Beat-Herder Festival 2016

Beat-Herder Festival 2016


Ah yes, the return of Beat-Herder. The Ribble Valley’s own dance-in-the-forrest fest has grown in its 11 years from a mere 2,000 capacity to a bustling 10,000+ turnout, so really, they’ve gotta be doing something right. The event has become somewhat of a Lancashire institution over the last few summers and with the festival growing in capacity every year, it’s sure to be around for a while.

With the arrival of the campers and without a doubt, the arrival of the ye olde English rain, Friday’s festivities kick off under a bit of drizzle. From first exploration after tents are pitched, festival goers pass by the various stages and events the weekend has to offer. Maison D’Etre or simply ‘The House of Existence’ has been dubbed the place to find quirky upcoming artists and comedy acts. Not for you? Why not check out the Igloo Disco for your fix of mash-up and garage by acts like Whip and Fanny Cabbage. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, you can always head over to Trash Manor: Beat-Herder’s arsenal of randomness with sets by Moon Hooch, Ticker Le Punk and Mickey Fingers.

If you can make the landslide up to the Toil Trees, it is probably the most visually remarkable bit about Beat-Herder. There’s something about the psychedelic, swirling images dancing off the spooky moonlight branches of the elderly trees above, as the mega booming bass of the speakers bounce off the wooded area. Walk around the corner and you’ll find Mikey’s Tea Shack where the staff are grinning from ear to ear, or if you slip in the mud, you’ll look up only to be greeted by Angie’s Den, an underground bar built as though it were fit for a Hobbit.

Toil Trees, official photo by Beat-Herder

Toil Trees, official photos by Beat-Herder

Fireworks fill the sky for headliners  James over on the main stage, whose set is just shy of an hour and a half,  full of tunes from their new album Girl At The End Of The World, mixed in with a few oldies, and generally leaving the crowd wanting more.

Meanwhile, over in an open stage area called The Ring, English breakbeat deity A.Skillz has been laying down remixes including a unique fusion of old school hip-hop, funk and rock – from AC/DC to The Stone Roses – this guy covers it all and  everyone is moving in sync. The energy in front of the stage is arguably the best of the day. From this moment forward, it  seems as though the night increases in double speed as everyone jumps together. Incredible enthusiasm.

A few puddles away is The District Working Men’s Club,  home for the weekend to disco enthusiasts Abba Arrival and The Lancashire Hotpots, beers and ciders will for once cost you a healthy £3  and serves as the perfect place to feel human again on a leather sofa and enjoy the music while you watch a  woman teaching keen learners to play the spoons.

The persistent rain that plagued the late night DJ sets on Friday night forces punters to wake up Saturday to an absolute mud bath in the arena. Ankle-deep in dirt, a five minute journey turns into fifteen minutes of pulling mates and strangers out of the muddy slop. Veggie’s alike flock to Ghandi’s Flip Flop, a cleverly named Indian food restaurant conveniently located with a  juicy view of the main stage. Opening our day is The Fairey Band vs artist Jeremy Deller who all together go by the name Acid Brass, a wild mix of trumpets and a jam packed stage. It’s a total riot and who knew trombones could be so much fun?

Light up urinals and a parked car party....

Light up urinals and a parked car party….

And really, what’s a festival without a fancy dress theme? Year after year the organisers have been scurrying their way down the word B-E-A-T-H-E-R-D-E-R, with this year being fully represented by the letter R. Robots, road workers, Ronald McDonald, rubix cubes, rabbis and walking record shops are dotted around the grounds this weekend.

As the day progresses, we stumble passed the swiftly marketed ‘DUBCENTRE-PLUS’ (a clever take on the ever-familiar JobCentre logo), a colourful set of light-up urinals, a retro car dance party and a tattoo parlour, where they tattoo one thing and one thing only: the festivals logo (a sheep carrying a speaker). Remember, tattoos are for life,  kids!

Rhythmic drumming can be heard in the distance as this less than ideal festival weather gets in our way, beginning to clear up for a mere few hours. While looking around, I notice something. Beat-Herder, I’m thrilled to say doesn’t strictly follow that horrible trend of daisy duke short-shorts and flower head bands, but promotes fancy dress of all kinds: from steam punks to hippies, 19th century waistcoats to rainbow tutus, everyone is free to get their weird out.

Part Two…

Brit Jean

One time time Gigs Editor over here at Silent Radio HQ. I've been music blogging and writing in Manchester for the past few years after graduating with a Literature degree back home in Canada. Never have I experienced a city quite like Manchester - so many great gigs and so little time! In 2014 I started an Independent Record label, Blak Hand Records with my best mate, and we aim to put out some of our favourite garage rock and psychedelic artists from both Liverpool and Manchester.