Beacons Festival 2014 – A Reflection

Art & Culture

The surroundings of this festival are, of course, well known to most from West Yorkshire to be an unforgiving place in regards to a lack of consistency weather wise and it's something that the organizers of Beacons has had issue with in the past… But this is Yorkshire, they do things differently here, the short blast of torrential wet stuff on the Friday and the all-day pissingitdownathon on Sunday does nothing to dampen spirits, it’s simple, if the rain is hard here, the crowd go harder.


Made up of several large tents hosted by the likes of Resident Advisor, Last FM,  Red Bull, Noisy and several Yorkshire bars hosting DJ sets, the enclosed space of the Yorkshire Dales gives Beacons an intimate spirit with everything within close proximity to each other. Another canny move is the Real Ale tent, a space blasting out house and electronica to go with your ol' man drink, a great alternative to the tiresome can of Tuborg/Carling/Strongbow axis of evil damn prevalent, despite them all probably tasting of Oliver Reed's corpse.

In terms of Music, East London’s TOY played the set of the weekend, slightly tired when they played in London the weekend before, here they called up the big tracks and ripped shit up.  "Left Myself Behind",  "Colour’s Running Out" and "Kopter" are spat out in krautgaze disgust and the final coupling of "Fall out of Love" and a terrifying "Join the dots" with added microphone stand damage were vital and thrilling. 

Daniel Avery, enjoying a crossover into the outskirts of the mainstream probably gets the biggest crowd of the weekend, his crisp mid-tempo beats, doomy basslines and occasional tweaks of 303 enable the crowd to seriously get loose to some of the best electronic music out there currently.

Elsewhere, hotly tipped Heavenly three piece The Wytches tear up the audience with fierce 3 minute shots of fuck you in a similar vein to The Vines. Legendary DJ Dave Haslam played the house hits of yesteryear at the Red Bull tent, it must be frustrating for a DJ to be booked to play nothing beyond 1992 yet again, but he seems to enjoy it and is enthused, even when he drops ‘Strings’ and ‘You Got The Love’ for the thousandth time. This area was packed throughout the festival especially during a fluffy Psychemagick set and throughout the mammoth five hour space disco set by A Love from Outer Space, mainly in the rain.

By Sunday it did feel like an indie overdose: all female Dublin five piece re-imagined the whole of the C86 genre and replaced ugly guys with short skirts and make-up, particularly effective the harder they jangled. Tall Ships were an adequate cross between early Radiohead and Jeff Buckley, The Pain of Being Pure at Heart were teeth achingly twee and Sleaford Mods who packed the Noisy tent, probably through audience curiosity, were a bizarre mix of Ian Dury and The Streets, confrontational? Yes, any good? Well…..

You would have expected The Fall to show all these, what I’m sure Mr. Smith would describe as ‘young cunts’ how to do it, but with the rain pounding ferociously outside, there’s no escape from the awful grind of the first couple of tracks. Of course, Smith’s lungs were never going to match those of anyone who can, well…sing, but the howling yelps are almost a piss take, the fact he can get away with this kind of nonsense probably eggs him on to do it even more, it was at this point the rain defeated us, apparently The Fall were dragged off a few songs later, apparently due to health and safety issues regarding the weather, although our ears were probably the only thing in danger during their set.

Beacons and its audience took a battering from the elements during two of the three days but the end result was Beacons can stand out and hold its own in amongst an oversaturation, especially in August, of festivals in the UK.

Chris Todd