Fun at the fair

With festival season well underway, music writers of Nouse discuss their own highlights of this year’s events

Benicassim Festival

benicassim fiberfib

Image: fiberfiber

When looking into summer festivals, I used to fall into the trap of wistfully browsing huge events in far-off lands like America and Australia, before turning back and pouring out my skimpy wallet for the usual festivals around me, e.g. Reading and Glastonbury. A year living in Canada, without the access I had grown so accustomed to, made me realise that I’d been wasting my advantageous European location. This year, however, I managed to bag tickets for the incredible Benicàssim festival. Located in the beautiful resort of Benicàssim, Spain, the festival offers eight days of camping and four days of music, for just over £100. If you think that’s good, just wait for the line-up. In keeping with the quality I have come to expect from such European music festivals, Benicàssim boasts incredible genre variation and the seemingly occult ability to land an entire poster’s worth of headliner talent. The mind-blowing list of acts includes Kendrick Lamar, Massive Attack, Major Lazer, Disclosure, The Chemical Brothers, Mac DeMarco, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Biffy Clyro, Muse and even Echo & the Bunnymen (not familiar? Think Killing Moon, Donnie Darko – you know them, trust me). This festival is an absolute gem and I would aggressively recommend you to grab remaining tickets now, lest you end up with Rock Werchter-esque life regrets.  Sarah McGregor

 

Primavera Sound

primavera alexandre roman

Image: Alexandre Roman

Potentially the festival of the year. Seriously. With headliners including Radiohead, LCD Soundsystem and Sigur Ros to name just a few, travelling out to Barcelona to finish the weekend looking like a lobster may just be worth it. With hundreds of acts including Savages, Tame Impala, Battles, Freddie Gibbs, Beach House, Vince Staples and even Brian Wilson performing the entirety of Pet Sounds in the gorgeous Spanish sunset, few can argue that other festivals can top Primavera, especially if the British summer pulls its usual dirty tricks on us and showers us with mud, rain and possibly bodily fluids. The plane ticket, or even the ferry and/or bus if you’re feeling adventurous/slow will be more than worth avoiding the above and getting the best bands to boot. Of course many British people will squabble and moan about the travelling required to reach Barcelona and whether the actual festival will be worth it. Come on now, you’re getting proper summer sun in a holiday destination with Thom Yorke’s angelic wheeze surrounding you as you enjoy it. How can you complain about that?  Ant Noonan

 

Field Day

Image: Andy Lederer

Image: Andy Lederer

In looking at festivals that set up shack in the nation’s capital one has plenty of choice, with smaller festivals like OnBlackheath in South-East London battling against commercial darling Wireless for the best performers, setup and general atmosphere. Despite this, Field Day stands out. Actually, I’d say Field Day is one of the top festivals in the UK this year with acts like James Blake and PJ Harvey headlining this two day event, and the return of The Avalanches hinting at new material among a cracking live show. Unlike festivals catering to certain tastes, Field Day has it all ranging from Sleaford Mods, Parquet Courts and Fat White Family to Skepta, Novelist and DJ Koze, truly giving Field Day the best line up of British festivals for 2016. Located in Victoria Park in the borough of Tower Hamlets, Field Day hosts London as a suitable festival location separate from the dank marshes of Somerset and the chilling heights of Scotland but retaining that free summer-fête feel with the event’s Village Mentality feature including egg and spoon races and a tug of war. Easily reachable for just about everyone (except perhaps those already in the Scottish mountains), you basically have no excuse not to turn up and enjoy the sunshine.  Ant Noonan

 

Glastonbury

Glastonbury Festival 2011

Image: Glastonbury Festival

Chances are, if someone says “music festival” then Glastonbury is one of the first things you think of, right up there with wellies, mud and shitty pop-up tents from Argos. Michael Eavis has again described this year’s headliners as “the best ever”, with Muse, Adele and Coldplay topping the bill. The less said about Muse the better, but watching Adele try to manage a festival performance should be interesting, and Coldplay generally tend to put on a more than decent live show. Elsewhere in the line-up is where things at Somerset’s Worthy Farm get interesting, with hotly anticipated performances from artists throughout the entire musical spectrum, with the likes of Madness, ELO, The Last Shadow Puppets and even Earth, Wind and Fire performing across the five day festival. Glasto is where to go if you want a bit of everything, with over 100 stages exhibiting some of the best musical talent the world has to offer. This could be one of the last years where the festival will be held in its original location, but until then, see you at the farm! (Although it is sold out, so if you haven’t got a ticket, tough luck).  Jack Davies

