Bearded Theory Festival 2016 Review

This Spring bank holiday I was delighted to attend my first Bearded Theory Festival at Catton Hall, South Derbyshire in the heart of the National Forest. 

I was impressed with this festival from the off.  The festival staff were extremely friendly and helpful and the chilled out, relaxed vibes were apparent immediately.  It’s clear that the organisers care about the festival experience for the punters and strive year and year to make improvements on previous editions.  I was hit by the colour and beauty of the surroundings and it was clear a lot of effort had gone into making this a special weekend. 

The diverse musical lineup included some household names such as the Bearded Theory favourites the Levellers who played to a packed crowd on the Friday.

My personal Friday highlight was ska/reggae band New Town Kings who had the Woodlands crowd in the palm of their hands with their perfect party tunes. 

It’s not just the headline acts that define a festival, the many important supporting acts are often the hidden gems that really make it a great experience.  The Something Else Tea Tent was a perfect example of this.  The curator of this solar powered tent had put on a line-up of established and up and coming artists and lots of festival goers I spoke to thought this was the best tent at the festival. 

In the tea tent on the Saturday Chantelle Barrow played her first ever festival slot.  Chantelle is an established singer and guitarist but she didn’t often get the chance to play out her own material.  From the reaction of the crowd I think she should play her own stuff more often.

Next up in the Tea Tent was Maelor Hughes who charmed the crowd with his Northern wit and singalong tunes.

Saturday’s Pallet Stage headliners were Public Image Ltd who put on a commanding and attention grabbing performance.

Over in the Woodlands Jack Savoretti closed the night with a heartfelt performance of songs from his ten year career. 

This family friendly festival has with lots to keep children and adults busy and even has an Ofsted registered school which 100s of children attended on the Friday. 

Another venue I enjoyed was the Magical Sounds tent reminiscent of a psychedelic rave where revellers of all ages dance until the early hours.

Sunday headliners Squeeze finished the weekend of in style. 

Whether you want to relax or go wild and dance the night away you will find something here to please you.  See you next year Bearded Theory.

Creamfields 2015 Review

This August Bank Holiday Weekend 2015 I returned to Creamfields for the first time in over a decade to see the “cream” of international DJs perform to tens of thousands of revellers a day.

I arrived fashionably late on the Friday evening and was pleased to see the hospitality campsite still had plenty of space for me to pitch my tent.

I soon made my way out into the festival arena.  Not every arena was open on the Friday but the ones that were were very busy.

Rebel Sound (also known as David Rodigan, Chase & Status, Shy FX and MC Rage) headlined one of the numerous big top arenas that night.  The predominantly young and very lively crowd lapped up the old skool jungle vibes.

Over in the Mega Arena trance God Armin Van Buuren headlined with his first set of the weekend (he was playing on Saturday too).  He played a mix of new and old tracks, closing the night with his new tune featuring Mr Probz, Another You.

Photo courtesy of Creamfields

Saturday for me was all about the Chemical Brothers, in my opinion the greatest live dance act on the circuit.  They headlined the North Stage with a sound and vision extravaganza featuring amongst other things a giant robot and big bouncy balls.

Photo courtesy of Creamfields

Earlier in the day I’d spent some time in the Smirnoff House for Ben Pearce’s disco set which included Todd Terje’s Inspector Norse.  Mistajam played a garage classics set and the young ravers enjoyed being up close and personal with the Radio 1Xtra star.  A party set from him followed which started with Ghostbusters (yes really!).

Photo courtesy of Creamfields

The highlight of Sunday for me came very early when I, a few hundred others and Fatboy Slim met up at the South Stage at 9am.  We were all given black caps and rain ponchos and were instructed to lie on the pre-drawn white lines on the grass in the shape of a smiley face in an attempt to break a UK record.  Now this might sound like an easy task but when you take into account that most of the group were a little worse for wear and hadn’t been to sleep all night you might get an idea of what really went down.

