The valleys are alive… with the sound of music.
Thousands of like-minded music lovers made camp at the foot of Sugarloaf Mountain this weekend to enjoy another inspiring Green Man Festival.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the greatest festival in the UK has to be Green Man. With beautiful music in equally beautiful surroundings, the atmosphere here is unlike any other.
Last year, my partner and I brought our 7-month-old to what would be our first festival as a family and our first Green Man. Initially worried about what to expect we soon became enchanted with its approach to live music, ethical values and it’s family friendly nature – we vowed to become regulars.
Unfortunately for us we would be begin our weekend on Friday which meant having to miss Thursday’s headliners, The Waterboys but from what I was told, the classic hits from their 80s album Fisherman’s Blues was the perfect end to the first night.
It must’ve been a good one because by the time we had rocked up, pitched the tent and headed into the festival for a pint we discovered the signature Growler Ale was already on the decline, not to worry though as the on-site beer and cider festival meant there was plenty on offer for ale and cider aficionados alike.
With the ground now nicely dried from the previous days down pour and with the sun blazing above the Black Mountains we settled ourselves in front of the Mountain Stage with a couple of cold ones.
The Augustines were just about to begin and the New York three-piece were the perfect way to kick start our weekend. Their crashing sound shook us out of the slump we were feeling after the journey down and when frontman Billy McCarthy announced it was his birthday the whole crowd erupted in an impromptu rendition of Happy Birthday. That Green Man spirit and friendliness reminded me how happy I was to be there.
Photo courtesy of Green Man Festival
Our toddler had danced himself silly so we thought we’d take a walk to settle him to sleep before heading back to the Mountain Stage for Daughter and headliners, Beirut.
As a parent, other people’s judgment is a constant and irrational worry. In normal life, seeing a baby up after 9pm might invite all manner of tuts and side glances, the beauty of Green Man though is that the experience is as much for children as it is for adults. Wagons padded out and adorned with fairy lights are the transport of choice for tired little legs and are more abundant than drunk teenagers, thankfully. Hiring one of these won’t break the bank either and it ensures headliners don’t have to be missed. Everyone’s happy.
The effort to maintain the ground management to ensure it’s accessibility for wheelchair users, pram pushers and wagon pullers alike is also of noteworthy importance. The whole arena is relatively flat and is a pleasure to walk around, and as night falls, the trees light up and the place is framed with fairy lights, it truly is a magical place.
Back at the Mountain Stage, Daughter provided a stunning set playing tracks from their debut album If You Leave and EP, The Wild Youth. The ethereal voice of Elena Tonra was an early highlight. Perhaps one of the most anticipated acts of the weekend, they certainty didn’t disappoint. Hearing the hauntingly beautiful, Still come to life was earth moving and you couldn’t help but get drawn in by the raw emotion of it all.
Photo courtesy of Daniel Harris
Nicely mellowed out, we struggled to fight back the desire to head back to the tent, we knew we’d made the right decision however when Beirut burst on stage.
The rapturous trumpets blew out the need to sleep and the hit filled set soon had us all on our feet. Frontman Zach Condon seemed genuinely thrilled to be given the top spot and they were clearly the perfect choice to end Friday’s festivities.
Photo courtesy of Alex Elms
Unzipping our tent the following morning and watching the mist rise over the Black Mountains was something special indeed, and as the clouds parted across the valley all that was left were blue skies.
After breakfast we headed over to the Little Folk Enclosure to catch The Flying Seagulls. We saw this merry band of performers last year and were fascinated by their mix of energy and madness, perhaps more so than some of the kids!
Our toddler eventually pulled his parents away from the Seagulls and took us over to I See Magical Creatures, a whimsical band of characters who encourage creativity and participation through arts and crafts. We stayed and painted a rhinoceros and then as you are encouraged to do, we hid him near a tree for someone to find. This was an adorable activity that allowed our imaginations to run free and kept our boy enthralled for a good while.
After wandering though Einstein’s Garden and chatting to some very clever and creative minds there, we decided to head over to the Far Out tent to catch reformed Swansea band, The Pooh Sticks. Their inoffensive indie had us bopping along and we hung out after to catch up-and-coming purveyors of modernist pop, Woman’s Hour.
