Beacons, set in the stunning rolling hills of the Yorkshire Dales, returned once more with an eclectic line-up made up of Yorkshire acts, buzz bands, electronic artists and all-time musical legends. Here are Impact‘s thoughts on all the music we saw during this mid-August weekend:
Formerly a two-piece consisting of Alice Costelloe and Kacey Underwood, Big Deal have bulked up, now incorporating a rhythm section too. Their early slot on the main stage here grossly undersells them, after their very 90s-inspired grunge impresses a medium-sized crowd. Deliciously sweet riffs and tender vocals are only let down by a slightly tentative performance. The louder they get, the better they’ll be. (AN)
Early evening on The Social stage saw Bradford rapper Lunar C serving the audience his brand of Yorkshire Hip-Hop. Having risen to fame through battle rapping shows such as Don’t Flop, Lunar C was promoting his new EP, Free Weed For Single Mums. His stage presence was good enough that he seemed to convince most of the audience to embrace his philosophy. (IF)
Leeds punks, Eagulls, performed one of Friday night’s earlier slots. Despite playing early, the band managed to get the place packed with what was probably the most rowdy crowd of the night. The combination of the band’s Yorkshire background and their intense stage presence seemed to spark something in the audience to get them going; the gig atmosphere setting a benchmark for the festival. Additionally, my glasses got smashed in the crowd – which is always a good sign. (IF)
On Friday night, Fucked Up, hardcore-punks who’ve achieved widespread popularity, took the headline slot on the You Need To Hear This Stage. As per usual, the gig was energetic from the start, including the standard stripping of Damian Abraham, as well as one of the friendliest mosh-pits I’ve ever been in. Sandy’s backing vocals were under-exploited in the sound set-up; a sad fact of playing live is Fucked Up have to choose between energetic and melodic. (IF)
Great main-stage afternoon performance from Wolf Alice. These guys are going from strength to strength. Comparing bands to Pixies is done too often, but Ellie was going nuts like Black Francis and the guys’ backing vocals were complimenting it like they were Kim Deal- so let’s compare them to transgender Pixies. (IF)
Kettering’s finest neo-psychedelic group played a mid-afternoon slot in the main tent. Despite the odd technical difficulty, even leaving lead singer James Bagshaw playing air guitar for half a song, Temples put in a tight set, indicating huge expectations for that long-awaited debut album. ‘Shelter Song’ stands out from the crowd. (AN)
East London-based psych-rockers, Telegram, played a surprisingly late slot, considering they’ve only been together a handful of months. They’re undoubtedly very fun and a very tight group, yet the crowd is disappointingly small. A sound as indebted to Roxy Music as it is Toy, watch out for Telegram’s debut single set to be released very, very soon. (AN)
The University of Nottingham’s very own shoegazers have come on a hell of a long way over the past year. The soaring choruses of ‘Blue Velvet’ and ‘Solemn Skies’ get the crowd moving, yet it is the decidedly moodier and more contemplative set-closer, ‘Bond Girls’, that really impresses. Much more upbeat than their fellow shoegazers, Childhood’s credible poppy sound will earn them more and more plaudits. (AN)
If The Byrds were Folk-Rock then Mikal Cronin is Folk-Grunge, and that translates well live. On his recent album, he can sound just slightly too soft and produced; but in a cramped tent, with a distorted guitar and surrounded by the Yorkshire countryside, he sounds exactly right. Mikal pulled it all off from the intimate vocals to the guitar thrashes. (IF)
As headliners come, it doesn’t get much more prestigious than Wire. So needless to say, they drew in a big crowd with great anticipation. However, their set heavily neglected old material from such Post-Punk classics as Pink Flag and Chairs Missing. The majority of songs were off 2013’s Change Becomes Us and other recent releases, disappointing many fans. With that said, they played very well; at least part of the crowd were enjoying themselves, just the fact they were seeing Wire was probably pretty satisfying. (IF)
