Beacons Festival 2013: Skipton

Beacons Festival returned to Skipton bigger than before, its reputation as a family friendly place with a fantastic line-up was truly cemented with this years offerings. Its relaxed, unintimidating, atmosphere combined with quality headliners and an abundance of local talent make it an experience that literally anyone can enjoy. The wide array of musical styles on offer ensures a mixture of people, all of which are catered for, and the friendly vibe provides a harmonious coming together of all sections of society.

The bright sunshine added to the beauty of the festivals surroundings as proceedings got underway on Friday. After walking through the picturesque field I was to witness another beautiful scene, Lulu James entering the main stage in tiny shorts. As she began her set it was clear that her voice was even more striking than her outfit. A decent sized crowd stood in silent appreciation of her mesmeric vocals with piercing, rasping qualities reminiscent of Macy Gray. Whilst her vocal skills were deeply impressive the musical backing felt very safe, possibly in order to be more commercially successful, had there been more artistic flair in the instrumentation it would have been truly show-stopping. Lulu James proved to be incredibly popular with the crowd and got the crowd geared up for a good night ahead of them.

While most people had gone to watch Dan Croll on the You Need To Hear This Stage I decided to check out a local band which I had heard lots of positive things about but was yet to hear any of their music, Crybabycry. I was so glad I did because they turned out to be my personal highlight of the whole day, and potentially even the whole festival. The highly dexterous and effortlessly cool three piece displayed a great deal of talent and artistry during their set at the ELFM Stage. Their bluesy style with plenty of American rock influences combined with their impressive vocal harmonies made for compulsive listening. Their dexterity came from Rosie and Johnny switching the bass and guitar between them and both of them combining perfectly, the same can be said for their harmonies. Rosie’s vocals had a hint of P J Harvey and with Johnny’s blues riffs and the frantic crash of Nici’s drums had the crowd gripped.

As dark fell a large crowd gathered at the Loud & Quiet Stage for the headliners of the day, Ghostpoet followed by Bonobo. Ghostpoet returned to the festival after appearing last year and the crowd welcomed him with open arms. His relaxed, smooth, rhythmic flow got everyone in a great party mood and highly anticipating Bonobo. The electronic melting pot that is Bonobo’s individual style ended the first day on a real high.

The glorious weather of Friday had been replaced by a horrible windy and rainy day on Saturday but spirits were not dampened and the festival was bustling with a very good turnout of revelers determined not to let the weather spoil things. A large proportion of this crowd assembled at the Loud & Quiet Stage to see Wolf Alice early in the afternoon. Lead singer Ellie Rowsell is petite and demure between songs but the passion and power in her vocal performance during choruses has the ability to make you take a step back and take notice. She is also capable of switching from haunting harmonies to big rowdy flourishes with equally big musical accompaniment.

The best performance of the day came from Temples, the band Noel Gallagher has dubbed “the best new band in Britain”. They played the same stage as Wolf Alice but Temples drew the biggest crowd of the day. For a band with so much hype surrounding them they displayed no egos as they glided through their set in their own unique way. They are so laid back and cool on stage that they almost seem indifferent towards performance. Their psychedelic 60’s Liverpool vibe and fantastic collection of haircuts captivated the large crowd, their minimal but intelligently written and technically gifted display allows them to create a big atmospheric sound.

Despite an early start at midday on Sunday Sky Larkin enjoyed a big crowd for their set on the Loud & Quiet Stage. The weather had barely improved and there were plenty of visible hangovers in the arena but again people were set on having fun and Sky Larkin certainly facilitated that. Their lively set showcased new material from their forthcoming album Motto as well as favourites from the previous albums. The new material seemed slightly darker than their previous work and their punky guitars and frantic drums shook the crowd into life early on.

This was followed by Leeds based favourites Lone Wolf, or “Loan Wolf” as it was written on the board outside, and Menace Beach on the You Need To Hear This Stage. Both bands are fantastic live acts, Lone Wolf creates moments of beauty with his vocals which are of the highest quality while Menace Beach provide uplifting punk style songs with plenty of distortion.

Sunday came to an end with the festivals headline act Django Django rounding of the weekend on a high note and giving the crowd the conclusion they deserved.