. Tickets for Good Vibrations Society 2023 are available to buy now.