Festival Review: Beat Herder 2016

beatherder square 2016Beat Herder 2016

Words: Elena Katrina
Photos: Daisy Smart/Elena Katrina

beatherder poster 2016I first discovered Beat Herder festival only last year, perhaps because it’s not really known for being a festival for the kind of music we write about – but it does have an entire stage dedicated to it and that is partly why we returned, especially considering the band line up. This year the weather was not on our side and an injury made it difficult for me – this actually just meant that I sat back, yes sat back, in Maison D’etre and enjoyed popped band after popped band – I’m pretty sure that we have featured at least 75% of the bands already though I might not necessarily have seen them all live so I took this opportunity to do so – without having to share the band with hoards of people. It’s a shame really because these bands travel from near and very far to play this stage and yet I feel like I’m the only person on site who is genuinely excited to be there watching these bands. Some bands had only a handful of people there to watch them and others had a great turn out – it’s all a bit hit and miss. I want to make it my mission to encourage people who love the kind of music we bang on about to get along to this festival – and you get to dress up and not in your typical rubbish fancy dress festival malarkey, be whoever you want to be but most importantly be yourself.

cash + david beat herder daisy smartIt was my first time seeing Cash and David and what a great set! I think their track Bloodsucker was my fave and coupled with their call to  “let’s get a bit weird – I think you’ve already got a bit weird” made me laugh as the majority of the crowd were quite clearly mashed. Their harder and faster tracks toward the end of the set were incredible and now I need to see them again – and soon.

We’ve been fans of Man Made for a good while and they brought both their tight set as well as some humour; ” I didn’t know it was fancy dress day. I was like man this festival is weird. But I dress like this everyday maybe I should dress down at festivals!” I’ve never seen anyone (more than me) wear so much awesome glitter than lead singer Nile Marr. Bloody love it.

There was more humour too from Beat Herder fan Tom Walker, who, when faced with technical issues, pointed at his laptop “this is my band Tony, he doesn’t usually let me down but I think after last night he’s a bit hungover so we’re gonna have to see what’s going on.” I enjoyed the friendly unfazed banter but one guy booed and that pissed me off. Luckily as Tom had been a regular festival goer at Beat Herder he was so happy and honoured to play the festival I don’t think he even noticed the miserable git booing and he was so happy to have people there who he had met 3 years ago, this year coming along to support his set. I love that about the overall festival vibe at Beat Herder.

the-amazons-beat-herder-elena-katrinaBeat Herder really does give you the opportunity to get to see bands who are well on their way to becoming major game players and The Amazons rocked up and turned it all to 11 despite the fact that the majority of people in that tent didn’t seem to have a Scooby who they were. I kind of think bands need this sometimes at this point in their career because they can find themselves in a bubble wherein every where they go people know them but outside of that bubble the reality can be very different.

It was a bloody a tough crowd but it grew in number throughout the set and the band were vocal about how thankful they were that people turned up to their show at a dance festival which was really great. Their set was everything I hoped it would be and more and I can now only imagine the atmosphere the rest of the popped team have been witnessing while seeing this band live over the last year or so.

It’s also a festival that boasts a range of bohemian fanfare, including many musical acts which captured our attention across the weekend. Our friends Rumjig, who produce a mix of jazz and dub with a pinch of fabulous dance moves,  had the Smokey Tentacles tent all but set on fire, while the crowd danced and hugged throughout their set. It’s been a year too, since we have seen Liverpool friends The Fire Beneath The Sea, who brought with them an arsenal of beats, raps, soul, rock and brass to create one of the biggest parties in the Working Man’s stage ever.

A few weeks ago I got to watch Rationale play a serious main stage slot ahead of Francis and Jack Garratt at Barn on The Farm, this time around it was a huge contrast in every way possible – except for his consistent flawless performance.  At this point he had the biggest crowd of the stage all day – despite some people coming in early during set up and demanding that they “get on with it” and quite nastily at that too – I was most disappointed because I always thought this festival was super friendly but this was the second time in one day that I’d witnessed some, very unnecessary, bad vibes, it was, thankfully short lived though and you can’t let one or two ruin the overall good vibes! The set was incredible but felt so short, with maybe only 7 songs. Bring on the next time!

