Beacons Festival: Waxxx’s top five highlights

Words: Joshua Nevett
September 11, 2013

We’re not entirely sure whether it was the amped-up wig outs or the dainty riot grrrl impressionism that made us go weak at the knees for Wolf Alice’s early afternoon performance on Saturday, either way, the size of the crowd is reflective of the buzz this embryonic London band have created. It’s in Wolf Alice’s Ellie Roswell that we find a vocal harbinger to a Kim Deal/ Siouxsie Sioux hybrid: dulcet, breathy tones but with a caustic sneer akin to a witches cackle.


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‘This one goes out to the one I love’ reads the incandescent signboard that’s immediately visible upon entrance to Beacons Festival. It depicts the maudlin lyricism of Michael Stipe of REM, evoking a similar sense of nostalgia and awe to that of Blackpool’s glitzy promenade illuminations minus the cast of Corrie. It’s a proclamation that’s indicative of this fledging Yorkshire festival’s extreme labour of love given the teething problems that hampered its inaugural outing in 2011, aka ruinous weather conditions. So it’s with renewed enthusiasm and a meticulously curated music programme that Beacons Festival returns to the rural pastures of Skipton’s Heslaker Farm in 2013. WAXXX and 7,000 other people we didn’t know thought it prudent to see what all the fuss was all about, here’s our top five highlights:

BONOBO’S IMMERSIVE LIVE SET

Not even the inaudible, I-can-literally-hear-my-own-farts PA system in the Loud & Quiet tent could prevent Friday’s headliner Bonobo from melting the biggest crowd of the entire festival into bubbling pools of fleshy adulation. Those fortuitous enough to be in close proximity to the mid-range quivers of saccharine melodies (On Stay The Same, guest vocalist Andreya Triana appears to wade in with occasionally audible vocal flutters) and fragmented bass were treated to swathes of cuts from Simon Green’s fourth LP, Black Sands. It’s the kind of ambient electronica that Aphex Twin would listen to in the bath, but with a sprinkling of dissonant instrumentation from his live band, the Ninja Tune staple harnesses a multi-faceted re-rendering of his body of work that far surpasses his recorded output.

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WOLF ALICE COME OF AGE

We’re not entirely sure whether it was the amped-up wig outs or the dainty riot grrrl impressionism that made us go weak at the knees for Wolf Alice’s early afternoon performance on Saturday, either way, the size of the crowd is reflective of the buzz this embryonic London band have created. It’s in Wolf Alice’s Ellie Roswell that we find a vocal harbinger to a Kim Deal/ Siouxsie Sioux hybrid: dulcet, breathy tones but with a caustic sneer akin to a witches cackle. “SIXTEEN, SO SWEET!”, she shrieks for single Fluffy, projecting angst in buckets and spades of post-punk tokenism. Once of the doe-eyed folk persuasion, Wolf Alice are 2013’s favourite bastardised children of the grunge with latest single ‘Bros’ greeted like an old friend – and so it should be.

BILL RYDER JONES MAKES IT RAIN

There’s a reverent hush in Noisey’s ‘You Have To See This’ tent, as ex-Coral axe man Bill Ryder Jones’ misty eyed croons pull delicately on just about every heartstring. “Oh no, it’s bloody raining, that’s why everyone is in here, init.” Bill speculates, intrepidly appraising the motives of the floods of people suddenly pouring into his airspace. It’s a decent turn out, sure, but there’s no need for modesty, this is a collection of mournful hymns to lost loves that could draw the masses in on their own merit. On the other hand, it seems a doleful strum of his guitar is perhaps all it would take for the heavens to suddenly open and drench this audience to the marrow. ‘Christina That’s The Saddest Thing’ is evocative of the grey sky above, dealing in whispers of soulful melancholia that escape from Bill’s lips just as the rain escapes from the dreary skies above.

MELODY PROCHET’S AWESOME ECHO CHAMBER

We found ourselves down a rabbit hole on Saturday with nothing but Kevin Parker’s footprints to guide us. What we were seeking down this said hole remains ambiguous, but when we eventually came out the other side, Melody’s Echo Chamber – the tie-dye dipped solo project of Parisian Melody Prochet – was there to point us towards their intended path of psych-tinged multi-instrumentalism and WTF guitar freak-outs. Her band beef things up a notch on single ‘I Follow You’ – the first single from her eponymous debut LP – as they do for ‘Crystallised’: at first stupefied by Melody’s dreamy brittle vocals before the bat-shit crazy electro outro fucks their’s, and everybody else’s brains out. There’s pretty arpeggios and warped interludes aplenty, a common feature of a set that involves screeching feedback and in-vogue ‘60s pop inflections at every twist and turn. With performances as immersive as this, the main stage at Beacons is where Melody Prochet belongs, and where she’ll stay.

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CASINO ‘GOOD TIMES’ TIMES

Usually in the murk of 200 cap sweat boxes, the underground chokes down some fresh air at Beacons too. From the mixed bag of pink-fleshed scenesters that crawl the acidic blue corridors of Beatport, comes an eclectic mixture of seldom-sung talent, with none more deserving of praise than Casino Times. The dry-groove spinning duo wilted the come-down-canopies of those that braved a daunting sky, above Beacons’ open-aired Red-Bull stage. By half time the hi-hats sizzled, and cool melodies captured a myriad of the festival’s best party clowns. Dance contests emerged while gospel choruses washed over undulating bass and four-to-the-floor kicks; the party only extinguished by a brutal downpour 10 minutes before the close of an otherwise classic set.

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A special mention goes out to Liverpool’s most bearded resident, Chris Andrew, for performing a 3-round dance routine that even Goddess Bunny would have been proud of. Free Beacons tickets for him, for life. May he never outlive this dear festival.




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