Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Beacons Festival Preview

If you read our festival of the year type roundup in Issue 2.2, you will have seen that we reckoned Beacons was set to clear up in 2011. The combo of cult AND fun artists, local stuff and supreme attention to detail seemed to have it in the bag. But disaster struck and the event was cancelled due to some rather terrible flooding. How to respond? Well, it would seem the organisers have taken everything they had lined up for last year and trebled it. Like some alternate universe where last year’s went supremely well, sold out and they decided to totally go to town on it. To do that off the back of a disaster like last year is brave, courageous and – for us punters – an absolute godsend. 2012 looks amazing.

Situated up in beautiful North Yorkshire, near Skipton (and thankfully now on higher ground) Beacons festival aims to take the kind of Leeds based cool that seems alien / intriguing to small city dwellers such as myself and transport it into the countryside. This means interesting asides such Vintage Clothes Stalls, make-your-own-zine events, talks & debates, guerrilla theatre and spoken word sessions providing an alternative to simply putting a stage in a field. There are more DJs than some festivals dare have main artists and the general impression is that we can expect a busy, vibrant, inclusive site, which I am well into these days.

The lineup itself looks pretty special. There are some big names who we all know and probably love: Roots Manuva, Wild Beasts, Ghost Poet, Patrick Wolf, Willy Mason. Errors are a big call for me. I’ve not had chance to catch them since they released their stupendously well received new album. Cloud Nothings too are a huge buzz band I’ve not caught yet. The Wave Pictures are incredibly low on the running order too – it’s testament to a varied lineup that has clearly been created by dedicated and passionate music lovers.

Course, they can’t help but have a dig at Wakefield: the bio for Imp is jokingly unable to think of any more but two other Wakefield bands. Cheers guys!

Slack content writing aside, it looks like a winner to us. As an obvious aficionado of the City based festival this year, it takes more to impress me with an outdoor one. Beacons seems to have the quality lower down the bill, akin to Live At Leeds, where you feel you could check out a band you’ve never heard and they’ll be great. The top end suggest a mix up upbeat rural partying and sunset accompanied whimsy, which sounds lovely. At £85 for a weekend ticket, it’s a serious undertaking, but it’s clearly still value for money. It’s a great overall package.

That ‘festival of the year’ poll I mentioned was instead won by Latitude. I mourned giving it to such a big name, but the fact was it did so much right, so much for other festivals to learn from. Beacons feels like it could be a more homely, more affordable, slightly more secret Latitude. But with the buzz around this year’s event, hopefully it’ll only be the latter that doesn’t remain so.

Dean Freeman

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