Ten across: A weekend like no other. Answer: Beat–Herder!
Every year I try and do this stunning slice of boutique festival heaven justice. Each year I come nowhere near.
Words cannot describe it. Pictures maybe come a bit closer but to truly experience the joys of this magical place you have to take that once a year pilgrimage up the A59 Clitheroe and see it for yourself.
Where else could you wander into the woods and see a fancy dress panda straight from your nightmares?
Where else do conversations switch from Button Moon to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a matter of seconds? Where else would you see three camels being ridden round a field (I only believed this myself when I saw the press photos afterwards)?
How you could ever go to Beat-Herder and not return I have no idea. The only half decent excuse I heard this year for somebody not returning was finding out she was pregnant. Still wouldn’t have stopped me.
How you could ever go to Beat-Herder and not return I have no ideaJohn Deehan
This year the festival was celebrating its 10 year anniversary. Co-founder Nick Chambers told me beforehand they were going to be pulling out all the stops and that included a fireworks display on the Saturday that looked like something from Apocalypse Now.
Electronic dance legends Basement Jaxx headlined the Friday night main stage. “Where’s Your Head At” a definite highlight and definite festival slogan by the Monday morning.
Krysko and Greg Lord in the Trees, with a special appearance from DJ Shakey, was another first night highlight, as was the mighty Paul Taylor, quickly becoming a Beat-Herder veteran. Nice to see Clitheroe five-piece Good Foxy getting a chance to shine at the festival as well.
Saturday belonged to the legendary Martha Reeves who along with The Vandellas brought a bit of soul to the Beat-Herder birthday bash while incidentally celebrating her own. Reggae rockers Jeramiah Ferrari have been growing in reputation for a while and backed that up with their main stage showing while The Pavro Stelar Band and Utah Saints ensured nobody was flagging as we went late into the night.
It was left to the likes of The Lancashire Hotpots, Levellers, Leftfield and Mike Skinner (the latter playing in Beat-Herder’s newest venue, the Jagerhaus) to close out the weekend’s celebrations. They didn’t disappoint. And neither did Justin Robinson, who left The Fortress’ walls shaking and its inhabitants covered in sweat.
Music at Beat-Herder can almost play second fiddle to the site itself. Art installations, quirky bars, bespoke stalls and the craziest of small clubs (my mum would never have struggled getting me to church if ours had been like the one at Beat-Herder). You could spend all weekend wandering the site and undoubtedly come away Monday having missed one of the many hidden gems. For instance, I’d never experienced the Gay Paris disco venue until this year. Exactly how it sounds.
As always though, it is the people who play the biggest part. All walks of life roll through those gates on Friday – even Blackpool FC fans. I wound up meeting an embarrassment of a senior recruiter, a financial advisor, a train driver, an acupuncturist, a phlebotomist (look it up, I had to), a Burnley Council Streetscene manager and one very bizarre regional business development manager. And that is to name just a few.
Festivals are a place for making friends and memories and I challenge anyone who goes to Beat-Herder not to leave with plenty of both.
So in the words of Hunter S. Thompson, ‘Buy the ticket, take the ride...’