Beacons Festival 2012: I'd hit that!

Grey skies, muddy fields and an incredibly expensive hangover. Did this weekend’s Beacons Festival live up to it’s pre-match hype and prove a worthy successor to the critically acclaimed Moorfest? Or did it sink without trace beneath a muddy Skipton field?

Beacons

The crowds at Beacons Festival 2012

In many ways I have been dreading writing this review since my arrival at the site of Beacons Festival 2012 on Friday, a short hop from the North Yorkshire town of Skipton. Under normal circumstances this would arise from knowing that another great event was over and that I would be home again, scraping mud from my boots and wishing for the crowds to re-assemble for just one more midnight singalong. Not so with this year’s Beacons. Never have I been so glad to be away from an event.

It is genuinely hard for me to write a negative review of any festival. Usually there is some endearing quality which could make up for any shortcomings, but having sat staring at a blinking cursor for several hours this morning I am still struggling to find the positives in what was unashamedly a cash-cow event. Beacons 2012 was designed it seemed to cover the losses from last year’s cancelled festival with a tokenistic and disjointed peek at the great Northern music scene presented almost as an afterthought.

Arrival at the site gave me my first glimpse of just how badly organised this festival was to prove. Having been dropped off in a taxi at the designated area I was informed by the stewards that they had absolutely no idea where I was to go to pick up my pass, and no practical way of finding out. The best advice they could muster was a mile long walk down a narrow country lane to the other end of the site (whilst helpfully informing me how dangerous the local drivers had proven to be on this route) and asking that should I be hit by a car, I would promise not to sue the organisers. As I will explain in more detail later, this festival had the feeling from this point onwards of being a potential death trap; public safety seemingly low down on the organisational list of priorities.

Cafe Sign

Early signs of trouble. A sign outside one of the cafe tents on the first day.

Having finally gained entry to the clearly porous perimeter I crossed a field to set up camp and came across a closed cafe with a sign proclaiming ‘Cafe will not be opening due to festival mis-management’. This was an ominous sight, and worse was yet to come.

The site itself was divided into a camping area and an ‘arena’ where the marquee based stages formed a ring around a vast and mostly empty central area. The stages played a mix of music and an attempt to cater for all tastes was evident, though the line-up was for the most part relatively obscure and so many just wandered until they found something they liked. In the centre of this arena was a huge and welcoming tea tent with attached dressing up space and the official merchandising area. This was where I was to find possibly the most outrageously inappropriate piece of festival merchandise I have seen in many years of mud-fuelled adventures.

A t-shirt on sale at the Village Bookstall for £10 bore an image of Rihanna (a high profile victim of domestic violence) with the legend ‘I’d hit that’ underneath and an image of her assailant, Chris Brown, on the back. When I first sighted this a small crowd had formed around the stall imploring the vendors to take the t-shirt off sale due to the offence it was causing at the allegedly family-friendly festival. The response they got was that the shirt had been made by the suppliers who made the official merchandise and so they were obliged to keep it on sale. Showing a complete disregard to the feelings of those protesting its presence, the objectors were told that they welcome to buy a different t-shirt if they wished. I asked at the production office for a comment on this revelation that their officially sanctioned festival merchandise was apparently advocating domestic violence and the response I got was outwardly sympathetic, although the offending shirt remained on sale for the entire weekend.

T-shirt

The offending t-shirt which many felt to be glorifying domestic violence, with obviously sympathetic salesperson visible.

Lucrative exclusive vending deals were in evidence throughout the site and this (added to the shocking scarcity of even the most basic facilities for sanitary hygiene) was a clear contributor to what could be described as a miserable overall atmosphere. The evidence that this festival was nothing more than an event designed to extract as much money from punters as was possible in a short space of time was all pervasive, and at its most visible on the entrances to the arena. Security guards (who were in notably short supply for such a large site) frisked those entering the arena with a fervish vigour worthy of Stalin on the hunt for contraband alcohol. This searching was, by their own admission, to protect the financial interests of the bar companies who had paid a high premium for their exclusive pitch. In their thoroughness to protect the interests only of those who had paid for the privilege however they apparently turned a blind eye to the equivalent of Columbia’s GDP that was rapidly disappearing up the great and good noses of the hipster scene, and on several occasions I watched these same security guards joining in.

