The Beat Herder prides itself on being a festival like no other and has firmly established itself as one of the best festivals of the summer, constantly evolving and improving. 17 lovingly crafted stages set across the Ribble Valley site in Lancashire catered for all types of music taste. Each year there’s the promise of new arena to wet your appetite. This year that was Trash Manor, which got an upgrade from a red & yellow stripy tent to a stately manor complete with a roman style fountain and grinding robots.
What I love most about this festival is the attention to detail. It’s in abundance everywhere, from the flower boxes to site signage, to my favourite hangout – Quality Street (a street complete with a sweetshop, barbers, tattooist, garage, hotel and a parish church). The whole site is built from reclamation yards and the organisers positively encourage punters to explore the every nook and cranny, after all it’s not just about the music.
The DIY ethic is also noticeable in the refreshing absence of corporate sponsorship and that’s how fans want to keep it. This year however, heritage drinks brand Jägermeister unveiled their new festival experience ‘Unearthed’. Jägerhaus comprised four separate spaces that offered festival-goers an immersive experience which differs between night and day to reveal secret rooms and passages. The two story wooden shack had a Germanic mountain lodge feel and complete with hexagonal pool table and funky stags heads. There were notable sets from Raff Daddy (2 bears) and Mike Skinner over the weekend, though the venue never quite set the festival alight in its promise. Is this a sign that Beat Herder losing their independent roots, I sincerely hope not….
Matt Whalley from Blackburn said “Beat Herder was amazing as per usual but no more expansions please. Stay true to your loyal fans and don’t go commercial.”
This years Beat Herder was a special one…. their tenth birthday and they invited some of original line up back to celebrate it with them. It’s hard to believe that only ten years ago that Beat Herder was a little known 1,200 capacity rave in the woods. Those numbers have swelled to 15,000, and it’s the wide range of music, and the lovely Lancashire charm that keeps people coming back year on year. Lifers even dedicate their love with a BH sheep logo tattoo. I was tempted myself…but maybe next year.
The main arena opened at 4pm on Friday, giving punters a chance to set up, acclimatise and get pretty drunk by the time the first acts came on. Over the weekend we saw a good caliber of acts from local bands to well-known international dance artists. Here are my highlights.
As Friday evening fell UK base artist Melé & frequent collaborator Slick Don played to young and hyped crowd in Pratty’s Ring. Belting out a host of heavyweight euphoric dance tunes Slick Don urged people to get on shoulders and rise above the crowds. Melé has been steadily rising in the ranks due to his quick mixing style and increasing radio play of his summery anthen Ambience, earning the support of Annie Mac, Mista Jam and Pete Tong.
Securing a huge electronic dance act such as the Basement Jaxx must have been no mean feat for the organisers and what better way to celebrate their 10th anniversary. The Jaxx did not disappoint as they brought their carnival-esque and energetic show to close Friday’s proceedings on the main stage. They ran through their galaxy of hits from Where’s Your Head At, Good Luck, Red Alert, Do Your Thing, Raindrops, as well as showcasing material from their new album Junto Never Say Never. It seemed as if the whole of beat herder, young and old were bouncing in the air to the finale to Bingo Bango. A job well done.
If you’ve ever seen A. Skillz live you know the man is a wizard on the decks. On Saturday evening the DJ extraordinaire set The Fortress alight with a pounding wave of scratching, sampling and mixing, fusing together, hip-hop, dance, breaks, DnB, soul, funk and disco. We heard mash-ups of everything from Eurhythmics, Nirvana, Damien Marley, The Champs, Route 94, Brookes Brothers. Too many hands-in-the-air moments to mention, and with fire canons lighting up the crowd, this was ASkillz at his very best and it was ridiculously good.
