Review of Beacons Festival 2012

Beacons Festival, located in scenic Skipton in the Yorkshire Dales, has been fraught with issues in the past, mostly of the time down to the typical British summer weather. This year, after a year of absence, the diminutive festival was back and this time it had a point to prove. With people arriving in their droves on Thursday, the festivities got underway immediately and thankfully, for once, the weather looked as though it was going to hold up.

Beacons Festival

FutureSound finalists Dead Boys got things started in the Stool Pigeon Tent on Friday afternoon before their competition cohorts Post War Glamour Girls took care of things afterward, proving their worth further up the bill. Whilst their sounds couldn't be any further away from each other, after seeing PWGG take control of the main stage like they did, they all but confirmed any rumblings saying that they are the next Wild Beasts.

Next, a time to explore the arena and, for such a wee festival, they sure can fit a lot in whilst still keeping a sprawling green space for the punters to roam about in. The festival was a sell-out, but there was rarely a time when you felt hemmed in like you do at some of the larger festivals and this sense of freedom to wander all but added to the appeal of the festival. On to Greendale's stage to see Disclosure next where, unfortunately, the young duo's inexperience really shone through; something that really disappointed given that these two were one of the most anticipated acts to take to any of the stages over the weekend. From the get go, their sound just wasn't up to scratch, and whilst some of the fault may lie with the sound engineers, that is by no reason to single out the tech guy and blame all the technical difficulties on him. Disclosure may be one of the most promising acts in dance music today, but that doesn't mean they don't need to do some growing up still.

Fortunately though, a sour taste wasn't left in the mouth for long as Jessie Ware proved her worth atop of her current pedestal and, when Mount Kimbie took to the stage, no one stood still. The dubstep minimalist showed the Stool Pigeon stage exactly how dubstep should be played with their infectious instrumental breaks and knee tingling bass drops. Kimbie left a giant pair of shoes on the main stage that would be hard to fill for most acts, fortunately though Friday's headliner, Roots Manuva, has all the experience in the world to make sure he slipped into them snugly.

With no less than four tents offering a wealth of live acts, even after Roots had bid his farewell the music went on well into the night and hardly anyone was going back to their tent after seeing the headliner. If the daytime offered a wealth of family-based activity, then the night-time was easily an adult's playground.

With heads still pounding from the night before, the much more tuneful sounds of Kwes and Cass McCombs came as a relief to many an ear in the arena. What's more, the perfect juxtaposition to a muddy festival was also on site, in the shape of a tea room, courtesy of The Marvellous Tea Dance Company, offering tea served in fine china mugs with scones and muffins on the side - you could have been forgiven for thinking that you'd somehow made the jump to nearby Harrogate if you weren't wearing wellies.

Once tea-time was over, it was time to brace yourself for the music again and who better to throw you right back in the deep end again than Japandroids, proving that it only takes two to blow the roof off the main stage. Jumping back and forth from Post Nothing to Celebration Rock numbers, when CR opener 'The Nights of Wine and Roses' kicked in mid-set, celebrations were very much underway. Ghostpoet, with a laptop, guitar and drum set to help him, by far had the coolest set of the weekend. If Roots' thoroughly impressive stage show can be attributed to his experience, then Ghostpoet must just be a natural at this. And, with that, it was time to leave the main stage and, rather than stick around for Junior Boys and homecoming heroes Wild Beasts, it was time to get a wiggle on at the second stage for two of the industry's best DJs; Oneman and Pearson Sound. Oneman, a man clearly not afraid to rewind his tracks, quite possibly got the biggest response from any crowd throughout the weekend. Mixing everything from Outkast to Jamie xx, the Boiler Room resident DJ proved that even if you're playing with borrowed material it doesn't mean you can't hold the audience in the palm of your hand. When he was done, it was up to Pearson Sound to turn the volume up to 11; a mission that was quite easily accomplished by the Londoner.

Throughout the weekend, the massive surplus of local talent was on constant display; not just local to England, but to the Yorkshire region as a whole. It added a sense of homeliness to the event, a sense of community and local pride too. Seeing Japandroids perform on Saturday was fantastic, but when That Fucking Tank took to the Noisey/Vice stage on Sunday afternoon, the Leeds rockers showed 'Droids just how much noise two people really can make on stage. Tank's guitar-wizard Andy Abbott had already been on stage that day with new project Nope, whose infectious afternoon, psychedelic, shoegazer jam got the day off with a bang. It wasn't just Sunday though; bands from Leeds, Sheffield, Wakefield and other far reaches of Yorkshire graced every stage going throughout the weekend - and you don't see festivals like Leeds Festival doing anything remotely like that to support local talent. When fellow Leeds noisemakers Blacklister took to the third stage later that evening, frontman Billy Mason Wood (who spent more time in the crowd than on stage) gave a big thanks to the organisers, and rightly so! They deserve all the thanks they can get for not just persevering despite numerous failed attempts to put on the festival in the past, but for sticking to their roots.

On a more trans-Atlantic scale, Willis Earl Beal performed a hauntingly intense one-man performance, before heading to the VIP area to hunt out any willing females. Willy Mason then followed, delivering a completely different solo show, before introducing two "friends from back home" for a delectable slice of Americana. When reggae heroes Toots and the Maytals took to the stage for the final headlining spot, despite a few calls from the audience demanding that the set be louder, they proved themselves worth festival closers. Heck, even Toots got his guitar out and put on a one-man show; after the longest rendition of 'Louis Louis' since Animal House, that is.

Overall, the festival was a massive success and the pint-sized fiesta proved it could pack a punch. Catering for families and hardcore festival goers alike, there really was something for everyone and, bar the occasional intervention from Mother Nature and one or two technical glitches, the weekend went without a hitch. Here's to next year!

Joe Wilde

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