Beach Break Live 2009: Rated!
Port Lympne, Kent 16-19 June
Overall – 9/10
A date that will become as essential to students as their dissertations and final exams, Beach Break Live offers university scholars an idyllic playground of tomfoolery, diversity and bloomin’ great music. Given that organisers had just over a week to re-house, reshuffle and rescue the three-day soiree after the original planning permission for the Cornwall bash fell through, festival bosses showed innate professionalism for adaptation and the natural ability to morph a safari park into part beach, part boutique party. A selection of cheap drinks, short walking distances between bands and, of course, free entrance to the see the park’s lions, tigers and deer (oh my!), allowed students to spend the days sauntering around the site without straining even the tightest of budgets. The only downsides are a lack of snakebite (a student staple) and the number of people onsite. Despite a sell-out of 10,000 tickets, the site could have held double that amount and, if this gleaming edition of the festival is anything to go by, that target will be easily reachable within the next three years.
The Site – 8/10
A modest sized site, Beach Break is made up of a main outdoor stage with a cacophony of tents that are intruded by the delightful homemade beach area with volleyball courts and paddling pools – an attempt to bring Cornwall to Kent. There is also a vintage clothes tent and excellent Chai Waller Budda style lounge, which is permanently packed with light relaxing entertainment and delicious chais. The skate park and Cornish games arena have that DIY feel to them and while the Forest Of Kernow Big Top was ideal for DJs like Yoda, Deekline and Caspa And Rusko, it didn’t seem to fill for most of the event - though Deekline did benefit from a small shower on the Wednesday which saw students rush into the tent for cover. In keeping with the student ethos Club Tropicana partnered up with Guildford’s Academy Of Contemporary Music to build a bill of rising stars and emerging names from the modern musical college, shame there were no cocktails.
Atmosphere – 10/10
Like squeezing out every penny at an ASDA shop, the students crammed in every minute of the three days get the most for their money. The warm summer afternoons were very relaxed affairs, possibly to the detriment of the live performers, but after dusk the fans created an unbeatable atmosphere unrivalled by nearly all festivals out there. With some colourful fancy dress - Thunderbirds, Smurfs and groups of boys with penis’ drawn on their faces - and the grinning feeling echoed throughout the entire festival. Dizzee Rascal’s set stole the feel good factor award for the weekend, though Ladyhawke, Hadouken and Yearner Babies came close to stealing his crown.
Music – 8/10
Dizzee Rascal – 8/10
Taking heed from his hit of the summer – ‘Bonkers’ – the London crossover rapper produced a set that made his fans do exactly that during his headline performance. ‘Fix Up Look Sharp’ and KRS One ‘Sound Of The Police’ segued into ‘Sirens’ gave the crowd more chances to throw their arms into the air while Calvin Harris collaboration ‘Dance Wiv Me’ sounded better without the aid of the Scottish producer.
Dub Pistols - 8/10
Singer Barry Ashworth probably wished he hadn’t been wearing a shirt and tie during the band’s last minute replacement set for Ebony Bones because he’s going to have a task getting out the sweat patches he amassed during the show. Worrying not, the dance based ska crew made not to waste their chance on stage with a relentless Ashworth grinning, jumping and crashing his way through a show that included ‘Cyclone’ and covers of The Specials’ ‘Gangsters’ and ‘Peaches’ by The Stranglers, a track more apt if the festival was still on a beach.
Yearner Babies -8/10
Part of the ACM showcase in Club Tropicana, Yearner Babies are an act that already seem to be making a step in the right direction pulling in an impressive crowd for their show on the Wednesday. With age and energy on their side the group flick between violin-led ska and gypsy funk with ‘Pablo’ even enticing a crowd surfer – impressive.
Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip – 7/10
“Hello, Cornwall!” Pip’s penance for irony certainly wasn’t lost on the student audience as the Southend poet mixed Dan Le Sac’s electro indulged beats with some of his flash poetry. Mantra ‘Thou Shall Always Kill’ is unavoidably dazzling, while ‘Beat That Heart Skipped’ gives the kids the chance to dance before bringing them down with ‘Letter From God To Man’.
Hadouken! – 7/10
A band that probably should’ve sunk with HMS Nu-Rave, Hadouken! are still going stylishly down with the ship. A hectic James Smith matched the crafted beats and epileptic synths of ‘Liquid Lives’, before recent culture classic ‘That Boy That Girl’ is a singalong for the few that picked up the record a couple of years ago. For a dying breed, Hadouken! seem to have a lot of supporters who still want to let their hair down and have a good ol’ party.
Ladyhawke – 6/10
Ladyhawke is the most credible 80s revival artist around, but her live show proves a little flat. Pip Brown may play guitar, but she spent the majority of the set hidden behind it, shyly checking her chords and keeping a straight face. Show closer ‘My Delirium’ turned out to be the fan favourite but ‘Paris Is Burning’ packs a heavy punch too.
Shaken, stirred or however you want to do it...
With the Bacardi cocktail bar only having a small selection on its menu, plaudits to the pair that continually drank at the bar asking barmen to, “make us something special.” Queue a slew of different drinks with more alcohol than the original mixes available – nice.
On the buses
Green points have to go to the organisers who provided coaches from the universities direct to the festival.
Tomorrow Never Comes
Despite being billed from Tuesday until Friday, the festival only ran into the early hours of the Friday morning, which surely counts as late night Thursday entertainment. The only thing that seemed mildly entertaining on the Friday was the chore of taking down the tents.