 

Boomtown

boom

Image: Jody Hartley

Summer is upon us, and for youths and music lovers across the world, this means festival season! This marks the start of the ‘mad muddy months’, a special time in which thousands of people gather to be gross and crazy together to music. Only eight years old, Boomtown is already famous for being one of the biggest, maddest music festivals in the UK. One of the main reasons for its popularity is the escapism people find in the unique fantasy world created by the festival’s pop-up city and Boomtown ‘legend’. Every August, the quiet countryside area of Winchester, Hampshire, is transformed into a sprawling party metropolis; nine colourfully themed districts host an incredible variety of music and art for the festival’s 50,000 ‘citizens’. The line-up focuses on ska, reggae and party acts, but the scale and scope of Boomtown covers a mind-blowing range of genres, as well as offering an overwhelming selection of other art and activities. 2016 will see amazing acts like Damien Marley, Madness, Leftfield and Fat Freddy’s Drop, and even more. Let me put it this way – there is literally no way you get around it all, but you’ll have so much fun that you’re not likely to mind.  Sarah McGregor

 

T in the Park

800px T in the Park Festival 2010

Image: commons.wikimedia

The quintissential Scottish festival returns for another year of fun, and the second in the imposing shadow of Strathallan Castle. Leaving the carnage of last year behind with the promise of a new layout and better transport across the site, T In The Park looks to sort out the teething problems and allow us to all focus on the acts. This shouldn’t be too much of a challenge, with a strong and (reasonably) varied headline lineup of The Stone Roses, Calvin Harris and Red Hot Chili Peppers; with Disclosure, Bastille and Chase & Status not far behind, there’s bound to be something for (pretty much) everyone. But that’s just on the main stage, with a near-ludicrous array of acts scattered around the other stages, like Jamie xx, LCD Soundsystem, Major Lazer and Kaiser Chiefs (well, I still like them). Even with such a titanic lineup, music alone does not a music festival make (nowadays, anyway), and accordingly there are a range of comedy acts, burlesque performances(?!) and the amusingly punned ‘Hot Dub Time Machine’, promising “a trip down musical memory lane”. And, of course, for a festival overtly sponsored by a beer company, there’s bound to be plenty of capacity for drinking if that’s your schtick.  Jack Richardson

 

Down to the Woods

Image: Oliver Lindberg

Completely brand new for 2016, the two-day Down to the Woods festival in County Durham in August promises, in its organisers’ own words, to be “very special”. The latest addition to the UK small festival scene, the location appears idyllic, set amid a country club beside a forest and expansive lake. And they’ve gone all out in securing a magnificent line-up for the festival’s debut which actually stands as one of the best across small festivals in Britain, with Scottish rock legends Primal Scream and dance superstars Chase and Status headlining, along with some other eye-catching performances from the likes of Echo & the Bunnymen, Peter Hook, and Catfish and the Bottlemen. There’ll be a ton of other stuff to see including arts and comedy acts from performers such as Howard Read and Mike Wilkinson. If that isn’t enough, the organisers promise fairground rides, many, many bars and a ‘Gin Palace’ whatever that may entail. Best of all, a weekend adult’s ticket costs just £99, so if you’re on a budget but still fancy heading to a festival this summer, then Down to the Woods may well be the answer to your prayers.  Jack Davies

 

Festival No.6

Portmeirion view of central plaza

Image: Michael Maggs

The main attraction of Festival No. 6 may well be in its location – held in the glorious mock-Mediterranean village of Portmeirion, famed for its use as the setting of cult 60s TV show The Prisoner, in the heart of North Wales. Not only can you marvel at the stunning setting, organisers of Festival No. 6 have managed to put together one of the most impressive line-ups of all the smaller festivals out there, with performances from the likes of Hot Chip, Bastille and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. The festival also offers a range of other things for attendees to enjoy, with a food and drink festival and a plethora of arts, culture and comedy performances throughout the weekend long event in September, including comedy heavyweights Johnny Vegas and Paul Foot, alongside Dr John Cooper Clarke returning after his performance in 2013. Not only that, but the festival’s location allows attendees to indulge in some of the more off-beat activities, like paddle-boarding and a re-enactment of the human chess game by The Prisoner Appreciation Society. It prides itself on being different, and apparently it’s succeeding, with Beck declaring after playing that it is “the coolest, most surrealist, funkiest, freakiest festival in the world”. If that doesn’t make you want to go and see what Festival No. 6 is all about then I don’t know what will.  Jack Davies

 

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