This was the first time that I have been at such a large event and had genuine concerns for my safety and that of those around me. The few emergency exits that did exist were often located behind bolted fences and in an emergency would have attempted to squeeze 5000 people single file across a plank of wood placed across a beck and back into the campsite. The campsite itself seemed to have little in the way of fire safety provision and eventually became so overcrowded that latecomers were forced to set up their tents in the car park amongst the vehicles. And then of course were the aforementioned lack of sanitary facilities.

In the arena itself, there appeared to be no obvious water points despite there being a legal obligation to provide drinking water at licensed venues. A little digging amongst some of the site services crew revealed that this was to favour the vendors who were selling bottled water at a premium. On the campsite the water points were scarce and poorly signposted. Should anybody have attempted to bring a bottle of water into the arena they would have found it removed from their pocket and slung into a bin at the security checkpoint.

The toilet provision at this festival was the worst I have ever seen at any event, large or small. There has been much talk in the past few weeks about the lack of available facilities due to the demands of the Olympics, but this was known well in advance and should have been considered long before the weekend itself. On Saturday signs began to appear on the overflowing facilities that did exist proclaiming that more were on their way. By the close of the weekend this had still not been adequately sorted out. Those who faced large queues for such unhygienic facilities (with little opportunity to wash their hands afterwards) would have been interested to note a key hanging around the necks of the top-level production staff who had ensured that they had ensured a pristine facility for themselves (by keeping it locked at all times), whilst sending out messages to everyone else, staff and punter alike, that they “understood” the problems and were dealing with it as a matter of urgency. Had they been forced to handle the same conditions as those who were paying their wages, I suspect they may have attempted to resolve the situation with a little more urgency.

Toilet sign

Apology for poor sanitary conditions. This poster was located on a locked yet pristine toilet, reserved for exclusive use of festival management.

I am aware that I am putting very little focus on the bands in this review. This is a deliberate omission as I really wouldn’t want to associate any of their names with this event for fear of this having a negative impact on their careers. It is worth stating that most of the bands I saw during the course of the weekend were excellent, and they alone provided what little positive atmosphere there was. I will also say in suitably cryptic form that the highlight of the weekend for myself was a band who will be headlining the BBC Introducing stage at next weekends Reading and Leeds fests. I would encourage people to do a little research and head over to catch them if they are attending. The bands on offer were the single positive aspect of this event – given the way that everything else had been organised I was half expecting Paul McCartney to appear and give Hey Jude a second crack. It is also worth mentioning that despite some awesome performances, many of the bands that I spoke to throughout the weekend told me of the difficulty they were having in actually being paid their prearranged fees by the festival management.

Anybody mounting a defence of the organisation of this event might try to state that this was a first attempt, and that any teething problems would be put right by next summer (though I sincerely believe that having likely recouped the costs of the cancelled event last year they may choose to take the money and run). This might be a valid argument were it not for the fact that Beacons shares much of the same production crew of its predecessor, Moorfest – this being the festival that made it into NME’s top 30 festivals and also The Guardian’s “top ten festivals to visit in 2009″. One of the organisers is also the man behind Leeds’ A Nation Of Shopkeepers – a venue notable for its attention to detail and unerring ability to gauge the needs and desires of the scene in which it exists. There is always a temptation to blame organisational failings on the weather, but with muddy festivals being a mainstay of the British summer experience, organisers of any outdoor event should be well aware of  this and plan ahead accordingly.

Tea Tent

The tea tent was one of the few well thought out areas of the site and a welcome respite from the poor facilities.

People’s perception of any event will always vary, and many (especially first-time festival goers) will come away from Beacons with fond memories. By transplanting an existing Leeds-based group to a field in the height of the summer holidays, there is at least the guarantee that you will have familiar folk around you to share the weekend with. My final thought for anyone who wants to see what a real, independent festival should look like would be to travel a few miles down the road to Beat-Herder or a little further still to the award winning Kendal Calling, and then look at this festival again with an enlightened set of eyes.

58 thoughts on “Beacons Festival 2012: I'd hit that!

