As the festival season is at the end of the tunnel, it means it’s almost time for the summer to begin and that’s when the shopping for floppy folding chairs commences, alcohol is purchased, ready for a very…messy few days in a muddy field. That’s the best part though. Although, most festivals this year have been a let down and somewhat mediocre, not all festivals are that bad and some are worth the money and the travelling. As a team, we all thought individually about what the festival line-up we each thought had potential, what was most exciting. Here are the results:
The Great Escape is known for its magical powers in buildings bands up and kick starting their careers. This year, familiar bands are cropping up. Bands such as, Bad Sounds, Pale Waves and Eves Karydas who has just embarked a support slot for Dua Lipa in Australia. The Great Escapes becomes a popular attraction, it’s Brighton’s biggest music festival and one of the largest in the country; ranging from genre to genre – grime, folk, pop artists and indie bands are all thrown into the mix. 450 emerging artists from all around the world, all performing in over 30 venues across the city. Its variety is so attractive to music lovers and gig goers. They celebrate all kinds of different talent and styles, it’s where the audience discovers new obsessions and become open minded.
Y NOT got a lot of press coverage last year for how poorly run the festival was but they must have promised improvements to artists otherwise the lineup wouldn’t be as good as it is. Yes, unfortunately Moose Blood have been given a platform and there are a few rubbish names like Catfish and The Bottlemen or Photoshop kings The Sherlocks but there are plenty of gems in there. Headliners The Libertines always put on a great show and have tunes that deserve to be belted out by a crowd of rowdy youths and the draw of a UK exclusive set from acid jazz outfit Jamiroquai cannot be underestimated. Brixton’s finest Shame and Fat White Family will cause a stir while indie heroes Spector and Peace will give fans the chance to get the glitter out. The now almost legendary Saturday night headline spot in the Quarry, occupied in the past by Lethal Buzzle and Example, has been handed over to garage parody act Kurupt FM who are gaining a reputation as one of the must see acts in the country at the moment. The lineup is lacking women but honestly almost all festivals are at the moment. Nadia Rose, Pale Waves and Anteros will represent their gender strongly along with a few other names. Y NOT has the feel of a nice local festival that can somehow pull big acts like the Manic Street Preachers and to be honest it would be slightly disappointing if there weren’t a few organizational cock ups again this year, I just hope they remember to signpost the stages this time so I can see all the bands I want to.
Up in Scotland the gaping hole left by T in the Park has been somewhat filled with TRNSMT and it’s line up, which despite a shaky start, has turned up triumphant this year, securing headliners of Liam Gallagher and Arctic Monkey along with small, exciting acts such as The Snuts and Lewis Capalidi. But what TRNSMT can’t provide is that true festival atmosphere, sat in crappy folding chairs outside tiny tents with your friends, three days deep of a hangover. No, for this unique feeling you need look no further than Electric Fields.
Held at the very end of summer in the grounds of Drumlanrig Castle in the South West of Scotland, setting the scene for the boho chic and it’s magical atmosphere. Notable headliners are Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, James, The Coral and Shame who have recently blown up – the London based band are also a key act.
Being a Scottish festival I couldn’t go without mentioning the amazing Scottish talent featured on the line-up. Fife based, dreamy rock band Shambolics. Glasgow’s new age of punk groups – Rascalton and The Dunts, along with small town but big impact Vida from Alloa. All make Electric Fields an unmissable event for both established acts and the discovery of something new.
With Reading and Leeds proving to be somewhat unpopular with regular attendees, festival fanatics may wish to point their attention towards some of the smaller events this summer. One that I think flaunts a particularly impressive cast of acts, is 110 Above in Leicestershire. The bill is brimming with the best of indie artists with some bigger favourites such as Peace, Fickle Friendsand Saint Raymond, as well as those on the come up like Youth Club, Marsicans and Anteros. Many of the names have tunes that encapsulate the bright and energetic festival spirit and will be sure to have you bouncing and moshing away the weekend. The festival takes place from the 3rd to the 5th of August on Gospall Hall Farm in Leicesteshire with tickets on sale now £89.20 for the weekend from http://110above.gigantic.com/.
Though the absence of Glastonbury Festival this year was expected to leave festivals all around the country fighting tooth and nail to pick up the calibre of names you’d only see at Worthy Farm any other year, the resulting domestic line-ups have underwhelmed. From Kendrick Lamar having to share headlining duties with Panic! at the Disco at Reading and Leeds to the BBC’s bizarre attempt to fuse together acts belonging to genres covered by four of its radio stations, before scattering them all over the country, it must be said that not one British festival stands above the rest this year. Therefore, if you’re looking to rectify the gaping hole in your summer following the loss of Glastonbury festival, your best bet may be to look further afield.
