There are those who say that there are too many festivals in the UK these days. Certainly the last few years have seen the births (and, in some cases, the deaths) of many a ’boutique’ summer shindig and, as Adam Buxton tells us, the experience is unrecognisable from what it once was. But our problem with festivals isn’t the quinoa salads, childcare facilities and wacky fancy dress.
It’s the rampant commercialism that means paying through the nose for watery Red Stripes and inaccurate programmes, and being treated like David Miranda whenever you have the temerity to move from one area to another. Beacons promised to be different – with its reluctant booking fees, encouragement of public transport, and talk of local ale houses. And indeed it was: the setting was spectacular, the staff were accommodating, and the atmosphere was a lot more relaxed than many of its competitors.
And then there was the music. T Williams is one of our favourite live acts at the moment and he delivered again here, kicking the weekend off in style with a barnstorming Friday night set on the Red Bull Music Academy stage (well, truck). Resident Advisor’s tent played host to crowd-pleasing sets from John Talabot and Dauwd, and the main stage was treated to intense performances from Gold Panda and SBTRKT.
There were even guitars on show, with Local Natives impressive in the headline slot and Dutch Uncles proving a captivating spectacle (mostly due to frontman Duncan Wallis’s unbelievable shapes – for more on them, head here). And culture too, in various guises – including a screening of the amazing ‘Made of Stone’, with a Shane Meadows Q&A and everything.
Rodigan & Iration Steppers rounded off the weekend with a reggae-themed Sunday, sending the crowds on their way and warming them up for Notting Hill Carnival the next weekend. A top weekend, then, and props to the organisers for doing things a bit differently. Roll on Beacons 2014.