Beat Herder Festival 2019 Review - photo by Andrew WhittonBeatherder you were really rather ridiculous!  What a pleasure to nestle in your Lancastrian bosom for three days of absolute delight. This festival really knows how to look good, feel good and have a good time! If you love a festival that looks pretty, arty and has many mind bending creative installations, this one will definitely tickle your fancy.

As soon as you pull into the site you are greeted by well organised and friendly staff below a never ending trail of flag poles and flashing lights. From end to end the festival is an assault on the eyes. So much stimulation along the riverside hills undulation, it just keeps giving every next step. All weekend we found new zones, upon new zones. And yet we still didn’t see it all. Each area wonderfully different to the next. Anyone could find a favourite place to be in Beatherder. They have green open spaces for laying around sunning yer faces, they have so many venues they actually organise a pub crawl round them all. They have tents where you can bimble and prance, tents for you to wobble and dance. The whole arena is spectacularly decorative, covered in stimulating and gorgeous creations from a large range of incredible people. 

We found Andy from The Travelling Light Circus, who was there with a beautiful crew of people with a spectacular giant Pendulum wave installation. A large row of shiny metal balls that swung back and forth in a mind bending synchronised / unsynchronised way due to their different cable lengths. Absolutely astounding piece of interactive art. And the crew were all such a cracking crowd of people to crack on with. 

There was an absolutely humungous bubble machine, just outside the Perfumed garden, that looked like a selection of colourful horns and pipes and was big enough to spill hundreds of bubbles across the whole site. 

And of course a shed with a bench all the way round so you could sit and marvel at the led encased Infinity cube. Stare into the corners to see your third eye appear in the mirrors. WOW.

There is also the beauty of the stone circle, complete with day and night long fire and the smell of delicious rum coffee wafting over from the most beautiful low slung tent on site, Smoky Tentacles. Where you can find an eclectic programme of wonderful music and soft lulling beats that never stop, where the bar never shuts. 

Friday was all about discovering these ever weaving ever giving areas across the site and enjoying some of the acts on the main stage. We had a tankard of a beautiful tasty rum that we were enjoying although after a while it became so potent and warm it was more like sipping a potion that ensured you engaged your fully functioning face! 

First act that we caught were the high energy ever smashing it Dub Pistols. Giving it large and brining on the first dance of the weekend with a messy mucky set that had everyone stomping around.

Basement Jaxx DJ set. The field was full, everywhere people dancing and singing along to all the BJ favourites mixed up with other random classics. Dropping Whitneys ‘I wanna dance with somebody’ gathered a hilarious response from the mass bulging crowd. And low and behold, everyone WAS dancing with somebody!

Next up was Rudimental. They were spectacular! We managed to join a crew of three, dad and two daughters on a bench that soon became our elevated dance floor and rocked the whole gig on our dance floor for six. Rudimentals whole set was uplifting, full of love and they dropped such fantastic mixed up bass heavy versions of the songs we love so much. They brought the love. We shared it with everyone. We laughed, sung, cried with joy. It was pure magic. 

After all that furious dancing and smiling we went straight over to The Ring to enjoy the full on sound of DJ Q, followed by DJ Hazard. Or at least that’s who we thought we were seeing. The Beatherder program is a wonderful little thing. Its full of great information, its small enough to carry around in your pocket. But as it is small, the writing is small too. Absolutely teeny tiny to be truthful. So once darkness fell, it was impossible to read what was on where. So it was either done from memory as to where we could remember we wanted to be, or done from time check notes in hindsight the next day! This is in fact the only recommendation we could think of that would ever improve the festival. Larger print time table. Please. 

The Ring was rammed full, the beats were fast, ear tickling and the bass chest pumping. Our poor little feet barely kept time as we staggered up onto the top level of the terrace to watch the strobe effects seemingly bring the crowd into unified movement. Quite puzzling when your own feet won’t act in accordance with your brain function and all communication is painfully expressed through hand signs. Through both DJ sets the bassline was so edgy it cut us to pieces and left us scattered pixelated versions of ourselves. 

We left the Ring and went into one of the most stunning places on site, the Toil Trees. The tall pines look all the more impressive with the spiralling light shows which spin up them at night. Lazers flash and flicker out from the main stage. Trees pop up in your way at any time and if you need a sit down there are possibly 15 ways to move out of the main zone, to a bench where you can hear yourself speak while still able to tap your limbs to the beat.

The exits from Toil Trees take you in all sorts of directions; to Angie’s den where you can buy a delicious vodka from a bar sunken in the ground, or towards the fountain where you can find a warming coffee stop next to the Waterfall. There are exits to Trash Manor and the main arena. Or you can spill out into the bottom end of The Street, where an actual street of Federation America style shops, a church, a hidden pool, a Tattoo parlour, a Barbers and The Hotel California. 

All ridiculously real and surreal at the same time. 

You end your visit to The Street spilling from The Garage where you can find garage tunes, three cars to dance on or sit in and a whole wave of ridiculous banter to enjoy. 

Or you can take a breather on the giant bench opposite and watch the world of colourful people go by. We did this on and off until the music stopped at 3am and we were asked to move on by the clean up stewards. 

Up to Smokey Tentacles for a rum coffee, a slow bumbling bop on the dance floor to the psychedelic tunes and a lounge in their spectacular chairs. 

Ending the night round the fire with friendly banter, many many laughs and a roasty toasty body to take home to bed.

