Beacons Festival Round Up
The Shlur team visited the Beacons Festival in Skipton for the first time this year. With a promising line up, a beautiful location and a shitload of beer we knew we would be in for a treat. Here’s our round up.
Now in its third year, Beacons is a smaller festival with a capacity of 7,500. It was a welcome refresher from the larger mammoth festivals, I could successfully stumble back to my tent at 5am within 5 minutes. And apart from seeing pretty much all of my friends from Leeds on site there was a wide range of attendees from families with young kids to old hippie folk.
I awoke on Friday morning after a heavy night of boozing and ‘activities’ and had a short tour of the backstage area. It wasn’t quite as fun as I anticipated but I saw some good lorries and a load of golf carts which I was told strictly not to touch. Today was the first full day of music. Raring to go, I headed to see Paradise on the You Need To Hear This stage. The stage itself was pretty small and got me wondering what on earth it would be like when Fucked Up played there later in the day. I missed Fucked Up as I was too Fucked Up. Paradise killed it though; their synth fuelled electro pop had the crowd moving and despite the drum monitor falling over halfway through the set a fun time was had by all. Fun Adults were next up on the Loud and Quiet stage, the biggest of the festival. I didn’t have a fun time watching them. They had an energetic presence but I couldn’t help feeling they were disjointed and the vocals at times were way off. OFEI on the other hand absolutely smashed the YNTHT tent. After bursting into the vocoder chorus of his highly hyped “London” single, the crowd erupted. The tent was full with an audience blown away with his powerful vocals. Definitely worth checking out, I can see him going to big places. But with a set of just 4 songs running just shy of 15 minutes, would it be worth OFEI building up some more content before his next appearance, or was it done intentionally to leave us all wanting more? If it was it worked. Big Deal were one of my festival favorites. With a hint of 90’s, the beautiful noise-pop group had me hooked from the start. Playing a great mix from their June Gloom album on the Loud and Quiet stage, they went from one catchy song to another. Despite no fewer than 3 technical hiccups I could tell they were having just as much fun as me. I confirmed this when I met up with them after the show, Kacey told me they really enjoyed it. Smashing. Thumpers brought with them a big sound and a big crowd. With all 5 members providing vocals in choruses and clapping along throughout, they played a flawless set full of unique, memorable pop songs. I walked away singing ‘Unkinder (A Tougher Love)’ for the rest of the afternoon.
So after a spot of dinner and way too many beers from the fabulous White Locks Real Ale tent I preceded to party way into the night, completely missing Fucked Up, catching all of Bonobo of whom all I wrote in my notebook was “spacey,” and 10 minutes of John Talabot of whom I can put a safe bet on being pretty damn good.
Another 4am finish left me suitably foggy come Saturday morning. Determined to catch more bands I headed to the arena with a few warm cans of Carling stuffed down the back of my jeans. I found myself at the Loud and Quiet stage at 2pm to catch the end of Royal Blood‘s set. The two piece from Brighton are Michael Kerr playing the bass like you’ve never heard and Ben Thatcher thrashing the drums. With the bass tuned up an octave or two it sounds as if there’s a full band on stage. The guys are intimately in sync with one another and played an awesome set full of heavy rock riffs, driving drums and vocals with an indie, scratch hint to them. Wolf Alice, led by Ellie Roswell, have been in and out of the spotlight of the likes of NME and Radio 1 since last year. The enthusiastic, energetic four piece rock group filled the main stage and I swear every guy’s eyes were glued to Ellie throughout. Her mesmerising vocals and good looks set up for a great set with psychedelic undertones, it’s a shame the crowd were stagnant in movement. Their second EP, Blush is due out on Chess Club Records this October. After a drinks break at Whitelocks and a nap at camp, I headed to the Resident Advisor tent to see Bicep. I’d been excited for this all day. Surrounded by 18 year olds who’d taken too much ket and were wearing their snapbacks with pride, I found it too hard to get into the set as the vibe in the crowd was terrible. Too many times monged out kids fell over into me. After 45 minutes enough was enough and I got more beer. I had much more fun at Gold Panda, his impressive live performance of unique, glitchy beeps, blops and aahs coupled with a gripping light show and video of his fingers mashing away at samples impressed me. The crowd was much more fun and appreciative and I could tell more people were there purely to enjoy the skill of this artist. Local Natives finished up the day on the main stage. They were alright.
I spent nearly all of my day Sunday in the Whitelocks Real Ale tent. It really is a gem of the festival. With over 20 cask ales on offer at any one time, the huge tent was rarely empty and it’s brilliant watching clueless amateurs going up asking what lagers are on offer or how much alcopops are. Nope, not at Whitelocks. I did however manage to catch the brilliant Splashh. Being one of my favorite bands of the year I couldn’t contain my excitement to see them on the Loud and Quiet stage. With fans out in force and the catchy sing along hits such as ‘All I Wanna Do’ and ‘Vacation’ gaining enthusiastic responses from within, I didn’t want it to end. It’s ok though as I’ll be back to see them at the Brudenell in October. Django Django closed the festival at the end of their relentless touring period running from last year. Their experimental, folky electronic sound really is intriguing and they pulled it off really well live. At this point I had long ran out of notes and after the last night of fun on site I can honestly say I cannot remember much of their set.
The closing party for staff and press went on till 6am and when I woke up in my tent not long after that someone had turned it around 180 degrees with me in it whilst I was asleep. And kindly pegged it all back in. Very Confusing. To sum up though, Beacons was great. It wasn’t without it’s faults, there were a significant amount of sound issues here and there and with a bomb scare on Sunday morning everything got off to a bit of a slower start. Understandably so. For the price you pay though, what, £80 for the weekend? There really is nothing to complain about. Set in an extremely scenic location with a fantastically wide range of brilliant bands, heard of or not, I can guarantee that a high percentage of them will be big next year. The organisers really have a good ear for this.