  1. Claire M

    Just came here on a google search regarding the Rihanna t-shirt. I couldn’t quite believe it at the time and protested to the women on the stall but with no response. I’m glad that others took issue to it as well. Any idea who the stall was run by?

    • Claire M

      Not to worry – I’ve found them: http://www.thisiscatalogue.co.uk/information/
      An email has been sent and I would encourage others to do the same. Maybe a donation by Catalogue to the local Women’s Aid or Rape Crisis would go some way to make amends.

  2. Dave chappelle

    It seems that your experience lacked drugs and friends, that would have helped.

    • Dave chappelle

      They*

  3. Joe

    I went knowing very few artists on the line up so therefore the festivals only saving grace wouldn’t really make for an enjoyable weekend as alluded to by the review. Other than a 5 minute wait for the organisers to fetch more parking permits, getting from the comforts of my house to setting up the tent was painless. Every festival I have been to, uk and abroad, you expect to pay a premium for food and drink. (There will obviously be
    exceptions as I believe beat herder prices are not like this.) The security between camping and the arena on the first two days allowed us to take plastic bottles through. If you were inclined to take your own drink in you could. The Sunday meant no drinks through as the bar manager was watching but putting your bottle in the back pocket fooled the nonchalant staff. As for the toilets, they were the same standard as any other event but there were no running water if the in built hand sanitisers were empty.

    I had a good muddy, wet weekend with facilities I would expect from a festival and a line-up I enjoyed. In reflection, everything in the review above we experienced but you could copy and paste the majority of the text and put it in any festival review.

    • Dave chappelle

      So true.

    • Francis

      I absolutely agree with this Joe – “everything in the review above we experienced but you could copy and paste the majority of the text and put it in any festival review.”

      I’ve been to 2 Moors festivals, more Glastonbury’s than I can remember, as well as all teh major UK festivals Reading, T in the Park, Phoenix along with smaller festivals like Kendall Calling and even Lowlands in Holland.

      Kendal Calling’s toilets were far worse when I went a couple of years ago.

      There are criticisms that can be levelled at Beacons. The intermittent water from the taps when the showers were on is one. But you didn’t have to walk far to another tap that was working.

      The prices on site were similar to other festivals.

      £3/4 for a pint of bitter is fine. The searching was cursory and we didn’t have any issue at all smuggling booze into the arena.

      As for overcrowding on site. The campsites had loads of space. More than any other I’ve been to. The tents were never overly full. It was one of the friendliest festivals I’ve been to. Maybe the reviewer should have come and slummed it with us at family camping area rather than bitching about the organisers backstage.

  4. I wrote the preview on this site and was genuinely looking forward it to it.

    I had a nice time, I liked most of the bands I saw. I thought it lacked the connection with the local scene that Moorfest had had, but the argument to that is ‘but it’s a big festival now, so you can’t expect all that’. Fair enough, there was a Kopparberg tent and a Vice tent and a LOT more people, which indicate that it’s moved up a few notches from Moorfest.

    But on the other hand it wasn’t clear where the extra money had gone. There were no loos that weren’t overflowing at many points during the festival. I hardly saw any security outside the campsites except when we tried to get from the arena to the one loo we found that was ok in the family campsite, which would have involved going on a 15 minute walk each way had someone not had the same issue as us and evidently opened a gap in the fence leading to the ok loo (at which point some security staff appeared to scream at us for walking through it). There wasn’t much entertainment apart from the bands and DJs so it felt a bit basic. There was nowhere to sit in the middle of the arena.

    I’m not sure what was that to validate the ‘arts’ bit of the festival. When I saw it said ‘music and arts’ I was quite excited but unless I missed things it seemed the only addition was the Docfest party. I recognised the same tent used as the Trailer Trash tent at Beat-Herder, but I’ve not seen it so bare before because whenever I’ve seen it it’s always been full of stuff as well – seats, bars, games – only at this festival it was empty except for the DJs.

    But the argument to all of this is ‘but it’s only a small festival, so you can’t expect all that’. I found it quite confusing to work out what it was ok to expect, but I’m sure that Beat-Herder and Kendall Calling (the former still quite a small festival at twice the size of Beacons) have never really had those sorts of problems so it’s not something that’s necessarily just part and parcel of the experience, especially when the amounts of money involved were probably a lot more than Moorfest. I’m reliably told that the organisers were the same people who have always put that festival on, with a couple of additions.

