Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Beacons Festival - Skipton, North Yorkshire

Despite hurricane Bertha's wildest thrashings and attempts to spoil the party, Beacons third consecutive festival overcame all that was thrown at it to provide over 7000 music seekers with its very best event to date... 
Photo - Giles Smith
Three days of music, arts, cherry-picked cream of local food vendors and glorious real ales taking place at the foot of the beautiful backdrop of the Yorkshire Dales. No day was identical thanks to the good old British elements, yet Beacons triumphed in our 'this is how to do a festival' award nomination. We dodged biblical downpours on Friday, basked in the beautiful sunny atmosphere Saturday, and just about came through on points battling the tail end of a hurricane on Sunday...

(In a nutshell...)
We've been lucky enough to attend the last two Beacon festivals (2011's last minute cancellation due to the wet conditions) and this year the event returned bigger and stronger than ever before. From its fledgling beginnings in 2012 and 2013, it made quite a leap this year into the big league as a fully bona fide three day festival event, yet still maintained its unique special feeling of an intimate gathering. The dance-heads were spoiled with the pick of current acts and DJ's providing relentless beats in three main tented stages. Live bands were spread across three stages this year with the addition of the chilled outdoor 'Argyl' stage. Arts, film, workshops and discussion provided an alternative to the musical side if you were in seek of something else entirely inside The Impossible Lecture Tent and Into The Woods among others. And families strolled in and out of the much improved kids area 'Diddy Rascals' at leisure to join/escape the amalgamation of eclectic offerings to be found here over this August weekend. 

(More than just another music festival...)
Photo - Ben Bentley
One notable area where Beacons excels in comparison to others is down to the feeding and of course the 'watering' of its temporary residents. There's no below par, sub-quality burger van lurking here in the shadows, waiting to offload a rather large chunk of your wallet and serve up a tray of lukewarm disappointment. Probably too many tantalising food traders to give mention to but let's hear it for....
BUNDOBUSTThe new boys in (Leeds) town who have recently opened their craft beer bar/Indian street food kitchen in LS1. Not the range of dishes we were hoping for given the excellent choice at their venue in the city, but serving up a delicious meal of finest curry none the less. 
REDS TRUE BARBECUELet there be meat! Barbecued in true Reds style and serving mouthwatering dishes with that lovely smokey aroma. 
DOUGHBOYS and FISH& - Straight out of Leeds' Belgrave Music Hall and into the Funkirk estate to delight Beacons hungry gathering. Doughboys carefully arranged your specific requirements, popped it into the oven and served it up with a smile. Fish& had a healthy sized menu with their take on an alternative twist to fish and chips. Find them in Leeds Trinity Kitchen soon if you're shopping in the city centre.
And finally, our jewel in the food trading crown this year... 
Photo - Tom Joy

MANJIT'S KITCHENFrom a little shiny yellow horse box like trailer, tucked way down into the corner Argyl stage area, came food that was nothing short of five star. Street food finalists in 2012, Manjit's Kitchen provided us with the finest quality Indian food we've tasted recently. Helped by the warm and friendly staff peeking out of the box, we sat in glorious food heaven here throughout the weekend. 
LAYNES ESPRESSOHandily situated along from Manjit's, Leeds' finest coffee came to Beacons Festival courtesy of Laynes Espresso. Firing out the best caffeine drinks bar none across the whole site, quite frankly it would have been rude and all kinds of wrong to get our coffee fix anywhere else. Bravo!

(And the beer, oh the beer!...)
Photo - Tom Joy
Of major importance to us at Plus One Magazine now we are teaming up our music features alongside local ale/brewery news too. Whitelocks ale house provided the backdrop once again, serving a constantly heaving tent of eager beer enthusiasts with dozens of kegged ales from local breweries as well as further afield. Old favourites included Huddersfield's MAGIC ROCK BREWERYFIVE POINTS  from London, and from literally just down the road ILKLEY's BREWERY. Pale ales, IPA's, Stouts and ciders catered for the most inquisitive of taste buds. No warm cooking lager, no 'been sat there already poured half an hour ago' style serving either. 

(Thank you for the music...)
Photo - Tom Joy
Oh yes, and there was music too of course. They know a thing or two about music and the current crop of bands on the up do the powers that be behind this festival. Just cast a swift eye over this and the last two years line-ups to see this. A diverse mix of local, national and international artists that in one way or another are making the right noises to help the tickets for Beacons go flying out of the box office upon release. Naturally at Plus One Magazine, our agenda would take in lets say the more noisier side of things at this festival. And as always with us, it's slightly further down the line-up that we get excited about most. That said, headliners and those further up the bill were there to check in with and of course filled the 'big' and 'bigger' top adequately. DAUGHTER (Friday) brought in the cold, dark air from outside into the Loud/Quiet big top with haunting tales from Elena Tonra as her band mates cut through the dry ice sending out spine shivers of wailing guitar and measured drum beats. 'Bertha day' didn't prevent any of the day's bands from displaying their work despite the winds best efforts. THE FALL came closest to er, falling foul of the elements, playing on even when most of the power had to be cut and we were politely asked to temporarily vacate the Loud/Quiet big top. A reluctant Mar E Smith eventually shuffled off more than a little disgruntled but the band returned as did the crowd and normal service resumed. A rejuvenated NENEH CHERRY suffered no such problems in the same tent, while Friday saw hip hop heavyweight ACTION BRONSON leave his presence felt on the Noisey stage.
Photo - Giles Smith
Photo - Giles Smith

