Festival review: Beacons Festival 2014, Heslaker Farm, Skipton

Indiana play Beacons Festival 2014
Indiana play Beacons Festival 2014
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The rain couldn’t dampen spirits at Beacons Festival 2014 as arts, indulgence and a typically diverse playlist brought North Yorkshire to life at the weekend.

An intercontinental spread of hiphop, rock, indie, rap, alternative, dance and instrumental artists lined the bill for the burgeoning festival that is steadily becoming a go-to event.

Beacons Festival 2014

Beacons Festival 2014

From post-punk Mancunian legends The Fall to emotive indie folk Daughter and bearded New York rhyme merchant Action Bronson, organisers looked to have once again hit the mark with an eclectic offering of sounds and following the rain-sodden weekend’s action it’s safe to say they delivered.

More than 7,000 people packed into Heslaker Farm for this year’s event, which has since been hailed the biggest ever Beacons - signalling another summer highlight on the outskirts of Skipton, just months after the Tour de France Grand Depart powered through the town.

And though the weather was inclement to say the least, the steadfast Yorkshire crowd persevered after pitching up on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Now in its fourth year, the festival has gone from strength to strength since its 2011 washout, this year hosting its Last.fm Loud n Quiet main stage, the alternative Noisey stage, the Resident Advisor dance tent, Red Bull DJ stage and Argyll DIY stage in a slightly rejigged festival space that catered to all. The family-friendly feel was again maintained through the Diddy Rascals kids’ area.

Brighton indie rockers British Sea Power kicked off proceedings on Friday on the Loud n Quiet as the gradual flow of festival-goers increased throughout an overcast day.

Leeds singer-songwriter Paul Thomas Saunders impressed with his brand of atmospheric pop proving a subtle prelim to the appearance of rival headliners Action Bronson and Daughter, who divided fans between the main stage and Noisey on day one.

Bronson’s infectious bars got the pulse racing at Beacons with a buzzing intensity that was soon washed away by the entrancing electronic beats of XXYYXX, who was next up.

Festival organisers breathed a sigh of relief on Saturday as the weather held off for an unforgettable day of music.

Sore heads were cured with everything from tandem bike rides to cuppas at the reggae infused Marvellous Tea Room. All the while art lovers enjoyed talks at the Impossible Lecture theatre and random public art performances staged all over the site. The suited and booted display of mocked up commuters stood out on our morning tea run.

Sussex indie youths Lovepark sparked off sun-soaked festivities on the Argyll DIY stage early on, with their track ‘Jester’ rousing interest, before indie pop band Fickle Friends raised the tempo.

Light Oxford indie four-piece Glass Animals kept up the pace over on the main stage before two back-to-back showstoppers entered the fray. The quirky, vocoder-infused ‘boogie funk’ of American Snoop Dogg collaborator Dam Funk brought a soulful glow to the Loud n Quiet before Dublin native Rejjie Snow stepped up to the mic.

Snow, whose debut hiphop EP Rejovich has pushed the 21-year-old into the musical limelight, brought his jazz-backed rhythmic style to the stage with attitude finishing his set with the aggressive self-titled ‘Snow’, which saw the crowd raise its hands in appreciation.

Soulful Leeds DJ Nightmares on Wax kept up the momentum before a mesmeric set by Jon Hopkins featuring multicoloured orbs fired out into the crowd left thousands entranced on Saturday night.

The highs of day two would have been hard to top even without Sunday’s torrential rain, but the weather was not for budging on day three.

Although some festival goers abandoned ship, many stayed the course and took in the likes of Macclesfield harmonic indie pop five-piece Racing Glaciers on the Argyll DIY stage - the rain pushing punters closer to the cover of stages.

High octane performances elsewhere by the likes of Canadian noise rock band Metz and the unusual neo-punk musings of The Garden proved interesting viewing before New York indie pop band The Pains of Being Pure at Heart brought their easy listening single ‘Simple and Sure’ to a damp Loud n Quiet crowd.

Post-punk legends The Fall soon followed before songstress Neneh Cherry and opposing performances from Darkside and Eagulls closed the show.

The rain may have put a dampener on the final day at Beacons but the Yorkshire staying power and diversity that has brought the festival to its rightful place in the calendar since its 2011 misfire have meant Beacons 2014 was the biggest and best yet.