The Fortress, official photo by Beat-Herder

The Fortress, official photo by Beat-Herder


With music being only part of the attraction of Beat-Herder, we walk around what feels like a wacky carnival. Past the sweet stalls and barber  shop, we end up in The Church dancing to a DJ dressed as a nun, spinning Wheatus’ ‘Teenage Dirtbag’. It is the highlight of my weekend, really.  She changes her tune and the church crowd light up to the appropriately chosen ‘Like A Prayer’ by Madonna.

The unimaginable beauty of The Ribble Valley is really the essence of Beat-Herder. The festival is surrounded by rolling hills of grass and woods, which truly serve as an eye catching place to dance your weekend away. And with that, programming extracurricular events is one of the things Beat-Herder does best. From comedy clubs, to a teleportation pod doubled as an old red phone box, to Yorkshire folk sing a longs, we were not stuck for something to do. A waltz past the main stage Saturday afternoon even sees Donovan handing out sunflowers while he plays ‘Mellow Yellow’  – could it have been any more perfect?

One of the biggest and most unique areas of Beat-Herder has to be The Fortress. Home for the weekend to an array of DJs like Krafty Kuts, Mr C and Ed Solo, this area wins the competition for coolest space to party. The amount of thought that goes into planning Beat-Herder is remarkable, from hand-woven tapestries to hand build party pits, like The Fortress. Night time welcomes the dance fanatics, who thrive off the smoke machines, lasers and strobe lights that bounce off the walls.

Beardyman official photo by Beat-Herder

Beardyman official photo by Beat-Herder

Gentleman’s Dub Club have forged themselves a reputation as one of UK’s most popular (and best dressed!) reggae bands. With the perfect slot on a Saturday night, ‘High Grade’ and ‘Riot’ take the lead as fan favourites of the night, with the crowd moving their arms and legs in tune with the band. The classic white shirt and black tie attire sets Gentleman’s Dub Club apart from the rest, along with their enthusiasm and general plethora of percussion and bass.

From here we eagerly await Beardyman‘s set on the main stage, this time featuring MCs Leen and Serocee. Using a unique mix of synthesisers, laptops and keyboards to loop his beatboxing, Darren Foreman (Beardyman) impresses from the get go. MCs Leen and Serocee construct and improvise on Beardyman’s twisted beats, until a computer failure forces the set to transform into one long freestyle rap about Brexit, complaining about technology and a relevant chant on ‘Black Lives Matter’, which garners a very warm welcome from the crowd. Although disappointed that he could not finish his scheduled computerised set, we are more than impressed with his improvisational skills.

Night turns into morning and luckily some of the mud has dried out over night. I walk by The Fortress, and there are two girls drinking Strongbow in the empty room, as a wakeup call DJ pounds the beats. It’s way too early for this. My head hurts.  Back at the Toil Trees,  Mr Scruff’s eclectic mix of techno, funk and soul begin to create an audio storm for the marathon of beats that make up his set.

BeFunky Collage

A teleportation pod, a robot, Gentleman’s Dub Club and Trash Manor

Dub Pistols and Beans on Toast are amongst the few that Beat-Herder crowd will be flocking to later; Dub Pistols being one of the festival highlights for many. The group perform a mix of hip-hop, ska and jungle with bits of reggae thrown into the mix. The electronic, dub feel of the music flows through the veins of the crowd, who haven’t stopped dancing since they came on stage. The positive vibes from this group are infectious. Although if Norwegian disco is your thing, you’ll enjoy the hype surrounding headliner Todd Terje as he erupts on the main stage Sunday evening busting out thoughtfully picked beats into unique compilations.

The complete spectrum of entertainment delivered by the organisers of Beat-Herder is given with such thoughtfulness and care. Everywhere you look, staff are smiling and helpful,  and punters are enjoying themselves even if they’re head-to-toe in dirt. The ability to attract big names to play Dockber Farm, for a such an independently run festival, is pretty phenomenal. Without the TLC of Beat-Herder, we may never know what its like to dance under trees in the moonlight, meet a robot or simply transport through a little red phone box. So, until next year, Beat-Herder – it’s been a pleasure!

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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.