Saturday was all about costumes beginning with R. There were robbers, romans, red riding hoods (some with wolf, some without), radios, a roulette board, the red devils, referees, hundreds of rainbows and then us, as Risk Assessors. 

We had so much fun. Complete with high viz, whistles, ‘Trip Hazard’ signs, hazard tape and an actual official risk assessment carbon copy book we were able to take the job seriously and risk assess anything or everyone we came across. The only down side to this ridiculous antic was it took us ages to get anywhere and we were late for pretty much everything all day. So much fun taping people up, taping them to poles, each other or random objects to ensure the rest of the night was risk averse. We even risk assessed ourselves to ensure the risk wasn’t being a risk assessor.

We spent a lot of time in and around the StumbleFunk tent enjoying the tiered outdoor dance floor, then lounging in the perfumed garden and how close it was to run into the Fortress when there was space to get inside the packed and popular dance and techno iron clad castle of crazy house techno. 

We explored the Street in more detail. Having a dance in the church of dance. Sending our friend down the Teleporting telephone box tunnel which runs the full length of the street, underground, and comes out in another phone box the other entire end of the street. Our friend thinking we were behind her slowly and steadily crawled through the tunnel not particularly enjoying the darkness, the strange noises and found herself popped up not in the place we were waiting with open arms but in a tiny room with a prison bar covered long window looking out into the street. It took us ten minutes to find her. Panic struck running back and forth between the in and the out tunnel. 

Eventually we found her in the jail and even more eventually after that, she continued the crawl to the end point and gladly climbed out. Dirty, sweaty and smiley with a long piece of wood she had risk assessed on the way.

We were exhausted with the performance exertion so we chilled for a bit at The Snug, taking advantage of the observation point to see the art work scattered around, the viewing rooms and of course, jump in and out of the Snug to the beats rocking out of its cosy homely room. We got caught up in Risk Assessing some rather worrying Retired Ravers in danger of partying so hard they could possibly break bones. And we lost time enjoying the Hot 8 Brass Band and all their superb excellent on the main stage. We time travelled back to an era of funk and soul, rhythm and base and stomped our bodies all over the place. 

Leaving the main stage we stumbled and bumbled around the food stalls, each of us looking to locate something different for the vegan and veggie diet. We all ended up with Pizza from the Pizza stand. It was sooooooooooooo great we went back for a second! 

The light fading, the programme illegible again we moved between the Ring and the Fortress when we wanted heavy bassline and grime or the toil trees when we wanted dance and techno. We took a short visit up to Trash Manor where you can feast your eyes on pole dancing robots and strange statuesque fountains while sitting on a couch and having your eyes bent with visuals and your ears bent with the music.

It was not long before we could not handle the extreme heavy rock metal so we went back to The Ring ending the night with some down and dirty blends of all sorts from JFB. 

Sunday was a laid back fun day. The sun was still shining between intermittent fluffy clouds. Declared by one hilarious festival goer ‘Its cloudy with a very good chance of getting f*^$”ed up.”

We caught part of Mr Scruffs exceedingly long set in the Toil Trees. Very much enjoying the lilting changeable sounds and sounds effects. Bopping our bodies along and taking in the daylight treats of the surrounding maze of trees and art work. 

We went into the venues under the bridge and simply caught everything in there for ten minutes each. Staggering between the venues which we cannot name even now we have fully functioning eyeballs and have recovered off site, because the writing is so small in the book. However each venue was fantastic. The music in some was dancey, some more disco and all of them excessively well decorated and themed. Great fun getting entangled in the small rooms shooting off from the central tunnel and enjoying the beautifully dressed people around and about each zone.

Back out into the sunshine for a dance off in The Ring again to the end half of a rather heavy and chaotic DJ set from Dutty Moonshine who had a fully ram packed house of movers giving it all the face scrunching and hand slapping dance moves. We stayed put when they finished and as the Ring emptied somewhat we enjoyed the funky beats of Madame Electrifie. What an beautiful eclectic mix of old school and new house beats alongside pop classics and some funk and soul. All weaved in together with some banging beat drops that made our ears pop. 

We slowly zigzagged to the main stage to catch part of the Sugar Hill gang who were rocking it out hip hop old school and giving the crowd some bad boy instructions. And then rested our wearing everything from the comfort of the beautiful lost seat in the middle of the field next door. Truly lost in the magic of the Beatherder brilliance. 

We laid on the ground snuggled in a big blanket as the fireworks were let off. An epic display of eye exploding proportion. Really. Rather. Ridiculous. So many fire works, so much colour and explosions eating up every bit of sky over the Beatherder arena. That. Is how its done. One long explosion of bangers of sparkley, flash and slow motion shine. We took longer than expected to recover from such an epic display of gun powder.

Our final stop of the night was inside the Fortress one more time to see Stanton Warriors mix out their brilliance. Tune after tune of garage, grime, massive remixes and ever climbing ecstatic dance trance house. We ended on a high, up in the sky with the remains of the fireworks gun powder.

We could not have got sweatier. We could not have smiled more, nor laughed more if we had tried. There was nothing else left to do, although we are sure there was other things we had missed to do. But that just means there is more to look forward to for next year.

Beatherder is a place where the creativity and the party is full on in your face. Bold, bright and beautiful Beatherder is one never to miss again. Its really rather ravishing and ridiculous.