The era of the festival looks to be passing by in a wave of capitalist standardisation and commercialism. The original spirit of a festival used to lie in its ability to transport you and a few friends out of reality and into a world of camping, live-music and blazing sunshine. Glastonbury in the ol’ days for example, the romanticised mix of mind-altering drugs and music, or even Bestival before it became too damn popular, held the spirit of the festival on a pedestal above money and crowds.
Nowadays though the priority of the larger events seems to be in filling their pockets through extortionate ticket prices and getting hundreds of thousands of people to buy them, which yes, is good business but not if it’s detrimental to the enjoyment of the festival; the whole reason people go to them in the first place. The original-spirit of the festival has been morphed into a money hungry monster that prefers eating wallets to eating acid.
However these 5 are going to be ace:
Field Day Festival 2nd June
It is the early years of any festival that tend to be the most enjoyable for festivalgoers, the huge crowds have not yet clocked on to the secret, so its great music and good vibes can still be enjoyed without having to queue for half a day to get in. One such festival is Field Day, started in 2007 by Marcus Weedon (who ran the Griffin pub in Old Street) and Tom Baker (of Eat Your Own Ears), whose first year drew in a crowd of around 10,000 people with its impressive line up that contained Bat For Lashes, Caribou, Foals, and Laura Marling. Since then the festival has doubled in size and has hosted the likes of Florence & the Machine and Santigold.
This year’s line-up definitely lives up to expectations with headliners including Mazzy Star, SBTRKT, Koreless, Gold Panda, Metronomy and so many more all gearing up to blast great music at the crowd in the east end’s Victoria Park, and to top it all off they’re even showcasing the return of Franz Ferdinand! If you fancy it you can buy a joint ticket for the day after also and sooth your hangover at the event’s folky younger brother The Apple Cart festival. Taking place over the diamond jubilee weekend Field Day will definitely be a highlight of the summer.
Hop Farm Festival 29th 30th June 1st July
Even though this festival is only 4 years young it boasts an insanely good roster of headliners, last year it saw The Eagles, Morrissey and Prince take to the stage and in previous years has hosted Van Morrison, Paul Weller, Neil Young and Bob Dylan who returns this year to headline the festival. The motto of the event is “no Sponsorship, no Branding,” a refreshing idea in a business that has become, in recent years, synonymous with capitalist greed.
The line up does cater more for the older generation of music lovers but no one can doubt the classic acts the event showcases especially when they’re alongside great contemporary acts like Hackney’s Llianne La Havas. So with its ‘farm’ atmosphere and relative proximity to London, being in Kent, the event promises to be popular but will hopefully still retain all that makes festivals great, and who wouldn’t like to watch Bob Dylan play whilst sat on a hay bale?
Bloc Weekend 6th 7th July
If it’s more of an extended gig you’re looking for then Bloc Weekend is definitely worth a shout! Taking place in the London Pleasure Gardens situated in the Royal Victoria Docks just east of Poplar, the festival will be hurling beats at the crowds stood right on the bank of the Thames. The line-up made my legs go weak… just take a look for yourself to get a similar reaction. Snoop Dogg returns to London as a house D.J which promises to be an experience and a half, and joining him are Orbital, Richie Hawtin, Gary Numan, Flying Lotus and they’re just the cherries: filling the roster are acts of unadulterated awesomeness who are going to vibrate chests and implode ears for two whole nights of musical bliss.
Boomtown 9th-12th August
Held in a secret location in the south of England only disclosed to ticket-holders close to the event, Boomtown festival is just that, it is literally a temporary town built for the event that booms! The line-up is enormous and doesn’t include many recognisable names but that’s not why you go; you go to wander through a series of makeshift buildings, poking your head into each one until you find something that catches your ear. The array of different kinds of music from cabaret to gypsy, reggae to dub and even country and western gives the event an atmosphere as a hub of world music. The main stages sees acts from all over the world, different cultures and cities represented through the musical talent they have produced. There are street parties that take place throughout the weekend almost like a procession of carnivals, so you can come here and flow freely from place to place following whatever takes your fancy and for relatively cheap - £100 for the weekend.
Green Man Festival 17th-19th August
If getting out of London for a festival in the rolling, green hills of Wales takes your fancy then check out Green Man. It happens in the grounds of Glanusk Estate near Crickhowell, which is just across the boarder in the Brecon Beacons. The festival itself is all about the age old ideas of peace, love, harmony and the rest… its incredibly chilled vibes allow anyone who goes to bask in the glow of humanity at its sunniest with plenty of free-love and sweet music.
The music is mainly folk but if you look past the seasonal hippies and middle-aged hang-ons you will see and hear the finest talents of contemporary folk music, this year’s line-up includes the likes of Feist, The Felice Brothers, Of Montreal and the newcomer Michael Kiwanuka. The camping here is one of the highlights of the whole festival, the park is at the bottom of a valley with hills rising on every side and at night the echoes of the festival reverberate in the bowl evoking a kind of tribal instinct to party!
So go gaze at these events if you’re keen to escape reality for a weekend and immerse yourself in all that is good about festivals.
Field Day - www.fielddayfestivals.com
Hop farm - www.hopfarmfestival.com
Bloc Weekend - www.blocweekend.com
Boomtown - www.boomtownfair.co.uk
Green Man - www.greenman.net
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