Friday 14th, The Ribble Valley; our first time visiting Beat Herder. After a short trip from our hometown Winsford to Lancashire we arrived to see the party was already in full swing and we were faced with the challenge of setting up camp; a challenge we epically failed. Liam’s tent lacked an all-important rain cover, Dom’s looks like it could have been a decent tent had it been set up correctly and Stuarts…well, his was great until someone took a tumble into it on the first night. On the bright side we had an excellent view from the spot we chose to call home for the next 3 nights and 4 days.
While looking the least impressive the Beat-Herder main stage held host to some of the most awe inspiring acts of the weekend; the first one we saw being Let’s Eat Grandma at about 6pm on the Friday. The psychedelic sludge pop band from Norwich made full use of the loud as fuck bass driven sound system, a feature of Beat-Herder which excelled through the whole weekend. Our only plan for Friday night was to see Henge, a band highly regarded by our Guru: Stu. Henge played at Trash Manor at 11pm showcasing a 45 minute slot of intergalactic space groove, ending with the soon to be iconic chant “We demand, that the weapons of war manufacture no more, demilitarise. We demand, that we have in its place, the means to unite and colonise space.” After Henge we thought our best plan would be a quiet one in the local, the Beat-Herder Working Man’s Social Club – which seemed very vibrant and colourful and very, very hands on. The rest of night became a blur as we stumbled around Toil Trees before returning to the entertainment of the camp site; which resembled something of a post-apocalyptic Vegas strip, the place never slept.
Our first port of call Saturday afternoon was Smokey Tentacles where we enjoyed a shisha and a down-beat jam on stage made up on artist and audience members alike; all while nursing a bitch of a hangover. After a few hours back at camp spent getting to know our neighbours we decided it was time to head back into the festival ready for The Sugarhill Gang, the fathers of Rappers Delight; the first commercial Hip-Hop song. Sugarhill Gang seeming somewhat like an out of place dream, teaching the English crowds about the history of hip-hop trough memorable legendary melodies. For all hip-hop heads at the festival it was an honour seeing the ‘White-lines’ performed live. Later on in the afternoon the next headline act took to the stage, Sleaford Mods. Admittedly trying to pay attention to Jason Williams rant about British problems whilst a man with two bananas rolls around in front of you can be a bit tricky, however entertaining all the same. After Sleaford Mods we lost our Guru: Stu but gained a new friend: Ade.
Ade was bloody lovely and we pretty much stole him for the rest of the night, leading him through a secret tunnel disguised as a telephone box all while telling him about our missing Guru; which, to our surprise was waiting for us on the other side of the tunnel like he knew we were coming for him. Amazing, I know. After that we danced on the cars for a while at the garage before departing to go check out Cabbage at arguably one of our favourite venues: Trash Manor. The Neo-Punk 5 piece take out their twisted anger on politicians, austerity and quite frankly anyone who even slightly pisses them off and we fucking loved it. Dancing on the water fountain to escape the mud bath below we had arguably the best view for one of the best bands of the weekend.
Sunday, traditionally known as the day of rest; at Beat-Herder: the day of Reggae. The clouds parted to let way for the sun to shine down over us ready for Reggae legends and DJs alike to take the stage. After a heavy afternoon nursing yet another hangover at by 6pm we we’re ready for Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, another seemingly out of place person to have in a Lancashire field, the godfather of Jamaican dub. It felt more like you were watching an icon more than a band. The amusement of him trying to find a spliff from the crowd and light it in the valley winds, matched the band chemistry itself. Shortly after a sub-par DJ set from David Rodigan, came a disappointing set from Toot’s and the Maytals (Although I’m not convinced they were all present). Disappointed by the acoustic feel provided by the Reggie legends we went to see Captain Hot Knifes who was also joining us in our bitterness/disappointment from Toots, as the saying goes… Never meet your heroes.
Overall, crackin’ festival, crackin’ food and crackin’ people all fuelled by cheap ale and good vibes. I think it goes without saying that we will be returning with better tents and a better grasp on what the fuck is going on. If you’ve never been and you’re not afraid to get a lil messy and muddy get your tickets early because you really can’t ask for a more loving festival, full of friendly people and herded-beats for everyone’s pallet. Till next year X
Words by Dominic Ogden and Liam Woods.