So what festivals are you going to this summer? Surely one of the most asked questions among music fans everywhere, and with the baffling amount of options available, we thought we’d take a look at some of the best (and worst) line ups available for the, ever so slightly, alternative music fan.
One of the major talking points about music festivals in recent years has been the lack of women on bills, and whilst looking at this year’s headliners we were struck by just how few female headliners there were, with PJ Harvey’s slot at Greenman, and Grace Jones’ performance at Wilderness the only notable offerings from what we’d call the mid-size festivals. Whilst most of the festivals we’re covering have a decent representation of female artists, it is none the less a shame that few of these acts are being given the chance to rise to the top. All of which begs the question, are music festivals unrepresentative of the industry at large, or do they simply reflect the difficulties female musicians still face in the rising to the top of the music industry generally?
Putting that aside, there are as ever some wonderful offerings available across the summer, and some line-ups that read like a damning indictment of music’s ability to move on from the past… so without further ado, here’s our guide to 2017’s festival line-ups.
Sometimes you look at a bill, and can’t see much beyond the headliners, and then sometimes you’re looking at the 2017 Green Man line-up. Not that the headliners, including Ryan Adams and PJ Harvey, aren’t great, it’s just that this is a bill that just seems to go on forever. Andy Shauf, Angel Olsen, Lambchop, Hurray For The Riff Raff, Timber Timbre, Girl Ray, Field Music: it just looks like it’s going to be absolutely brilliant, if a band you like is releasing an album, or has just released an album, then they’re probably playing at Green Man.
Tickets for Green Man are available now (£180/£155 for students) – click HERE for more information.
The big Bestival news is of course its relocation away from the Isle Of Wight to the mainland at the Lulworth Estate in Dorset. Thankfully, it looks to be as flamboyant, colourful and hedonistic as ever, and whilst we’re definitely knocking off at least one star because of the bafflingly hard to decipher poster, there’s some pretty decent stuff on at Bestival this year. As usual it’s considerably more danceable than is to our usual taste, but we’d certainly make an exception for the bills obvious stand-out moment, Pet Shop Boys. Elsewhere, The XX and A Tribe Called Quest are solid headliners, and while the line up is a bit lacking in depth, the likes of Johnny Flynn, Lucy Rose and Flamingods ensure it’s a versatile, if uninspiring, line-up.
Tickets for Bestival are available now (£181/£171 for Students) – click HERE for more information.
We’re not going to lie, there’s a definite appeal to Wilderness Festival, but it pretty much begins and ends with how great the food sounds. It’s perhaps a reflection of the shift away from straight up music festivals, towards a more rounded weekend of enjoyable experiences, that were we going to Wilderness the thing we’d most be looking forward to is eating food from Yotam Ottolenghi and Thomasina Miers. In fact we’d probably not bother with the music, the legendary Grace Jones is obviously a decent draw, and First Aid Kit are a thoroughly pleasant live act, but genuinely beyond there’s very little of interest. We’re sure it’s absolutely lovely, but it’s increasingly obvious that it’s not a music festival.
Tickets for Wilderness are available now (£168.50) – click HERE for more information.
At the complete opposite end of the festival spectrum to Wilderness, is London’s Field Day, which is for 2017 a single day event, featuring very little other than some absolutely brilliant music. Set in the not particularly picturesque, and not particularly exciting location of Victoria Park in East London, Field Day has a well-earned reputation for booking up and coming acts, and being chock full of drunk hipsters – 2017’s offering shouldn’t disappoint on either count. The obvious big draw this year is a rare appearance from Warp-records legend Aphex Twin, and there’s also the usual winning blend of eclectic and uber-hip smaller acts. There’s plenty of our favourites with the likes of Kevin Morby, Julia Jacklin and Forth Wanderers, while with high-profile slots for Run The Jewels, Slowdive and Thee Oh Sees, there’s surely something for everyone. The main question is just how you’re going to fit all those bands into one day?
Tickets for Field Day are available now (£64.50) – click HERE for more information.
DIY Pop Fest
To try to cover the sheer variety of festivals on offer, we’ve added a few newer (and smaller) festivals to this year’s round-up, starting with DIY Pop Fest, a twenty-four band, three-day festival taking place at venues across London, and available for under £35. The festival largely showcases the best and brightest talent on the current DIY scene, with plenty of the bands appearing not popping up on any other bills this summer. The headlining acts include a rare appearance from pop-legends Helen Love, the brilliantly brash trio Skinny Girl Diet, and our favourite Portuguese band, dream-punk wonders Pega Monstro. Elsewhere there are sets from some bands who’ve featured regularly on this site, including Deerful, Witching Waves, Pale Kids and Mammoth Penguin, as well as the most impressive live band we’ve seen in ages Kamikaze Girls. If there’s a better value for money line-up anywhere this summer, we’d be amazed.
Tickets for DIY Pop Fest are available now (£34.88) – click HERE for more information.