Newcomers to the scene, The Wytches’ unique take on garage-rock manages to draw a surprisingly large crowd for such an early slot. Perhaps, however, it’s too early for them, as the usual vibrancy and intensity that transcends their performances is slightly missing today. That being said, however, ‘Crying Clown’ is one of the songs of the weekend. Should (and will) do better. (AN)
Hookworms were perhaps the weekends’ most impressive daytime success, managing to rally together a crowd of over 3,000 at 3:30 in the afternoon. As the masses watched, MJ (the bands’ vocalist and producer) stood at the front of the stage making incredibly decisive and passionate gestures- as if he were leading a dark cult gathering. After this show, Hookworms must feel like they’ve got people’s attention. (IF)
Sheffield’s favourite fun indie-rockers play a lively mid-afternoon set to a home crowd. Their music is perfect for a pre-dinner dance, before that pie and mash begins to settle in your stomach. As long as they embrace their fun nature and don’t attempt ‘to go all serious on us’, Best Friends ought to build on their reputation for being a fine live band. (AN)
In contrast to the earlier success in attendance for Hookworms, Splashh (originally from Australia) weren’t so lucky. Nevertheless, they got stuck in and, with time, the crowd grew to normal levels. It ended up an okay show, but, considering the hype the band has been getting, both Splashh and the audience probably hoped for better. It’s highly possible they just had a bad slot- better luck next time guys. (IF)
These local boys deservedly earned the adulation of a large crowd packed into a very sweaty tent. Their punky take on garage-rock is going from strength to strength, even without the fanboying of politician Tom Watson. Eoin Loveless’ intense riffs and sneering vocals are impressive enough, yet it is brother Rory’s drumming on final song, ‘Let’s Pretend’, that stands out. Impressively loud and intense. (AN)
By Sunday night, people were looking and feeling rough, so many of them embraced it and turned up to Danny Brown pretending they too were straight out the Detroit ghetto. Needless to say, Danny Brown himself went absolutely nuts, running from side to side of the stage as he rapped. The slightly childlike image that goes with his rapping style made it hard to figure out if he’d done 3 lines of cocaine beforehand, or was just having a sugar rush. (IF)
Wet Nuns had a tough slot on Sunday night, playing in between some of the weekends’ most popular acts (Drenge and Savages), it seemed many may use their slot to revitalise elsewhere – a wrong move. The duo went for it 110%; as well as making great music, they’re natural entertainers. Alcohol was passed back and forth between the band the audience throughout, later, Rob passed himself to the audience in the form of a stage-dive whilst Alexis chucked his drum kit in. Wet Nuns have a lot to give. (IF)
Not much needs to be said about Savages. Undoubtedly the best set of the weekend infront of the best crowd. Forget about trying to categorise their music for one second, and ignore their influences, regardless of how obvious they often seem. Just enjoy the most intense and aggressive live performance you will see for a long, long time. Ayse Hassan remains the coolest and most talented bass player on the circuit at the moment, while Faye Milton’s drumming is as mesmering as ever. Stand-out moment of a ridiculous set is Jehnny Beth’s improvised spoken word on the punky ‘Hit Me’. A great way to the end the weekend. (AN)
The staggering of the various stages’ scheduling allowed us to catch an unbelievable amount of music, which isn’t always possible at other festivals. The sound was, for the most part, faultless across all the stages and, of course, the sheer breadth of acts on show is incredible. Name your genre, and Beacons will have it on at some point over the weekend.
Obviously, the scenery was stunning; the Yorkshire hills encircling the site, allowing for some stunning views as the cloud descended and ascended on them. The catering was of a very high quality and very reasonably-priced, especially the aforementioned pie and mash, which was practically gourmet. To top it all off, there was an ale tent onsite with a huge selection of local and national beers.
Beacons is a great festival and one that we’d highly recommend visiting next year. Great music, food and beer for three days in a beautiful part of the country. What more could you ask for?