Disclaimer - I have purely typed up accounts of each day from notebooks. They are not fancy enough to be published, nor do they make for a good read. In fact, it's super depressing, and moody, and a little bit self-indulgent. No, actually, it's self-indulgent as fuck. Bono with orange glasses. I should have just stuck to a festival review formula. If you don't like overused punctuation and a relentless need for tense turnaround…. turnaround. Sorry everybody.


07.08.2014

Dear Diary,

It's cold. I mean, it's really fucking cold. I'm trying to get warm in a sleeping bag with the texture of crepe paper, and the incline that this tent currently sits on is squashing my face into a pack of buttery flapjacks. I think I'm happy to be here though. It's a festival right… And festivals are the best part of the year. Yeah. The security seem a bit more highly strung this year. They searched all of our bags to make sure we had less than 2 crates of beer each. They don't really quantify what a crate consists of though. I mean, a pallet is a crate in a place like Burnley. I don't know if I could drink two pallets.

It's just been a funny day. I met a man in a pub on the way here who told me that he wished the bomb in Manchester had of been ten times bigger than it was. He then attempted to instigate a duel, calmed himself down, and went to drive away. Instead of driving away, he came up to my passenger door, opened it, and shoved a little safeway bag full of coke inside. We told him to go away, but I was more bothered by the fact that he had a safeway bag - I didn't even know that was still a real thing. I hope that doesn't set the tone for the weekend. Goodnight Yorkshire.

Red-Bull-Stage-2

08.08.2014

Dear Diary,

I usually have good days when the date matches up with the month, yet today was not one of them. At first I thought it was a slight hangover, "a Berocca will do not doubt!" (Side note. 'Beroccin' all over the world' would be a great tagline for ads). It wasn't. Well, it might've been. I'm not sure. I've had really bad anxiety this year - teamed up with a few heart problems - and as the morning went on, my chest turned into palpitationsville. I try to make it into the arena, but everything starts to go a little bit wrong. Everyone looks really happy, and this serves only to heighten my awareness that I am certainly not feeling like they are. We take a few photos, wander a little bit, sit down. I tell our photographer that I'll meet him in a minute, "I'm just going to go to the toilet."

This toilet is on the other side of the site, tucked away behind the press car park. It's a safe haven, a little slice of shit stained paradise, creaking in the wind with nobody else around. I take a pew, not needing to, and sit there in silence taking a few deep breaths. What the fuck am I doing? Why am I sat in a toilet? I walk back to the site, aiming to meet back up in the arena. At the last possible moment, my feet turn right, ever so slightly missing the entrance, diverting back towards the tent. I find myself recounting what that lady had said to me about mindfulness and focusing on the now, I try to remember what the fuck she told me to do if I was in a tent with a job to do and nowhere else to go. I decide to go to sleep.

I can't work out if the beats on the mattress are from the pop punk band playing on the ELFM stage, or just my right aorta. This fucker really doesn't want to die down. Sleep some more, miss British Sea Power. I wake up around ten minutes to four, just before Kult Country. They're one of my favourite bands in the country, and I start to panic that if they don't draw me from my cave, nobody will. I make it to the stage just in time, but I can't really focus. Everyone is asking where I've been and I'm not sure if I can be arsed telling them. They play 'Trembling Moon' and it feels really appropriate. They play 'Slowburn' and it feels the same. Fuck this mood. There are a couple of sound issues that I kinda pick up on, but I'm too busy trying to keep myself present to care. I'm sure it was phenomenal, it always is.

The heavens open and someone runs to get me a coat -- I've wandered out in boat shoes, shorts and a tee shirt. I can't be bothered going into detail about how the blood coarsing through my veins is keeping me pretty warm. I put on the jacket and run over to the other side of the field. A light bulb blows up and everyone cheers. I should probably get a beer.

There's a band called DZ Deathrays playing in the main tent. (They don't do outdoor stages here apart from one, tiny hooded type deal, probably to stop bulbs from blowing up and everyone cheering.) For all intents and purposes, they're pretty good. It's fun, and loud, and cliched as fuck, but I get it. If the first sound you make with your guitar is all axe wielding and satan summoning, I can understand that it'd be pretty hard to go back. Not too sure he needs to jump onto the bass drum and such though. Devil horns? Very likely.