    As a big nationally-targeted festival it felt a bit lost, not equipped and without a USP to draw many in from all over the country, and as a small regionally-targeted festival it also felt a bit lost and removed from the local scene, but perhaps it will nail down its identity in coming years, or perhaps I just missed the point. For the record, I had all the Berocca and good company I needed so I had a great weekend regardless.

    I did love Moorfest, it’s true, but I expected something a bit different with the extra sponsorship and the increase in number of people buying tickets. If it’s not reasonable to expect enough toilets, plenty of staff and stuff to do outside the band tents then all I can say is super extra hats off to Kendall and Beat-Herder and their ilk for pulling off these things and spoiling us.

  5. Oh yes, also the Vice tent was excellent, it was only a small marquee which wasn’t the best equipped sound-wise (in fact I’m sure it was the same tent from Moorfest) but the line-up on the Sunday in particular was great. I think it’s possible to take issue with a festival for all the things it’s responsible for other than just the bands, otherwise where’s the incentive to try and get the experience right? I’d hope the bands played well, I already knew I’d like a lot of them, that’s why I went, but when people ask ‘what was the festival like?’ then the answer usually includes lots of other elements as well.

  6. Disappointed

    Unfortunately I have to agree with this review, I really do. Vitual Festivals gave it 9/10. ( out of 10…ffs, someone bunged someone some money for that I think. I rarely complain, but please Beacons? What on earth was that attempt? Never have I come across such hype for an event; wool over eyes I think. It was bad.
    Such a good line up let down by everything. Toilets, food, art? Where was that (a music and arts festival?) £10 pounds to park a car. Flood lights in your face, poor lighting, poor sound in every tent On my way in I had such high hopes I was excited, but i was glad to leave.

    Beacons is a bad example of a festival. Stick with the kendal,beatherder,boomtown or save your money and do something else. Sorry Beacons but it was bad and readers of this post please take my word for it everyone I talked to agreed. :-(

    • angie pickard

      it cost me £30 for my camper, there were no toilets on camp site and a long walk to water tap. no seats in arena, no colourful backdrops, no stalls to look round and was woken up at 8.30 by motorised hand gliders that went on all day fri and sat. there are so many better festivals ie eden ,beatherder and solfest for similar price infact eden cost only £55 and was far superior to beacons the money grabbing festival. still had a good time due to been in good company

  7. Laurie Cannell

    If you scroll down to the fifth tshirt you can see them selling that t shirt, click on it for the image of the back.
    http://www.thisiscatalogue.co.uk/category/shop/

    It makes me really quite angry that they didn’t take it down despite all of the complaints and makes me wish that someone had just ripped it down, I know I wish I had.
    When I heard that you’d told the organisers I thought I wouldn’t need to do.
    Not sure I’ll be going back because of this.

    Toilets were shit and taps were shit and I didn’t think there was enough attention to detail.
    I especially enjoyed the idea that it was extremely family friendly…

    Otherwise I had a good time, I thought the atmosphere in the tents when the music was good was amazing.

    • ClaireM

      Just to say that I emailed the main festival address and they apologised and said they would have removed it if they’d known. No response from Catalogue.

    • Ben

      Although it is easy to see how the T-shirt has offended, its is designed by an artist and wasnt on the official store as people have claimed. These things don’t justify it, but its dangerous ground to say something has to be removed because you find it offended. the T-shirt had been taken down on the Sunday but because it sold out (I enquired). If there are enough people willing to buy it, I don’t see why it should be removed because some find it offensive. It is a large leap with little basis for someone as this article does to claim it advocates domestic violence. As the joke is the double meaning of the sentence. I don’t personally find it that funny and wouldn’t buy it but I am not arrogant enough to think that everyone should conform to my ideals or that an artist shouldn’t have a right to offend. No one has complained about the picture of David Cameron with a butt hole for a mouth, where as this is offensive to some people. Its just a case of where your morals lie.