I seem to follow the same pattern each year, and 2015 was no exception; swing dancing on Sunday morning followed by a jerk chicken in the sunshine, then over to the Toil Trees stalwart Mr Scruff’s for one of his legendary 5 hour sets. Accompanied by Mc Kwasi’s cheery infectious nature, his chilled out vibes make you want to smile & dance. He starts off with some more laid back grooves, that build to a more jungle funk to a trip-hop vibe. Towards the end of the set most people are waving their hands in the air and singing along to ‘Hot 8 Brass Band’s – Sexual Healing’. Like A.Skills there are no genres that he won’t touch jazz, motownesque horns, funk, hip hop, ska, reggae, disco and house are all up for his treatment. Sunday’s are made for this.
The sun shone gloriously in the afternoon Crazy P took to the main stage. Championing disco-house vibes lead singer Danielle’s big personality and on stage energy adds a huge amount to their live band performances. She high-kicks the crowd out of their final day sluggish state showcasing their latest offerings from the excellent ‘Walk Dance Talk Sing’ – ‘Cruel Mistress’, Scrap the book, Like a Fool, Hear my Song, The Come On; as well as throwing in some crowd pleasing older favourites ‘Love on the Line and ‘Eruption’.
Caroline Greener from Leeds said “Crying with laughter multiple times, warm crowds, dancing till my feet hurt, being with an amazing group of friends in a magical place where rainbows live and fireworks fill up your eyes. Thanks beatherder!”
This is my fourth year of herding beats in Sawley. I almost don’t want to publish this review for others to see. I want to keep this wonderful festival for the few thousand in the know. When something’s this good it would be rude to share, surely….
Selling out in advance has become something of a given for the festival, which celebrates its landmark 10th anniversary this year. This will be the 9th year in a row that all tickets have gone in advance.
In other exciting news, legendary British electronic-duo Leftfield have been announced as Sunday night headliners. They will be closing the festival on Beat-Herder's main stage and replace Sugarhill Gang, who have sadly had to postpone due to health issues.
From humble free party origins to an annual three-day 12,000 capacity bonanza with a legion of devout fans, Beat-Herder is a rare find in today’s climate: a staunchly independent festival that stays true to its roots, completely shunning all corporate sponsorship or branding.
"We're over the moon about having yet another sell out event; our 9th in a row! We're looking forward to an amazing and very special 10th birthday with some surprises in store, and which is looking set for, dare I say it, great weather too." Nick Chambers, Beat-Herder Festival founder.
FULL LINE UP (ALPHABETICAL ORDER)
08:58 / 2 BAD MICE / 47 SOUL / A-SKILLZ / AFRIQUOI / ANDREW WEATHERALL / ANDROID SISTERS / ANDY PYETT / ANNIE TT / ARCTIC LAKE / BASEMENT JAXX / BIG JIM / BLAENAVON / BLISS ZION / BODIE / BOE & LEE / BOMBSTRIKES / BORN IN A BARN / BOXED IN / BY THE RIVERS
