Saturday, 14 September 2013

Live Review: Beacons Festival (BidoLito!)

It really is a fucking melting pot here. There are the post Alt-J students who didn’t buy their V Festival tickets in time; the dour tech-heads who’s social skills have been evaporated by Hallucinator’s Soundcloud page; the dreadlocked, mumbling pseudo-hippies with their eyes locked in a perpetual squint; all roaming some field in the Yorkshire Dales as they search for something more cerebral, something to forget their shit jobs or their shit boyfriends, or just something that will remind them why they put up with their horrible existence. The line-up has a lot to do with that of course, with its diversity stretching from the snarling, post-pixies Sky Larkin to the experimental, analogue leaning James Holden, drawing in lovers of electronic and of indie-alternative in equal measure.

London duo BIG DEAL sound eye wateringly embarrassing on paper, but Dream Machines and In Your Car suggest that they have grown cynical with age, packing a weighty punch when you consider they look like awkward sub-plot characters from Tony Hawks 4. CHAD VALLEY takes us to the shores of LA, with the Balearic vibes of Fall 4 U and Tell All Your Friends covering the Loud & Quiet stage in a chill-wave haze. Brighton gloom-mongers ESBEN AND THE WITCH have kept it pretty quiet this year, but today Rachel Davies’ vocals hover hauntingly above the clattering of Deathwaltz and Marching Song, juxtaposing fragility with belligerence as the grey clouds above seem a little less bleak. Surrey’s VONDLEPARK ease us into an evening of electronic music, with the swaying, ethereal Quest floating weightlessly as the sun begins to set. I made no secret of my love for Spanish house producer JOHN TALABOT on my preview for this event, so it is with mouth watering, knee shaking, Kevin Phillips’ injury time penalty anticipation that I await his RA Stage appearance. It is just a DJ set tonight, playing puppet master as he teases the likes of So Will Be Now and Destiny into an undulating, house-leaning monster of a set. Maybe I’m just high as fuck, but the elation of seeing who is in my opinion, the best DJ in the world right now as he projects his glorious Spanish paradise onto us, has me convinced that for just one hour this is the best night of my life. And judging by the twisted, gurning, Cheshire cat grins that surround me - I’m not alone.

John Talabot

Saturday morning greets me with an earth-shattering hangover, so it is with extreme prejudice that I stumble into the main arena. London’s AMATEUR BEST offer some light at the end of the tunnel, suggesting the biggest pop songs are not necessarily the loudest with the quietly confident Ready For The Good Life daring the sun to come out. Birmingham’s JAWS are the second capital’s third strike, with Peace and Swim Deep both failing to deliver this year. Toucan Surf and Gold are absolute gems, though, and are welcomed warmly by a triumphant young crowd, offering that sort of widescreen, fist-pumping nostalgia that festivals like this were made for. Lancaster production duo look destined for big things next year, and it’s their late afternoon appearance that begins a four-hour lock in on the Resident Advisor stage. Gold and new single Giving It All are highlights of a woozy, soulful set, as they hide these melodic commercial pop songs inside their brand of breezy, garage tinged electronica. BEN UFO’s reputation precedes his appearance this evening, as he sits remarkably high on the bill when you consider he’s never actually written a song. Within minutes though the story tells itself, as the Hessle Audio founder drifts seamlessly between ambient-jazz, disco and industrial techno with an audacity only acquired when you are worshiped as the best selector in the UK. LOCAL NATIVES eventually prove too much for me to handle, with the gorgeous harmonies of Colombia and Heavy Feet making me all too aware of my surroundings, as the last four hours appear mercilessly into focus.

FLOATING POINTS Sunday afternoon set of house and disco falls on welcome brain cells, as the Eglo producer leaves the sinister, foggy tones of his own Shangrila and Truly at home. SAVAGES are tipped as the best live band in the country right now, and it’s easy to see how Silence Yourself would translate onto a live setting. Every song is delivered like a mission statement, as Jehnny Beth’s rips through She Will and Husbands with the kind of urgency and life affirming aggression reminiscent of late seventies Siouxsie Sioux. 


It is a fitting end to the weekend, as Beacons cements its place in UK festival season, reminding me why I need to stop over-analysing pop culture movements and just accept the fact that no one really belongs anywhere because here - no one wants to.

Mike Townsend

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