  8. Jay

    What a load of tosh! Had an amazing time at beacons. Fantastic line up, best beer tent I’ve been to at a festival, quality food and an array of like minded people who were there to enjoy the music and have fun (except of course the reviewer who appeared to get his kicks photographing toilet cubicles and offensive t-shirts). will deffinetley be heading back next year!

  9. Tom

    In many ways I’ve been dreading writing this comment since reading this review of Beacon’s Festival on Monday. Under normal circumstances that would arise from knowing that another great band had passed me by because I was at the wrong stage or that I’d missed a great festival singalong.

    It’s genuinely hard for me to write a negative comment of any festival review. Usually there is some endearing comment about I band I’ve loved which could make up for any shortcomings for having sat staring at a blinking cursor for several seconds this morning I’m still struggling to find the positive comments about the bands in what is unashamedly a review bleating about the organisation.

    This review essentially says:
    - It was badly organised when you arrived.
    - There were some obscure bands on the line-up.
    - There was an offensive T-shirt for sale.
    - No alcohol was allowed inside the arena.
    - The alcohol was fairly expensive.
    - There weren’t enough emergency exits.
    - There were no obvious water points in the arena.
    - There wasn’t enough security.
    - There weren’t enough toilets and these were full by the end of each day.

    Whilst I’m not excusing any of these (except the obscure bands but definitely not the T-shirt), in 20 years of going to festivals I’ve experienced all of them before. The festival was badly organised but this does not reflect badly on the bands that played. I don’t see how mentioning that a band like Eagulls played a blistering set at a festival with poor toilets is going to have a “negative impact on their careers”.

    For the record I saw great sets from Ghostpoet, Mount Kimbie, Plank!, Hookworms, Eagulls, Post War Glamour Girls, Roots Manuva, Willy Mason, Wild Beasts, Frankie & the Heartstrings, Runners, Thomas Truax. There were other good sets too and some of the people I spoke to were raving about other stuff I missed like Errors and Hawk Eyes.

    The bands were definitely the highlight of the festival – it would be good to see a second review on here that concentrated on the music.

  10. abram stinken

    I have been to many festivals.. Reading, Glastonbury, beatherder.

    I have never been to a festival with such poor toilets. You always have to deal with smelly and dirty toilets at festivals but this was on another leve…. At one point would you complain that there are not enough toilets?? when there are 10 toilets to a 1000 people? when there is 1 to a 1000 ?

    Everything else can be excused (trying to make money, offensive t shirts etc) except that this festival has acquire a reputation for not being too commercial. It’s always has such a friendly nice atmosphere. Not this year.

    There was still fun to be had of course!! But do you think advertising a festival in which every toilet is piled high as a “family” festival is fair marketing?

    I agree with the reviewer…Although I would agree that the tshirt was in bad taste… I would not demand that they take it down…. Festivals are also about free speach in my mind.. however distasteful the message can be.

    So… A few more staff and a lot more toilets for me would have made the festival brilliant.
    I preferred moorfest

    Just my two pence

    :)

  11. Peaches

    Shock horror, dirty toilets at a festival!

    Immense 3 days at Becaons. Willy Mason definitely my fondest memory followed closely by an incredible Toots set. In response to the comment above everybody I spoke to or stood with ‘LISTENING TO THE MUSIC’ loved it. Comments on twitter are of the positive too. Beacons will be a much better place without the likes of the nit pickers above!

  12. Adam

    This review is by someone who had a negative view from the off, and seemed to be on their own in a grumpy mood all weekend.

    If you go to a festival with your friends or a positive attitude you will have a good time.

    I’m just happy there were no idiots fire juggling or throwing pieces of string about, although i did see a guy who looked like he’d just jumped through stargate. The important thing is the lineup was good, that’s why it was busy, that’s why it ‘heaven forbid’ made a little bit of money. That’s why it will be able to continue and grow into a better festival next year.

  13. kyle

    think you are all taking it a bit far with the t-shirt thing…… your writing a review on the festival and your picking at t-shirt you saw for sale there come on! In fact thank you for the link im going to go buy that t-shirt now :) Also what did you really expect from an event in Skipton?

  14. Andy Abbott

    Yeah, bit of a ranty and slightly sulky review Jim, which is surprising given your usual standard of enlightening and well-researched, balanced review/writing I think.