CAMPO / CAPTAIN HOTKNIVES / CATZ N DOGZ / CAUSA / CHAPTER 4 / CHEZTIKOV BROS / GOAT BOY / CHRIS HOLT / COJO / CRAZY P / DANIEL AVERY / DAVE ANGEL / DEAN MCPHEE / DJ CLUMSY / DJ FFLYFFILYFBYBL / DOHNUT / DOPE TRIK / DREADZONE / DREAM THEMES / DRUM MACHINE / DUB DADDA / DUB PISTOLS / DUB REAKTION / DUB SMUGGLERS / DUTTY MOONSHINE / EARTHDOCTOR / EATSTATIC / ED STONES & THE BD3 / EDDIE EARTHQUAKE / EROL ALKAN / FATHER FUNK / FEATURECAST / FIRE BENEATH THE SEA / FOLKESTRA / FOXES FAUX / FRASER TT / FREAKY BITCHES / FREESTYLERS LIVE / GHOST CULTURE / GOOD FOXY / GRAEME PARK / GREAT SCOTT / GREG WILSON / GRIFFS MAGIC THEATRE / GRINNY GRANDAD / HECTOR BIZERK / HENGE / HORSE PARTY / INDIANIC / INSTRUMENT OF JAH / ITAL GUIDANCE / J BEAR & THE GIANTS / JAM TIDY / JAMBEATER / JAMES ATKIN / JAMES HOLROYD / JERAMIAH FERRARI / JOHN THE BAPTIST / JOHN TREE / JOHNNY CLASH / JON DASILVA / JUSTIN ROBERTSON / K-KLASS / KARL ROSCOE / KASSASSIN STREET / KEN EVIL / KIRAN LEONARD / KRYSKO/ LORD / LANCASHIRE HOTPOTS / LAWLESS / LAZY SUSAN / LINDSAY TT / LOO & PLACIDO / LOWDOWN DJ'S / LUMBERJACKS / LUNALOOP / LYONS & LA ZEL / MAR / CONSTANTINE / MARK TURNER / MARTEN HORGER / MARTHA REEVES / MATT MONTEZ / MATT PLYFORD / MATT TDK / MATTY B / MAURICE FULTON / ME & MY FRIENDS
/MESSENGER / MIAOUX MIAOUX / MIRANDA ARIEH / MISSKITTYFLIP / MISTAJAM / MISTER TOOLEY / MISTI VALENTINE / MOFO & BOZO / MOLLY TILSTON / MOOQEE / MOOSE FUNK SQUAD / MOUSE OUTFIT / MR BENN LIVE / MR SCRUFF / MR SWITCH / NAZIM ZIRYAB / NIGHTMARES ON WAX / PADDY STEER / PALACE / PAPA SHANTI MEETS NEMA KUTA / PAPER CRANES / PAROV STELAR / PAT TRASH TT / PAUL TAYLOR / PAUL THORNTON / PAUL WOOLFORD / PBR STREETGANG / PEACH TT / PETE FOXON'S SOUL TRAIN / PHIL HARTNOLL / PIMPSOUL / PLUMP DJS / PORT ISLA / RALPH LAWSON / RED EYE HIFI / RED J TT / RED TIN DAVE / RICHARD NORRIS / ROSS ALLEN / RUBBER KAZOO / RUM JIG / RUSS CUBAN / SACHA SCHWARTZ / SAM AND THE WOMP / SEAN P / SHIBA SAN / SIMON SCOTT DIMENSIONS / SKUTCH MANOS / SOLANA / SPAT-CHILLA / STEF M / STEVE THORPE / SUGARBEAT RESIDENTS / SUGARHILL GANG / SWING DANCE / TANTRUM DESIRE / TELEGRAM / THE KAYANITES / THE LEVELLERS / THE PIRATONES / TIM SHERIDAN / TIRIKILATOPS / TREVINO / UNDERGROUND ROOTS / UTAH SAINTS / VANILLA ACE / VIEKA / WILL JOSEPH COOK / YOUTH CLUB / ZION TRAIN
Following the announcement a couple of weeks back about The Fortress, a formidable 60 ft long corrugated steel rave stronghold complete with huge turrets and a DJ booth in the loft, Beat-Herder a delighted to reveal the second new stage for 2013 – The Maison D’Etre.
Unlike The Fortress which features a huge soundsystem and an exclusively DJ led line up, The French themed Maison D’Etre will play host to Beat-Herder’s strong new bands contingent, featuring the likes of hotly tipped buzzy acts such as Public Service Broadcasting, TOY, Temples, To Kill a King, Sicknote, Roosevelt, Concrete Knives and many more.
At 15m squared and channelling rural French peasant chic, with quaint shutters and washing lines, the Maison D’Etre will provide an intimate setting to see the next big things and is a welcome addition to the festival.