With a price tag creeping over £200 with fees, Latitude is a huge player on the festival scene, and as usual the line-up has the big names to match – but let’s be honest, the headliners are safe to the point of being dull. Fleet Foxes are by the far most interesting of the trio, and while there’s no denying people want to see The 1975 and Mumford & Sons, there’s also no denying that they’re both really boring. That said, step away from the headliners and there’s some excellent stuff on offer; Yorkston Thorne Khan bring their anglo-scottish-indian take on folk to Suffolk, plus there are sets from Divine Comedy and Grandaddy, and most intriguingly of all a main stage appearance from John Cale. Latitude can also join the very long list of festivals featuring Julia Jacklin, Honeyblood and Kevin Morby. It’s not that Latitude looks bad, it is just going through an identity crisis; does it want to retain its alternative spirit, or does it want to be Glastonbury part two? We guess for the people counting the money from ticket sales it’s a nice choice to have.
Tickets for Latitude are available now (£197.50) – click HERE for more information.
By many accounts, Festival No.6 had a bit of a nightmare last year, with a flooded car-park, stranded cars and somebody deciding to book Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. Set in Portmeirion, we always like the look of Festival No.6, but are quite often not as won over by the bands. This year, they’ve booked a very solid line up, there’s no great wow factor to Bloc Party, Mogwai and Flaming Lips, but they all could (and have) been booked to headline pretty much any festival this century, and you know people would turn up and have, you know, a pretty good time. That solid, but unspectacular feeling continues through much of the line-up; we’d happily watch Steve Mason, Wild Beasts and Public Service Broadcasting, but we probably wouldn’t be too devastated if we missed them either. There’s some good culture stuff, especially if that is THE Steve Davis, and there’s some interesting DJ’s. You don’t need to worry at all it’s going to be fine, everything about this year’s Festival No.6 looks fine, get a ticket if it is near your house, you’ll probably have an okay time.
Tickets for Festival No.6 are available now (£180-£205 depending on arrival/camping) – click HERE for more information.
Wales Goes Pop
Wales Goes Pop, the rapidly growing Cardiff weekender, is another excellent value for money inner-city offering. Taking place over the Easter weekend, it was originally an indie-pop festival, it now seems to be expanding its scope and is all the more exciting for doing so. Headliners this year include Glasgow’s Honeyblood, local heroes Gulp, and most excitingly in our eyes, the wonderful BC Camplight. For under £50, there’s also sets from noise-poppers Joanna Gruesome, Field Music collaborator SLUG, and the soon to take over the world North-London trio, Girl Ray. Wales Goes Pop is a festival on the rise, and 2017 looks like being easily it’s most intriguing offering yet.
Tickets for Wales Goes Pop are available now (£42) – click HERE for more information.
One of the first festivals we ever want to was Truck Festival back around the turn of the century, when it was still incredibly tiny. Since then it’s grown, shrunk, nearly not happened then come back again, but somehow it still keeps on trucking on (you can have that joke for nothing). Talking of things that happened at the turn of the century, that seems to be where Truck have gone for with their headliners this year, booking Franz Ferdinand, The Libertines and The Vaccines. In their attempt to single-handedly bring back laddy guitar pop, they’ve also booked The Wombats, Slaves and Cabbage, which isn’t very exciting at all. The line up gets more interesting via the likes of Honeyblood (also playing basically everywhere), British Sea Power and Hinds, as well as up and comers including Peaness, Sløtface and Husky Loops. Truck is also completely sold out, so despite our misgivings about some of the line-up, it looks like being another successful year for the Oxfordshire festival.
Tickets for Truck Fest are sold out – click HERE for more information.
It might be under a new management team, but Indietracks, Britain’s finest music festival set in a train museum looks like being just as wonderful as ever, if not more so. As is becoming traditional, the Friday night headline slot goes to an up and coming act from the DIY scene, with Martha fitting the bill nicely this year. Completing the headliners will be Indietracks regulars The Wedding Present, and the always intriguing Cate Le Bon. Elsewhere there are slots from Indietracks veterans The Wave Pictures, The Hayman Kupa Band and the re-formed Monkey Swallows The Universe, as well as some of the finest new talent, including Peaness, Charmpit and Chorusgirl. Indietracks remains the highlight of every Indie-Pop fan’s summer, and long may it continue.
Tickets for Indietracks are available now (£72) – click HERE for more information.
End Of The Road
It might be just about the last festival of the Summer, but End Of The Road is always worth the wait. Headlining this year’s event at the ever beautiful Larmer Tree Gardens, are three very different solo artists; Father John Misty will bring the highlights of his new album Pure Comedy, Mac De Marco, a slightly surprising choice of headliner will attempt to step up to plate, and best of all there’s a very rare festival appearance for the former Smog-man Bill Callahan. There are also high-profile spots for Perfume Genius, Real Estate and intriguingly Lucinda Williams. As ever it’s a bill of great depth with the likes of Timber Timbre, Ryley Walker and Waxahatchee performing to mention just a handful. They might not win the prize for the most exciting, or diverse, headliners this year, but as ever there’s still plenty to be very excited about.
Tickets for End Of The Road are available now (£189) – click HERE for more information.