Festival Review: Beat Herder 2015

beatherderBeat Herder

beatherder 2015 poster17-19 July 2015

With little more than a few friends ranting and raving about this festival I have seen very little about it at all, which is surprising. The reason I say it’s surprising is because it’s easily one of the best festivals I have been to in a long while and yet it’s been running a cool 9 years without us! Shocking isn’t it.

Beat Herder is a small/medium festival which concentrates primarily on bringing the beats … so there’s all kinds of dance music but also to compliment it a lot of chilled out tunes for the morning after and during the Sunday. There was also some damn fine Motown and funk with legend Martha Reeves and The Vandellas up on the main stage.

The site is set up like a town and it’s by far the best one I’ve ever been in. Almost everywhere had a bar for one, and everywhere has music for two. If it wasn’t for the fact I couldn’t stand to camp one more night and needed a little more guitar music for my ears, I could have just moved in permanently. I partied in a church (the DJs dressed in appropriate holy get up) and myself and several others got over excited to Blondie while the sun streamed through the stain glass window. We stared with wild abandon at that rock n roll dream venue that was Trash Mansion – complete with pole dancing robots. I, for several minutes, considered getting in line with loads of people at the tattoo parlour but as much as I loved my first time at Beat Herder wasn’t sure I wanted a permanent reminder etched into my skin.  Every nook and cranny of this festival was stuffed with something else to thrill and entertain. There could never be a dull moment at this festival.

Mt Wolf

Mt Wolf

The bands were on point too. Basement Jaxx were a great first night headliner and already the festival feeling was well and truly en force as people bumbled about bumping into each other, no hard feelings, only smiles the occasional shared dance move as Basement Jaxx threw out a collection of new and old. High fives between strangers, a row of dropped jaws as I joined in with the somewhat odd and very high operatic rendition of Somewhere Over The Rainbow (yes I did, yes I can!). They may have headlined the main stage but I wasn’t done yet – oh no. I spent a large part of my time at Beat Herder in Maison D’Etre (the house of existence). On the Friday night I was most keen to see Oslo Parks but found their set somewhat awkward and perhaps a bit of miss-communication between band and sound engineer as to how they should sound. Sadly I was disappointed. The thing I enjoyed most about their set was watching members of Mt Wolf dance along without a care and give them huge support. They were up next and while I was kind of dying on my arse at this point I’m so glad I stuck around as they were thrilling and every time I tried to leave I got suckered right back in. Seriously, if you ever get a chance to see them please do. Huge expansive electronic and instrumental soundcapes, less on the vocal  but when it’s there it’s shit hot.

Saturday we roamed the site checked out all kind of acts we had never heard of. The first one I did know of was The Mouse Outfit – A hip hop band from Manchester who, quite literally, brought people to their knees during their 5pm set. A band who might have some controversial choice of lyrics at times (I won’t go there) commanded the stage as though they were headlining it. And some day I reckon they will. We had in jokes, new jokes, fantastic band -audience interaction and we stood at the barrier like 15 year old fan girls jumping in the air or waving our hands, whatever their request was. Jump? How High?!


Arctic Lake

Arctic Lake

After that we had a list of bands to check out in Maison D’etre. Of course. This is the stage that hosted that there Wolf Alice two years ago. It seems to be the place to see some great bands before they hit the big time! I knew that Manchester’s Arctic Lake were playing this stage too but had assumed, wrongly, that I had missed them. I walked in at the start of them playing their last song – boo! Although, also YAY, because it was the stunning It’s Only Me. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up watching this live. To think I could have missed it. Will Joseph Cook did a decent show to promote his debut EP and new single. I just didn’t find him to be altogether comfortable in his surroundings. His target audience is probably considerably younger than me anyway but I still enjoyed it, as did the audience that built during his set. It’s up-tempo and poppy, and still my fave song by far is Streets Of Paris and this felt really vibrant.

Martha Reeves And The Vandellas were, of course, a highlight of the Saturday. They are legends, how could they not have been. I was thrilled to be able to hear and see the one and only Martha Reeves strutting herself in our signature popped purple sequin dress while dishing out some abuse to the sound guy, in the nicest possible way. As well as saying “I’m a grown woman. I’m not doing what you say. I’m not going anywhere before I play this song” – when told her time was up. She was full on diva but not nasty with it, and she has more than earned it. She is just so cool and we danced and we sung and we almost expended all of our left over energy. Thank god we saved some for Liverpool’s The Fire Beneath The Sea though. OK, so they’re my friends yes, and OK so their particular blend of funk, hip hop and soul isn’t exactly within the realms of our coverage but that was by far the sweatiest party I was at the whole weekend. They rapped and danced and sung and trumpeted and smashed their way through a set to busy crowd in the Beat Herder’s Working Man’s Club. They worked it so hard that they literally had steam coming off their skin by the end and friends or not, you can’t be arguing with bodily steam.

lyons amd la zel

Lyons And La Zel

Sunday was visibly more of a chilled out day. We weren’t the only people who partied hard, in fact I’d say there’s a good possibility that in comparison to some we didn’t seemed to have partied at all. Our first port of call was Smoky Tentacles tent. Absolutely the place to spend hours chilling out on a Sunday afternoon at a festival. Surrounded by friends and music lovers alike the vibe here was giving the Beat Herder a run for it’s money  – holy holy chill out. We caught the sublime Lyons and La Zel – who performed almost an hour of their originals and several of their magical reworks. Whoever would think that clean cut soul vocals could be combined so damn well with beat boxing. It works. honestly. We also caught Rumjig singer Jules perform her solo project as Kalika. Perfect folk inspired songs with strong melodies and a beautiful pitch really lowered the heat rate and made for pure zen like listening. I ran  – I know right, way to elevate the heart rate again – off to Maison D’etre for one last visit. This time it was for Palace. A band who we have been yabbering on about for ages now. The band on before them (not sure who were they were) kind of put me in a bad mood – horrible rapping, bad lyrics, horrible vocals. Thank god Palace were there to elevate my spirits once more. I was, admittedly, half dead at this point on the Sunday.  The sound guy, again, didn’t seem to quite get it right, but it’s easier for me to hear this with a band I’ve seen way more than a handful of times. They did well to engage their crowd, understanding how everyone must be feeling after a heady weekend. Again, their music, full of loose blues, was relaxing and just the ticket for a festival wind-down.

Beat Herder was certainly one of the best music festival’s I have been to in a long time and I hope they keep on going just as they are, not getting smaller, nor expanding any more, that would ruin it I think. I’m still thinking about moving in. If only it still existed. Bring on BH 2016!





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