After bumping into friends and family with their children we pitched up near the helter skelter for a bite to eat and planned our next musical move.
We hung around the Far Out tent long enough to catch Fat White Family, eager to see what all the fuss was about with these young lads.
After reading about the madness from some of their earlier gigs I was keen to see what extrovert frontman Lias Saoudi would bring. Shirtless and repeatedly off stage and in amongst it, the punk-ish behavior somehow wasn’t enough to distract from how musically brilliant these guys are. Yes, they’re over the top but that’s what makes them so addictive – it was certainly up there with one of the best performances of the weekend.
We decided to forego I Break Horses in favor of a pit stop back at the tent before heading back down to the Mountain Stage for the evening.
We caught the tail end of The War On Drugs, and as we approached I couldn’t help but notice how packed the crowd was. Lead singer Adam Granduciel belted out songs from new album Lost in the Dream and had everyone warmed up for Mercury Rev.
Photo courtesy of Daniel Harris
Playing their classic album, Deserters Song’s in its entirety, headliners Mercury Rev were phenomenal. Considered one of the highest rated albums of the year when it was released in 1998, it truly was a joy to hear live.
Sunday started much the same as Saturday. We spent far too much time singing along with the Flying Seagulls but managed to pull ourselves away when we heard the band begin for No Fit State Circus who were on site showcasing some of their amazing skills and acrobatics.
Having seen the company perform Bianco last year I was hoping to see a little more from No Fit State, their blend of carnival vaudeville circus techniques were fun but unfortunately I wasn’t blown away. It was worth hanging around just to listen to their band though who were stomping out all manner of Parisian infused cabaret music which really got the audience going.
Sunday was mostly a day for lounging and exploring. We wearily wandered around the Nature Nurture area, discovering the joys of bush craft and wished we’d had the foresight to book into the spa before deciding to push on through and head to the Babbling Tongues tent.
We were hoping to catch Howard Marks who was due to give a talk on Dylan Thomas to tie in with the centenary celebrations but unfortunately this was cancelled. However, we were able to chat all things Dylan Thomas with aficionado and number one fan, Jeff Towns who was on-site with his mobile bookstore, Dylan’s Book’s.
After a good chinwag we decided to head back to the tent to feed the kid and layer up for the evening.
We made our way to the Mountain Stage later that evening and settled in to catch First Aid Kit.
“Hello, we’re two Swedish sisters,” were the first words from beautiful songstresses Johanna and Klara Söderberg and I overheard someone suggest the large crowd was probably made up of men, eager to catch a glimpse of the stunning pair rather than take in the music.
Whatever your reason for being there, their beauty was matched by equally gorgeous vocals. Playing tracks from their new album Stay Gold, and peppered with earlier tracks like Wolf, their set had something for old and new fans.
Bringing the festivities to a close were folk legends, Neutral Milk Hotel who returned to the stage bringing with them a newfound vitality and spirit. After disbanding in 1998, they returned to touring last year and the reception they’ve received every since has been huge.
After having far too much fun we couldn’t bare to stay up to watch the Green Man burn, the annual flaming full-stop that marks the end of the weekend would mean it really is all over for another year.
With such an eclectic programme of acts each year it is clear to see why thousands flock here. The breathtaking backdrop is the perfect location to what is fast becoming one of the most highly anticipated festivals of the summer. Only 360 odd days until the next one!
It’s now two o’clock on Monday morning. My feet are numb, my ears are ringing and my tent is full of water and STILL this has been the best weekend I’ve had BY FAR since I sat in almost exactly the same spot this time last year.
Beacons festival is now in it’s third year and long may it continue. Aswell as being tucked away between some of the most perfect countryside I have seen and boasting lineups which have consistently excited me like a child on Christmas morning, the festival has another certain magic about it that is difficult to put into words until you experience it for yourself. It boasts an eclectic mixture of hipsters, underground music fans, families and artsy types, bringing in people from all walks of life and yet keeping focus on enjoying beautiful music and art. The Yorkshire Dales allow a wonderful setting to nurse a hangover and an excellent excuse to chomp on a succulent locally sourced hog roast.