Full 2013 Line Up:
GROOVE ARMADA DJ SET / BURAKA SOM SISTEMA / JIMMY CLIFF / CHIC FEATURING NILE RODGERS / BOOKA SHADE LIVE / NORMAN JAY MBE / FEED ME DJ SET / JAGUAR SKILLS / KISSY SELL OUT / STANTON WARRIORS / MISTAJAM / RONI SIZE AND DYNAMITE MC / SHACKLETON LIVE / TOM STARR / BANCO DE GAIA LIVE + DJ SET / CLEAN BANDIT / KORMAC’S BIG BAND / MR SCRUFF / GENTLEMAN’S DUB CLUB / BONDAX / TEMPLES / TO KILL A KING / SKINNY LISTER / FEATURECAST / PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING / CONCRETE KNIVES / GRINNY GRANDAD / MUMBAI SCIENCE / DUB PISTOLS DJ SET
SLAMBOREE / PRINCE FATTY FT. THE HORSEMAN / SHARAM JEY / THE OTHER TRIBE / ROOSEVELT / TOY / EDU IMBERNON / JUSTIN ROBERTSON / ELITE FORCE / JON CARTER / UTAH SAINTS / RENNIE PILGREM / SUNS OF ARQA / SHEPDOG / MR BENN / DAN CROLL / JOE DRISCOLL & SEKOU KOUYATE / CUT LA ROC / ONLY JOE / BARRY ASHWORTH / BEANS ON TOAST
IDJUT BOYS / DIZRAELI & THE SMALL GODS / DUB MAFIA / FREEFALL COLLECTIVE / PAUL TAYLOR / D.A.V.E. THE DRUMMER / EDDY TEMPLE MORRIS / JOSH WAVE / DOCTOR & THE MEDICS / KRYSKO / THE SQUATTERS / RANDOM HAND / LOW DOWN & DIRTY DJS / THE INEXPLICABLES / EXTRA LOVE / CAZAL / GIDEON CONN / USHTI BABA / SOUND ASSEMBLEY / THE DARLINGTONS / FORMBY IN DA CLUB / THE SQUIRE OF GOTHOS / DANKLE
CABLE STREET COLLECTIVE / DUB DADDA (ZION TRAIN) / FATHER FUNK / GEMMA FURBANK / GINNY KOPPENHOL / THE IMPRINTS / JOSH P (STYLUS) / MOUNTAIN OF LOVE / THE RAGAMUFFINS / ROOM FULL OF MIRRORS / SICKNOTE / THEPETEBOX / COLOUR THE ATLAS
OLIVIA FERN / DOHNUT / KARL ROSCOE / BISCUITHEAD & THE BISCUIT BADGERS / WOLFIE RAZMATAZZ / TOM JARVIS / BANE / PAUL THORNTON / CHRIS HOLT / THE 59ERS / TICKER LE PUNK / UNDERGROUND ROOTS FT. DAN MAN & BONGO CHILLI / 1ST AIDE / JOHNNY CLASH / AXIS SOUNDSYSTEM / DUB SMUGGLERS / LA LA AND THE BOO YA / TOM JARVIS / STACEY COHEN / LEWIS GARLAND / NATHAN BALL / CLAYTON BLIZZARD / THE YUYA
BENTLEY RHYTHM ACE DJ SET / CAPTAIN HOTKNIVES / RUSS CUBAN / MONSTER CEILDH BAND / MOOQEE / VELVET STREAM / GEORGE EZRA / TOO MANY T'S / CLUB SMITH / EXTRA CIRRICULAR / TONI JARVIS / THE LANCASHIRE HOTPOTS ACOUSTIC CONQUISTADOR / DUTTY MOONSHINE / EDDIE EARTHQUAKE & THE TREMORS / THE RESONATORS
ANGIE DA SILVA / BANANA DAVE / CHAPTER 4 / COJO / DANEJAH & RAGGA RAGGA / DR CUMBFYNSTEIN / IRIE VIBES / JAMBEATER / JAYNEY MAC / JIMI JIM BOB / MATT BUGGINS / MATTY B / MESSENGER SOUND SYSTEM / NORTHERN SCHOEY / OLD BOY / POM / PRINCE LIUIJAH / RAMON JUDAH / ROOTS LAB INT RADIO DJS / SMEGS / SPAT / STEVE BARKER / STEVE JARVIS / STRICTLY BUSINESS / THE FARMER / THE PROPER NORTH / TIM FORRESTER
WOLFIE ELECTROSWING / RUM JIG / ED STONES & THE BD3 / FOXES FAUX / CORPORATE TRAMPS / JAMES KELLY / AGE OF GLASS / ANDY CAPS FUNKY DISCO / FIRE BENEATH THE SEA / PEPPER JAM / EMMOTT & THE FOLKESTRA BUNTY / SILVER TORTOISE / HANG PROJECT / KALIKA / THE WONDERFUL SOUND OF THE CINEMA ORGAN / RIDERS IN THE SKA / STEE BOWDEN / KING SUMMAT / WAKA / RED TIN DAVE / GLYN BAILEY / TOOLEY / LOUISE & THE RIGHTEOUS BEES / STAGGER LEE FISHER / JONNIE COMMON / ADAM & PIWI / AGE OF GLASS / WISEGOLDFISH / WOLFSON & WINTERS / JAMIE BREWER / PHIL SMITH / BLOWJANGLES / EARTH DOCTOR / ALL WE ARE / DANIELLE & COWBELL / PURPLE TURTLE / RUBBER KAZOO
