Festival: Beat-Herder 2015
17th – 19th July
Celebrating its tenth year of beats and barminess, 2015’s Beat-Herder festival once again delighted the senses in Lancashire’s finest landscape. The festival site slots perfectly amid rolling hills and valleys; secluded from any signs of metropolitan life, the infamously supernatural Pendle Hill provides an impressive backdrop, perhaps influencing the magical ambience throughout the weekend. The blustery winds and dramatic rolling clouds added to the festival’s atmosphere, and if anything was dampened by the interludes of rain it certainly wasn’t the crowd’s spirit.
Tumbling down the rabbit hole from the campsite and into the festival grounds, it doesn’t take long to become captivated by the curious offerings: Beat-Herder presents a vast array of stages and attractions, from the perfumed garden, where you can pull up a cushion and inhale the relaxing aromas, to the towering Earthen ring (crafted, according to legend, by a local giant). Between stages, small areas of the site are transformed into a network of mazes, underground tunnels and secret passageways to perplex and bewilder your body and mind.
Everything at the festival seems to have been brought into being with the utmost care, remaining utterly free of bravado and pretence; mounted unseemingly and modestly in a corner of the festival, a display of plant troughs can be spotted, each hand-painted beautifully and intricately with the names of the artists performing across the weekend. Wooden carvings, sculptures and hand-written notices are dotted throughout, and we’re encouraged to “Herd ‘Em Up!” as a plane soars across the skies trailed by the famous Beat-Herder slogan.
The music also provides unexpected pleasures. Although the 10th anniversary brought about a host of impressive artists, it was often the smaller and more unlikely acts which garnered the most attention. Perfect renditions of 90s dance classics were performed by Mr Wilson’s Second Liners, an eight-piece brass band (and tribute to Tony Wilson of the Haçienda and Factory records) kickstarting Friday’s festivities in the recently pimped out Trash Mansion stage—adorned with decadent furnishings and a water fountain, naturally.
Further into the evening on the main stage, Nightmares on Wax’s pulsating soulfulness united the crowd in hypnotic bliss, followed by a wonderfully vibrant performance from dance legends Basement Jaxx; ‘Red Alert’ went off, left the planet at top speed, hurtled through space and blew the minds of fellow Beat-Herdians in a parallel universe. A piercingly perfect falsetto of ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ crept up on the crowd before merging effortlessly into ‘Romeo’, and awe-inspiring drum solos pounded to the rhythm of the crowd’s hearts.
Elsewhere over the weekend, the Toil-Trees stage and life-giving lungs of the festival was host to a variety of artists. Krysko and Greg Lord fuelled Friday’s anticipation and excitement, whilst Erol Alkan lulled the crowd into a delicate trance to close the event on the final evening. However, the party atmosphere was certainly not in decline by Sunday. Amongst Beat-Herder’s forest are further hidden shacks and opportunities for exploration—purging your soul of the weekend’s sins is an absolute necessity on Sunday, and what better place than Beat-Herder’s very own mini chapel, complete with pews and a raving Bishop. The presence of an omnipotent being was definitely felt during the renowned Sunday Service, as Jamiroquai’s ‘Satellite of Love’ joined the parishioners in euphoric harmony.
A treasure and triumph of the North, Beat-Herder has managed to maintain its unique togetherness and community spirit despite its increasing size and popularity, and never fails to enchant.