|The Beat Herder Festival 2016|
15th - 17th Jul 2016
Dockber Farm, Sawley, Lancashire, BB7 4LH, United Kingdom
Tickets for adults (with camping) from £137.50
On arrival at Beat-Herder I was glad to see good site organisation and happy helpful stewards, even in the face of lots of drizzle and a much squelched site. Yet still we were easily guided to a large space for our seventeen convoy vehicles. Except the leader, who drove straight into a muddy mire and got stuck, the rest of us easily set up camp together. It was only an hour later when the helpful person with the monster truck pulled our friend in their super big hymer free from the mud and they then glided into a space behind us.
We all set about building camp, erecting shelters and cracking open cans and glugging wine by the box load – classy! We got the wellies on, the fluffy jackets distributed and by 7pm were tromping onto the site to have the first of our adventures.
Although muddy and damp the site was quite a site to behold once through the thorough security checks. I approve of the campsite rules, of four plastic or can containers only. Allowing you to drink your own beverages but also encouraging you to support the bars.
After all it is the bar sales which fund the festival. And they were scattered around the site in great abundance. And not in your face marquees either. There were bars in the trees, tucked in corners of some of the funky venues and even below ground level. More on that later!
The first thing that blows your mind when you enter the site is the large expanse in which the sprawling festival sits. You are surrounded by glorious views of the Pendle Hills.
The site is packed with so many things to explore and look at, with creative and various types of seating from upturned boats, to large sail like deck chairs, to hammock seats and benches. There are eighteen different stage areas listed in the programme and many more areas than that to check out.
The site decor is well thought out with so many flags, digital back drops, an adult sized fortresses to play on in the Healing Area, a scrap metal dragon and of course the obligatory “Herd Em Up” letters in more than one location.
It was a feast for your eyes and put a huge happy smile all over my face.
I walked about in awe as my brain tried to make sense of the site lay out and all its hidden gems.
First up on Friday evening was a set in the Perfumed Garden by DJ WA KA. The Perfumed Garden was an open front domed style tent with pretty decor and sofa’s and chairs around ten side where you could get a nice drink or just chill.
The dance floor was packed and we quickly found ourselves running for fresh air again against the heat of the dancing troupes inside. The set was an unusual collection of funky dub and dance but I could not take my eyes away from all the areas to explore and found soon I had to move on.
And this is what I found:
The Beat-Herder and District Working Mens Social Club, fully furnished with traditional interior. It was whacky yet perfect for the older folk on site, wanting to retreat from the hardcore thump of constant dance music with artists such as an ABBA Tribute band and old school tunes, at times it was exactly the place we knew where the grandparents were!
The Fortress for all things House music! Totally surrounded by a 30ft tall castle it was incredible to think it was all recycled parts and a temporary structure!
Prattys Ring was an exceptional man made amphitheatre with two cute stone archways in or out and a centre stage. It housed nothing but good old party music all weekend and was more chilled with reggae beats on the Sunday. It had a cuddled cosy feel about it, even when jam packed and certainly hit the heavy bass lines at times, not that you could tell once you stepped out its high protected grass hills. It delivered on its promise of party, party, party as well as many inappropriate innuendo comments about loving to go in the ring.
Smokey’s Testicles was situated high up in the lazy meadow and was a beautiful low slung tent with chill areas to relax on the floor and come back down to earth, ease the soul and sooth the racing heart beat with more laid back acoustic funky soul sounds.
You found it by walking through a field with a central stone circle, surrounded by shops and walk about acts, the large number 10 and 7, which we didn’t manage to find out the significance of??
This area also had lots of groovy shops and stalls, a large adult size fortress with slide to play on, miniature villages, wooden cars and an impressive love heart which from the side view was two serpents heads.
We strolled about, enjoying each creative land mark, interacting with the stunning Salsa girls who were baring their bums for all to enjoy beneath a sign that said ‘Perve on us’ making us all feel a little bit naughty for staring.
If you leave the lazy meadow and head up a slight hill you come to the entrance to where the fun fair rides are sited and then you come across the weird and wonderful Trash Manor. Which was actually weirdly stately and kind of church like, even though all made from recycled junk.
At night it was wonderful to sit and enjoy yet again more sofas, with a front room type bar area and odd headless fountain statues with flame bursting columns at the entrance as you went in.
Over the entire weekend we caught a few acts in there. Names evade us as does any recollection of the time but we do know we danced as hard as we could with our feet glued in the mud on the ground. Good times!
Directly opposite the Trash Manor is one of the many entrances into an area called the Toil Trees. My favourite area on the whole site. There is just something magical, united and tribal about dancing under the trees. And of all the festivals with trees, at Beat-Herder they have it right. The trees are quite tightly packed and have continuous spiral patterns rolling down the huge high trunks. It makes for an awesome display. Add onto that the large orbs hanging about, the various areas that weave and wind off towards other areas and you have an area that’s hard to leave. And when you do, you get distracted by everything along the way.
