The Big and Small Festivals Joy
For those of you who enjoy listening to live music the most appropriate place you can put yourself is in a live music venue, tapping along to one of your favourite bands or artists, or possibly delightfully sampling an introduction to a new band soon to grace your iTunes playlist. If you enjoy sleeping on the floor, in the cold, but waking up in a canvass bubble in the searing heat, denying yourself the luxury of privacy and going to the toilet in a plastic box then a campsite is the most ideal location for you to enjoy a good time. If you enjoy all of these things, then heading to a music festival is the activity you should be focussing your attention on over the next few months, because it’s festival season people. It’s back!
There is the customary collection of usual suspects appearing on the familiar stages across the major festivals; Glastonbury is showing off it’s big wig status by having locked down such gold as The Arctic Monkeys, Mumford and Sons, Primal Scream, Portishead and The Rolling Stones. Satisfying their more urban and dance-loving audience are the unstoppable Dizzee Rascal and Rita Ora. Sinéad O’connor is giving an welcomed appearance too. O’Connor aside, none of these acts are a real surprise, are they? They’re all pretty much doing the same circuit around The UK, so I wanted to put a bit of focus into telling you about the lesser known bands that are playing here at Glastonbury and some of the other larger festivals, as well as giving you a bit of insight into a couple of the hundreds of other alternative festivals this fantastically musically motivated land has to offer.
Scrolling through the line up of the smaller stages of Glasto is a bit like trying to find a gold watch in a charity shop. Everything in there is or was considered attractive at some point, but not all of it is to your taste. Music and film critiques are, after all, completely subjective. So, from my point of view there are a good couple of acts that would be worth a stroll away from the MTV fed jumbo stage and into the ‘tents’. Seth Lakeman is a young English lad who combines his genius on the fiddle and banjo, with his rustic, soulful vocals to create a funky, folk vibe. He’s lovely to watch purely because of the energy he puts into his singing at the same time as his lightening bow action! Another fantastic band to catch is Vintage Trouble. These guys are a refreshing holiday from the indie/rock stuff that is dominating the stages of all the main festivals this year. This band is Funky. They’re soulful and fun with the touch of blues/rock needed to get you moving. They’re enjoying relative success in The States and have toured with Bon Jovi amongst others. Ty Taylor, on lead vocals, reminds us of the rawness of Lenny Kravitz as well as the smoothness of Marvin Gaye and Terence Trent D’Arby. Their accomplished sound coupled with their unique dress style promises a performance well worth seeing.
Moving on to Reading, and here you can see the delights of Eminem, Green Day, White Lies, Biffy Clyro, and for the dancers in the crowd Chase & Status, breathtaking when enjoyed live, and my guilty pleasure, Skrillex. Delve a little deeper into their line up and you will find Baaur, a funky dubstep act with a bit of an oldskool feel to their synths; Deap Vally, a seemingly angry female-fronted band, offering us a soulful take on a punk vibe. Another one to look out for is Jake Bugg, a very young but capable songwriter. He keeps his lyrics simple and honest while not compromising the integrity of his songs. He is of the indie ilk but with a hint of originality, which is refreshing.
Head a little bit to the North-East and we find ourselves at Lattitude. Their dominant characters this year are the disturbing but bizarrely intriguing retro synth band Kratfwerk, Steve Mason, Hot Chip, The Maccabees and the hauntingly beautiful James Blake. Not much caught my eye from the smaller line up lists, apart from Dan Croll, vaguely different form the lesser known acts. He gives us a hint of a funkier drumbeat with a controversial 3/4 tempo that eludes the traditional indie scene. The comedy saves this festival for me, and furnishes us with two of my favourite comedians, Dylan Moran and Seann Walsh. To be enjoyed with a cold pint and a group of mates only.
While these now mammoth festivals do their bit to keep the summer live music scene alive, there are a host of other and obviously smaller one and 2 day festivals, offering genre-specific entertainment. There are a couple of hundred that take place over the summer, all over Britain. I’ve picked a measly 3, all of varying genres, dates and location.Ribble Valley Jazz Festival operates from various venues around Clitheroe, Lancashire between 3rd and 6th May. Their impressive line up includes The Northern Jazz orchestra, a large, funky group as the words ‘jazz’ and ‘orchestra’ would suggest. A ‘groovy’ country/bluegrass band named Junkhousedog Blues Band, and I use the word ‘groovy’ to slyly hint as to the age range of this ensemble And the superb James Taylor Quartette. JTQ has been a favourite of mine since I was a kid and I’m glad to see them still going strong and supporting this lovely collection of music for this promising three days of brilliance.
Happy Days Festival is aptly named to remind us of happier days! It’s a retro festival at it’s best as it’s only aim is to bring us the best of pop music from yesteryear. Jocelyn Brown, Carleen Anderson, UB40, Dawn Penn and Jimmy Somerville can all savor a reunion of sorts, as I’m sure they’ve all shared more than a spot in the top ten! Surrey is the lucky host for this shindig and you can attend on June 1st and 2nd.
And we end my little collection of musical gorgeousness by talking about the One Love Festival in Upminster. August 16th-18th brings a chilled and relaxed atmosphere to the land of Essex, as they embrace the message of the festival which was championed by Bob Marley in 1978, at his concert of the same name. It exhibits the best of reggae and dub from all over the world and promises to provide a laid back and breezy good time on what will, by then, probably be a hot and steamy August weekend.
Whatever your style of musical taste may be there is a patch of grass somewhere in the country that has your name on it and is waiting for your bum shape to be firmly imprinted in it. Remember the small guys when you’re checking out the big guys, and remember the small festivals when you’re just not sure if you can handle getting Dizzee with Mr Rascal with 135,000 other people.
For a comprehensive list of all the festivals, big and small, happening this year, check out this handy website. www.thefestivalcalendar.co.uk