This one will go down forever as the flooded one. There will probably have to be a book about this so we’ll keep it brief:
Tickets sold out in a couple of days, and expectation was building- but then, on the day before the festival was due to start, freak floods hit the area and the brook running through the farm burst its banks, rapidly submerging much of the already-built festival site under many inches of water. By the evening, many houses and roads in Steventon, and indeed in Oxford, were also severely flooded.
Music legend Garth Hudson (of The Band/Bob Dylan’s band) and his wife Maud had already arrived at Heathrow and were on their way. They were due to to play with a band consisting of Goldrush and Grand Drive, who were also present waiting to rehearse, and to celebrate Garth’s 70th birthday; they arrived into total chaos. While Radio 1 announced that the festival was cancelled (or rather, postponed), the plucky team threw together a last-minute benefit at the now-closed Oxford Brookes Student Union venue, mostly featuring American acts who had already arrived, a few Oxford bands and the odd stray DJ.
Of course, Garth & Maud played, with a great many going them onstage, and Brian Jonestown Massacre played a typically loud droning set; Mark Gardener and Andy Bell, Ride’s twin singer-songwriters, made an odd appearance, sitting onstage with BJM on an old sofa, while Anton Newcombe announced he would come and help with any replastering that needed doing after the floods.
Sure enough, many of the organisers’ homes were severely damaged and time and energy was used up attempting to clear up the mess; but while the Brookes benefit was a great help, the festival still had to be re-staged that September. Some bands dropped out for scheduling reasons, but many appeared. Some bands had become a lot bigger between July and September, notably Foals, who were due to play the small Trailerpark tent, but their set had to be pulled for safety reasons (hundreds trying to get into the tent). Fortunately, James Rutledge (a.k.a Pedro) gave up his spot in the barn so Foals could have a triumphant homecoming show which you can find on Youtube somewhere. Also in that tent were F@*&Buttons (now officially sanctioned Olympic opening ceremony sound trackers). Garth & Maud came back for the rescheduled event, and Idlewild appeared (having been on our wish list since 1998), with the singer Roddy Woomble arriving from a wedding reception moments before he was due onstage. It’s hard to be totally sure who played, as the printed programmes from the July event were re-used! Some promising local newcomers Stornoway joined in too, playing the flood benefit, featuring a trumpeter wearing a horse’s head, and the rescheduled festival.