I catch a bit of Toy, then onto Daphni. It's strange as I saw these two play the same day last year at Parklife, and I don't remember being all that into the day at all. Toy are good, they're competent musicians and they look cool and all that shit, but it doesn't really do anything to me. Dan Snaith is one of my favourite musicians/producers on the planet, but this Daphni set just feels like a mate playing tunes on his shitty balcony whilst I get forced to drink a San Miguel Fresca. I wanted to wait for 'Can't do Without You' but I just can't do it. As I walk away from the tent it comes on and everyone goes wild. Ha.

Woman's Hour aren't on the stage when they're supposed to be and nobody is waiting, so I see some of East India Youth's set in the Noisey tent. I've seen him a lot of times now, but he looks different today. I'm saying this to a friend, when a girl with smurf hair butts in and says he looks nothing like his album cover. His album cover is a smudged fucking oil painting, go figure. Submotion Orchestra start off quite interestingly, and a couple of helpings from the 30 strong ale list are starting to unlock my shoulders a bit. After ten or so minutes, a female lead vocalist walks on, says a few standard 'EY UP' lines, and starts to sing. My shoulders tighten a little. She's got a great voice, but she kind of seems to restrict what they were doing before she came on stage and I don't like the way her mouth wraps around vowels. It's like if each vowel was a big bubble that had to come out of your mouth unscathed from contact with your teeth. That's what it's like.

I make a quick break for Vessels, a relatively local five-piece who I've been told to watch by a few people. A clash of the aforementioned five acts within two hours didn't really deliver, so my hopes aren't sky high. Wrong Michael, wrong again. They go some way to saving part of the day, churning out all manners of sounds in a slightly geeky Hot Chip/Battles clusterfuck way. It's super, super tight, and I like the way they're all wearing a different coloured tee shirt. I'd love to know why that was the decision made in the end. They're fucking fun, and clever, and they make things better for a while.

Now, Action Bronson. Action bloody Bronson. I might say his name again. No, in fact, I won't. If he was rightly christened Hypetion Hypehype I'd say it three times. No, I wouldn't. I mean, I claim to know nowt when it comes to obese white rap, but there was more fucking flow happening in the criss cross urinals during 50 mph winds. That's the tipping point right there. My girlfriend is falling asleep on the tentropes out of boredom while some guy shouts at everyone. I really want to make it to XXYYXX, but the thought of cushions and True Romance in the Arthouse tent is just too much to pass up. This is the best part of the day. Berocca is a fraud. I'm going to bed.

Main-stage-crowd

09.08.2014

Dear Diary,

I think I drank to get out of a hangover yesterday, thus landing in a hangover. Why is that even a thing? I feel a bit better right now, at least the heart stomping has subsided. I start the day with a viewing of The Selfish Giant and a Q&A session with the director. It already feels like this will go a bit better - easing in and all that - plus the film and accompanying insight into how it came to be are both brilliant. One thing they certainly get right here is the variety of art/film within such a small site - it's emphasis over say, comedy, makes for a more relaxing, less structured feel, and heaven knows I hate structure. The day is warm.

I catch a bit of Beaty Heart (LOLZ) on the outdoor stage, people are sat around in the sun and it feels pretty nice. This leads into Glass Animals, who I've heard everyone raving about recently. Again, it feels pretty nice. The bassist is super talented and the overall textures all wash together quite brilliantly. It feels dare I say a little bit Alt-J, with a hint of trying to ride the Jungle wave. Maybe I'm just looking into it too much. Maybe it's the lead singers Adidas tee shirt. Next up, YoungHusband are one of the strongest acts so far, putting together a really polished sound that sets itself apart from everything else I've seen this weekend, and Cheatahs are alright too. I can't help but feel a bit distant though.

Joanna Gruesome switch things up a bit, seizing attention with an energy and volume that makes their connection to the mighty Hookworms apparent. I've wanted to watch these for ages, yet a smile still won't pop out. I bump into a few people I know for the umpteenth time this weekend, as Beacons seems to draw an entire quarter of Manchester to its vicinity like moths to a flame. I can't help but think that they can't help but think that i'm a boring twat. I fight this thought with a Patty Smith burger and walk over to the Argyll to wait for Adult Jazz.

