BEACONS FESTIVAL – REVIEW

Previously known as Moorfest, just a few brief years into its new incarnation and Beacons has become not only a fully fledged festival but one of brilliant quality. Although comparatively a minnow, when set against some of the behemoths of the UK’s summer circuit, the organiser’s commitment to a solid arts roster, some extremely well chosen independent vendors (holla at Whitelock’s, Leeds’ oldest pub and the pervayors of the finest beers) and of course, a searingly good, eclectic line-up of musical acts, means that Beacons 2013 was far more of an immersive experience than its size would suggest.

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Set in the gorgeous locale of the Heslaker Farm, just outside of Skipton, the surrounding Dales really are God’s own country. Although notoriously prone to inclement weather and sure enough it shat it down on the Saturday, the crowd’s positive vibes remained undampened with the usual stoicism and commaradary that you would expect to find at a British festival. In fact, the most British thing that we at JAM have ever witnessed occurred at Beacons: four people clutching beers, under unbrellas, in driving rain, playing a giant, four by four metre game of scrabble!

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The music of course, was always going to take centre stage (excuse the pun), and when Local Natives graced the Loud And Quiet tent, it really brought it home why festivals are the greatest showcases for musical artists. Currently touring their recently released album ‘Hummingbird’, frontman Taylor Rice looked totally at home in front of a crowd of several thousand all ankle deep in the dirt, as bathed in halos of light from the impressive stage structure, his band tore through their set. Their hooky Psyche-Folk harmonies and groovy, Afro-Pop influenced guitars were a perfect fit for the environment and playing a large part of the new material including the two singles ‘Heavy Feet’ and ‘You & I’, as well as some old favourites from their 2009 ‘Gorilla Manor’ album, the audience simply lapped it up.

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Our best new find of the weekend was undoubtedly the awesome Wet Nuns. That’s not to say they haven’t been making waves however, with a slot on BBC Introducing last year, they’ve definitely been getting about; live however, they are something else. A chaotic two piece, consisting of a drummer and guitarist sharing vocal duties, with a split low end to create a bassline, they appear and sound many times larger an outfit than they should. The guitars come off with a serious Blues/Rock’n’Roll sound although we could best describe them as a mixture of Kyuss, The Icarus Line (circa Penance Soireé) and The Stooges. So fucking great then, yeah. ‘Heavens Below’ and ‘Broken Teeth’ were both standout tracks but the most definitive moment came when during the last tune, the drums were kicked to bits and thrown into the audience (shitting the security staff right up) as the frontman took to crowd surfing, still shredding away. Basically, GO AND SEE THESE GUYS!!!

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It wasn’t just bands that made the music at Beacons great, there was also some incredible electronic music too. Dj’s like Bondax and MachineDrum had the crowd practically foaming at the mouth in the dance tent, however, for us, its was Channel One Soundsystem’s set in The Social that blew us away. One of the titans of the Dub Reggae scene, these stalwart heroes have been together since 1979, rinsing out the selections worldwide, on a mission to unite the masses through vibrations alone and with over thirty consecutive years at the Nottinghill Carnival under their belts, you just can’t test that. Huge, warm bass, great selections and a summertime atmosphere, Channel One ticked all the boxes. Cheers Mikey Dread!

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Hands down, the most fun, high energy performance of the Beacons 2013 has to belong to Fucked Up. The Canadian Hardcore heavyweights, fronted by Damian Abraham who is part grizzly bear, part dervish, laid waste to the You Have To Hear This tent during their headline slot on Friday night. A powerhouse of a seven piece, the force of the music on tunes like ‘Queen Of Hearts’, combined with the fact that Abraham spent 99% of the set in the audience, made Fucked Up the most compelling live act that we at JAM have seen for some time. Not just crazy but loveable too, their on-stage banter really adds to the proceedings with Abraham talking candidly about mental illness, as well joking about how his use of medical marijuana sat ill at ease with his straight edge roots until he “smoked a joint with a member of Project X”, when he opened one of the final tracks with the declaration “This one is for anyone who’s ever been called fat… or skinny, or wrong in any way” the crowd went sick. You just can’t help but love Fucked Up.

Words & Images: Benjamin Paul

http://www.benjaminpaulphoto.co.uk/

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