Fatboy Slim was extremely friendly and hung around for photos, hugs and kisses with anyone who wanted them after the helicopter had passed overhead to take photos.  It was a lot of fun and well worth getting up early for.

Sunday ended up as clash central for me with legendary DJs in almost every tent including Paul Oakenfold, Sasha and Paul Van Dyk.  Along with the slightly older DJs came the slightly older crowd.

The Pepsi Max Arena on the Sunday became the trance tent where Ferry Corsten pleased the arms aloft crowd with gems such as Rank 1’s Airwave.

Photo courtesy of Creamfields

It was a tough choice deciding which DJ to end the festival with with big names such as Axwell and Ingrosso, Hardwell, Fatboy Slim and Tiesto all playing at the same time.

Fatboy Slim played a crowd pleasing set which was slightly more commercial than the set I’d seen him play at Bugged Out Weekender earlier this year.  This suited the Creamfields crowd well as they stomped along to favourites such as Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat.

Over on the South Stage Tiesto headlined with big tunes including the infamous Adagio for Strings.

When 11pm came around it was time for the fireworks and the last tunes to ring out.  The young ravers were sad it was all coming to an end but were already making plans for next year.

Photos by:
Alex Lonsdale
Anthony Mooney
Geoffrey Hubbel
Katy Davies
Marc de Groot
Nathan Damour
Toyin Oshodi
Warren Simmens
Howard Hill

Electric Daisy Carnival UK 2015 Review

The world renowned Electric Daisy Carnival returned to the UK on 11 July for its 3rd edition. 

One week before the festival excitement on social media was reaching its peak.  Around this time I stumbled across a group on Facebook for people going solo to EDC.  By the day of the festival there were over a 100 people in this group from not only all corners of the UK but from further afield too.

A number of us decided to meet up at Lake Furzton, Milton Keynes, close to the festival site, the morning of a festival.  The sun was shining and we were all in good spirits.  A short while after the gates opened we made the short walk over to the north entrance of the National Bowl where entry was dealt with quickly and efficiently. 

I soon hit the KineticFIELD, a lush green and wooded area which is set in a gigantic bowl meaning no matter where you stood in the arena you had a great view of the stunning KineticCATHEDRAL main stage.  With a glowing neon pipe organ bookended by gigantic, 45 foot tall twin owls, the stage played host to a full stage show incorporating dozens of performers, and of course DJs including Steve Aoki and Hardwell, that unfolded throughout the day.  The 90 feet high and 240 feet wide structure weighs more than 200 tons.  It featured 20 multi-coloured lasers and multiple massive LED screens, giving the illusion of detailed stained-glass windows to match the cathedral theme.  

I took a break from the KineticFIELD to check out the rest of the site.  It was a very hot day but at the chill tent the wellbeing crew were on hand giving out water and sun cream to festivalgoers (or Headliners as EDC prefers to call us).  This was a nice touch. 

Around the back of the main arena I came across the NeonGARDEN.  The stand out set here came from  headliner Jamie Jones. 

I walked a little further and hit the CircuitGROUNDS, a playground for lovers of bass heavy beats.  This large tent was very busy all day and Pendulum and Sub Focus went down a storm. 

My favourite of the smaller arenas was the CosmicMEADOW where the sweet sounds of trance and electronic rang out.  Cosmic Gate put in an awesome performance in the afternoon.  Later in the evening trance legend Ferry Corsten showcased his new track Anahera under his alias GouryellaPaul Van Dyk headlined this stage to a smaller than usual crowd due to his clash with Tiesto in the KineticFIELD.

At 9.30pm most of the 35,000+ ravers descended on the KineticFIELD to see the aforementioned legend that is Tiesto close the show.  He was accompanied by a full on stage show including fireworks, waterfalls and streamers.  It was a sight to behold from up on the hill.  His set included my personal favourite, his iconic remix of Adagio for Strings.    

Photo courtesy of Insomniac

EDC UK is a very well organised festival in a wonderland setting.  It has excellent production values not only on the main stage but in all four arenas.  EDC UK has established itself as a festival big boy so the others had better watch out!