As I'm walking, a bit of onion drops out of the burger and I watch it tumble onto the grass. There are 20 different things happening around me right now… things that you would pay for… DJs, bands, films, a ferris wheel… yet I'm watching a slither of grilled onion nestle into the ground. Oh fuck, I really am a boring twat. I'm contemplating handing in these notes as my whole review, you know. I might just write dear diary at the top of them and have done with it. I reckon I'd hate anyone who did that. I'm twenty bastarding two and I fucking love music and I'm watching loads of bands and having a drink with my friends and not one fucking note all weekend has moved one iota of my shitting soul. I'm probably being melodramatic. I am. But you know, where's all the riveting shit? This is a KILLER line up, in a KILLER location, with KILLER people. OK, so the friday line up wasn't that killer, but surely something today? Maybe I'm just being moody and dull. But what if I've actually fell out with stuff? What if I just can't be fucked with stages and bands and guitars and all that right now? No, actually, I saw twigs last week and nearly wrote a letter home about it all so that thought can fuck right off. I'm going to watch Adult Jazz and everything is going to be OK.

I'm going to watch Adult Jazz and everything is going to be phenomenal. Hello soul you sneaky bastard, where the fuck have you been? They've got little tiny bells that they shake into microphones. They've got types of horns that I can't work out if they're trombones or frenchies. They keep swapping to and fro and to and fro and to and fro, jumping from percussion to wind to keys to strings. It's fanfuckingtastic. And that voice… That guy has the voice of an angel. It starts, fully fledged gabriel on the top of Mount Olympus, then plummets into John Milton's Pandaemonium for all but a second, bouncing back into a washy midtone that I wish I had so dearly. Finally. Something has happened.

Money are on next and loads of people I didn't expect to see are stood around me and they're all waiting to hear tunes that have been everywhere around us for the last two years and it's going to be great. It is pretty great. It's reined in a little for a Money performance, but you get that sometimes, and I'd always prefer the sound to be great over everything else. Jamie is pulling his usual faces. This ale is brilliant. Nothing is wrong.

Post Money is the happiest I've seen everyone this weekend, and by everyone, I mean me. There's even rum. I teeter mid field between Jon Hopkins and Hookworms not knowing what to do, before deciding that I'm least likely to see Jon Hopkins at any other point for a long time, so I go for that. It starts off really well, then a load of inflatable coloured balls are fired out from the stage. The visuals/audio are good, but now our group is focused purely on procuring a ball for our own delight. I've just told someone to stop staring at it. I'm scared they might nick it. I've left my shoes out in the rain so that I can hide it in the tent. Night, Skipton.

Jelly-fish-Umbrella

10.08.2014

Dear Diary,

That rain though. It's been going all night and it's not showing any signs of letting up… hopefully the rumours about Berthas arrival aren't coming true. Fuck getting out of the tent right now. I shouldn't have drank that rum either. When I do get out, I'm pretty impressed at how dry the ground is. That's no mean feat of engineering that, to keep a place like this so low on mud. I'm being boring. I'm going to get front and centre for the Wytches.

Yeah yeah yeahhhhhhhhhhh. This is more like it. Must've been that burger last night - Patti Smith always changes everything. The Wytches are incredible, all power and punch and vocals and Kurt Cobain. It's actually pretty inspiring, some of the structures are so simply effective it hurts. I keep having waves of feeling shit and then less so and more so etc etc, to the point i'm drinking a San Pellegrino when everyone else is having beer. Wire Frame Mattress is performed during one of these rare 'less so' moments, going from a capella to that ruthless drone in a matter of seconds. It's my favourite singular moment so far and the rain can get to fuck.

Metz go even harder. I'm genuinely not one to judge a book by it's cover (unless we're actually talking bout real life books as I only ever buy real life books with good covers) but as they walk on stage, the front man looks like he should be a banker. He's not. He fully loses his shit in the most enviable/admirable way, jumping this way and that and in the process, snapping his guitar strap in two. They're fucking heavy, but not in a doomsday way, just really penetrating, no-release rock. The drummer goes 100mph and it's brilliant.

