With Chew Lips, Dan le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip
Chew LIps on stage at the Beat-Herder Festival 2010

On a hill deep in the heart of the lancashire countryside there is a small wood. And what's in the wood..? You wouldn't believe me if I told you..

Now in it's fifth year, The Beat-Herder - born out of an old Bradfordian club night - has developed a reputation for being a 'back-to-basics' festival. Entirely self-funded, it incorporates a resourceful, friendly ethos where the ultimate goal for everybody involved is just to have a good time.

The site consists of several tents and stages playing everything from Drum & Bass and dub to folk and reggae, dotted around the edges of a small wood - Toil Trees - which in itself contains another stage, bar and cinema. Indeed, for a festival that takes up a relatively small area, there's a lot going on. But that's not the half of it.

It is extremely difficult to describe Beat-Herder without tripping over cliches, but to someone who's Beat-Herder cherry is intact, it must equate to a pint of magic with an insantity chaser. Whether it's the vast array of peculiar-yet-incredible modern art sculptures, the bizarre little tents offering activities such as face-painting, space-hopper racing & belly dancing lessons, or the human pirate ship constantly patrolling the site singing shanties and swigging ale, you can't help but smile.

A personal high was the Beat-Herder & District Working Mens Social Club - a fully functioning working mens club decked out with fantastic traditional décor. Here you sample a nice pint of local ale whilst enjoying the entertainment on offer – bingo, stand up comedy, various bands, talent competitions (judged by Corrie's Janice Battersby), all rounded off with a burlesque performance from comic singer-songwriter, Captain Hotknives. Brian Potter would have felt reet at home.

Although still a relatively young festival, Beat-Herder manages to attract it’s fair share of big names – Highlights on the main stage this year included the wordsmith/dj combo of Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip, upcoming stars Chew Lips & Django Django who put on very strong performances, as well as uber-cool dj/producer Erol Alkan. A special mention also to King Porter Stomp - an eight piece funk-soul outfit who had the packed Smoky Tentacles Shisha Lounge grooving long into saturday night. Amazing rhythms, beats and basslines, if you ever get a chance to witness this outstandingly soulful spectacle, don't miss it.

This year Beat-Herder managed to grow significantly on it's success, whilst still retaining all the elements and beliefs that make it stand out from its festival bretheren. Beat-Herder has developed a soul - a character that has drawn comparisons with early-days Glastonbury, and I hope that, should this growth continue, it will keep it's identity and avoid the inevitable step towards commercial conformity.

Words and Photo by Danny Payne
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