This weekend I shall be attending my first ever Beat-Herder festival. I’ve known of this intimate rural gathering since it’s inception in 2006 but have always teetered on the edge of “maaaybe”, despite having a consistently impressive line-up and set in an enviable Ribble Valley location.
I think it would be fair to say that my only experience of Beat-Herder (“of” in its loosest possible terms...) were the sunrise bongo tales told to me by a grizzly bunch of crusties who used to knock around with an ex of mine. The ex – who shall remain nameless – after completing his performance art degree (naturally), elected not to return home to his affluent Kent suburban abode, and instead doss in a filthy caravan pitched up at a run-down mansion where he scavenged from local takeaway bins. The mansion in question was a kind of safe haven for ravers, drop-outs and ketheads alike, not that I have any judgement towards these individuals; simply that I find it more difficult to relate to twenty-something-dreadlock-sporting-rich-kids pretending to be grubby and poor whilst keeping a dog on a rope. But this is ridiculous. You can’t judge an entire festival based on a ‘tribe’ of people who are probably all accountants by now anyway.
Beat Herder appears to be a smallish sized (12,000 capacity last year) dance music festival which refuses to succumb to the greater corporate dominance over the summer calendar, and is organised through a close network of friends (feeling the love already). Unlike your typical McFestival, it is fine for you to take a reasonable amount of booze into the actual arena which will certainly stop all the pissing around pouring white wine into plastic bottles (Lucofake) and hiding it down your gruds.
This year the headliners include Crystal Fighters, Kelis, Trentemoller and Sleaford Mods; as well as performances from The Sugarhill Gang, Dub Pistols, Cabbage, a Faithless DJ set and a million others both known and to be discovered. With its roots firmly in electronic, dub, reggae and drum & bass, you can’t help but feel that the current line up opens the festival to a wider audience, suggesting that the event is naturally evolving with the times yet with a firm foot in its small-field rave past.
Maybe I was too quick to assume that this would simply be a mass congregation of hedonistic technokids seeking wide-eyed debauchery – after all there are some very impressive-looking craft ale stalls. With twenty one areas to choose from including a woodland dance zone, perfumed garden, shisha lounge and a plethora of performance artists and installations, you’re bound to find your own secret corner of this unique independent festival.
So, we at Sounds shall be there, taking it all in, interviewing the acts you want to see, and reporting back with complete professionalism (of course). There is not a chance on God’s keen earth that we would overdo it on day one and spend the rest of the weekend face down in the stone circle shouting: THOU SHALT NOT PAAASS to anyone not wearing psychedelic purple pants. We hear through the grapevine that this year’s fancy dress theme is the letter D. Always wanted an opportunity to wear my DILLIGAF defenestration cloak...
We’re excited and ready.
Bring it on.