If you look at any European festival line-up, you’ll notice straight away that there’s no such incompetence in landing a variety of top-of-the-range acts, all in one place; the cream of the crop belonging to Barcelona’s Primavera Sound festival. The three headliners alone for this weekend are enough to annihilate any domestic equivalent. Icelandic pop goddess Bjork leads the way on the Thursday; a deserving flag-bearer for female festival headliners during an era when their representation has been especially appalling. The remaining two days are led by Ohio rockers The National; on the back of the greatest year of their lives, which has seen them conquer numerous festival bills while receiving their first Grammy award, as well as the highly-anticipated return of the Arctic Monkeys after four years out of the spotlight.
Aside from the headliners, Primavera boasts a whole range of strong yet diverse names. Other highlights include pop’s latest heroine Lorde, hip-hop stars Migos, Vince Staples and Tyler, the Creator, the indie pop of Chvrches and Haim, recent Grammy winners Father John Misty and The War on Drugs, and electronic pioneers Nils Frahm and Jon Hopkins. Ultimately, whether your second home is the mosh pit, or you’re the closet classical music aficionado of the group, there is something here for you. For this reason, if you cannot bear the thought a summer without a festival, yet you refuse to settle for anything less than the magic of Glastonbury, your best bet may be a ticket to Barcelona.
When it comes to pop music, any festival that isn’t Parklife or V festival often lacks these large artists people want to see. This year, headlining V festival are P!nk and Jay-Z and for the people that want to go and bop their ass to some pop music, they’re going to struggle. Festivals of these types are much more common for smaller bands to gain appreciation and support for their work. Majority of pop music listeners often have conflict with one another on social media sites and will only go for specific artists. So, when their ‘fave’ isn’t attending they give it a miss. The lack of female artists performing is dire and reflects a bad view on the music industry. As a lover of pop and relevant female artists this year is certainly a miss.
Well well well, with summer looming the question on many young people’s lips is “So what festival should we go to this year?”
The answer? Well, that’s a tricky one. There are only a handful of acceptable festivals in the UK when you take everything into account such as price, line-up etc. Of course, music taste is subjective and this by no means should be taken as gospel but the general consensus having spoken to a variety of different people is that, to put it bluntly, the UK festival scene this year is pretty dire.
The gems of the festival scene are on continental Europe without a shadow of a doubt. Rock wertcher, Mad cool, Primavera, Sziget, Bilbao BBK, Melt! … I could go on there are dozens of excellent line-ups with some of the world biggest artists all cheaper than the average UK festival. It’s no wonder more and more people are shopping abroad (not to forget the guaranteed sun as well). Bands have come out and said they prefer playing the European festival circuit as well, and if that doesn’t speak Volumes for the state of the UK, then I don’t know what does. We can only hope ticket sales flop and organises get their long awaited wakeup call before Glastonbury becomes the only man left standing.
110 Above seems to have everything you could ever want from a festival, all contained within one field just north west of Leicester.
Headlining the festival this year are Fickle Friends, who have gone from uploading songs on the web to selling out shows across the country. Having released their debut album ‘You Are Someone Else’ only recently, Fickle Friends are the original self-made band, playing across the UK and Europe without a label for nearly two years. Their whole album reminds me of summer, and of two of my friends, who met last year at their Milton Keynes gig and have been together pretty much ever since. Every song on the album has a feel-good factor to it, with lyrics wrapped within layers of catchy guitar riffs and upbeat synth melodies. ‘Swim’, ‘Say No More’ and ‘Glue’ are sure to have everyone in the crowd on their feet and dancing, whether they know the words or not.
Blaenavon are also set to make an appearance on the festival’s Commune stage, alongside Peace and The Magic Gang. Whilst fans seem to be torn over the pronunciation of the band’s name, they’ve all settled on one thing: the band’s debut album ‘That’s Your Lot’ is a guaranteed crowdpleaser. There’s something so distinct in the pairing of such delicate vocals with heavy bass guitar and drums, but the addition of those floaty guitar riffs seems to marry it all together, with the result being a band that could easily fill a field and intimate venue alike.
For those who prefer to indulge in the more laid-back acoustic sets, you’ve got Jordan Mackampa- a Coventry native singer-songwriter with a voice that seems to coat everything it touches with honey. I was lucky enough to see him support Lewis Watson last year at Bedford’s Esquires, and I have to admit, all four songs from his ‘Physics’ EP made it on to my break-up playlist. His voice is truly ethereal, with guitar-ridden melodies and soul-stirring harmonies forming the backbone for his songs; it’s the sort of thing you can listen to all day, every day, whatever mood you’re in, though sadly, a set of 45 minutes must do at 110 Above.