Festival Review: Maui Waui – 2021

You don’t get much more of a thankful, grateful and wild festival than Maui Waui. It’s a community. A diamond in the wrath with an eclectic tumble of bands from ska to drum and bass and eastern European folk dub. A collective of people with a grassroots festival that is growing with each new year. This year was the eighth and arguably the best. In a new location at Hill Farm near Dereham in Norfolk, Maui Waui August 2021 was one for the history books.

No festival is complete without a barrage of food and festive fun for sale and Maui Waui pushed the boat out here. They had stalls bursting with delightful treats, merch and festival clothes, plus a kids area that was booming every day with happy little faces. The Ushti Kushti Lounge was another great place to go to chill out and take a time out curled up amongst a pile of blankets and cushions to relax and take it all in.

I heard from a huge collection of Maui Wauians that I had to check out the Electric Hamster Racing and, boy – I was not disappointed. I went to the finale, bought a ticket for my favourite little fuzzball – #3 Sunflower Sid. The race took a while to start while the competitors were groomed and wound up to full capacity behind the lines. Tickets were being waved throughout the tent and eager gamblers were screaming the name of their best little guys. The starting pistol sounded, and Sunflower Sid made a great start, whizzing her way around the track. Unfortunately, even a couple of good pokes still didn’t save the day when she got stuck on an uphill struggle and ended up dead last. I lost a fiver, but I gained a memory that will last a lifetime. If you go to Maui Waui I would strongly suggest you get involved in this highly intense sport.

I didn’t get to see all the bands I wanted to, namely The Peatbog Fairies who headlined on the Saturday, all the way from Scotland or DogShite who I heard rocked the Flavour Parlour on Saturday. I was busy taking in the delights of the festival, a hilarious experience involving my friend and a very helpful man, but we won’t go there. Here are a few of the serious hits of the festival for me, of course, there are too many to mention them all and I wish that I could because every single band and DJ played their absolute hearts out all weekend. But here we go!

Dub Pistols, Fri, 23.00, on the Main Stage

The Dub Pistols were incredible, a real magic moment for the whole crowd. The Main Stage was packed out with excited faces, by the end of the first song the Dubs had everyone doing a skank. It was the first moment at the festival that felt like nothing could touch us; we were safe, secure and enveloped in live music – which was a brilliant feeling.

Check them out here.

Joey Samosa, Sat, 1.00, Section 63

Joey Samosa played a few DJ sets across the weekend, I got the chance to have a good chat with him during the festival and had to give him a mention. His drum and bass had house influences and some of it was almost poppy. He then wove in some true Jungle bangers and his changes are perfect. The Section 63 stage was inside the giant PFP Robot which you could control with buttons at any point. This made it one of the most lively and best-loved stages at the festival. Mixed with these DJ sets it created a wave pool of dancing festival-goers that did not stop until the festival ended. Witnessing Joey Samosa was a little bit like watching early High Contrast. If you are into electronic music, I would watch this space.

Though where to watch from I do not know as he doesn’t have anything online! – Joey if you see this, contact us with a link and I will put it up.

Dana Immanuel & The Stolen Band, Sun, 14.30, Jeremiah Marques Stage

Dana Immanuel & The Stolen Band were not to be missed, in fact my boss at JoyZine suggested I check them out and I am super glad I did. Think of a female 21st Century Johnny Cash made up of five different people from all over the world, each with a totally different vibe. Each of members brought a different element to the music, ranging from cello and fiddle to full-on electric guitar solos. There was even an incident with a small dog being produced from Dana’s bag which was promptly given a cowboy hat by an excited member of the crowd – amazing.

Their songs blew me away at times, with Dana as their strong female lead on vocals and a real pinpoint accuracy when it came to the composition of each tune. These women know exactly what they are doing, and they are good at it.

The set was comprised of twelve tunes that ranged from serious to funny. The lyrics are a big part of what they do and it helped that it was more or less a sit-down gig with intermittent dancers heading upfront to jam to their favourite tracks. I have to say my favourite tune of the set was later on, ‘WD40 and Duct Tape’ which had a Jazz/Ska vibe and one of the earlier songs, ‘Devil’s Money’, is also definitely one to have a listen to.

Dana Immanuel & The Stolen Band was a great show, it took my brain right out of Maui Waui and focused entirely on them and their music which, in my opinion, is a declaration of serious talent.

Check out some music from Dana Immanuel & The Stolen Band here.

The Cabarats, Sun, 18.15, Flavour Parlour

The Cabarats were probably the highlight of my festival. The vibe that they brought to that tent in the early Sunday evening was palpable. Every single person in that tent was a super-fan by the end of the show. Think eastern European folk, Balkan ska, punk-dub with accordions, ukes, bass and drums flying around all over the place.

I managed to have a chat with Shelley, the main vocalist, and she said, “We were well and truly blown away by the audience at Maui Waui, so much amazing feedback and kind comments.”

I watched a romance bloom between the band and the audience. That is super rare to see. I would guess that most of the crowd, like me, happened on this gem of a band by accident and are now lifelong fans. The gig started slow. Everyone was listening intently to every word. It wasn’t long before the incredible tunes just swept us all off our feet and it was non-stop dancing till the end of the encore. It’s something that can’t be explained with words, just go see them.

The Cabarats have played on one of the Boomtown main stages, Hootanannys in London and at their favourite festival, Goulash Disko in Croatia. They hope to have a new album out by the end of 2022 and have a much-awaited Spring tour coming up in March 2022.

The Cabarats – Story Of My Life – MUSIC VIDEO

Check out The Cabarats here.

Goldie Looking Chain, Sun, 22.00, Outer Limits Stage

Goldie Looking Chain were a big hit and no wonder. They were the one everyone wanted to see all weekend. The audience was packed. The Welsh comedy hip-hop group were pulling out all the classics at Maui on the Sunday night. And yes, they absolutely aced ‘Guns Don’t Kill People, Rappers Do’ to an enthralled audience of wannabe rappers and die-hard fans. A great experience that I don’t think we will forget anytime soon.

If you haven’t heard of Goldie Looking Chain yet, give them a listen here.

I was lucky enough to get to have a chat with Silas Rayner, the organiser of this incredibly auspicious event, he said:
Maui Waui is a feast for the senses, we create a place where time stops and you can forget the daily grind of modern life and for a few days enjoy being alive and surrounded in art, music and creativity. This is the driving force behind the event, to bring enjoyment and wonder to people’s lives. The festival itself changes and evolves but all within this core reason for being. So, no matter who or what you are, you’ll find something that’s right up your street!

To have been able to produce the event this year of all years is incredibly lucky, it’s been a hard rocky road for the performing arts, and we are just thrilled that Maui Waui has bounced back into life…… Looking forward to 2022 already!

This hit the nail on the head for me. Maui is one big gathering of people where you never feel alone. It is the perfect balance of wonderful people, insanely good music and a peaceful feeling where just about anything goes as long as you are decent about it. This festival is going places, just like all the bands who played it – All I can say is, Woah – what a magnificent weekend.

Follow this link for the line up of Maui Waui 2021.
Get your tickets for Maui Waui 2022 when they go on sale here.

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A big thanks to Jerry Tye for the use of the photos in this article.

Article By Jess Milner
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