Take a trip down the A59 in Sawley, Lancashire, at the beginning of July each year, and you’ll soon come across one of the quaintest and most atmospheric festivals Britain has to offer; The Beat-Herder Festival. Now in it’s seventh year, Beat-Herder’s organisers have maintained a firm grasp on what has made this festival such a success in such a short time; to simply bring people together to enjoy the beats and barminess that this festival oozes. Despite the rain’s best efforts to put a dampener on the weekend, this year’s Beat-Herder proves to be one of the best yet.
Not only does Beatherder pride itself on bagging some of the best dance/electro/reggae bands around, but it’s sense of community and camaraderie is clear given just how many local bands and Djs perform throughout. Make your way to the Toil Trees at any point in the weekend and there‘ll always be something happening as, from 11am to 4am, the trees are alive with the sound of DJ sets from the likes of D/R/U/G/S, Fake Blood, Utah Saints and a marathon 6 hour set from Mr Scruff on the Sunday.
The Beat-Herder & District Working Men’s Social Club hosts an array of hilarious and entertaining acts over the course of the weekend, from holding a Beat-Herder’s Got Talent contest on the Saturday to stand out performances from up-and-coming comedy musical duo Frisky and Mannish, and the one and only Black Lace bringing the ‘A Ga Do-Do-Do’ to the Club Tropicana themed tent.
Two tone legends The Beat and the godfather of reggae Lee Scratch Perry soothe everyone’s Sunday hangovers with their easy going rock steady tunes, whilst Yorkshire legend and Beat-Herder veteran Captain Hotknives puts the world to rights in the BH&DWMSC tent with his comedic ditties about racist wildlife and the disappointing array of confectionaries available on trains. Bringing the weekend to a close is main stage headliner Kraak & Smaak, who raise the roof and go out with a bang with their own brand of electronic funk.
A first time attendee to this festival would have difficulty finding the time to see all of the delights Beatherder has to offer. Walk up the path into the woods and you’ll all of sudden find yourself in the middle of a street; a street adorned with a church, a garage, a bar and a fully functioning tattoo parlour where all across the weekend, people are inked with the iconic Beat-Herder sheep and speaker logo. Take a closer look at the red telephone box; you’ll see it in fact reads ‘Teleport’ across the top; investigate further and you’ll find a tunnel, leading either to the other Teleport box at the other side of the woods, or peering out from behind bars at the folk meandering through the woods. Stroll up to the stalls, and you’ll be spoilt for choice for.
All too soon, it’s Monday morning and we’re in a queue of muddy cars heading back to reality. My only quibble with The Beat-Herder Festival it always seems to be over far too quickly. Roll on next year and the quirky fun it may bring.
Review by Emma Stone