Like The Street, which is literally a street of intriguing shops, the best of which had to be Nicci Hebson’s Curiosity Shop, where you could see a taxidermy’d sheep with the customary Beat-Herder Speaker on its back,
Shop holder Nikki and friends also used through their microphone to randomly amuse the passers by and sing odd quirky songs to customers. It was wonderfully weird.
Across the road was the Hotel California. An amazing DJ venue, with interior vintage hotel decor, wooden staircase and checking in desk. All coordinated by the impressive Madame Electrifie.
Not only did she DJ her incredible techno mash up breaks set three times over the weekend, she also gave me the full Hotel California experience which involved checking into the official Register book, receiving a charge card, a key for my room and even a postcard for me to write home on.
I was then promptly covered in more glitter than anyone else on site, which provided many startled conversations throughout the rest of the night as well as much eating and breathing of the constantly drifting glitter from my hair. You couldn’t meet a more impressive hostess with the mostest though, thanks Little Jo!
Just along from the Hotel California, at the end of The Street was the Church. Complete with religiously attired dancing DJ congregation! It was epic and hilarious by day and by night. Opposite the church was the phone box, which was actually the end of a long tunnel from somewhere else in the Toil Trees. I never did discover it because I hate small under ground tunnels.
Still in the Toil Tree area you have the Garage, with actual classic cars lined up in full view of the stage which hordes of people used to dance on (jump up and down on) throughout various banging DJ sets thumping out from the stunning Toil Trees stage.
If you left the trees from the opposite side you could double back to the left and find yourself at the Snug. Another small quirky venue with a cocktail bar, great decor and such an eclectic range of music. The seats outside were fantastic, large and prefect for groups or for injecting yourself into lots of new friends. We enjoyed many seats there while eating or cooling down, meeting friendly people and enjoying the sounds from the snug drifting out the snug windows. Wonderful.
The main stage area was in a slight bowl with a well stocked, well staffed bar to one side, nearby toilets and a few more choice seating areas. There was so much to do at Beat-Herder that when main acts were on the field looked rammed but actually you could careful twist and turn your way right to the front.
So there we were for Friday night for Digitalism, who I had never heard before but absolutely loved. What a funky electrobe dance sound they had and captivating visuals.
The place was jumping to their thumping sounds. A bite to eat at the Falafel stand and then down to catch James.
Just six foot back from the front of the stage, mesmerised by the digital circles spinning from his back drop. He played a great set, a few oldies in there and lots of newer stuff, which pleased the new followers and disappointed the old followers. What an age range in the crowd and plenty of happy faces and imitation James dancing.
After the amazing and impressive fireworks, I lost myself after that in the wonders of the Toil Trees. The music was incredible, the place was magical and enticing and I could not stop my feet dancing between the trees to the other crazy bits and pieces around, like Angie’s den bar, dug out in the ground, back to Trash Manor and finally over the hill and back to bed in time to see the sun lighten the sky. Thankfully I was sound asleep by the time the sun reached the horizon. My mind racing with flashes from a brilliant but bonkers day one at Beat-Herder.
Day two, the day everyone had picked as dress up day. Amazing costumes at the ready that began with the letter R because Beat-Herder does their fancy dress by running through the Beat-Herder letters. However, I seemed to have missed that memo and was ready to party in my Mermaid outfit! Oh well, a Raving Mermaid it is then!
Saturday was the day where everything for me centred on a new band, Good Foxy, who I recently discovered through a recommendation from a friend. Ever since I acquired their album I have been in love with their sound. They produce a strong bold hypnotic rock and roll, straight out of the 1970’s with influences like the Doors and Led Zepplin clearly rippling through their songs. Yet they manage to pull it all together in an interesting unique way that gets you very excited and very moved. More importantly I had the privilege of an interview with them, lined up after their gig in the dark and musty Maison D’etre venue.
A slow start to the morning as we all slept in longer than intended. Then we took rather a while to get going with all the huge amount of people to cook and supply food to in our camp, but eventually my gorgeous pen holding Steam Punk assistant was dressed and at the ready.
We were over excited and on site for a little after 2pm. The clouds parted, the sun came out, so we happily spent a couple of hours wandering the fields, taking pictures of wonderful things and beautiful people. We were hanging out in the fortress upon the Lazy Meadow with Mike from the band Fire Beneath the Sea.
But then Mike had to prep for his set and we had to go see Good Foxy. Totally torn because being a Mermaid I had been invited to dance side stage at the Smokey Tentacles while the Fire Under the Sea performed... BUT! I had an interview lined up with Good Foxy... AND! I had been looking forward to their set all day. Good Foxy won (of course) and my mermaid scales sadly flipped away from the entrancing tentacles tickling the fire under the sea.
Finally in the right venue for Good Foxy we were not surprised at how quickly the place filled up. I knew the band were local lads from Clitheroe, so were bound to have a local following at their gig. And I was not wrong.
When they came on their long sultry bass line immediately lifted everyone and the whole place surged to the front more. Smiles galore and an electric atmosphere, when they launched into ‘ Down the Rabbit Hole’ with carnival intro lyrics sung by bass guitarist Freddie, the place cheered and jumped about like crazy.
