(Before we get started I think it’s important to say that we love festivals. We are not grumpy old bastards. We will definitely be topping up cashless bracelets and buying countless eco cups before the summer is out.)
2018’s festival line ups were… shall we say… unsurprising.
As the 2019 lineups are announced we have remained hopeful. Sadly it seems this year will be no exception.
It feels like the running theme will be uniformity with the same bands and DJs heading on tour from one top summer spot to the next. Festival lineups are now so similar that picking which one to attend feels more like booking a package holiday… don’t you think? Would you rather see Christine and the Queens perform at We Love Green in Paris, Roskilde in Denmark, All Points East in London or at Primavera Sound in Barcelona? And which setting would provide you with the ultimate Four Tet experience? Coachella? Lovebox? Sonar? We could go on.
Today, standing out in the festival scene is about having a more Instagram friendly setting (#nofilter) than the next guy. Cheaper flights and beer help too! You can’t really rely on organic food trucks and juice bars as a point of difference anymore.
Do you remember the time when attending a festival was all about discovering the new indie band with a never-heard-before-sound that slowly and seductively dragged you towards their stage?
When it was not about a secret gathering of Hunter-sponsored sororities or glittery-hip tribes of feather headdresses?
You know the time when multi-tiered VIP options, ham-handed corporate sponsorship and cashless bracelets (double queuing!) were nothing more than a fearful twinkle in the promoter’s eye?
The word ‘festival’ itself is now so overused that it could describe anything really… from your neighbour’s kid birthday party to a private island party in the Bahamas. Not-only are fashion retailers present on-site but they also turn these events into catwalk collection reveals – obviously Coachella is now the Superbowl of fashion and beauty – launching festival-themed fashion with a product-focussed approach tapping the festival “look” of floral-anything, fringe-vests, flower crowns, crop-tops and cut-off denim shorts.
So, enough good-natured cynicism and rose tinted nostalgia… your very own Thirty Two Music team provides you with their top list of festivals to attend in the next coming months:
1/ Lost Village Festival, UK (August 22nd – 25th 2019)
Why: Because they have a really good promotional video.
2/ Free Rotation, Wales (July 5th-8th 2019)
Why: Because, no-one knows what real techno is anymore and they probably should.
1/ Shambala, Northamptonshire, UK (August 22nd – 25th 2019)
Why: Good vibes festival that’s not about headline acts but always has great music. Also, they’ve committed to reducing their emissions by making the festival completely vehicle free by 2020
2/ Houghton Festival, Norfolk, UK (8th – 11th August 2019)
Why: Because every one of my still festival-going mates that gave up on the big corporate ones years ago in search of something more ‘pure’ is going, and trying to get me to go.
1/ Labyrinth Festival, Japan (October 12th-14th 2019)
Why: Because every mix I’ve heard from the sets people are playing out there has been such a journey. One stage, one flawless lineup with Funktion One Stacks and techno till the early hours… and loads of candles.
2/ Camp Bestival, Isle of Wight (July 25th-28th 2019)
Why: Because as much as I would love to go to a techno festival in Japan, I would rather go somewhere with the family, that would be fun for all of us.
1/ We Out Here Festival, UK (August 15th-19th 2019)
Why: Because this new festival by renowned world music crate digger Gilles Peterson promises to deliver an eclectic lineup of artists that excite me. Plus, no corporate sponsors is always a win.
2/ Sunwaves Festival, Romania (April 25th – May 1st 2019)
Why: Because people who worship and work within the electronic dance music world won’t stop talking about this festival. There is no over the top production or fireworks… It’s all about the music. A place where DJs are at their best and the music is on non-stop for 24 hours over 5 days… Naughty.
1/ Vie Sauvage in France (June 14th-16th 2019)
Why: Because it’s a great place to discover up and coming acts. It’s a decent-sized festival and it feels intimate, even homely thanks to the great local wines and products catered on site. It takes place in the citadel of Bourg-sur-Gironde at the heart of the north Bordeaux vineyards.
2/ Horst Arts and Music Festival in Belgium (September 13th-15th 2019)
Why: Because it brings together art installation and experimental electronic music in a 15th century castle. On a more serious note, just because I love the word ‘Horst’.