I'm guessing Sleaford Mods parked up in exactly the same space as Action Bronson, just as they have done in my mind. I'm not going to talk about this one as it completely flies by my level of understanding. 65 Days of Static are much better, barely acknowledging to the crowd as they create this sort of sheffield Sigur Ros cinema score. In fact, when they do talk, they say something really shit like what I'd say; "How the fuck are you?" or something like that. It ruins the facade a bit, they should've stayed silent. At times it all goes a little too epic, but their last tune has this snake like piano line which pulls everything back into focus.

I decide I might be able to handle a beer, I'm feeling alright at the minute. It's getting pretty windy though, so we decide to go and pack up the tent - we've already made the correct decision to leave tonight as mood/weather team up into a great big wave of bleak. As usual, it's a nightmare to do and everything is wet and grim and I just want to pay someone to do it for me. Luckily the ground is *still* relatively dry despite all the rainfall as we lug it all back to the car. I've lost my belt and my trousers are falling down.

This break means we only catch a small bit of Yumi Zouma's performance, which turns out to be no bad thing. I'm sorry to be cynical, but I'm not one to break a trend I've carried for years. They sound nothing like they do on record, the lead singer needs way more reverb, and everything just seems really half-arsed. If I'd have played on the Friday, this is what it would've been like. Luckily the Fall are on next.

If there's anything to peak your mood, it's the sight of Mark E Smith's ballbag grin. He's suitably bat shit crazy. He parades around switching everyones instruments down, walking from mic to mic to test which one is best for his scowl. Everyone looks completely in love, there's something majestic about seeing so much history on stage, but I can't help but feel there's an element of sadness underlying beneath. He's completely idolised, yet completely ill. He's jaundice and frail and slurs his words, yet we all think that is brilliant. No doubt if he chugged a full bottle of gin everyone would cheer. Maybe that's a good thing. I'm not sure - the dynamic is pretty strange. Before I can pull myself away from my own bullshit and back into the performance, site staff are sprinting about and there's a fair whack of water leaking in onto the swaying light rig. Soon enough someone walks onto the stage to stop the show. It's almost scripted. Could a mid-set safety interruption have happened at any worse time? Is there any other act who'd object so much? He won't get off. As he bellows "Just one more song," they're already pulling the plug on sound. It takes a fair whack of people to get him off stage, complete with a comedy shock move when someone grabs his arm. He is fucking entertaining.

To my surprise, they actually come back onstage, opening with 'Mr.Pharmacist'. It's fucking great. They work through the set, Smith ending up giving his lyrics to the drummer, as he takes on duty of banging the drumsticks out of time. Along with the keyboard player, he has to finish the vocals to the set, as Mark E Smith walks offstage. I can't help but thinking that in the surroundings, 'Hit The North' would have brought on one of those truly unforgettable moments, but I guess Hurricane Bertha stole our chance. We run through the Monsoon to catch the end of Fat Whites, but the wind bellowing through a fully packed tent means the sound is barreling off down the valley somewhere, and it loses all intensity. They're still way more fucking interesting to watch than half the people here though. I stick around for John Wizards, who pull off the happiest slot of the weekend. It's mad funky. It's really good fun as they weave these little webs of bass and twinkly guitars, and whilst the sound is suffering a bit, everyone seems in high spirits. I am too.

We hear that Cate Le Bon has been cancelled as the outdoor wedge of the site has been fully shut down, but in my usual stubborn dickhead way, I wander all the watt down anyway to make sure. Stubborn dickhead doth prevail. She's soundchecking now, obviously running sorely late from the blowy mess. I'm all agitated, as I want to see as much of her as possible, but I don't want to miss a shred of Darkside. Two songs is enough to put me on edge, so we sprint back through the field with 'Can't Help You' blaring out behind us. I like that a lot. The way she sings the chorus sounds like bryan ferry in a female body.

Darkside, obviously, are super late too. I could've definitely stayed to watch all of Le Bon. I need to stop fucking moaning though, but in all honesty, I'm given so much fuel it's impossible. Darkside appear, basked in sharp yet minimal lighting. They look fucking great, and sound even better. There's a photography ban too which makes things seem a little calmer up front. It sort of builds and builds ever so slowly, then when it seems like it'll blow out, it just shatters with this ridiculously haunting screech Jaar has somehow achieved on strings. Seriously, I need to know how he does that.

