Beat Herder 2010: Rated!

United Kingdom United Kingdom | by Anne-Marie Douglas | 19 July 2010

Overall – 8/10

Beat Herder is growing in popularity and wandering around the site feels a bit like a childhood treasure hunt with magical discoveries and curiosities awaiting around every corner.

Now in its fifth year, this party has grown to an increased capacity of 7,500. Previous sell-outs are surely evidence enough that, for those in the know, this is one festival not to miss.

Beat Herder is a home-grown event that is run by festival-goers for festival-goers and it’s the seasoned attendees that will appreciate the myriad of special touches sprinkled across the site.

Evidently, it’s not commercial and the organisers are not out to make their fortune at your expense. The aim of the game appears to be enjoying yourself, making discoveries and meeting the friends you’ve not made yet.  

You’re bound to incur some adventures at Beat Herder with surprise visits from the like of Mr Motivator who had people up onstage in wedding dresses working out with him.

Getting there and back – 7/10

Directions on the back of the ticket and on the Beat Herder website are more than adequate and the site is well situated and well signposted. The Big Green Coach Company were due to ferry Beat Herders to and from the festival but this is unfortunately cancelled due to lack of bookings.  

The festival forum and Facebook group are very active for lift shares which is more likely to be due to the friendly nature of ticket-holders rather than environmental conscious.

Being a small festival there isn’t too much heavyweight lifting of camping gear involved but changes to the wrist-banding system means there are significant queues to get onto the campsite. Most take this in good spirit and some kind souls entertain the queue with whatever instruments they can lay their hands on.

The site – 7/10

The Beat Herder arena looks like a carnival, it’s well laid out, and just big enough to keep on making new discoveries. The woods aka Toil Trees are quite simply wonderful with a quirky underground bar and great sounds and visuals. Arty structures and comedic elements are everywhere: an archway made up of shoes, a tunnel to travel through between fields, a ‘Babby Road’ sign (by the toilets!,; the delightful ‘Let’s Party Like it’s 1973’ Beat Herder Working Men’s Club with its ‘Say No To Rave’ signs, local real ale, tat boxes, bingo, talent shows and disco.

You can literally tramp from one tent to the next in the arena all day and all night and be sure of a diverse musical experience for every mood. There is drum n bass in Stumblefunk, chill out in the Recovery Rooms, the adorably quaint caravan stage, acoustic sounds in Smoky Tentacles, dub in Bushrocker, some hard dancing in Trailer Trash, disco in the Working Men’s Club, hard house in The Snug (the smallest ‘living room’ tent that squeezes in a phenomenal amount of people dancing to a sound system that will make your ears bleed!) and anything goes on in the Toil Trees Soundsystem from Bananaman to Utah Saints.

Food stalls are aplenty, though they could do a little more in the breakfast area, but in general it’s well priced and varied. There are plenty of toilets that appear to be cleaned regularly with few queues for bars or loos too.

There is also plenty of room for camping, which is right next to the arena and never too far to the nearest toilets. However the event should offer a separate family camping area for those with younger children.

Atmosphere – 10/10

Beat Herder organisers must be congratulated for creating a truly magical atmosphere. There are curiosities to be found everywhere with friendly and diverse festival-goers and even smiling security guards…whatever next!

Though you can take your own alcohol into the arena, enhanced searches at the entrance do lead to some queues and although some regard this as excessive, it does make the event feel a little safer and it is done with a smile.

Dressing up themes for Friday ‘Dressing Up’ day and Saturday ‘B’ day, bring a wealth of creative costumes to the site, increasing the playful atmosphere. Creativity is abound in the various areas where festival-goers could create their own artwork, which is a great experience to be part of at 3am on Sunday morning. When it comes to atmosphere, Beat Herder ought to be the dictionary definition of ‘Festival’.

Music 7/10

Friday evening wanderings VF enjoys the lad back sounds of The Worm in Smoky Tentacles, a trip to ToilTrees for the legendary Utah Saints for what is becoming a popular annual event in the Beat Herder forest, we dip into Beat Herder and District WMC for a spot of Abba and 70’s disco followed by some hardcore dancing and table football supplied by Trailer Trash residents and another visit to the trees until the sun comes up.

Saturday, a little worse for wear, we miraculously find ourselves in the Recovery Tent which feels like some kind of oasis to us… and Burt Reynolds lives there. Following recovery food, we relax in the sunshine at the Beat Herder Stage to the Banana Sessions who end an eclectic set with the ever popular ode to Buckfast song! 

Next it’s Beat Herder and District WMC for bingo and quiz time and further recovery cocktails. We enjoy the hugely entertaining and ever popular ‘in this neck o’ the woods’ Lancashire Hotpots at the Beat Herder Stage before the surprise guest Mr Motivator appears to the delight of the Beat Herder crowd.  A full on Motivator workout ensues as the crowd at the main stage grows. Jilted Generation don’t seem to go down to well with the crowd and there’s a divided audience for Chew Lips on the main stage and Erol Alkan at ToilTrees. The Blessed suffer the fate of the ToilTrees also with a wandering crowd but do their best with their headline set on the main stage, but it’s the visual and the talented break-dancing kids that are the highlight of their show, it seems that most were headed for ToilTrees for Layo & Bushwaka. A late night dubstep set from Chimpo draws an enormous crowd in the Stumblefunk tent, followed by a packed out DJ set from Martin Ibbotson in the tiny Snug tent.

Sunday is marred by grey skies, gusty wind and rain, and Beat Herders are leaving in their droves. The priority today is shelter though we catch a little of The Bar Steward Son’s of Val Doonican at the main stage, it all proves too much however and we decide to head home.

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