Beacons 2014 preview: A bit of everything

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Beacons 2014

Beacons 2014

Around three years ago, I swapped my life in a small, working class North-East village for the somehow appealing world of student halls, extortionate rents and £5 pints in London. Since then my parents have moved to Somerset and I’ve taken a trip to Manchester for Warehouse Project, meaning I’ve been to all three corners of the country since my big move. While London offers plenty (more good club nights and gigs in a month than Newcastle and Sunderland have in a whole year), I still miss the original Greggs, talking to strangers on buses and safe Labour constituencies.

Beacons Festival in Skipton, North Yorkshire, is not as far North as the place I once called home, but it’s close enough, and an ace line-up will make up for the extra miles. Now in its third year, I’ve heard great things about the atmosphere too, with positive tales about how chilled out the vibe is and how friendly the staff are. Another perk is, with it being a small, 3-day festival towards the end of the summer; it’s the last one of the season for a fair few acts. This means that, rather than playing the Saturday afternoon and jetting off to play at the other end of the country the same evening, many have the chance to relax for the next day or two at Beacons. This is nice for the artists, and gives the crowd a decent chance of meeting their musical heroes swigging Strongbow on a hay bail on a Sunday afternoon.

As with pretty much everyone in the internet age, my tastes are not confined to one genre or sound, and Beacons caters pretty well to the ‘I like a bit of everything’ crowd. I’m perhaps most interested in Action Bronson, equal parts acclaimed rapper and internet personality. I say I’m excited, but also a little anxious, having heard stories of the New Yorker showing off wrestling moves on stage divers at a recent show in America. While I’m all up for getting turnt at rap shows, I’m less up for missing the rest of the festival with a broken pelvis after an Action Bronson clothes line.

In between drinking by body weight in beer, I’m also looking forward to one of Friday’s left-field bookings, XXYYXX. For all I would like to say this is because of my interest in the way he reappropriates R&B samples into ambient lullabies or something impressively technical, the reasons are purely nostalgic. After exams last year, after all the rest of our friends had returned home for the holidays, my flatmate and I remained in London for a summer of what consisted entirely of working during the day and smoking weed on the evening. The soundtrack to at least half of these evening sessions was XXYYXX’s debut album, most memorably the ‘No Scrubs’-sampling ‘Good Enough’.

Gentrification might be a tricky subject in Britain at the minute, but few tired, sticky and hungover people on the third day of a festival are going to bemoan Beacons’ food stalls. Rather than the usual £8 for an Iceland burger in a bun, the cuisine on offer is far more sophisticated. Bleary-eyed youths will be able to pour out of their tents to tuck into Patty Smith’s gourmet burgers, the quirkily named Ghandi’s Flip Flop curry or some local specialities from Skipton Pie and Mash. It wasn’t a huge factor in me choosing Beacons over other festivals, but I’m sure I’ll be grateful for the comprehensive care taken with non-musical elements of the festival after three straight days of destroying my body with alcohol.

Like relationships, festivals require experience to work out what you want from them. I’ve been to my fair share and have worked out exactly what I love and hate about them. I’ll be attending Beacons with one good friend and with a couple of other groups of acquaintances to meet up with once there. For me this is the optimum companionship for a festival: going alone would obviously be weird, but going with a huge group can cause an equally uncomfortable experience, as one irritating friend of a friend can turn a weekend away with your mates watching your favourite bands into an endurance test with a soundtrack. One unavoidable discomfort with festivals in fields is camping. While I’m constantly told it’s ‘part of the experience’ I still feel like I’m being conned by paying money to sleep somewhere worse than my own bed. However, while terrible experiences of waking up drenched in sweat and rainwater one inch from another person on consecutive nights at Latitude mean I’m still slightly apprehensive, I’m hoping an individual tent, a sleeping bag without a hole in it and the North’s cooler climes might make this less of a stuffy, sodden nightmare.

This may sound like a very generic point, but the thing I’m most looking forward to is meeting new people. It’s a pretty simple rule of life that interesting things attract interesting people and the majority of my friends have been made from chance meetings in club smoking areas or in festival tents. I am yet to find a better pal-finding situation than being drunk and sharing a communal moment around a great band or DJ.

Beacons Festival takes place at the Funkirk Estate, Carleton, Skipton, North Yorkshire from Thursday 7th to Sunday 10th August 2014 and is headlined by Darkside, Daughter and Action Bronson.

For more information and tickets click here.