A personal guide to the festival season

By Matthew Prudham

From intimate festivals of only 1000 people to the 90,000 strong crowds of Reading and Leeds, Matthew Prudham provides a personal guide to some of the highlights of 2018’s summer festival season.

Reading and Leeds Festival

What?  Reading Festival is one of the longest running music festivals in the UK, going all the way back to its original incarnation as the National Jazz Festival in 1961. Once it became the Reading Festival it is today, another leg in Leeds was added in 1999. It is run by Festival Republic, a subsidiary of the larger Live Nation Europe, who also own Ticketmaster, Seatwave, and a number of other music related companies

When?  23-26th August. There is also an option of early entry for the Wednesday at an additional cost.

Where?  The Reading edition is situated at Little John’s Farm in the centre of the town, whereas Bramham Park, Wetherby, hosts the Leeds site.

Who?  The big name on the line-up this year is, of course, Kendrick Lamar, touring his latest chart-topping record, DAMN. His live show is not one to be missed, so of course one may justify attending based on his appearance alone. The other two headliners are Fall Out Boy, who are appearing only two years after co-headlining in 2016 with Biffy Clyro, and Kings Of Leon. Other acts include breakout artists Sigrid, The Magic Gang, Tom Grennan and Shame, who are all making appearances across the weekend, as well as more established festival favourites Courteeners, Skepta, Travis Scott and Annie Mac.

My ones to watch, however, would be Post Malone and Wolf Alice. Both are supporting some of the best records of 2017, and are known for their phenomenal live shows. Post Malone’s appearances are rare, so I advise you to catch him while you can – in my opinion, he is a star truly befitting of his popularity. Meanwhile, Wolf Alice simply bleed with energy and I can assure you the pits will be many.

The festival holds a 23% female split, with the highest placed artists being Radio 1 Stage headliner Wolf Alice, Dance stage headliners Annie Mac and Hannah Wants, and Dua Lipa, the highest placed act on the main stage. Nevertheless, this is a better state than three years ago, when 89.6% of all bands were all-male.

How much?  Tickets cost £205 face value, plus additional fees when buying online. For tickets, go to www.readingfestival.com/tickets or www.leedsfestival.com/tickets. Day tickets are also available.

Why?  You want to relive that post-GCSE or A-Level feel; you want to catch some of the many emerging artists on the line-up; Kendrick Lamar; you want to reminisce on the 2009 music scene, when you listened to FoB and P!ATD non-stop during that emo phase.

110 Above Festival

What?  An intimate festival hidden away in rural Leicestershire, with an extremely limited capacity (approx. 1,000 people), showcasing many upcoming and a few established bands

When?  3rd– 5th August.

Where?  The festival is located at Gospall Hall Farm, close to Nuneaton, Warwickshire.

Who?  The line-up for this is absolutely smashing; Circa Waves, Peace, and Fickle Friends are all headlining this year, the latter two both bringing new albums released in March this year. Meanwhile, other rising and award-nominated acts including Marika Hackman and Anteros.

My personal picks would certainly be Blaenavon, whose debut record That’s Your Lot was released to critical appraise last year. Additionally, Hight Tyde, who I watched play a storming set at Leeds Festival last year and would be brilliant in an intimate capacity venue, and The Magic Gang, coming off a sold-out UK tour supporting their eponymous debut album, are also ones to watch.

The festival has an excellent male/female line-up ratio; representing the girls are headliners Fickle Friends, the aforementioned Marika Hackman and Anteros, as well as singer-songwriter Jade Bird, Bloxx, and folk pop artist Orla Gartland making appearances, amongst others.

Why?  You want to check out some of the best live and upcoming acts in an intimate venue at good value.

How Much?  OK, so the cost is equally as crazy as the line-up. Tickets are £85 face value with a small additional booking fee, with some extras available including showers and campervans. For more information, to purchase tickets, and to check out the line-up, visit www.110above.com

Truck Festival

What?  Do not be confused by the name, this is not a trucking festival, but rather ‘the godfather of the small festival scene’. Running since 1998 in sleepy Steventon, Oxfordshire, it prides itself on being the ‘anti major-festival’ festival by giving food earnings to the nearby Rotary Club charity.

When?  The festival runs from 20-22 July, with the option available of Thursday entry with additional bands at an extra cost.

Where?  The festival site is close to Didcot Parkway Station, where shuttle buses run to and from the festival site.

Who?  The line-up for this festival seems to get better every year. Last year attendees were treated to Franz Ferdinand, The Libertines and The Vaccines, and this year the headliners are Mancunian anthem-makers Courteeners, sultry folk-pop singer-songwriter George Ezra, and the returning Friendly Fires. Add into the mix a great variety of genres, ranging from dance, including Palm City acts Shy FX, Darkzy, and Kurupt FM, metal, with Moose Blood and Turbowolf on the cards, to indie, such as Pale Waves, Black Honey and Circa Waves – something for everyone.

My personal ones to watch would be Mancunian art-pop quartet Everything Everything, who sold out Alexandra Palace and Manchester Apollo on their most recent tour, and Dream Wife, whose similarly sold-out recent tour attests to their fresh, all-female, punk-rock debut album.

Although only five of the main stage acts feature women, there is an array of female-inclusive acts across the rest of the line-up, including Market Stage sub-headliners Fickle Friends and Marika Hackman, alongside angry punk rockers Dream Wife, critically acclaimed northern trio The Orielles, and The Nest headliners The Big Moon.

