Still in it’s infancy as a festival, Beacons can celebrate another successful year, triumphing the desired traits that are long becoming a forgotten dream for the more mainstream events.
The notion of like-minded music lovers congregating in a field to appreciate and to recognise great bands has gradually been placed on the back burner, in favour of astronomical ticket prices and the desire to herd as many people in as possible to boost profits.
Beacons festival though is back to basics, it’s quaint, it’s picturesque, beautiful and contrastingly, quite cultish. You get the impression that the organisers have spent the time planning the perfect layout and generally moulding the agreeable atmosphere instead of sitting in an office sifting through their pound notes, redirecting school buses straight to site and salivating over the prospect of persuading scores of has-been/teenage wet dreams to make their annual UK appearance.
Bearing that in mind Beacons had one major trick up it’s sleeve and it’s the most obvious ruse of all, the ace of spades, the secret ingredient to a music lovers festival brew you might say, one that sometimes can be mistaken as a foregone conclusion yet so mightily critical, that imposition being the producers of a fucking brilliant line-up.
On that note some would accuse the Beacons talent recruiters of playing with fire, treading the wafer thin line between genius and insanity; could they not remember the turbulence and torment caused when mother nature unlocked the flood gates back in 2011, forcing the festival site to uproot and the artists it was to entertain to temporarily relocate to the safe, dry haven of Leeds’ local, significantly smaller haunts?
Surely not, yet the powers that be went ahead in grabbing a series of acts that, out of all our universe boasts, harbour the potential to provoke Gaia’s psychosis, rouse the rapture or, at least, stir a merciless storm. Well, If the Beacons agents were indeed playing with fire then one thing is for sure, they rose from the ashes of their festival pyromania like a musical phoenix; in selecting the thunderous, cloud piercing riffs of Drenge, Wire, Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, Moon Duo, Hookworms, Eagulls, Esben and the Witch and Savages, naming but a few, to ring out around Yorkshire’s otherwise dainty dales they certainly ensured an aspect of doom but no gloom. Yes the rain came, what else could we expect? But nobody really gave a toss, the enthralling, rebellious energy spewing from each stage’s, notably the You Need To Hear This sound system saw to that.
Practically, all stages are encompassed within the safe, musical womb of rubbery tent walls or in the case of the You Need To Hear This Stage, a marquee. There were mumblings amongst some of the press in attendance that the stages were on the small side, emphasising the Y. N. T. H. T. marquee, insinuating that it was little more than a glorified tent one might find at a wedding and, in honesty, it would be hard to refute their moans. But what they failed to recognise was that it made the bands, and their artistry far more personal, their sound equally as rich, both delights that are usually diluted at festivals, from a viewing and listening perspective at least.
As much as the amp crucifying heat of the aforementioned acts duly melted the chocolate box scenery of Skipton, there was a plethora of ways in which one could cool down, seek some rest bite and rejuvenate the soul after lengthy Rock & Roll exposure: Enchanting, Beacons idiosyncrasies like the Into The Woods area were latched onto new, voluptuous ventures such as The Space Between in which cosmic comfort could be sought in the form of early morning Yoga classes, philosophical lectures, philanthropic art projects and an enticing variety of other creative crusades, including film screenings, that a certain Shane Meadows and his Q&A/viewing of the Stone Roses contemporary second coming undeniably stole the show of.
The eclectic mix of activities available in the piquant pastures away from the stage was, in fact, to be symbolic for the musical offerings on it; although not exactly to our taste, the waves of dance and electronica that rolled in as the sun bid it’s goodbyes attracted masses of the type who’s loyalties reside in the diligent use of decks, with the likes of SBTRK, Bonobo, John Talabot and Gold Panda on hand to supply the kicks for those partial to computer generated, sonic fun. Yet, maintaining musical unity, both genres were able to meet in the middle for a Red Stripe, and dare I say a spliff, at The Social tent for some dynamic, award winning dub via the M.B.E anointed talents of David Rodigan, as the internationally renowned Reggae selecta set to work in spinning a fantastic set of records ranging from the early roots of Desmond Dekker right through to the dangerously high tempo’s of Drum & Bass.
The general feeling of community is integral to the Beacons festival spirit, with the inclusion of Leeds’ Whitelocks Real Ale House, providing the beer, and our particular favourites Reds BBQ and Gandhi’s flip-flop dishing out the grub for the weekend’s hungry revellers. On top of that available boutiques set up in the nooks and crannies of the site, primed for the alter ego’s of the festival fans to flourish as droves of attendees sporting glittery faces, animal get up’s and the occasional wedding dress sauntered round the site in all their glory.
Despite still being deemed the child of the festival circuit Beacons exudes maturity beyond its years, and as a result looks set to grow, healthily, into one of the most revered events of its kind, judging from the impeccable line-up, the people it attracts, the scenery it’s surrounded by and the benevolent aftermath felt by general attendees, press and artists alike then we’re sure there won’t be any problems posed whatsoever, not even by the English weather.
Lee Thomas-Mason & Josh Hevicon