Thursday was all about getting reaquainted with Beacons festival. Our first stop was for food, which took us on three laps of the arena before finally deciding on a fantastic little street food stall called Fish& for some delicious sweet chilli battered fish and chips. After this, we wandered into the ‘Impossible Lecture’ tent and caught the end of the previous performance. We were greeted by a naked, purple-haired lady, crowd surfing her way out of the tent. Welcome back!
Our Friday began to the washing ambient sounds of backwards facing ‘British Sea Power’ inside the main stage, which was hosted by ‘Loud & Quiet’ and ‘Last.fm’. This was certainly not a case for starting as we mean to go on though, as the next artist we saw was the person I was most looking forward to from the whole weekend. The much anticipated Dan Snaith (aka- Daphni) entered the Resident Advisor stage at 6.00pm to an eager crowd. Luckily for us, the tent was designed with blacked out windows, making it feel almost like the middle of the night. The green strobe lighting was mesmerizing and the atmosphere was certainly not negatively affected by Daphni’s early set time. A wave of excitement passed through the crowd as Snaith dropped his latest Caribou release, ‘Can't do without you’ from under the guise of his alter-ego. It was a noticeable turning point for the resident advisor tent, which went on to host blistering sets from first Daniel Avery, straight off the back of Drone Logic and finally the techno/house inspired Roman Flugel. Friday’s headliners over on the main stage were Daughter, who seemed a little uninspiring after the electric atmosphere within the Resident advisor tent. Although they sounded beautiful, with their haunting minimalist sound and the raw emotion portrayed through Elena Tonra’s vocals, it was a slight downer on the fun I had experienced in the Resident Advisor tent earlier. I am sure on another day, perhaps at a different festival, Daughter would have blown me away with exactly the same set.
Saturday catered for the house lovers over at the Red Bull Tent. The party started with Pariah, an R&S labelman from London, who would get any electronic underground fan nodding their head with his approach in the current wave of British dance music. The DJ entered the part-open stage at 6:00pm – allowing festival goers to ease themselves into Saturday evening whilst the glorious sunshine brought warm party moods well into the sunset hours. The critically acclaimed ‘Huxley’ kept the beats going into the night, leaving the crowd screaming in excitement with the much unexpected addition of ‘Space Cowboy’ by ‘Jamiroqui’ emerging through his heavy house beats. Joy Orbison continued where Huxley left off and finished the night in style.
Saturday’s headliner was Jon Hopkins and once again, he did not disappoint. Blowing the crowd away with his explosive and bass heavy, kaoss pad inspired soundscapes. His set was an unsettling, yet completely soothing experience. A master of his art, Hopkins is known for his intriguing aesthetic performances. Halfway through this particular set, an unexpected sea of colourful giant bouncy balls sailed through the crowd as excited fans punched them into the air creating a colourful explosion of orbs floating over the stage. After the initial excitement of feeling like you are a big kid in a ball pit (and of course the fantastic visuals) the excitement wore off and we realized that being banged in the head by those things actually quite hurt…
Sunday came and the heavens opened. The rain was torrential and so our day was planned around keeping dry, as well as who we would like to see. Tall Ships were the first band on our list and they played one of my favourite performances of the entire festival. T=0 being a highlight and it’s guitar hook has been stuck in my head ever since. After this we took position inside the Resident Advisor for Mano le Tough and then Dixon. Both of whom played quite similar sounding sets. Tough bordered more on house and modern disco, with Innervision’s founder Dixon edging towards progressive house and techno at times. The weather had put a downer on the day for me and although some people I had spoken rated Dixon as their highlight of the festival, I was not in the same mindset. The DJ seemed a little too similar to the artist previous which wasn’t his fault, but I found myself glad to move on from this tent by the time we needed to leave.
Once we had walked over to the final headline act, we were freezing and soaked to the bone. The rain was pouring and spirits were low. Darkside were make or break.