How much?  GA tickets are currently listed at £110 + booking fee, with a price move to £120 coming once this tier has sold out. For more information, and to check out the lineup in depth, including early-entry options with its own dedicated lineup, visit truckfestival.com.

Why?  It’s incredible value for the calibre of artists that appear. Truck Festival has consistently won awards for being the Best Small Festival in the UK.

Lindisfarne Festival

What?  A truly one-of-a-kind festival, located on the mystical Northumberland coast in a recognised Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

When?  The festival this year runs from 30th August to 2nd September, making it the ideal short return to the North East before the start of term a month later.

Where?  The festival’s nearest station is Berwick-Upon-Tweed, easily accessible via train from Durham.

Who?  The festival prides itself on a mix of old and new music from all genres. Headlining this year’s edition are Madchester legends and festival favourites Happy Mondays, and veteran folk-rockers Levellers, who headlined Glastonbury back in 1994 to a capacity of 300,000 –  a still-standing record. Meanwhile, other acts making an appearance include funk-disco party starters Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5, ska-dance pioneers Dub Pistols, and 13-year-old singer-songwriter Tom Mouse Smith –  fresh from supporting the likes of Catfish and the Bottlemen.

Lindisfarne also has a pleasing array of female-inclusive acts, with folk punks Skinny Lister, second stage headliners Holy Moly & The Crackers, and ska powerhouse Bombskare all in high positions on the line-up.

How much?  A full pass costs only £95 for three days camping (Thursday – Sunday). There is also an abundance of different options, depending on how long you want to camp or stay for. For more information, and to look at the line-up in-depth, visit lindisfarnefestival.com

Why?  You want to go to a festival local to the north east, and support one of the many arts events that occur in the region. You also want to camp and dance in one of the most picturesque locations in the UK.

Lost Village Festival

What?  Set in an abandoned Lincolnshire village in the woodlands, Lost Village is an intimate-capacity festival that expands much beyond music into culinary arts, comedy, theatre and much more. Founded in 2015 by a trio of music connoisseurs, it has remained a fully independent festival ever since.

When?  Like Reading and Leeds, the festival runs across the August bank holiday weekend (23rd – 26th August).

Where?  The festival’s closest station is Newark Northgate on the East Coast mainline, with the festival providing a discount on travel to Newark and shuttle buses from the station to the festival site.

Who?  The festival has always had an electronic favour, but this year it is expanding to include a wider variety of music than ever before. Friendly Fires and Everything Everything are both headlining, bringing their unique takes on electronic music – the former with their disco-punk anthems, and the latter their aforementioned art-pop classics. Joining them as headliners is renowned experimental dance musician Four Tet, who promises to bring a spellbinding set full of original material and remixes to the Village, having worked with artists such as Black Sabbath, Lana Del Rey, and jazz drummer Steve Reid. Highlights from the rest of the lineup include former Coronation Street actor-turned-funk/soul DJ Craig Charles, dynamic vinyl DJ The Black Madonna – one of the breakout female dance musicians this decade – and DJ Yoda, a musician who brings sci-fi and comedy with his audio-visual masterpieces.

The festival does have some female artists, but none in major headline/sub-headline positions. The aforementioned The Black Madonna is the highest placed female act on the bill, with other female artists such as Chicago native Honey Dijon, acclaimed German DJ and producer Helena Hauff, and eclectic beat-maker Peggy Gou featuring amongst a predominantly male supporting line-up. Clearly there is some improvement here to be done.

How much?  Tickets have almost sold out, with the final tickets available at £185 + booking fee. Upgrades are also available, so to check out availability and the stunning line-up head to lostvillagefestival.com

Why?  A festival is about much more than the music: it is about the overall experience, and Lost Village, with its stunning music lineup, array of arts, creative and mindfulness activities, and secret woodland location, seems to have ticked all the boxes.

2000 Trees

What?  Set in the Costwolds, 2000 Trees is a long-established multi-genre festival, running since 2007 and boasting an impressive alumni of artists including Nothing But Thieves, Slaves, Wolf Alice and Frank Turner. The capacity is capped at 10,000, with the festival taking its size very seriously, despite continually attracting large bookings.

When?  The festival runs between Thursday 12th – Saturday 14th July.

Where?  The festival is located on Upcote Farm in Withington, Gloucestershire, with shuttle buses running from Cheltenham Spa rail station to the festival.

Who?  The line-up is as eclectic as usual. Post-hardcore rock heroes At The Drive-In play their final UK show of 2018 at the festival, headlining alongside Enter Shikari, who last year celebrated the 10th year anniversary of their debut record, Take to the Skies. Elsewhere, there are prominent spots for festival favourites Frightened Rabbit, post-punk/glam-rockers Creeper, and renowned live band Arcane Roots.

The festival does well to promote female rockers with a decent number of female and mixed gender bands, including the aforementioned Creeper, indie rockers Black Honey, London-based band My Vitriol, and noisy pop-rock quartet Vukovi all featuring in prominent places on the line-up.

How Much?  Tickets cost £115 for the whole weekend, with other options available such as day tickets and VIP upgrades. Visit www.twothousandtreesfestival.co.uk for more information and to check out the full line-up.

Why?  Whereas some festivals try to accommodate for a specific genre, 2000 Trees realises that ‘genre’ is a word which is pretty much meaningless now, with artists from the worlds of hip-hop to hardcore metal all intermixing.

Photograph: ‘thomas’ via Flickr

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