Again such a mixed crowd, which I think is down to their fantastic rock and roll old school sound, mixed in with the originality and quirky style that you come to know can only be Good Foxy. I lost all sense of concentration when they played one of my favourites, Gone West, as it has such an incredible heavy bass opening and the young crowd were mosh pitting all over the place. They even got split up by security, which I thought was a damn shame as they were just having a jolly good time.
In no time at all, the set was over, the lads managing to squeeze a beautiful instrumental piece into their last three minutes before the plug was pulled. And then it was time for me to jump over the stage and meet the band back stage with my lovely assistant!
The overall feeling when you listen to Good Foxy is how polished and eclectic they sound. Yet when you watch them they look like they are doing nothing other than having fun doing something they each individually love. When you speak with each lad, it is clear that they all have their own ideas, they all have their own distinct characteristics, yet somehow they make it all come together in an incredible sound we will all soon come to know and love as the one and only Good Foxy, One of the only solo artists in the world with five heads and my recommendation for the band to watch because they are going to soar. Or perhaps scamper.
The Good Foxy debut album is available on their website at www.goodfoxy.co.uk
We even had a brief conversation with two of the Good Foxy Dads who travel with the band as their roadies and managers. And a Good Foxy mum who was right at the front during their performance and straight back stage to congratulate them. All the family aiming to keep the lads of Good Foxy’s feet firmly planted on the ground, at least until they finish their studies and their heads not away in the clouds. Good job they are doing because the lads were perfectly polite, enjoyable company and not at all giddy.
We left back stage flying high ourselves. As far as I could see, that was my day peeked. I had no other demands on the programme. My day was complete. A dream come true. Who gets to meet the band of the moment, in the moment? I do. Beat-Herder by jinkies, I am living the dream!
I spent most of the rest of the daylight sat outside the Hotel California taking in the sounds of Betty pumping out of the front door, enjoying the company of Madame Electrifie, who as I previously explained, covered me from scalp to chin in gold glitter. So we met lots of photographers who pictured me trying to shake the glitter from my hair and created clouds for others to become glittered with.
I then scooted over to The Ring and caught an awesome upbeat swing style DJ called Jamie Berry, who amused us all with his hip hop 1920s beats. Even mixing up a version of the can-can, which had everyone trying to kick their legs about, naturally. Everybody had a really good dance and a good ole swing including the DJ.
We meandered for a bit, grabbing people, eating food, drinking cocktails and beers from the many many easy to get served bars and then went back to the Beat Hereder Stage for finally of the Saturday night, Booka Shade.
A fantastic big booming set of get on down grooves that totally wore us all out. We had to go over to the snug and rest for a few hours after such an incredible all in, get your best moves out and your banging face on for the heaviest tunes in Beat-Herder town.
I know I caught the Utah Saints at some point back in Prattys Ring and I danced, I slipped, I cavorted and careered. I laughed a lot but remember much not, and although my Saturday night at Beathereder went on much longer and was brilliant and bonkers, alas my memory did not retain it all.
Sunday was an even slower start after a late finish, but extremely exciting. Yet again my whole purpose for living ventured around one, incredible, awesome band, The Dub Pistols!!! I could not believe I was going to meet them and as usual was looking forward to jumping around to their fantastic ska reggae dance skank sounds.
Needless to say after the interview, I absolutely floated about for the rest of the day. Sunday was Pistolero’s day. There was nothing else I cared about doing, other than see them play live and show them my love and support and have a bloody good dance.
We caught up with the rest of our gang who were very disappointed in my blag skills, to see us on grass and not later on stage with the Dubs. But I suspect the Dub Pistols get that all the time, and who are we but two star struck, slightly mucky, inept reviewers? So we all caught up on each others news, sat in sun, explored a little more madness and pitched our selves centre stage at the front.
They came out big and with a bang. Immediately everyone was on their feet. We were surrounded by professional cameras in the pit in front of us and yet not one of us could be bothered to stop dancing and get the pro cameras out! No crowd surfing from bad boy Barry, which was very unusual. Perhaps a little travel weiry, or the crowd wasn’t thick enough to confidently support him. Who knows, but he came and shook hands while in the middle of a song.
Bass player Dave Budgen came out and got in on some quality posing action whilst strumming the bassline right through out chests.
And after the obligatory ‘ Mucky Weekend’, not many of us had our voices left and some of us were a bit bruised from the incredible kangaroo man who used the front barrier to bounce into the air, for every beat, like he clearly didn’t care. He was fascinating and hilarious!
All in all, a typically banging set from the undoubtedly incredible Dub Pistiolero boys. My heart is still all a flutter.
After that, all bets were off. There was much moving about in the trees to various funky fat beat artists. There were a few more cocktails and many more relived tales of reviewer wonders.
I was high on life, in my Beathereder bubble, still am, aint nothing gonna bring me down.
Thank you Beat-Herder for the best time. You were bonkers, brilliant and beautiful and by far my best weekend of living the dream.