Bob Vylan | Photography by Brian Robinson

George Ward
George Ward

Freelance journalist based in Bristol. Can be found at the Grain Barge, Rough Trade or in his tiny basement bedroom writing for CLUNK.

Boardmasters 2023 hits the ground running with a surprising amount of sun and a huge variety of sounds

With the crowds swarming in and the campsites packed to the brim, Boardmasters Festival had a very strong start on Friday. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect, with the sun shining all the way along the cliffs and over every stage.

The Vaccines

A major highlight of the day was The Vaccines, who proved they are still just as lively and talented as they’ve ever been. Kicking off with classics including ‘Post Break-Up Sex’, ‘Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)’ and ‘Wetsuit’ was a wise move, with fans young and old coming together to remember their classic debut album ‘What Did You Expect from The Vaccines?’.

They rattled through most of their hits, from early classics to new hits and even a brand new unreleased track too. They are a band whose many many festival appearances have built their confidence to such a level that they appear flawless.

The Vaccines | Photography by Kieran Webber

Everything Everything

Another 2010s indie appearance came from Manchester’s Everything Everything, who were sounding polished and clean while still retaining their experimental edge.

Jonathan Higgs’s voice leapt all over the place, keeping the audience on their toes, while the band were entirely tight, playing together like a well-oiled machine.

Watching Everything Everything live reminds you just how impressive they are. Somehow, their sound is completely bizarre and completely catchy both at the same time.

Everything Everything | Photography by Kieran Webber

Ben Howard

Ben Howard was the perfect choice as the sun went down on Friday evening. A favourite in the folk scene, his romantic musical tales entranced the entire Boardmasters crowd.

For a folk artist, following these heavier, livelier indie bands is never an easy task but Ben Howard’s set was masterful. Wandering his way through his setlist at a leisurely pace, never once rushed, Howard held the attention of every audience member. Hearing ‘Only Love’ live was a highlight and took us all right back to 2011’s ‘Every Kingdom’ like no time had passed at all.

Ben Howard | Photography by Em Marcovecchio


London’s oddballs Warmduscher blasted onto the Lands Of Saints stage on Friday afternoon. A definite wildcard of the Boardmasters lineup, they quickly filled up the small, slightly uncertain crowd and convinced every one of them that they had chosen the right band to watch.

Always the funnest band on any lineup, Warmduscher were at their very best, wildly flailing microphones, screaming and finding time for a little boogie too.

They picked a wild selection from their discography, with highlights including seriously heavy versions of ‘Midnight Dipper’ and ‘Fatso’. Their energy is so entertaining, unhinged and appealing that they should be at the top of your list at every festival.

Warmduscher | Photography by Brian Robinson


Finally, closing off the first night was New Zealand mega-pop-star Lorde. Her stage was notably more dramatic than the acts before her, with huge projections and a glittery set.

From the moment she began, we knew we were seeing something special. Lorde kicked off the set with classic hit ‘Royals’ before sinking into a few cuts from 2021’s ‘Solar Power’. Seeing these tracks live brought them to life, surely convincing anyone yearning for ‘Melodrama’-era Lorde.

Watching this set reminded us just how many hits Lorde really has. Track after track, she owned the stage like a true popstar, filled with confidence but never too cool for a little dance too. The Boardmasters crowd were even treated to 2 brand new unreleased tracks.

Lorde | Photography By Brian Robinson

The highlights of the set were two polar opposite moments. For her heartbreaking track ‘Liability’, Lorde sat on the side of the stage dangling her legs, the drama of everything stripped away. Her performance was beautiful and honest and it felt like a truly special intimate moment with one of the world’s biggest pop-stars.

And finally, the other moment was of course set closer ‘Green Light’. As Lorde’s tracks flowed into one another, you could feel every audience member become exhilarated the second they recognised the opening notes; this couldn’t be more true for this track.

The energy in the crowd was incredible, with every section jumping and screaming every word. It was the perfect end to a perfect first day at Boardmasters.