One of the highlights of the days, despite all those fantastic acts was catching up with our pals Clean Cut Kid. The more we see them the more they impress – they are genuine and regardless of how tired they might be they give a rip-roaring energetic performance and never peddle the same on stage gags like some bands, I’ve seen several times, do. The tent was even busier than it had been for Rationale too which made me feel really proud, ridiculous statement I know, but it’s true. It took a little while for the crowd to get off their bums, it was a late night set and it had been evident that people party hard at Beat Herder from the moment they stumble out of their tents.


yonaka-beat-herder-daisy-smartOur girl Lauren has been yelling about Yonaka ever since she saw them play at the Flying Vinyl all-dayer festival earlier this year and hasn’t stopped yelling about them since so they were my first serious port of call to see at Beat Herder and I can see exactly why Lauren has been yelling.  They’re deliciously tight and well rehearsed with a real sense of what it is to deliver a stage performance and one which gave a real edge and suited the emotionally charged rock vocal. If you haven’t seen these folks play yet then I’m happily going to yell along with Lauren to tell you that you should. These guys have such potential to go far.


While we have been featuring unsigned band Fronteers for a while we have yet to see them play so this was a great opportunity. Sadly, yet again, they were playing to hardly anyone but just like everyone else, giving it everything. I was SO impressed too, they were fast paced up beat and I couldn’t believe how lush their harmonies are and how well it all went with their indie rock jingle jangle. They are way more than indie by numbers. They are so in sync that they must rehearse day in and day out  and they compliment each other so well it’s really a lovely thing to hear live – often live harmonies in this kind of band are a little rough and ready but these guys care and I love it.

otherkin-beat-herder-daisy-smartIn a contrast to the pretty harmonies and jingles came Dublin’s Otherkin who provided chaotic loose punk rock. Yet again they played to a handful of people. So frustrating for everyone when there are so many people out there who would love to bounce to this dirty sweaty adolescent rock n roll. They went all the way to the door to get people in and people who were sitting inside the dark tent chilling out wondering what was going on started to get up, I got up! I really wanted them to get me up from my hiding place where I was quietly typing notes and watching. We hope this write up will encourage more of our readers in the North West venture out to Beat Herder next year and enjoy all these amazing bands and give them an excited crowd to bounce off of – the festival is great and there’s so much for people to enjoy aside from this great stage.

After a glorious fire work display outside a wonder around the site to catch the amazing smooth vocals from Honeyfeet and back to my Masion D’etre to find that it was packed for The Vryll Society – either they brought in a lorry load of friends or they had made it clear to push their psychedelic sounds across to this specific festival. The set was, as always, effortless and we get super excited every time we see them. They were a perfect fit for this festival and people continued to wonder in off the muddy path outside to enjoy the loud swirls of sounds, capturing everyone in their dream-like musical haze.

Our last act of the weekend ended up being the fastidious Georgia who once set up kind of scared half the few people away with her screams and possibly also because all of a sudden the sound level seemed SO much louder than anyone else that has played in there. Those who left really should have stayed though as she pulled out a really impressive set up keys, synths, drums, drum machine – dance music with a powerful rock back bone and very punky in attitude with her rap-esque spoken lyrics – accompanies by the occasional screech.

We had another great year at Beat Herder and didn’t know what to do with ourselves the next day – no more Masion D’etre. I really could have lived in there, we love it so. Please come and join us next year – you’ll love it! And least we forget to mention there were plenty of other attractions and stages too! We also got to see James pull off a spectacular headline slot with a “different” kind of set on opening night, Digitalism bring it and the wonderful Cosmo Sheldrake also delivered his beautiful organic sounds, all on the main stage too!

Listen to the Beat Herder Playlist powered by Popped here:



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  • About Popped Music

    Popped Music has been going since Feb 2010.

    All articles written by Elena Katrina unless otherwise stated.

    I'm very happy if you love what I've done enough or love the bands I've written about and want to share - go for it, but please be blog friendly and share the link or hit the reblog button. Thank you.

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