The other day we thought to ourselves, “gosh these festival line-ups get announced earlier and earlier every year” then we checked and actually, if anything they are slightly later this year. So much like Daily Mail readers everywhere we’re catastrophising and deciding everything is going to hell in a handbasket. Though perhaps we’re the only ones who take these things quite so seriously.
Anyway it’s that time of year again when we briefly dream of summer sun, pints of cider and band after band after band, and start critiquing the hard work of festival programmers all across the country. Not all the bands are announced yet of course and there’s still time for the weaker line-ups to drag in some stunningly good acts to get you spending your hard earned cash. This isn’t an exhaustive list of course, and we’ve missed a couple of big hitters because they’re frankly a bit dull, but we like to think we’ve covered most of the best festivals, so you pays your moneys, yous make your choice: we’re just here to tell you what we think.
What better place to start than the beautiful Brecon Beacons, Glanusk Estate to be precise, and the ever wonderful Green Man Festival. Now into its 13th year it’s probably, alongside End Of The Road, the biggest hitter on the alternative festival scene. The line up this year is, as expected, incredible!
With the third headliner still be announced, the very top of the bill featuring the utterly superb St.Vincent and the slightly uninspired Hot Chip might not quite match up to previous years, but where Green Man really shines is the rest of the bill. Take your pick from the flamboyant folk-pop pairing of Father John Misty and BC Camplight, the orchestral beauty of Matthew E. White and Owen Pallet, the hot-riffing of The Wave Pictures and Courtney Barnett, and the emotive lo-fi of Trust Fund and Waxahatchee. Add Slug, Hookworms and Calexico to that lot and we’re sure you’ll agree you’re in for one of the most incredible weekends on the UK festival scene. You’ve done it again Greenman. you beautiful Welsh wonder!
We must admit that Bestival, Rob Da Bank’s annual weekend of hedonism, dancing and dressing up on the Isle Of Wight isn’t entirely our normal cup of tea. We’re not here to bad mouth dance music, the people always seem to be having a cracking time, and we’re sure the colours and costumes just add to that, but it’s just not for us – we’re middle aged before our time and we’re frankly a bit dull. This year Bestival seems to have gone even further down the big, fun, rave route with headliners The Chemical Brothers, Underworld and, err, Duran Duran, all sure to bring the party anthems! There’s not a lot of stuff for the more grumpy music fan out there, but the likes of Tame Impala, Pond and Kate Tempest should be of interest, and the ubiquitous Future Islands are well liked, not that we entirely understand why!
So many people tell us how good Wilderness is, with its delightful setting, stunning culinary options, theatre, arts, wild swimming and wellbeing areas it sounds delightful, if a bit too much like something from The Guardian lifestyle section. We were very harsh about last years line up, and we stand by it, it was absolutely bloody terrible, it was up there with this years Reading and Leeds line ups as one of the worst festival line ups we’ve ever seen. We like to think they listened to the criticism, because this year the line up is, well, okay! Headliner Björk is an absolute coup, and the tiny Icelandic is arguably worth the entry fee alone. The other headliners, best of the middle of the road male singer songwriter types Ben Howard, and the probably really fun for about 15 minutes George Clinton, Parliament and Funkadelic, aren’t awful, nor are they that inspiring either. The rest of the line up is only just starting to take shape and there’s fun to be had with the spell-binding vocals of Benjamin Clementine and the excellent dance act Hercules and Love Affair. So basically it’s a lot better than last year, but still not all that great, progress of sorts!
Field Day has a few downsides on your average festival, or possibility positives depending on how much you like the outside! Being based in a park in East London it’s neither pretty, nor a departure from your everyday life. The line up is as ever entirely on trend, and it’s hard to argue with some of the bands playing, we just can’t get that excited about a day out in Victoria Park. That said it’s excellent value for money and they have genuinely impressive headline acts in the shape of Caribou and Ride, add to that Patti Smith, Django Django, Ducktails and Owen Pallet and it’s really quite hard to argue they’ve done anything other than a very impressive job of constructing a varied and exciting line up.
Suffolk’s premier music, comedy, arts and literature festival is into its 10th year, and it’s hard to deny that with an ever increasing capacity, an always varied and interesting line up and impressive ticket sales, that it’s one of the highlights of every festival season. That said for over £200 entry aren’t we entitled to expect a little bit more than bloody Noel Gallagher and The High Flying Birds?! Latitude is perhaps a victim of its own success, the increased capacity forcing them to branch out musically to cater for the masses, but the line ups seem to be getting steadily less interesting with every year. Noel’s joined in the headline slots by the “how the hell are they so popular” styling of Alt-J, and the actually really great Portishead, whilst elsewhere on the bill there’s a mix of the really great; Nadine Shah, Sun Kil Moon, Savages, King Creosote, Wild Beasts, Laura Marling, and the really not very good at all; Catfish and The Bottlemen, The Vaccines and to hammer home a point Noel Gallagher & The High Flying Birds. It’d still be a good weekend, with plenty of decent bands and it’s still a festival we’ve got a lot of time for, but sadly 2015 is not their best line up!
The Indie-Pop festival in a train museum charm of Indietracks is always the most fun weekend of the summer; the sheer enthusiasm of the crowd, organisers and bands combine into a perfect storm of joyous, unpretentious fun! It’s early days for the line up but there’s the usual mix of returning heroes, in the form of Cinerama the orchestral pop project of Wedding Present main man David Gedge, up and coming Indie-Poppers courtesy of Martha, Tigercats and Mammoth Penguin, and the odd surprisingly big name this year provided by The Go! Team. Add to that many bands you won’t see anywhere else, like Los Bonsáis, JUNK, and Eureka California and you’ve got the making of sparkling weekend.
Like Latitude, in 2015 End Of The Road is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, but unlike Latitude it has stood pretty true to its original style, and End Of The Road remains gloriously still very much about the music! They’ve splashed out on three very impressive headliners, the much hyped The War On Drugs, Australian psych-pop heroes Tame Impala and most impressively a UK festival debut from Sufjan Stevens. Sufjan has always looked a perfect match for a slot at the picturesque Lamer Tree Gardens and his presence certainly gives the line up some impressive clout. The rest of the line up is only partly finished but with the likes of Natalie Prass, Alvvays and BC Camplight there’s plenty to whet the appetite, whilst the welcome return of My Morning Jacket could be one of the highlights of the summer. A very special line up yet again, and alongside Green Man they remain a step ahead of the competition.