In truth, Beacons is more of a serenaded arts-fair. The festival marketed itself as ‘family-friendly’ and indeed a lot of time went into activities for all ages: including the Ladybird Project, which kids dressed as Spiderman plodded through elatedly. Similarly the 5,000 capacity gave the feeling of a good ol’ Yorkshire village fete, however, with a programme dominated by modern house music, Beacons mainly attracted a crowd of high waisted shorts and paisley shirt wearing twenty-something-year-olds, jarring slightly with the parent and infant idea. Nevertheless, Beacons’ location enveloped in the heart of the Dales made it Yorkshire’s finest idyllic musical escape. Aside from the punters, only local farmers and their cattle caught a whiff of the dub basslines and pulsing house beats that mounted above and beyond the swooping hills.
Friday kicked off to a buzzing start. Mount Kimbie’s airy synths weaved amongst the bobbing floral headdresses of the hundreds of punters who had crammed into the Stool Pigeon tent. Listening to layer upon layer of spliced ambient electronica, the crowd gradually forgot their disappointment at Disclosure cutting their set short. Later D/R/U/G/S’s disco house set brought Friday antics to a head, lit by hypnotic shooting neon lights. In the end, it didn’t matter that Julio Bashmore was a no-show or that the site had become a mud pit. Bashmore’s ‘Au Seve’ was dropped so many times you’d think he’d been there all along and, well, there are always wellies.
Saturday: the dry spell. The stereotype of Britons stubbornly wading through knee-deep mud subsided with the driving rain. One by one punters wiped the remnants of glitter from their faces and crawled out of their tents, dressed head-to-toe in vintage waistcoats and woollen jumpers they’d bought from ‘Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair’ in the arena the previous night. A bit of sunshine and ‘get back on it’ logic were enough to nurse that morning-after feeling. Ghostpoet shone, producing a remarkably rich live sound. The poet’s signature thought-provoking lyricism glowed and his ‘ja ja ja’s’ painted the air green, black and yellow.
Another highlight was Oneman. The momentum of his set challenged even the most tired of legs to stop dancing and yells of ‘tune!’ each time a track was dropped were constant. Hearing the roars when ‘Blue Monday’ pounded in, you’d have thought New Order themselves had entered, and Mike Skinner’s opening line to The Streets’ ‘Blinded By The Lights’ lifted hundreds of dancing silhouettes into a haze of euphoria. That’s not to forget when Pearson Sound ended with hard jungle, which sent arms and legs flailing.
To end the weekend, crowd pleasers Toots and the Maytals proved why frontman Frederick ‘Toots’ Hibbert might as well be called Mr. Feel-Good. However, unfortunately the sound volume did the band no favours and the three shimmying, hand-clicking backing singers could barely be heard half way back. In the other tent, Maya Jane Coles smashed it. Dense white smoke and schizophrenic strobe lights blinded bobbing fans, making the rest of the crowd invisible; suddenly Maya was playing just for you. Despite only hearing one actual MJC track, the crowd left on a high and chanted Bashmore’s ‘Au Seve’ like an anthem as they trudged back to the campsite, in love with house and in love with Yorkshire.