    I’m a little confused by the exact nature of the gripe. If the trouble is that Beacons has framed itself as a ‘professional’ festival but has then failed to be absolutely pristine and flawlessly organised, I think that’s an unrealistic expectation. Also, there are far worse culprits/better examples of money-grabbing, cynical festivals bleeding a hipster market dry and I think Beacons was much friendlier/generous relative to those.

    Likewise if the point is to say, ‘go to Beatherder instead’, then is that based on an assumption that other local festivals/events are losing out because of Beacons? Yeah, my gig at the 1 in 12 on the Friday had a lot less people at it because of Beacons being it was on the same night, but I’d assume Beatherder has its own audience (it’s very different in terms of line-up and the demographic that would be attracted by it) and that people could even go to both?

    I contributed art and music stuff to the first couple of Moorfests and I thought that this year as Beacons (with a better music offer and more marketing) was different but a step in the right direction. The north has a few of the more ‘festival experience’ festivals that have come out of the free party scene (with an aesthetic and musical agenda related to that) but less/none that have a focus on contemporary independent music and it’d be good to see Beacons fill that gap.

    I was only there on the Saturday night (spent in the well-organised and not-horrendously-priced Real Ale tent) and Sunday (majority spent around the Dirty Otter/Vice tent) but from that thought the festival offered an exciting context in which to experience music that is normally constrained to a select group of people in small-to-mid-size venues.

    Yes, the organisation was far from perfect (I had similar confusion when entering the festival and from staff when asking for directions to find tents) and some elements were misjudged, but these are issues that can be addressed and built on with constructive critique rather than demanding a writing off/boycott of the entire festival.

    I think the accusation that Beacons is now a purely profit-motivated festival and that’s why things weren’t well organised (out of a lack of care for the audience) is a little rash. I’d give Beacons the benefit of the doubt and assume they’ll be willing and eager to bring the levels of ‘professionalisation’, ‘health and safety’ and ‘customer care’ up to a standard in-line with the branding next year.

  15. steve

    why do people in this country always assume that the toilets and facilities have to be rubbish at u.k festivals and accept it, i have been to loads of european festivals where all the above are immaculate , this is a slack u.k festival mentality , and punters putting up with it only makes it worse ,

    • Beard face mcginty

      Beacons for me was hit and miss… Enjoyed some great music (Jessie ware, ghost poet, Pearson sound, bok bok, nope!, mount kimbie – Julio bashmore didn’t appear tho!) However, there was very little else in the rest of the ‘arts’. The big, empty centre of the site was an opportunity wasted and was ripe for some performance shenanigans (as promised on the programme) There was a tiny geodome with a place to paint, hidden away and unfacilitated as far as I could make out, and a lone poet sat on a chair offering to read. On the map, the circles with ‘arts’ on it turned out to be deckchairs and windbreaks….! The neon signs were cool, but interactive they were not.
      Family camping was not well signposted and quickly filled up with rowdy parties. Only TWO waterpoints on the whole site, which didn’t always work and both bar and security staff could not direct me to… The aforementioned toilets… Lots more poor and thoughtless infrastructure throughout.
      I guess what struck me was that the organisers had not used any empathy to imagine a punter’s day. Standing up listening to music or sitting down watching a film might be nice for a while, but I also like a festival I can discover and interact with, not just be a passive consumer, which is what it felt like the organisers saw us punters as. Ironic considering passing any motion involved a long queue and the risk of cholorea. These infrastructure problems can also be seen as a result of this lack of empathy, and I left feeling a little used and dirty. In a bad way.

  16. Matthew

    Bullshit! I had a great time (and i’m not a “first-time festival goer”).

  17. ruth walker

    BULLSHIT!!! this festival was well good, music was kickin off! You clearly just had a shit time, gutted for you mate!