The guitar/electronica duo of Nicolas Jaar & Dave Harrington have some amazing tracks and there was a lot of hype around this performance, with Nicolas Jaar’s live set being one of the best around at the moment. The stage plunged into darkness for their entrance, before Jaar & Harrington took to the stage, which was a cloud of smoke. Spotlights set behind the stage made the two visible only as silhouettes, as they treated the rain-soaked crowd to a show that they will not forget in any hurry. Harrington’s live guitar added complimentary ambient textures to Jaar’s driving analogue synth sounds. A clued-up individual standing near me noted his use of max/msp for drum programming, which went completely over my head but sounded very impressive indeed.
I was completely blown away by Darkside. They were well worth persevering through the cold and rain; their expert shifts in tempo throughout their set shadowing the rollercoaster of a weekend we had experienced. ‘Paper Trails’ was magnificent and Jaar’s live vocals were such a refreshing thing to see and hear.
The fact that Beacons festival still kept it’s magic, even after one of the worst downpours I have experienced at a festival, speaks volumes for the place. Looking back now, as I sit in my little tent with my freezing toes, the past four days have been completely mind-blowing.
Thanks again Beacons festival…. see you next year.
This weekend will see the return of Beacons Festival which takes place in the Yorkshire Dales.
Having started out in 2011 this music festival has gone from strengh to strengh pulling together a top lineup of artists from all around the world and this years lineup is no different.
Topping the bill for 2014 are electronic musican collaborators Darkside, UK indie folk band Daughter, american rapper Action Bronson and English producer Jon Hopkins.
Other acts joining in on the action include the likes of Erol Alkan, Jackmaster, Carli XCX, Joy Orbison, Nightmares on Wax, Neneh Cherry, Dusky and a whole bunch more.
Our picks and must sees for this weekend are:
Action Bronson: This upcoming hip hop artist has been billed as the "next" Ghostface Killa and his legendary stage antics include recently eating someone's burger in front of the audience he was performing for and rapping from a porta-loo mid performance. This larger than life rapper is bound to put on a show that the Beacons Festival crowd will not want to miss.
Submotion Orchestra: Formed back in 2009 in Leeds, UK, this seven piece band plau a fusion of jazz, soul and dub and have been the favourites of the likes of Trevor Nelson, Jo Whiley and others. Their live stage shows are full of energy and they are bound to get you bouncing around as they take to the Beacons stage on Friday nite.
Dusky: Saturday at Beacons will see London electronic music duo Dusky hit the crowd with a set of producions so diverse its hard to classify them. Influnced by many genres, expect a fusion of house and techno and everything in between.
Darkside: Hailing from New York, Darkside are electronic music duo Nicolas Jaar and Dave Harrington. Having recently released a remix of Daft Punk's 2013 entire album Random Access Memories to high praise this duo has blown up playing festivals and events all around the world. Their latest album Psychic delivers a wide range of genre music and their live set is something not to be missed. Be sure to catch them at Beacons Festival closing out Sunday night.
Positivus Festival is a hidden gem in the Baltic States located in the picturesque coastal town of Salacgriva in Latvia. Taking place from 18th to 20th of July 2014, the festival brings a rich diversity of international chart toppers and underground emerging talent to the idyllic holiday location surrounded by woodland offering festival goers a variety of activities and plenty to explore across the three-day event. This years line-up boasts acts including; Kraftwerk, Bastille, Ellie Goulding, Elbow, Daughter, Junip, AlunaGeorge, The Kooks, Of Montrea, The 1975, Laura Mvula and many more!
Besides the music program or while you favorite band isn’t playing, you can stop for a drink at a beautiful beachside bar overlooking the Baltic Sea, have a rest at one of many lounge areas located in festival site, chillout in a hammock in the woods or get busy in the entertainment zone, on the central street of the festival.
Positivus Festival is renowned for it’s chilled out and relaxed vibe and offers a variety of activities for festival goers in the beautiful woodland surroundings. The Fashion Market is brimming with a wide variety of modern designer and vintage clothing, footwear, original accessories, stylish headwear and other artsy items, made in Latvia or in the neighbouring countries. The Cinema Tent offers festival visitors an inspiring program with the best films from the Baltic states and abroad, showing a wide variety of life stories from all around the world. The Food Court serves up a wide range of local and organic food. One of the new catering areas will be furnished as a cosy safe harbour, with a menu designed for raw and slow food enthusiasts, as well as vegetarians; the other area will be US trailer park themed, with speedy services and a vast variety of meals for every taste. The festival is also child friendly with the Kids Island hosting a variety of fun and exciting activities professional caretakers and teachers will supply them with safe, friendly and exciting activities for each day.
