Festival Review // Beacons 2012


After 2011’s soggy saga, Beacons festival wrung out dampened spirits and empty pockets to celebrate its first birthday in style. Hidden in the undulating contours of Yorkshire, an exclusive few thousand revellers spent the weekend in a twee-topia of old-fashioned fun and frollicks.

Friday afternoon, roaming around the site, I was overcome by what I can only describe as smugness. An ugly word, yes, but before you judge me, I don’t mean ‘smugness’ in a this-is-going-to-look-great-on-instagram sense. I’m talking about a warm, serene kind of smugness; the smugness of being at the first of something, at year dot. With balding veterans Reading and Leeds creaking into their mid-40s, the intimacy and youth of an event like this has obvious benefits. For a start, you can walk fence-to-fence in under ten minutes, and not miss a thing all weekend (hangover permitting – of course).

As a “happening”, Beacons Festival exuded a certain unconventional spontaneity (the kind that corporate sponsors can only drool over). Its independent, DIY ethos was threaded through every aspect of the weekend. As well as tie-dying and screen-printing their own merch, punters were treated to independent cinema, art installations and rare zine editions – oh, and the music.

With an emphasis on emerging electronic artists and local acts, the weekend boasted a heady mix of talent. Friday saw Jessie Ware lull the main stage to hushed awe; Fun Adults jerk and swirl into obscurity, Disclosure blighted by technical problems (the wrong kind of glitches) and Julio Bashmore inject an infectious energy into the early hours.

 Saturday’s highlights included Best Friends, who packed-out the Vice/Noisey tent; Disco Stew’s signature brand of funk and soul; Andrew Weatherhall’s marathon house extravaganza and Oneman’s gut-churning, lip-smacking bricolage of urban grit.

 Sunday bought the proceedings to a close, with Errors’ synth-tinged neon pop, Willy Mason’s sing-a-long session and Toots and the Maytals climactic reggae(ish) finale.

Although the ‘fuck it, let’s put on a festival’ attitude that prevailed the weekend was undeniably a huge selling point, this DIY ethos also betrayed a certain naivety. However, despite early teething problems and a few logistical hiccups – this wee festival gurgled, farted and fumbled its way through its first year with glee. Bring on Beacons 2013!


Words: Grace Caffyn

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *