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Preview - Beacons Festival 2013

Posted on Wednesday, 14 August 2013 | No Comments

Having somehow managed to miss pretty much every festival going this summer - well, no 'somehow' about it, I just plain couldn't afford the ticket prices - I'll finally be getting by fix this weekend at the Beacons Festival in Skipton. Now in its second year (third if you count the 2011 event that was cancelled at the last minute due to extreme weather), Beacons has already carved itself out a neat niche of catering to the more raucous ends of the indie/dance spectrum, with great punk and alternative bands sitting alongside an impressive array of DJs and electronic talent.  I'll be heading down Friday morning, band shirts and booze in tow, but while you're getting ready for the 2013 event, here's fifteen acts that you may want to look out for:

Danny Brown
Sunday, Loud & Quiet, 7:00pm

Confrontational, debauched and irrepressible, Danny Brown has emerged as one of the most exciting new hip-hop talents of the last few years. Coming to prominence on the back of his bawdy XXX album, Danny Brown takes hip-hop braggadocio and pushes it to surreal new peaks in frequently hilarious manner. Although his new album Old remains delayed, brining Danny Brown to Skipton is a real coup for the Beacons organisers, kicking off the finale of the festival with unshakeable vigour.

East India Youth
Saturday, You Need To Hear This, 3:00pm

There's a plethora of great new emerging bands on the You Need To Hear This stage across the weekend, but the one that really warrants genuine excitement is East India Youth. On his debut EP Hostel, William Doyle mixes together Krautrock pulses, house flourishes and his own precise vocals into a dizzying soundscape that bears its own individual footprint. The Quietus have bet the bank on him, funding the release of his EP, and so far it's sounding like money spent remarkably well.

Fucked Up
Friday, You Need To Hear This, 11:00pm

If you're looking for something loud, seek no further. Canadian hardcore act Fucked Up straddle a line between art-school experimentation (check out their last album, the eighteen-track concept album David Comes to Life for proof) and old school thrills. Their live show has become infamous - although if you don't want to see a very large, topless man screaming, this may not be the one for you - so seeing them round off the You Need To Hear This stage on the Friday should be a triumph.

Friday, Loud & Quiet, 9:10pm

Nominated for a Mercury Prize for his debut Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam, Ghostpoet has already made his mark as one of the most distinctive voice in the British scene right now, and on this year's Some Say I So I Say Light he raised the bar even higher. Mixing his own darkly beautiful productions with lyrics that take a surrealistic take on young British life today, he's a hip-hop auteur whose charm and intelligence stand far out from the crowd.

Sunday, Loud & Quiet, 3:15pm

The great psychedelic white hope: Leeds act Hookworms have been riding a wave of critical adoration on the back of their debut album Pearl Mystic, a bold and dynamic take of psych-rock that uses distortion and mantra-like repetition to bury its way into the listener's head. As great as their recorded work is though, they've also gained a reputation as a truly fierce live band, so seeing them on (close to) home turf looks set to be a highlight of the weekend.

James Holden
Sunday, Red Bull Music Academy, 9:00pm

There's no shortage of great DJs at Beacons, but one of the most exciting names on the bill is James Holden, whose sporadic but brilliant output has earned him a mighty reputation. His latest album The Inheritors sprawls itself all over the dance continuum, mixing experimental synth washes, old-school rave and minimal to great effect. If you want a seriously idiosyncratic groove, Holden's set on Sunday night is the place to be.

John Talabot
Friday, Resident Advisor, 12:00am

On the Friday and Saturday, the Resident Advisor tent is keeping the party going late into the night, and as the clocks hit midnight on the Friday they're playing host to one of the most exciting and respected producers of the moment. The Spanish DJ burst to international prominence with his brilliant 2012 debut album fIN, an exceptional record that deconstructed the house formula without sacrificing his melodic talents. Bring your finest dancing wellies for this one.

Julia Holter
Saturday, ELFM, 7:00pm
Calling someone a bedroom songwriter might suggest a certain lack of ambition. But while Julia Holter may meet the first description, her bold songwriting defies the second. Her classically informed 2012 album Ekstasis was a genre-defying gem, and her upcoming third album Loud City Song looks set to take her creative arrangements and haunting songwriting to new heights. Even amongst the Beacons line-up, she stands out as a truly boundary-pushing talent.

Lulu James
Friday, Loud & Quiet, 6:50pm
South Shields resident Lulu James is starting to gather some serious attention, and anyone who's seen her powerful and commanding performances will know just why. Boasting a mighty set of lungs and some seriously classy dance-pop tunes courtesy of producer Domzilla, recent singles Closer and Step By Step have seen her twenty-first century soul get bigger and bigger. If you want to see the future of pop, make sure you're down at the front for this one.

Melody's Echo Chamber
Saturday, Loud & Quiet, 6:30pm

Tame Impala mainman Kevin Parker may have been getting the acclaim, but make no mistake: while he might have weaved his production magic on Melody's Echo Chamber eponymous album, it's singer-songwriter Melody Prochet running the show. Her dynamic take on dream-pop is very much its own beast, referencing the past masters but proceeding on its own course. Hearing Some Time Alone, Alone and You Won't Be Missing That Part Of Me ringing out is something I'm looking forward too hugely.

Sunday, You Need To Hear This, 9:00pm

One of those rare times when a hype band has the goods to back up the claims, Savages take the classic post-punk sound and give it a violent, intense new kick of life. Their debut album Silence Yourself was a grand introduction that's already one of Endless Window's favourite albums of the year, and having seen them blow away The Cluny in 2012, I'm expecting their Sunday evening set to be one of the peaks of the festival. Make sure you get down in time, because this one is bound to be busy.

Sky Larkin
Sunday, Loud & Quiet, 1:00pm
Having spent the past two years on hiatus while frontwoman Katie Harkin joined Wild Beasts as a live keyboardist for the Smother tour, it's a delight to say that the indie riff-masters of Sky Larkin are back and opening the main stage on the final day of Beacons ahead of their forthcoming third album Motto. If it's anything as good as The Golden Spike or Kaleide, then it'll be more than worth the wait.

Stealing Sheep
Saturday, Loud & Quiet, 4:30pm

Adding a folk current to proceedings are Stealing Sheep, who've been busy amassing a cult following in the last eighteen months with tours supporting the likes of Field Music and a highly recommended debut album in the form of Into the Diamond Sun. What could be contrived or quirky is compelling and impassioned with this band: Stealing Sheep are clearly destined for greater things, and their live show is bound to be the perfect mid-festival pick-me-up.

Friday, Loud & Quiet, 8:00pm

For something more subdued and laid-back, Vondelpark might be just the thing for you at Beacons this year. Signed to influential Belgian dance label R&S Records, the Surrey trio offer a sound that mixes up the post-dubstep craft of an James Blake with the lo-fi indie sounds of an Ariel Pink. Coming on like a hazier, less lovelorn xx, their chilled out sounds might be the ideal soundtrack for the sunlight fading into the dusk.

Saturday, You Need To Hear This, 11:00pm
But here it is, the best saved for last: the big event of Beacons. Wire are the band that pioneered post-punk, and arguably perfected it. Their initial run of albums - Pink Flag, Chairs Missing and 154 - is one of the great triptychs in rock history. In the 1980s and early '90s, they experimented with dance music. Since reforming permanently in 1999, they've been on yet another creative roll that has seen them cement their status with further superlative albums. With new recruit Matthew Simms on second guitar and new album Change Becomes Us (based on rewritten fragments of material intended for an unrecorded post-154 album), Wire continue to be the gold standard for British guitar music. True musical icons that you'd be a fool to miss.

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