It that isn’t enough the festival even has it’s own Post Office with it’s own postcode LV-4099, enabling visitors to send their belongings to the campsite before the festival and back home after, thus making travelling that much easier.
Positivus Festival was also recognised in the 2013 European Festival Awards being a finalist in the categories for ‘Best European Festival Line Up’ and ‘Best Medium Sized Festival’. The 8th edition will take place from 18th to 20th of July 2014.
LINE-UP SO FAR
Kraftwerk, Bastille, Ellie Goulding, Elbow, The Kooks, The 1975, Daughter, Laura Mvula, Junip, Temples, Anna Calvi, Of Montreal, Mo, You Me At Six, Future islands, AlunaGeorge, NONONO, Chet Faker, Kid Karate, Birth Of Joy, King Charles, Pompeya, FM Belfast, And So I Watch From Afar
London’s intimate live music festival will play host to a typically eclectic and impressive array of headline artists alongside hotly tipped acts.
Opening on the first night will be London-based trio, Daughter. Fronted by Elena Tonra, their haunting melodies will set the tone for a programme of beautifully atmospheric live gigs. Next up will be Dublin-quartet Kodaline who’ll continue proceedings with their powerful blend of emotive rock. Having already gained a strong following after being nominated for the BBC Sound Poll 2013 and winning the EBBA Public Choice Award in 2013, the band have more than qualified the hype that has been lavished upon them.
Taking to the stage on the third evening of Summer Series is angelic Danish singer/songwriter Agnes Obel with her ethereal tones. Having won multiple Danish music awards including Best Album, Best Female Artist and Best Songwriter of the Year, Somerset House will provide a magical backdrop for her exquisitely melancholic vocals.
On 13 July, the incomparably outrageous Australian collective The Cat Empire touch down for their Summer Series debut for an evening guaranteed to make everyone dance. Renowned all around the globe as one of the world’s best festival bands, The Cat Empire have carved themselves a unique place in the musical firmament which will make for a truly unforgettable night.
Summer Series will then welcome the almighty Kelis to the courtyard stage. Known for years of chart-dominating songs including the infamous ‘Milkshake’ and thrilling, boundary-pushing music, Kelis will be bringing her raw and soulful show with her glittering hits to Somerset House.
The following evening will see the biggest-selling new British act of 2013, Bastille, arrive for an intimate show in their home city. With their debut album Bad Blood achieving platinum status in the UK, it’s clear Bastille’s Summer Series show will be welcomed by music lovers far and wide.
On 16 July, London fans will be delighted to see Glaswegian rockers Franz Ferdinand headline the evening’s events with their exuberant and eclectic indie rock. Back with their fourth album, it once again cements their status as a unique and adventurous British band. Scottish synthpop trio Chvrches will continue the Summer Series’ proceedings on 17 July. A band born on the Internet who quickly burst onto the music scene, their wizardry has already won them a top five place in the BBC Sound of 2013 Poll. A magical 80’s inspired, euphoric evening is expected from the band.
Hugely talented singer/songwriter of the moment Sam Smith will join the line-up for an epic evening on 18 July. His melancholic lyrics and unforgettable vocal have led to a Brits Critics Choice win and performances at festivals from Glastonbury to Coachella. Next up, hotly tipped chart-toppers Clean Bandit will headline on 19 July. Having had huge success with their number one hit ‘Rather Be’, the four-piece will bring their addictive dance-pop delights to Somerset House. Beats and soaring strings evoke Massive Attack while their live show calls on Basement Jaxx with a brand new twist.
Headlining the grand finale of the 2014 Summer Series will be insurmountable electro R&B adventurers Little Dragon. Anchored by the otherworldly vocals of front woman Yukimi Nagano, they will close proceedings with their phenomenal live show. Over the course of three albums, Little Dragon have pushed boundaries and shown they’re a dance act like no other.