I want to get fully enveloped here. It's the act I've been most looking forward to & the best I've felt in 72 hours. I'm sort of getting there, but this complete body of ignorance is stood to my left rabbiting on and on. I've been on the edge all weekend, and it doesn't take too much for me to fully evolve into my dad and start having a go. I get told that "this is a festival and these things happen." Get. To. Fuck. I tell her how half of their schtick is based on the minimal notes, and that I can't hear a thing when she's balling on about fuck all. She decides to say sorry, but then rabbits on, now directed AT me. You couldn't make this shit up. Actually, If I told you the next thing she said was "I'm sorry, I just think I'm the biggest EDM music fan in this tent right now and this is like a dream for me," would you even believe me? What the fuck even is that?

I move away from her and end up in a pit of super messed up girls dressed only in floral bras. They're blowing bubbles… I guess this is better though. I'm trying really hard to focus on the gig, but I start to think too much about the shape of the bubbles, and the Humboldt squid like movement of this girls limbs, and the fact we're driving home in a storm in a matter of minutes. I think I'll get a burger king on the way back. I'm getting pretty distracted. I get back into it, and they're really taking it to another level. The lights and the throbbing and the minor explosions are just sublime. I guess I have a really strange expression on my face as I try to squeeze all available energy into being right there. The sea creature girl in front turns around and stares at me for a moment. "Wow, you look intense. I think you're the most serious person I've ever seen." She's probably right. I hate that. We drive home.

Noisey-Stage-Busy

11.08.2014

Dear Diary,

This weekend was weird. Nothing much had changed from last years Beacons Festival, yet it was an altogether quite different experience. You can still talk to anyone, and everyone still seems to be there for the music. The food and drink is incredible, the setting stunning, the atmosphere relaxed. I'm not really sure why I felt the way I did. I mean, I was genuinely ill on the Friday, but surely that shouldn't affect my mood for an entire weekend. Maybe I'm just tired of it all. It makes me think of that Joaquin Phoenix quote from her. "Sometimes I think I have felt everything I'm ever gonna feel. And from here on out, I'm not gonna feel anything new. Just lesser versions of what I've already felt." That's entirely ridiculous and over the top, but having been there last year and had one of the best weekends of my life, I was probably a bit silly to think it could be the same again. Nothing's ever as good the second time round, is it?

I think I'm just a bit too old in my head. I'm definitely not too old, just mood wise. I'm too cynical and selfish. I'm way too hard to impress, and nothing is ever enough. I'm not happy unless I'm bouncing around in elation after my favourite thing ever is performed before my eyes, or even better, left wailing in a heap as the saddest song of the year is brought right into my reality. I know I'm not happy in a wet tent drinking cans of beer. I just don't really want to do that anymore. It was a good festival, but do I even give a shit anymore? I feel like I might've passed on this little section of life right here, and that's OK isn't it? I mean, I've got a job and all that now, and I have to mop the floor at the flat, and remember to turn the lights off, and pay for shit that I can't see all the fucking time. I feel like I'm getting older and all this checking out buzz bands who are good but not necessarily moving is just fucking dull. It's tedious and tiresome and I don't like it. I hope that I haven't moved on from festivals though. I hope it was just a blip. I hate those little bridges in life that you unknowingly cross, only to find out you've left all the shit you used to enjoy on the other side of the river. I guess there'll be new stuff though. When I wake up from a really long sleep, I look at the news, and find out Robin Williams has been found dead in his home. Goodnight Genie.

Wytches-2
Wytches-1
Wheel-and-projectors
Vessels-1
Vessels-2
Trumpet-Man
Toy-2
Toy-1
The-Fall-5
The-Fall-1
Submotion-Orchestra-1
Sleaford-Mods-1
Romans
Rejjie-Snow-3
Pins-2
Pins-1
Money-1
Main-arena
Kult-Country-2
Jon-Hopkins-2
John-Wizards-1
Joanna-Gruesome-3
Joanna-Gruesome-1
Hacky-Sack
Glass-animals-1
Foozball
Feris-wheel
East-india-youth-1
Darkside-3
Darkside-1
Cate-Le-Bon-1
Argyll-Stage
Action-Bronson-2
65-Days-of-Static-1