With less than a week to go until the sonic shepherds at Beat-Herder open the pen and tend to their flock, The Waveform Transmitter’s Ste Knight takes a look at what is in store for 2018’s edition of the festival, in his ultimate guide.
Beat-Herder. What can I say? The north-west boutique festival is by far and away my favourite and, in my humble opinion, is one of – if not the – best festival in the North-West. Big claim, you may cry, but you only need to look at the line-up for 2018’s shindig to see exactly why it has placed itself firmly at the top of my list of annual ‘not-to-be-missed’ events.
The festival takes place on Dockber Farm, between July 13th – 15th, this year welcoming some incredible artists to the fold. The music tends to lean toward a more electronic edge, with techno, house, breaks, and bass music being the general order of the day. That said, you can certainly enjoy performances from all manner of different styles and genres, including dub, reggae, folk music, and there will even be some pop goodies thrown in for good measure.
The surroundings within which Beat-Herder is set are picturesque, to say the least. To the south, the site is shadowed by the ever-imposing Pendle Hill which, given its supernatural history, adds a certain air of magic to the event. The north of the site is surrounded by undulating hills and valleys, which offer a stunning vista on a sunny morning when you emerge from your tent (or someone else’s, who are we to judge!) bleary eyed and in need of the soothing sights of a natural environment.
The site itself is fairly compact, and yet it somehow manages to avoid the pitfalls of soundbleed from other stages. This may be, in part, due to the nature of the location; there are enough nooks and crannies, creases and folds in the landscape to plop a whopping stage and associated production in. The close proximity of each stage from one another means that you can avoid four-hour Glastonbury-style treks across hundreds of pastures to watch your favourite acts play. Perfect for us music reporters, too, who may have to dart between three or four stages at once (C’mon, do I look like Multiple-Man?). Thankfully, the organisers have made this task easy, as stages are just a stone’s throw away from each other.
Previous excursions of Beat-Herder have seen some class artists welcomed to their myriad stages. From Mr.C‘s Fortress performance two years ago (in which he also played B.Traits‘ slot because she pulled a sickie), through to Mr. Scruff‘s annual Toil Trees appearance, via David Rodigan (who also features on this year’s line-up) and Donovan, who took to the main stage back in 2016. The effort that goes into putting the festival together, including everything from the artists on the roster to the production on each stage, is as tremendous as it is obvious – the blood, sweat, and tears, are wholly apparent around the entire site (not literally, this isn’t Blade II).
This year’s festival sees a bevy of impressive artists taking to the Beat-Herder grandstands. Orbital are down to headline the event, which will hopefully see them thrashing out favourites like Chime, Funny Break, and Satan. Also offering their services to headline spots for the remaining two days will be Soulwax and Django Django. Expect to be blown away, as Liverpool’s tRiBe event takes over the Fortress on the Friday, bringing James Ruskin along for the ride. The Blueprint Records head man, producer and DJ will be illustrating to you just why Birmingham techno is so special.
Forever blamed when things go awry, Pete Tong will hopefully be getting it all right when he hits the festival. Jungle and breakbeat fans can catch a load of Congo Natty and Dreadzone, along with a live set by High Contrast. Morcheeba will be extolling their woozy trip-hop sound, while Ben Sims will be creating a storm with his techno fayre. You can also indulge yourself in a little of Cheap Thrills‘ Hervé in The Ring and we recommend him heartily. Hammer, who recently enjoyed a successful release on the Feel My Bicep imprint is confirmed too, so check him out.
The whole line-up is available for you to peruse down at the bottom of the page. However, in true Waveform Transmitter style, we have skimmed the cream from the top of Beat-Herder‘s milky goodness to bring you a bunch of artists who we reckon you should be getting a load of at this year’s festival. In no particular order, here are our picks of Beat-Herder 2018.
Those who know how loud the Bear Growls will be most excited to hear that he will be laying down some fuzzy-wuzzy beats and bass over at The Factory on Sunday 22nd. The Liverpool DJ is known for serving up a heady mix of house, techno, disco, and everything in-between, and has been manning the decks at Tim Peaks Diner, wherever that might pop up at a festival. Check out his mix, below, if you want an idea of what Growls might be hiding up his sleeve.
If bass is your bag, then you might want to swing on by The Fortress on Sunday to catch a bit of Sheffield’s Charla Green. The young DJ is primed to bring you the shwenginest of jungle, dubstep and d&b to rinse you out on the final day of the festival. Charla‘s UK Mondo residency is evidence of her talents behind the wheels, so have a listen before you head down to Beat-Herder.
Offering silky smooth vocals alongside pop sensibilities and the odd bit of beatboxing (she was crowned UK Beatboxing Champion no less than four times, you know), Grace Savage will be performing on the back of her latest Control Freak EP, so you can expect to hear tracks from the release.
Liverpool’s techno night, tRiBe will be out in full force for Beat-Herder, and their resident Tom Page, DRR head honcho, comes as part of their extensive package which sees them taking over the Fortress stage on the Friday of the festival. Expect rushing beats and industrial-strength basslines from the techno wizard.
Future R&B and bass purveyor Jamz Supernova comes with a heap of critical acclaim. Not only has she worked alongside some of BBC 1Xtra‘s biggest names (Toddla T, anyone?) but she also made her debut at Glasto back in 2015. Check out her DJMag Fresh Kicks mix to get an idea of what the London producer and Future Bounce head is all about.
So, there we have it. Our ultimate guide to Beat-Herder Festival. If you haven’t yet grabbed yourself a ticket, then do so ASAP as they will definitely sell out before the event starts. Do that, here. We’ll be seeing you down the front. Herd ’em up!