Beacons Festival is pleased to reveal the first acts for 2014. New York opulent disco / astral funk duo Darkside, ethereal and intimate yet mountain-range massive sounding London trio Daughter and the elegantly crafted electronica tunes ofJon Hopkins will headline the festival.
The Fall, who will make a rare festival appearance are joined by Hookworms off the back of a huge 2013, Dixon who was Resident Advisor DJ of the year, Jools Holland favourite Melt Yourself Down, TOY, Daniel Avery, King Creosote, Sweet Baboo, Eagulls (after that Letterman performance) Max Graef, Money, Girl Band, Pins, Galaxians make up some of the first wave of bands.
The Thursday night welcome party will feature entertainment, expanded from last year to include a late night silent disco with special guest DJs. Art and Culture will again be an integral part of the festival. A new field named Hunters Field will accompany an expanded arts area, The Space Between, a larger Dawsons Art Hashhouse and the new outdoor stage, The Argyle. Entertainment will range from spoken word, yoga, film and documentary Q&As and meet The Brewers, with 5 Point Brewery being confirmed so far.
Beacons Festival has grown a reputation for providing festivalgoers of all ages with an extensive selection of award winning street food. This year the area is larger with confirmed vendors by REDS true BBQ, Laynes Coffee, Patty Smith burgers, Dough Boys pizza, Mothercluckers chicken and Bundobust (Indian street food/ craft beer combo).
Other festival highlights include The Diddy Rascals family area, which is also getting a revamp and will double in size. The Whitelocks Ale tent will feature the anticipated and expanded Ale festival. A new beer tent from Leeds’ hottest new venue, Belgrave Music Hall are amongst the new additions to Beacons Festival.
“Keeping Beacons going after the flood in 2011 has been really hard, but when Wild Beasts headlined in 2012 the stars realigned and it was totally worth it. Now I don’t think about booking acts just to sell tickets. With Dixon, Jon Hopkins and Daniel Avery on site over the weekend we genuinely feel we have the 3 best producers in the world at the moment so we are well chuffed” Ash Kollakowski, Beacons Festival
ALL CONFIRMED BANDS:
NIGHTMARES ON WAX
EAST INDIA YOUTH
MELT YOURSELF DOWN
MANO LE TOUGH
As the Green Man Festival 2014 tickets go on sale, we have the details of the first lineup phase announced for this years event which includes the wonderful Beirut, Neutral Milk Hotel, First Aid Kit, Kurt Vile & The Violators, Daughter, Anna Calvi, Sharon Van Etten, Polica, Jeffrey Lewis, Tunng and Toy.
The multi-talented Zach Condon and Beirut headline the Mountain Stage on Friday August 14th. Their amazing 2010 set is the stuff of whispered legend among the Green Man faithful…
And what better way to close four days of five-star live music than with a Sunday headline set from Neutral Milk Hotel, one of the great US alt-rock bands of the 1990s, back together in their classic line-up led by the mercurial Jeff Magnum?
Harmonies as pure as a Scandinavian stream from Swedish sisters First Aid Kit, skuzzy stoner-rock from Kurt Vile & The Violators, nocturnal atmospherics from the soon-to-be-massive Daughter, and epic raw emotion from Anna Calvi.
…not to mention…
Brooklyn indie-folk favourite Sharon Van Etten, genius cult hero Jeffrey Lewis & The Jrams, blissful folktronica from Tunng and moody krautrockers Toy.
…and ALL these unbelievable bands…
I Break Horses |Ry X | Lanterns on the Lake | Frank Fairfield | Fat White Family | William Tyler | Michael Chapman | Speedy Ortiz | Georgia Ruth | All We Are | Happyness | Plank! | Eaves | Sons of Noel & Adrian | Valleyers | John Mouse
After the announcement that Chase and Status, Stereophonics, Calvin Harris, Foals, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and more will be joining Main Stage headliners Mumford & Sons, Rihanna andThe Killers, plus electronic pioneers Kraftwerk this summer at T in the Park, fans can ensure they’re part of the celebrations when the final batch of tickets goes on sale tomorrow at 9am. Music lovers can get their hands on the ultimate festival ticket of the summer fromwww.tinthepark.com or www.