Small and boutique festivals have exploded across the UK in recent years - here are five of the very best.
One of the quieter but most significant revolutions in the British music scene this decade has been the explosion of small, or ‘boutique’, festivals across the land.
No longer is the festival circuit the plain old Glastonbury / Reading & Leeds / T In The Park axis. The latter of those has bitten the dust and transformed into TRNSMT; Latitude and Wireless have established themselves over the last 15 years as rivals; while V has become an almost exclusively pop-oriented festival.
But on a smaller tier than those are the galaxy of boutique festivals that have sprouted up at increasing pace. Here’s the six best small festivals the UK has to offer.
Continue reading: The Best Small Festivals The UK Has To Offer
With August's festival calendar seemingly busier than any other month, those of us with a persuasion to stand in a field watching live music are spoilt for choice. While V Festival might be the most corporate and therefore populist, the more discerning fan of both music and the arts in general would probably be found elsewhere. Such as Green Man for instance. Situated on the Glanusk Park estate in Crickhowell to the eastern point of the Brecon Beacons, it prides itself on being one of the most unique festivals around. Having grown from a capacity of just 300 people when it started in 2003 to the 20,000 revellers here to party this weekend, it's become a festival season highlight even with such a saturated market.
What also sets it apart is the stellar line-up organisers Fiona Stewart and Ben Coleman regularly pull out of the bag, and this year's edition was no exception. With the "sold out" signs hoisted long before this weekend, its reputation for putting quality control first speaks for itself. While its picturesque setting and heavy focus on locally sourced organic produce also render it a cut above the standard festival fare of greasy burgers and warm Carling where daily nourishment is concerned.
Indeed, the only thing that cannot be guaranteed is the weather but then this is the British summer time, right? Right. So without further ado, having acquired our passes and pitched up, Contactmusic are immediately drawn to the impressive bill taking place on the Far Out Stage this Thursday evening. Flamingods experimental take on psychedelic world music and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard's full throttle sonic assault prove to be particular highlights. So much in fact that headliners Wild Beasts actually seem unsure about following either act on stage and play a surprisingly muted set of material mostly lifted from new record 'Boy King' instead.
Continue reading: Green Man 2016 - Live Review
Next weekend, Contactmusic will be heading to the Brecon Beacons in South Wales for the 14th edition of Green Man.
Having first opened its doors in 2003, the festival has grown from housing just 300 people at its inaugural event to the 20,000 that will experience this year's sold out extravaganza. While music undeniably takes centre stage, it also boasts ten different areas where various activities from Babbling Tongues' spoken word line-up to Einstein's Gardens' scientific pursuit can be encountered by all and sundry. Also, its diverse range of locally sourced, mostly organic food and drink makes a distinct change from your average festival standard fare of burger and chips with a pint of warm Carling.
Taking place from Thursday 18th to Sunday 21st August, the musical bill is also as diverse as one would expect from a festival that prides itself on being one of the least corporate and commercial events on the calendar. Indeed, looking through the line-up from top to bottom it's difficult to envisage a better one at any UK event this summer.
Continue reading: Green Man 2016 - Preview
What's to look forward to with this year's Green Man?
Tickets for Green Man Festival 2015 are now totally sold-out, and looking at this year's stellar line-up so far, there's no surprise there. With just eleven weeks to go, Green Man continue to unveil more upcoming surprises, so we take a look at what we know so far.
There's already a ton of great acts listed to play at the Brecon Beacons event in Wales, with a bill headed by Oklahoma singer St. Vincent, London collective Hot Chip, who have just released their newest album 'Why Make Sense?', and local Welshmen Super Furry Animals.
That the most telling testament to the wonderful experience that was Green Man Festival 2013 comes not from the musical treats in store (which were myriad) but the sheer pleasure of the company present says much about the atmosphere and harmony surrounding the event. Having had over ten years to develop its own niche and cliental, the first and most striking thing to say as a Green Man virgin was just how delightful and friendly the entire crowd was over the weekend. Too often to recall, simply standing next to people during gigs resulted in sharing of names, handshakes, smiles and promises to catch up later on - so different from the aggression and caution-filled experiences of other UK festivals. From dancing in the Walled Garden at 4am on the Saturday to making new friends through quoting Arrested Development on the Ferris Wheel, I can honestly say that I've never met so many kind, genuine and friendly people at any UK festival. And that includes the organisers and PR team too. A big round of applause is due to all involved with 2013's event - you were amazing!
But onto the music itself and arriving on Thursday afternoon to a swirling mixture of sunny skies and sideways rain, it's straight to the Far Out Stage to catch our early fill of bands. And while We Are Animal's fuzzed-up guitar and relentless drum grooves gather the legs into attention, it's M O N E Y's outstanding set that provides the first highlight of the weekend. Channelling the sadly-lost heavy atmospherics and spiritual overtones of WU LYF through a heavy, drone-laden filter of early Verve, they have a remarkable sound that manages to beguile the senses and incite emotions at the same time. One of the genuine breakout bands of 2013, they'll be omnipresent everywhere in 2014 - mark my words.
Although Patti Smith is more standard fare and generally plays things on the safer side, her performance still carries the statuesque presence of a legend. Opening with 'Dancing Barefoot', she still carries the gravitas and languid style of someone who has seen and done it all, with an underplayed acoustic band that includes the ever-excellent Patrick Wolf playing harp, violin and anything else required. 'Because The Night' inspires a mass sing-along and 'Pissing in a River' receives unanimous cheers from the packed crowd. We even get a cover of Eddie Cochrane's 'Summertime Blues' and John Lennon's 'Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)' before we're all sent happily to bed knowing we've seen one of the genuine greats of all time.
Continue reading: Green Man Festival 2013 - Live Review
Now into its sixth year, The Green Man Festival has been slowly and assuredly building its reputation as possessing one of the most unique, wide-ranging and eclectic bills on the festival calendar, and one of the best atmospheres going. But even by their normal standards, they've pulled a monster of a bill out for 2013's event - a bill that quite frankly knocks the spots of the vast majority of summer 2013's festivals. Maybe even all of them. Contactmusic will be heading down to Wales in August so with just over two months to go, we thought we'd take a look at one of the summer's most eagerly anticipated events.
Taking place this year between Thursday 15th August and Sunday 18th August, Green Man Festival is set in Glanusk, the middle of the Black Mountain, amidst the beautiful countryside of the Brecon Beacons. Fiercely devoted to being independent, family-orientated and intimate, the festival strives to provide a unique and varied experience for visitors of all ages, with a special focus on making the event family-accessible. This wide-ranging approach has seen the event named "Best Grass Roots Festival" last year at the UK Festival Awards, to follow on from their "Best Medium Sized Festival Award" in 2010.
But we'd be banking on Green Man clearing some space on their mantelpiece come the end of the year, because the line-up for 2013 is simply staggering, and shining with quality in every direction. As part of Thursday's entertainment, the festival welcomes an unquestionable legend in Patti Smith - the high priestess of punk - who headlines the Far Out Tent alongside Matt Berry, John Langford and Money. Always renowned for her incendiary and high-octane live shows, it's a chance to see one of the most influential female artists of all time grace the stage.
Continue reading: Green Man Festival 2013 Preview