  18. Claire

    Basically this festival wasn’t what they had advertised. It seemed like they wanted to appeal to varying types of music fans, and in a festival that is a good thing, but this festival simply wasn’t the right size for such a mixture of music and the crowds the genres attract.
    They blatantly got lazy with the planning and decided to focus more on generating money, but in contrast to this they also let an absurd number of press in for free. I understand that press is needed but it seemed that anyone with a blog with a single follower could be press. Two tents away from me was an example of the type of press that i’m talking about, they claimed to be from a magazine called Crapmag, but rather than seeing bands, djs and reviewing they wandered round camp one for the majority of the day selling drugs. If i wanted to take a load of drugs at a festival I’d stock up before attending, if i went there without I’d find the drugs myself, I don’t need to be pestered every 20 minutes with the offering of ket and hash.
    As for security if they concentrated less on the alcohol been taken into arenas and more on the drugs fuelled types wielding axes around the campsite (yes that happened) then I think everyone would have felt better.
    As for the showers, water and toilet situation, i think everything that needs to be said about that has been.

  19. Pretty harsh comments. The Rihanna t-shirt, which we didn’t come across, is obviously worth criticising but other than that I thought this festival was great. The people were friendly, the atmosphere was FULLY buzzing and it sounds as though you went into it looking for the negatives…. the security were among the most lax I’ve seen at any festival, I barely saw anybody getting booze taken off them and saw nobody having plastic water bottles taken off them either, I carried a 2 litre bottle into the arena everyday and even showed it to the stewards.

    There were some organisation blunders, but overall mate I managed to have an amazing weekend, all costs included, for about £50 less than the price of a Leeds festival ticket.

    While you’re here, make sure you check the sound of Brute Foresight here (www.soundcloud.com/brute-foresight) – we can confirm that, contrary to the rumours circulating around the Beacons site, Bruce Forsyth is in fact live and well.

    Thanks

  20. Beard face mcginty

    Oh, and if you wanted anything other than house music after midnight you were out of luck!

  21. Pingback: Beacons: Hit or Miss? | Leeds-List

  22. Tom Bomb

    Hi.

    I went to Beacons. I saw the Rhinanna t shirt. Get over it mr reviewer I found it funny and mentioning it has lessened the impact of your review. (which is quite harsh but mostly accurate). It wasnt a very good festival, I had a nice time with the people I was with but I think people perhaps should try other festivals if they think that was good, I am impartial I am and I make my own judgement but just like when you watch someone buy something bad and you feel sorry for them and advise… thats how i feel with beacons, try something else, cos really there are better ones out there. x

  23. Lynsey

    I have to agree with this review.
    About 20 of us camped in camp 1. Hardly any toilets and no hand wash facilities.
    As a result of this filthy festival half (so far) of my friends, including small children have been violently ill since returning home. One even blacking out and hitting his head.
    The sanitation and drinking water facilities were rank!
    Anyone else get sick?!

    • Kerry

      This is terrible you should complain to the council

  24. Yossarian

    have to agree with J DeB’s comments. I went with high expectations to support a local (to me) festival and even invited some rookie friends. This festival felt like it was about the money and did not feel like a loved festival. I’ve been going to festivals for a long long time now. Earlier in the year we went to Beat Herder (just a few miles down the road) – the mud and rain was ten times worse but the whole positive and happy festival vibe was on a different planet to Beacons. Beat Herder has love written right through it and it shows.

    I sensed things were not good when we had to camp outside the main camping area (we landed around 4ish on Friday) in a field with no security, no water, three toilets and one staff toilet. We happy campers commissioned the staff loo to deal with the overflow (literally) from the campers bogs on Saturday morning, until around 9 when one member of staff rolled up and without so much as a good morning or an apology said to her colleague “we’ll have to get security down here to sort out this situation”. Brilliant, this is the first time I’ve been a security “situation” waiting for the loo! There was a bit of back tracking later and a promise of extra loos – which did turn up but for some reason did not appear to be cleaned.

    Saw some great artists but would I go again, sorry no. Would I recommend it to friends again, sorry no. Will there be any kind of acknowledgement from Beacons that they have a lot of work to do, I doubt it. Will there be anything other than how brilliant it was from Beacons – I expect so.

