As the tent door closes on another Beat-herder, The Waveform Transmitter’s Ste Knight reflects on day one of the festival, with Gawp, Orbital, and the tRiBe take-over.
Beat-herder. What can I say? Having spent the past three days wrapped in your warm embrace, our bodies and minds may be weary, but our spirits nourished by the sights, sounds, and full sensorium experience provided by both the curators and the crowd alike.
Entering the festival site, located five minutes outside Clitheroe, press entry was quick and efficient and, once we had received our passes (from an actual woman of the cloth, no less) we were waved through and set up camp as the sun finally started to appear out from behind the clouds that had previously loomed ominously over the imposing haunt of the Pendle Witches. As the sun’s rays warmed our shoulders, we were eager to enter the festival proper.
All in all, the general layout and feel of the festival arena remained the same, with the addition of some extra nooks and crannies to explore, that we don’t think were present on our previous visit in 2016. That could just be due to hazy festival memories, however. Favourites such as The Ring, with its bass heavy focus, The Factory, perfect for some riotous electronics, and the Toil Trees, the ideal setting for house and techno heads to enjoy some top-notch artists.
The main stage was opened by the mesmerising Drum Machine – a percussion collective who hail from Hebden Bridge – injecting energy and excitement into the crowd that had gathered before them. We were well and truly raring to go once the crashing drums had subsided.
Over at The Fortress, we witnessed Gawp‘s tough-edged house set, which not only had us jacking from the off but also provided some welcome brain-bleach after the dulcet tones of S-Club had entered our headspace (completely by accident, of course). The Leeds producer, who is poised to embark on a three-week US tour, laid out an energetic journey, filled with chunky bass drops and quirky vocal snippets, with tracks such as Anti-Up‘s recently released Pizza, among a host of additional brain scramblers. America…watch out.
Following a quick break back at the camp to stock up on drinks, we were back in the thick of it, as Ibibio Sound Machine took to the main stage. I swear their electronic take on the Nigerian sound made the sun shine stronger, as their lead singer, Eno Williams, captivated a bouncing crowd with tales of Africa. This was a great contrast to Gawp‘s set and offered a little respite from going bonkers in the blazing sunshine. We needed it for the Friday night that was to follow.
The Fortress was blazing as we headed down to witness Tom Page doing what he does best. The tRiBe resident’s stint behind the decks illustrated perfectly why their formula doesn’t need changing. He plays techno as it should be played; deep, dark, and fast. The crowd was almost like a home away from home. There were many familiar faces dotted about, which demonstrates how dedicated the tRiBesfolk, who follow the brand, really are.
We opted for a short trek across the fields back to the main stage to see Orbital. The two brothers flew through classics and recent productions, including June’s P.H.U.K (Please Help the UK), the exhilarating Where is it Going? (personally, my favourite moment from the set) and finishing with their take on the Dr. Who theme. Their performance was a genuine sight to behold. Having seen them before at an indoor location, the magic their productions instil was multiplied by the festival experience. Jumping around in unison with a field full of people to their tracks made for a fantastic episode.
The rest of the evening was spent back at The Fortress, with the tRiBe takeover in full-swing as Blueprint head man James Ruskin and techno funkster, Ben Simms. Both producers are genuine heavyweights in techno terms. Ruskin has been pushing the UK (and beyond) techno sound for decades now, and Sims is a dab-hand when it comes to putting together a set packed with techno groovers. Both exemplified their skills, working the crowd and squeezing every last drop of energy out of us as the session at The Fortress drew to a close. Judging from the smile on everyone’s face (including the big grin tRiBe’s Danny Jarrett was wearing), the take-over had been a success, and it was great to see the Liverpool brand taking their uncompromising attitude to techno, on tour.
We ambled drunkenly back to our camp and flopped into our tents, weary from the day’s antics and in order to prepare for day two with at least a few hours’ sleep. More on that in Part 2 of our Beat-Herder review, tomorrow. Day three will follow on Thursday, with exclusive video coverage of the festival, saved for our final part of our Beat-Herder rundown.