THE BAR STEWARD/ GRITTY BRITAIN / SONS OF VAL DOONICAN / WOODEN MACHINE / LOVE EM TOUCH EM SQUEEZE EM / SKINNY DJ / THE YORKSHIRE PUDDINGS / NANA MOON / BREAKBEATROOT / MISS MCQ
Heading to Lancashire’s Ribble Valley for a UK festival exclusive will be The Netherlands’ finest electronic live act Kraak & Smaak. The Dutch trio will be headlining the coveted Beat-Herder Sunday evening slot along with their full live band. XFM’s Eddy Temple Morris will be entertaining the Friday evening crowds with the Sugarbeat Club in the woods along with Lancashire born DMC champion DJ Woody. Ambient techno outfit System 7 have also been added to the Saturday line- up with Jalapeno Sound System providing the funky beats on Sunday evening in the woods.
The aptly name Rajazzle Tent will see additions of Stealing Sheep , Mr Woodnote and Lil Rhys and Middleman and venue Trailer Trash will see additions Drum Machine (as featured on Britain’s Got Talent), The 59ers and Dub Smugglers. STUMBLEFUNK have added Skittles’n’that and Extra Love plus there will be DJ sets from Steve Thorpe and Ken Evil Vs Compa. Venues Smokey Tenticles and The Perfumed Garden Stage will welcome a host of DJs and live acts and the Bushrocker Hifi will play home to a plethora of DJs spinning roots, reggae and dub including Asher G- The Rocksteady Daddy who will be a sure fire hit with his blend of rare, raw and hardcore ja music.
These additions join the previously announced Saturday headliners, British electronic pioneers Orbital, dub king Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, legendary French house producer Etienne de Crecy and Euro pop perfection Black Lace who will be performing in the Working Men’s Club. Making their UK festival debut will be The Parov Stelar Band who will be entertaining the crowds with a full six piece band. Psychedelic rock, electronica and techno will come courtesy of Death In Vegas , ska kings The Beat, Drum and Bass legend Goldie, Border Community founder James Holden, label mate Nathan Fake, and Ninja Tune’s finest export Mr Scruff further make up The Beat-Herder’s varied and carefully considered line up, which can be read in its entirety below.
Complete Line- Up
Death In Vegas
DJ Sneak Beats
Dub Jazz Sound System
Eddie Earthquake & The Tremors
Electric Swing Circus
Ellen & The Escapades
Etienne De Crecy
Freestylers (DJ Set)
Frisky & Mannish
Grinny Grandad Live
Jalapeno Sound System
Japenese Popstars Dj Set
Jinx in Dub
Keep the Drummer Happy
Ken Evil Vs Compa
Kiki deVille & The Cadillacs
Kitten & The Hip
Kraak & Smaak
Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry
Mr Woodnote and Lil Rhys
Parov Stelar Live
Red Tin Dave
Rumour Has It
Shepdog (NICE UP!)
Smerins Anti Social Club
Sunday Afternoon Toil Trees session with Mr Scruff & MC Kwasi
The Banana Sessions
The Orb Sound System
The Other Tribe
The Wonderful Sound of the Cinema Organ
Tidal Beats drum workshop
Toni Jarvis (Toolroom)
Yes Sir Boss