Elsewhere through the weekend, we caught up with some familiar sounds to Plus One Magazine... BRITISH SEA POWER were billed to open up Friday with a unique performance playing their 'From The Sea To The Land Beyond' album in full. A packed tent sat mesmerised as the band with backs to the crowd sat facing a giant screen projecting film footage of peoples lives in Britain through the ages and their relationships with the coast and conditions. Truly unique in performance and a much debated talking point through the forthcoming days at the festival. Following on from this epic performance, Leeds based POST WAR GLAMOUR GIRLS provided a short sharp set with an incite into their own dark world of intelligent word play and excellent musicianship. Singer/guitarist James Smith looks like he'd rather be anywhere else than on stage but I assure you he's having the time of his life. An approach in wit not unlike another Leeds band frontman in Billy from Blacklisters. Unsurprisingly we've just learned they're about to release a new song with him guesting on the track. A stunning performance.

The perma-touring Antipodean duo DZ DEATHRAYS take Friday by the scruff and they've brought along a third member to bolster their already hefty rock/thrash output as he dips in and out of the set to provide even more head-crushing guitar action. MENACE BEACH are back again at Beacons after last years successful Noisey set. This time in the bigger tent, the band ooze nineties flavoured Indie rock and grunge out to the crowd in effortless style. An amalgamation of accomplished musicians from bands across Leeds, this lot are no strangers to daytime radio airplay and with songs dripping so thick with catchy hooks and vocalist Ryan's ability to easily pen a nifty tune, expect to hear more from MB camp very soon.  THE WYTCHES (Sunday) are playing in the calm before the storm slot, though their set is anything but. Musically it's cold, merky and harrowing which somehow fires the belly through a psychedelic haze that eventually comes out the other side to firmly imprint your brain with a new sound altogether. They call it SurfDoom. Whatever it is, it's bloody good. Album and tour are imminent so let them cast you a spell this Autumn. METZ follow The Wytches who are no strangers to touring together. Although this lot from Canada are a completely different proposition from their Brighton chums. It's a heavy nod back to some giants in music from the early nineties. Colossal guitars and drums are the necessities in my book if you're signed to Sub Pop, although their artists these days don't all fly this flag. But Metz do, they play it loud too, and sweat, a lot. Jesus Lizard and Big Black are names never too far away from lips in their reviews and this is as near as anyone probably gets to those days of such grand noise. Finally in this little familiar section of ours we catch a small glimpse of what has been SLAVES powerful set back on the Noisey stage (Sunday). Above and beyond our expectations when they played in support to Blood Red Shoes during Friday night's Live At Leeds appearance back in May, they seem to have won many more over judging by the faces enjoying their last song of the set. It's a tried and tested simple formula; guitar/drums.  The punk rock attitude and the brotherly-like bond akin to Drenge makes them instantly likeable. Throw in 2 to 3 minute blasts of aggressive fury and voila! Your new favourite band possibly? 

(Talking of which...)   
Photot - Ben Bentley

Is there anything better than being at a festival watching bands you adore? Well, almost, in that chancing upon a band that's new to you and coming away from that experience all the better for it is a feeling we crave. Last year DRENGE made us fall in love with their bluesy/guitar-rock noises, and in 2012 NOPE hypnotised us with their grooves. So in no particular order, this year at Beacons we overcame first awkward encounters and popped our cherries to the following....
WEIRDSWeirds have had MJ from Hookworms nurturing their early days as a band so there's a hefty insight into what you're getting here. Huge basslines, danceable beats, heavily echoed vocals and layers of noises from the keyboard and screeching guitar. It's intense as hell inside the noisey tent and the singer doesn't hold back as he enters the pit with his guitar slaying wildly all around him. 
BEATY HEARTCuriously brought to our attention during some chill out time by the Argyl stage on sunny Saturday, Beaty Heart maybe played on the right stage at the right time. Sun beating down, onlookers sprawled out across the grass, it was as festivals should be without a care or cloud to spoil it. Experimentational with percussion and chanting, hypnotic and gentle in performance. Beaty Heart were a lovely unexpected delight.
GOLDEN TEACHERI'm still not entirely sure what we stumbled upon with Golden Teacher. But it was infectious as hell and had the Noisey tent moving nicely at a relatively early time of day for this. Wild uncompromising moves on the stage, lashings of old skool house sounds with up to date electronica and improvised percussion. It's a mish mash of sound yet captivating to watch. 
VESSELSHow the hell we've never managed to cross paths with Vessels before i'll never know. This Leeds band have been around for many years now and the live experience is gripping. Building songs rather than playing them out, Vessels 2014 are constantly reinventing themselves it seems. Heavily layered again with electronics, the live drums are machine-like perfect and they build these ambient songs into magnificent powerful crescendos
MELT YOURSELF DOWNIt's party time inside the Noisey tent when Melt Yourself Down take to its stage. Jazz and funk instrumentals might not be in attendance at most festivals, maybe barring Womad, but on this note it should be mandatory. It's frantic and infectious, carnival like in fact. An absolute joy to watch.

And there you have it, our thoughts and insight into this ever-growing small (ish) festival in Yorkshire. Tickets are already flying out for next year so get along to Beacons in 2015 and we'll hopefully see you there.

Words - Pete Jackson

Beacons Festival 2015 early bird tickets SOLD OUT

                                     weekend tickets available HERE

More photo's coming soon