Beacons: a playlist review

beacons car
A Festival For Pals

In the unlikeliest move of 2014 I somehow managed a free ride and entry to Yorkshire’s premier musical hotspot. I don’t know how I was deserving of such luck but rather than drawing modest cocks in customers lattes I’d been freed from work for a weekend, got a last minute ride to Skipton in the back of a greengrocers van and entered via a guest list from a pal. Totally safe as fuck.

I had not been to Beacons Festival since the days of Moor Fest when Wooderson were invited to play in a shed. In the years since then I’ve admired and befriended loads of bands and musicians from around the Yorkshire region, playing in small venues such as the Pack Horse and Royal Park cellars in Leeds, The Polish Club in Bradford and The Audacious Art Experiment in Sheffield, to name just four. Now Beacons is an established festival and each year the line up included incredible musicians who have worked relentlessly and who’s music has been deserving of this kind of platform. A quick glance at the line up when I arrived excited me no end. Hookworms, Night Flowers, Nope, Eagulls…even The fucking Fall – not necessarily my mates but I think everyone knows Mark E Smith in some way or other. In a petty celebration of the weekend I compiled you all a fun playlist for the memories and nostalgia.

I pitched up the tent and went in search of the Sheffield contingent. Avida Dollars had a teepee and pitched up with members of Best Friends and Nai Harvest. Some legend called George was already deep into the sociable dabs and was struggling to stand still while erecting his large and difficult tent. I said I’d help but a few minutes into the task it was clearly going to be an uphill struggle – we needed a bigger crew. We gave up at 2pm and headed off to Nai Harvest’s matinee set in the Noisy Stage.

Nai Harvest – Hold Open My Head

Sheffield emo cuties pretty much kicked off the festival for me so I guess that’s also the best place to start my playlist. Aside from Bar 4:20Avida Dollars‘ teepee – the noisy stage became a home away from home. Nai Harvest played a blinder but it was the already mentioned legend George who picks the track for me. Throughout their set he had basically goaded the timid crowd into having a laugh and forcing a mini mosh pit issue. If you were in his vicinity then you were going down so it seemed best to either step back from his windmills or lift him into the crowd surfer position. One punter took a mild dislike to his energetic performance and resulted in George grabbing him in a high headlock, detailed the time as ten-to-three and demanded that he “get on it.” Five minutes later and George had scaled the barriers, ran on stage and gave it his best for the chorus of ‘Hold Open My Head’. I’ve seen stage invasions and I’ve seen a crowd cheer. I hadn’t seen a bloke jump onstage, his jaw rattling, and gurn to 150 people before getting booted off to a roar. Total highlight number one.

Action Bronson – Easy Rider

This classy motherfucker’s set finally put paid to my famous Brooklyn Hat! I had previously lost it after playing a Che Ga Zebra set at Tramlines Festival a couple of weeks ago. We had the Great Gatsby searching high and low for the little shit but to no avail. Eventually it wound up at some house party in Sheffield and I got it returned to Ecclesall Road. I wore it with gusto and vowed to never remove it in future. Unfortunately some crowd surfer knocked it clean off by head, never to be seen again. I rummaged around during and after the set but received only disappointment. Fortunately I enjoyed the set enough that the loss was quickly glossed over, although I have since received information from a pal in Manchester that a girl has been spotted wearing it near the Arndale.

Dam Funk – Hood Pass Intact

I’m always on the hunt for a new beat so made my way over to see this dude on the recommendation of Ben, my longest serving pal and Che Ga Zebra colleague. I meandered to the Loud and Quiet stage and headed to the front, of the still not quite rejuvenated from the previous night social. I took a look to the left and saw none other than John Nash, of Cowtown/Hookworms/Nope fame. If there’s a guy on the scene I like more then you’d be hard pushed to find him although I was a bit shocked to see his hair in such a messy state. I was under the impression that he was a mega star by now and his life included free backstage reshapes. We hung out, shared some jokes and saw out the set before Dam Funk performed a meet and greet. It was a classy move from a humble guy. He chatted to every fan who wanted to say hi and thanked each one personally. If Hookworms/Nope/Cowtown continue to do well then perhaps Nash will remember this moment if he begins to turn into a massive industry bell-end. This song has been chosen because it’s outright my new favourite beat and I plan to borrow it for a while.

Night Flowers – Embers

Humberside’s best band by far and inclusive of some of my favourite humans. Sam Lenthall is an all time best friend and former Wooderson employee so I was pretty over excited to see his career had moved on from the shed of yesteryear. Unfortunately things didn’t go quite to plan. Five minutes until the set began I had a phone call asking if I knew the whereabouts of their drummer. Turns out he’d gone awol. Night Flowers wound up taking to the stage to do their best without him. Midway through song one Mr Drummer came hurtling up to the barriers, waving his artist wristband band and scurried on stage. He took off the coat, sat down and kicked in his beat – I guess to the relief of absolutely everyone. It sounded incredible. This incident had a lot of people laughing for a long time. I’ve never seen a genuine situation look like such a show. I chose this song because through the laughs and mild embarrassment there was a great band playing some beautiful tunes. To me this one is particularly lovely and as I watched my mates playing I could feel the sting behind my eyes as they welled up with tears. Pride in my mates on stage and surrounded by other great friends as we watched on. I could listen to this tune every day and feel the same I did at this moment.

