Bearded Theory 2013 festival review

'A real charmer'

Bearded Theory 2013 festival review

Photographer:Sara Bowrey

Joe Taylor - 20 May 2013

There are bands that you’ll travel a long way to see at festivals, and then there are those that seem to be no-one’s favourite, but can simply tie a festival together. At Bearded Theory 2013, Asian Dub Foundation (8/10) fall into the latter category, their Asian-inspired big beat sound bringing together an eclectic crowd. Admittedly, there weren’t many there that had paid their ticket money especially to see Asian Dub Foundation, but none could resist the immediately danceable vibes they put out on the Saturday night.

Psytrance devotees from the festival’s Magical Sounds tent emerge to take in the electronic sounds, while Bearded Theory’s mix of punks and hippies unite under the banner of a good old fashioned knees up.

Bristol’s self-proclaimed “folk misfits” The Destroyers (10/10) quickly drained what little energy the crowd had left in a breathless gypsy-infused set to finish the night. Their endless enthusiasm saw flailing arms and cider-flinging abound, an undoubted highlight for Virtual Festivals.
Bearded Theory’s punks had been treated to New Model Army (9/10) as Friday’s headliners. The Bradford band put in a typically strong performance, obviously feeling rather comfortable in the presence of a northern crowd full of their dedicated, elderly but militant fans (Old Model Army? Ed).

They had been preceded by more locals earlier on the Friday, in the form of Sheffield-based Reverend and the Makers (8/10). After a brief appearance in the charts due to the late 2000’s wave of indie-infused pop, Reverend and the Makers are making something of a name for themselves on the UK festival scene, and were more than welcome at Bearded Theory.

The Levellers (7/10) closed the festival, serving as Sunday’s main stage headliners. Their brand of folk-encrusted punk sums up Bearded Theory’s atmosphere, with the festival inviting the same crowd that will be present at the 11th incarnation of the band’s own festival Beautiful Days.

As ever, the band put in a hearty set, clearly at home on the main stage of festivals of this calibre. However, there was something a little lacklustre about both the band and the crowd – perhaps the sunshine and ciders had taken its toll?

With The Levellers consistently touring throughout their career, there were gripes from the crowd that there would be no UK tour this year, but The Levellers can hardly be accussed of hiding from the public eye and still play an array of festivals this summer.

Bearded Theory is far from being all about the music, its family-friendly theme welcoming an array of activities. Workshops are dotted around the site, and teach everything from bhangra dancing to dhol drumming.

A special shout-out should go to the festival’s security, the sometime meat-headed mercenaries who so rarely see praise from any festivalgoer. Bearded Theory had been plagued on its first night by a wave of tent thieves from the local towns, who - despite ruining a few people’s weekends - were quickly stopped in their tracks, arrested and marched off, much to the delight of a braying crowd.

Overall, this festival is a real charmer. Small enough to pace round in just a few minutes without tiring out your dancing feet and big enough to provide entertainment for all. Its great if you’ve got kids, but wild enough to ensure your hedonistic needs are equally fulfilled.


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