Please don’t change...
Beat-Herder Festival 2011

They say less is more. And there’s no stronger proof on the festival circuit than Lancashire’s petite beats fest called Beat-Herder, nestling just outside the romantic locale of Clitheroe. Their main problem is going to be keeping things scaled down and non-sponsored. Especially as the only festival with its own fully function Ye Olde Worlde Victorian Street!

Yet despite the lack of sponsors the organisers, (who you get the impression are a pack of delightful, dreamy chancers) still managed to pull heavy weights such as Leftfield, Andrew Weatherall, Simian Mobile Disco, T.E.E.D., Dreadzone and Horace Andy - to name just the top of the pack.

Set across 11 cute stages, some buried in the woods, some overlooking their own stone circle, there’s heavy emphasis on local talents thrusting their musical personality in our ears with cheeky aplomb. Name checking the likes of Captain Hotknives, Celtic Rasta (from Northampton) or the folk pranksters Farmyard Noises and you can see what stimulating contrast exists away from Leftfield. This wasn’t better summed up than with Sunday’s set by The Lancashire Hotpots whose northern, hilarious and accomplished set was up for a right old party. Transforming the words of The Village People’s Y.M.C.A. to the more socially relevant, if cutting C.H.A.V. you can probably imagine the amount of audience participation they demanded in their less than subtle northern humour.

Most folk from ooop norf like a dance. And this area is heartily catered for on deep, rumbling soundsystems. No expense it seemed had been spared on demanding low end bass and fidelity for acts as seasoned as Mr Scruff, James Holroyd, Plump DJs, Boy-8 Bit, Mylo and Justin Robertson. This proximity to such large populations may indeed be Beat Herders ultimate undoing. Good things don’t stay hidden, especially in the summer when people want a fun and musical flail on their doorstep.

And adding even more bluster into the growing crowds is the festivals passion for making the site unique. Here their commitment really shines. Their team are making artworks for the site 12 months of the year meaning there’s a healthy amount of festival art exploding in front of you. From sick foxy wickerwork to woodland installations, innovative kites and onto live graffiti - its colour at every twist. Watch out Big Chill! These people are writhing with effort.

The Beat Herder art team even built an old Victorian street, complete with functioning bookshops, sweetshops and even a barbers to get that essential festival haircut onto your bonce. You may stumble into this kind of alternate reality at Glastonbury or America’s Burning Man but Clitheroe is very very far from the Nevada Desert and you can see such massive efforts being repaid with a lovely sold out event for many year to come.

Please don’t change Beat Herder. Small is sexy.

Words by Matthew Bennett

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