It’s scarcely been a week since we left the beautiful Yorkshire Dales and we’ve already got the Beacons blues. For the third year running, the intimate arts and music festival has taken over Skipton’s Heslaker Farm, and proved itself to be one of the UK’s best small festivals. With a 2500 capacity and a focus on good music and food, Beacons is a no-frills, back-to-basics festival. Refreshingly music-orientated, it delivers a program of quality underground music through carefully selected bands and DJs from the North and further afield. Here are our day-by-day DJ highlights from the weekend.
Whilst gates opened on Thursday afternoon, the music really kicked off on FRIDAY. Max Graef’s 3pm set was the perfect opener, providing a summer soundtrack of warm vocal House infused with Jazz and Hip Hop. 6pm saw Daphni take over the Resident Advisor stage, our home for the night, delivering a set reminiscent of Gilles Peterson’s at Dilation earlier this year, rich with the carnival and afrobeat sounds his own music is so inspired by. The true hero of the night, however, was Daniel Avery. Dynamic and diverse, the up and coming UK producer’s set could have proved to any cynic that techno is much more than monotonous thumping. Variegated rhythms and melodies in Avery’s techno-heavy track selection made for an exciting and wholly interesting set, heightened by Beacons’ well composed visuals and atmospheric light show. This combined with his astounding technical ability and impeccable mixing made Avery’s performance undoubtedly one of the best of the festival.
Photo: Daniel Avery by Sam Lewis
SATURDAY saw the rainclouds drift away and the sun put his hat on. Following a night of techno in the dark and enclosed Resident Advisor tent, the shaded Red Bull stage provided the perfect outdoor setting to watch NTS’s very own, Nick Tasker. The upbeat set was reminiscent of his radio show; soulful, fun and filled with big grooves and jazzy house. As expected, Tasker provided the perfect balance of recognisable crowd pleasers, like DJ Koze’s ‘Bad Kingdom’ remix, and his own, lesser-known finds. This educative aspect of his selection is what makes Tasker’s sets and radio shows so exciting, and Beacons was the ideal environment for its showcase. It seemed his feel-good grooves and the glorious Yorkshire sunshine were a match made in heaven as the crowds gathered for an afternoon boogie under the draping canopies and dappled sunlight.
Following Tasker at the Red Bull stage, was Pariah, who succeeded in setting the tone for the evening with one of the techno-orientated sets he has become so renowned for. The jam-packed Saturday night line-up featured Joy Orbison, Tristan Da Cunha and Dan Shake, but Jon Hopkins’ main stage performance was the real highlight. Accompanied by music video visuals and inflated balls of light, released during the epic ‘Open Eye Signal’, his set was everything we expected and more. Hopkins energised the crowd more than any act that night, recreating his well-loved album before our very eyes. The set was impressive, well delivered and in places utterly euphoric. A standout performance from a must-see headliner, well done Beacons.
Photo: Jon Hopkins by Tom Joy
The ‘adverse’ (manic) weather conditions on SUNDAY meant that whilst some brave band lovers ventured out of the campsite early in the day, many were left shivering and fearing for their tent’s lives until the wind let up slightly in the evening. Following the closure of the Red Bull stage, where Andrew Weatherall and Sean Johnston’s, A Love from Outer Space, was unfortunately cut short, the Resident Advisor stage acted as an undercover refuge. Thankfully, it’s lineup boasted Mano le Tough and Dixon who together played for a full five hours and forced the rain to be forgotten. Dixon’s set emulated the instantly recognisable Innervisions sound, and as ever, was technically brilliant. Finally, the apocalyptic weather was the perfect backdrop to Darkside’s festival ending set. With their debut album nearly a year old, New York’s Nicolas Jaar and multi-instrumentalist Dave Harrington gracing the main stage was one of the most highly anticipated acts of the festival. It was indeed amazing to see two artists with such different musical backgrounds come together to create such an interesting and atmospheric sound. The hybrid of the electronic and the psychedelic worked exceptionally well in the festival setting, amplified by the subtle use of lighting and not so subtle use of dry ice. The only negative was that it ended too soon; the Beacons arena was closed by midnight and the audience were forced to trudge back to their tents, mourning the end of an incredible weekend of music.
Photo: Darkside by Giles Smith
Tickets for Beacons Festival 2015 are on sale now! Early Birds are priced at only £59.50 so grab yourself a bargain and head here to be a part of next year’s fun.