Traams – Flowers

I came across these lads a few months back when Che Ga Zebra played a show with them at the Great Gatsby in Sheffield. Really nice guys with great bass riffs and filthy guitars. I’m a big fan of this so when I saw they were playing Beacons I couldn’t believe my luck. Unfortunately at the aforementioned gig their bass amp blew when I was using it and I felt like our relationship soured after this. I remember seeing them and someone giving it the old “yeah, but let’s see what they’re like on a proper stage.” It’s kind of common to see great bands in small spaces who are perhaps not suited to al larger gig set up. I probably fall into this category too. This is the first time I’d seen Traams in anywhere other than a pub and to be honest, they were as good as anything or anyone I’ve seen at a festival and looked entirely at home on an smoke machine filled stage. I remember thinking this song was one of my favourites last year and seeing it projected over a large audience I still think the same. Simply a fucking good song.

Hookworms – Teen Dreams

It’s been ages since since I saw these lads. I used to play shows with them quite often but now they’re massive and I’m not allowed. Never mind. This show was probably the performance of the weekend for me. It was incredible to see how good they’ve actually gotten and how they justify headlining the Saturday stage, or whatever it was called. I chose this song because it’s one of my favourites and having all the lads chant “Buddy you never ever say my name”, along with MJ was an emotional highlight. It was another situation where the emotion nearly got a bit too much for me but to be honest, the sociable dabbing was probably to blame too. Another certain highlight was Nash‘s crowd pleasing wave into the audience, proof that Dam Funk‘s earlier gesture had helped after all.

Galaxians – Skydive

I can remember most of the weekend pretty well but for some reason the Galaxians set completely passes my by. I was there. I did dance. I did enjoy it but I can remember nothing. I’m pretty sure they we’re great – they always are, but I think they bring out something odd in me. I saw them at The Audacious Art Experiment a few months back and I wound up paralytic. Never before have I needed to be carried home. I remember being completely sound of mind, but like a locked-in syndrome sufferer, my body would not function. Bizarre. This song’s definitely good though.

The Fall – Mr Pharmacist

This is the surprise of my weekend. I really had no idea I was going to Beacons until a week prior so I literally had no idea of the line up. I was not expecting this. They took to the stage and it was brilliant. Mark E Smith scowling at the crowd with his shitty sheets of paper in his pocket, and his wife with a plastic bag. I wondered all set what was in it. The heavy winds stopped the gang in their tracks. Smith instructed his band to carry on regardless and his wife told the stage manager to fuck off. When they did finally leave the stage Smith‘s wife returned for the carrier bag. What’s she building in there? It was around this time I lost Sam forever. He headed off to the VIP bog and I went to the bog standard by the Ferris wheel, and in turn that was the end of our weekend together. ‘Mr Pharmacist’ – what a legendary number and I was thrilled, along with a few others probably.

Nope – Television Fortune.

Been a fan of Nope for years. Wooderson played a show with them at The Green Room in Sheffield a few years back. Luke, the director at The Audacious Art Experiment, asked me if I had any money. I assumed this was for a pint but it turned out to be much more than that – the pressing of the first Nope record, Revision. We helped put out their record and the rest is history. They’re bloody great now. Andy Abbott‘s double neck guitar is really something to behold and to see him playing Billy Corgan‘s riffs for thirty minutes was a treat for me that I can’t easily forget. The song ‘Television Fortune’ is my favourite song and another treat for my ears.

Sleaford Mods – Tied Up In Nottz

The smell of piss is so strong
it smells like decent bacon. Kevin’s getting footloose on the overspill. Under the piss-station.
Two pints destroyer on the cobbled floors. No amount of whatever is gonna chirp the chip up.
It’s the final countdown, by fuckin’ journey. I woke up with shit in my sock outside the Polish off-licence.
”They don’t mind” said the arse hole to the legs. You got to be cruel to be kind. Shit man
save it up like Norman Colon. Release the stench of shit grub like a giant toilet kraken.
The lonely life that is touring. I got an armful of decent tunes, mate but it’s all so fuckin’ boring. Tied up in Nottz with a Z, you cunt.”

A thousand Intense words, one laptop, one mic, a baseball cap and two scallies. How we laughed. Still, it’s probably one of the best sets I’ve sever seen. Aside from Abbott‘s double neck glowing backstage, there was not a guitar in sight.

For me the weekend ended on the Fall as I jumped back in the greengrocer’s van to make it home in time for work in the morning. En route I lost my trousers, my wallet, my card and the jonny in the wallet. A shit end to the best weekend I’ve had in Yorkshire. It was nice that there were so many pals to share it with. Would go again. The best way I can some up the whole weekend is with a quote from my friend Danny Walker in regards to the above picture. “I felt so euphoric when we were having the photo done that I thought all of the people were in awe of us.”
Beacons makes you feel good.

Words: Loic Tuckey

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