I will start with the sad part. During this year's Witchfest, Merlyn came to us all with a very surprising and sad announcement: due to a multitude of reasons, Witchfest took quite a financial hit this year and they will not be running the event in 2018. In that moment, thousands of hearts broke.
I have been posted about it on my Facebook page a lot as I am really heartbroken by this. I've grown up with Witchfest, from the first time I wandered in as a shy 17 year old with blue highlights and some pocket money. Witchfest has always been a haven for me, a place that I can learn and be who I am. Over the years, organisers Merlyn and Cath have become good friends, as have many of the other speakers: Tylluan, Jenny, Kevin, Elmcloud, and many more. I haven't missed a Witchfest since I was 17.
We still have Witchfest Midlands next year, as well as the Gathering. But November will not feel the same. Hopefully they will be back in 2019, stronger than ever.
In that vein, I encourage everyone to pop onto the CoA Shop and purchase one (or more) of Cath's handmade items, which include jewellery, candles, candle melts, incense and even bottle openers. You can also contribute to the YouGiving Campaign.
Now, onto the event itself. It was slightly earlier this year, due to the Brighton Centre having already filled our usual date. This ended up being quite a lovely thing, as the weather on Friday and Sunday was absolutely beautiful. Half the time, I didn't even need my coat! Saturday was a different story, but we were inside most of the time, so it wasn't that big a deal.
Friday brought us the Pre-Witchfest Concert. Opening the event was Eleanore and the Lost, followed by the Crow Dancers and then headline act Inkubus Sukkubus.
We were a little late arriving, so we missed some of Eleanore and the Lost's set, but they sucked me in immediately. It's hard to describe their music... it's like Origin-era Evanescence mixed with Medaeval Baebes, and the lead singer- Eleanore- is the sweetest! As soon as their set was over, I zipped out to the foyer and bought their album Parlour Game. I'm listening to it right now and I am in love! I'll be preordering their second album come payday, for sure!
The Crow Dancers were amazing, as usual. I will say that, in order to get the full experience, you really do need to be up and dancing. This evening (and most of the weekend) both Jenny and myself were fighting off colds (Mr Shanti already had his, and he ended up leaving midway through Crow Dancers as he was asleep on his feet) so dancing was out of the question. But the good news is that their debut album is finally out, so a copy of that came home with me this weekend. It's a short album, but it's fantastic! I highly recommend it.
Then came Inkubus Sukkubus... with a difference! We were very surprised to see two new band members onstage. For the last 20 years, the Inkies have almost always been a trio: Candia on vocals, Tony on guitar, a bassist (currently Roland Link) and then additional mixed music as a backing track. This year, we also had a drummer and violinist, and the backing track was minimal.
The change in dynamic was huge. The entire set had this whoosh of fresh air and the music became even more haunting and capturing, especially my favourite song, Forest Hill. Also, the set began (and closed) with a dancer coming onstage, which is always a massive tick for me. She moved beautifully to the music and it fit so well with the new style of music that Inkubus Sukkubus has been working on from Barrow Wake and Belas Knap. Even though I was half asleep at this point, my eyes never left the stage. And I fought through a sore throat to sing the Isis, Astarte chant at the end of the song Wytches, which closed their set.
Now, onto the day itself...