Ste Knight

Beat-Herder 2018 Festival Review

Here at NextFest, barely an hour went by last week, during which we weren’t thinking about what the wonderful Beat-Herder festival had in store for us. We had spent hours poring over the line-up, meticulously planning who we would be watching during the event, and which stages we needed to be at, and when we needed to be there.

Of course, all of this went out of the window the second we had unpacked our tent and cracked open our first cider, but hey, what do you expect? This is festival life and we have no need to stick to the rules!

Travelling down (or rather, up) from the festival took little time. We were on site within an hour-and-a-half, and within a further thirty minutes we were unloading the van and flinging pop-up tents around like nobody’s business.

With our camp in place, we decided it was time to head into the festival arena and check out what was going on before everyone else rushed to the bars, stages, and food stalls. We had been bouncing around the site for about an hour before we heard a great cheer from the other camps; the gates had been opened and the shepherds had freed their flock from the pen and into the fields to graze on beats and bass.

Photo: James Abbott-Donnelly

Our first stop was the Main Stage, to catch a bit of Drum Machine. Having seen them at last year’s One Tribe event, we knew what was in store for us, and the thirty-odd strong percussion collective from Hebden Bridge got us warmed up quicker than the sun, which had just poked out from behind the clouds (and, thankfully, stuck around until Monday morning). We took in several other acts, including GAWP, at The Fortress, who provided an alternative house narrative that saw the enclosed space erupting into frenzied dancing and cheers.

We must mention that we had stopped briefly as S-Club offered up some novelty – the three remaining members didn’t seem to need the four who had left the band years ago. It was surprising to see that Jo could still hit the right notes, and Tina still looks about the same age that she did when the band originally formed. Bradley’s attempts at continuing his b-boy repertoire was amusing given that the band formed twenty years ago. The one pervading song that stayed with us, acting as earworms at every waking moment, was Don’t Stop Movin’ so they obviously had an impact.

Orbital came along later on in the evening, which was a minor interruption to our activities in The Fortress, although we genuinely enjoyed their set, which featured a plethora of their greatest tracks, along with their latest single, P.H.U.K.

Beat-Herder Festival 2018, UK

Photo: Chris Werrett

Either side of their performance we were enjoying the techno laid out by Liverpool’s tRiBe take-over, which featured a host of techno-wizardry from tRiBe resident Tom Page, as well as James Ruskin and Ben Sims. Needless to say, after flinging our bodies around wildly for twelve hours we were utterly exhausted and in need of some serious rest, so back to camp we stumbled, ready for day two.

Our group seemed to take an absolute age to ready ourselves for the second day of Beat-Herder, as we applied copious amounts of glitter to our sweaty faces (it was roasting hot). This proved a mistake, as your reporter ended up in the medical tent with huge swollen eyelids, through which sight was an impossibility, presumably caused by the gel in which the glitter was held. Shout out to the wonderful medic who applied an eye bath so reporting could continue visually!

Anyway, we digress. Day two was a stormer, with tonnes of acts providing musical enjoyment across the day. Highlights included all of the artists we caught at the Toil Trees, with Ryan Hartley‘s set standing out, in particular. The Fusion Brothers dropped a sublime set, before we caught bits and bobs over at The Fortress, where OFFMENUT Records were hosting a bass-heavy take-over, featuring the bassline frequencies of PhatworldSpongebob Squarewave, and Ben Suff Donk.

Beat-Herder Festival 2018 | The Fortress

Photo: James Abbott-Donnolly

Trikilatops offered up some Korean weirdness, fusing pop, rock, and a generally wonderful racket, before it was back to the Toil Trees for Tough London and Sam Devine. At this point, the Toil Trees became really busy, so we opted to head to the main stage to catch Morcheeba and Dreadzone, with a bite to eat in between. It must be said that the food was particularly well priced this year, so hats off to those who ran the food stalls for not pricing punters out of a meal or two.

Lindstrom offered up a delightful live electronic set, before Soulwax blew minds open into more segments than a Chocolate Orange. The band and their musicians were super-tight, and the spectacle offered by the show was outstanding. Pete Tong closed day two for us, back at the Toil Trees, demonstrating his diverse tastes in house and techno.

Beat-Herder Festival 2018, Ribble Valley, UK

Photo: James Cray

By day three, we had (somehow) managed to fit in a whopping sixteen hours of sleep, which has never been heard of before at any festival. Ever. The Gong Bath supplied some spiritual nourishment before we headed to the forest stage again to witness Mr. Scruff doing the bumpy house business, helped along by his trusty MC.

Late Night Tough Guy carried things on with a sublime selection of disco, house, and techno, before we headed over to watch Ray Keith smashing breakbeats into everybody’s face. From here we decided to go and catch some of David Rodigan. While his selecta skills were in full effect, it couldn’t be helped to think that his set was maybe a little bit forced. This is all personal opinion, though, as everyone else seemed to be buzzing that Ram Jam was up on the stage.

We decided to head over and see what Feel My Bicep signing, Hammer, had to say for himself. We weren’t disappointed, as he dropped all manner of toughened-up house and techno to keep the crowd in a state of constant euphoria.

The weekend’s highlight, for this writer, was the performance in The Ring, by the one-and-only Cheap Thrills favourite, Herve. His set was a sight to behold, and we revelled in every second of it. He closed on Aphex Twin‘s Digeridoo, a classic track that saw in Redlight perfectly. Our final act before we hit the hay was K-Klass, who offered up a full live P.A., storming through piano house classics and offering a fitting end to the festival before the arena closed.

Beat-Herder Festival 2018, UK

Photo: James Cray

We have to say that Beat-Herder seems to improve year-upon-year. Their production is phenomenal, as is their artist choice, and it is nice to see under-appreciated genres like drum & bass and Bassline getting a lot of coverage.

We’ll leave you with one tip; unless you have the patience of Job, don’t EVER take a pop-up tent to a festival. They are very reluctant to fold back into their bags. See you next year, Herders!

>>> Check out all the details of this year’s festival, here. <<<


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