  25. Becki

    This review is clearly by a very disgruntled customer. Its true the toilets were by far the worst I had seen at a festival in a very long time and its true that there were problems with the water taps. It’s true also that the campsites had people too spread out and therefore couldn’t fit as many tents in as they may have liked.
    As for the fact that it was a MUSIC and ARTS festival the arts were attempting to be covered by The Impossible Lecture tent but sadly most people that rocked up at the tent wanted, scratch that, demanded from the performers and artists was music. Some revellers thought it adapt to spit the face of a performer when asked to stop pushing. The behaviour of some of the drug and alcohol fuelled festival goers was at times breaching on feral (I stress, SOME of the festival goers). Its sad that when trying to get into contact with the stewards to aid the tent with the over crowding and foul behaviour that the Controlled Space stewards turned up smoking (with an aroma not from a regular cigarette). It is a huge shame that this tent was forgotten about from the festival production team and that safety was not guaranteed to them by the stewards on site. Who knows what the future holds for arts at Beacons.

  26. Leah Connolly

    In all honesty, yes the toilet situation was stupidly underestimated and the Rhianna T-shirt should never have been on sale (Although the Beacons organisers have stated on their twitter that no one reported that this was on sale and that it would have been immediately removed if they had), I honestly do not believe that the festival could have gone any better and that the very few negatives have been sensationalised to epic proportions here. I think the genres that they mainly concentrated on were split well (dance and “indie”/rock via Greendales/ Stool Pigeon/ Vice and Noisey) and again, its made me really quite upset to read such a review that hasn’t even concentrated on much of the weekends music. Sure there were problems, but every new festival has these hiccups AND Beacons did actually draw in more portaloos, albeit not enough. I really couldnt praise this festival enough and to the louderthanwar writer, I honestly expected better

  27. alice

    Er why, are there no comments on facebook detailing how bad this event was? I was beginning to think it I should button my lip and shush. I am sorry Beacons how can I get my money back? How can i get my comments on your facebook page… It was awful

  28. Festive Al

    You clearly didn’t get laid/drunk mate. You have published a generic review of ANY festival. The toilets were bad. Yes. It’s a festival. The music was awesome. Maybe you should have spent some time listening and not just whining over the merch. You were in the wrong tent. Jeez – anyone with the humourless, attitude displayed above… really shouldn’t go to festivals. And yes. I’d hit that.

  29. Charlie

    Think this review is overly harsh. The toilets admittedly were a total mess on the Friday night but after their efforts to sort it, by Saturday they were no worse than any of the scores of festivals I’ve been to. Plus if those were the worst loos you’d seen, you obviously didn’t go to Field Day in the early years where queues were literally over an hour long – and despite hundreds of complaints, Field Day ticketholders experienced exactly the same problem the following year – the organisers changed nothing. At least Beacons took positive action within the life of the festival, almost certainly losing money in the process.

    And the security were Stalinist? A cursory bag squeeze and a ‘you haven’t got anything in there you shouldn’t have you?’ was as much as we experienced.

    Seems to me like maybe backstage just sucked.

  30. Pingback: I SURVIVED BEACONS FESTIVAL 2012 | Bad Fotography

  31. Trenchfoot Rock

    This review seems like it’s written for a humourless “Which?” guide to festival facilities, but some of the points made are valid, eg shonky admin at times, lack of water, not enough toilets/very dirty toilets.

    All the above are criticisms that applied to Bestival 2010 – which was still a great festival, and to two or three early editions of the much-lauded Latitude (except for the admin gripe – Latitude is very well organised.)

    In the review comparisons are made to Kendal Calling, which looks impressive, but is currently hosting a discussion on its website about the poor toilet facilities this year…

    Why no real detail about the vast amounts of good music at Beacons? Sure the infield seemed empty and without atmosphere at times, but it pissed down for a lot of the weekend, and the music tents were full of happy people. All music was under cover – no drenched main stage audiences here.

    The food quality was ok, with the teashop tent, Indian food tent and the real ale tent being exceptionally good in both ambience and prices.

    This was Beacons’ first proper year – it was sold out, but the site as laid out could take much bigger numbers, once the water, toilets, and admin are sorted.

    Your review has got me interested in attending Beatherder and Kendal Calling, but it hasn’t put me off Beacons.

    PS the t-shirt you draw attention to is offensive, crass and shouldn’t have been on sale. But it’s only a t-shirt.

  32. Impossible Lecture

    It certainly looked like Moor Fest had pitched up at one side of the field and Beacons at the other. Our tent was open for three days solid in the campsite keeping the party going and we felt isolated from the security and production, most of whom didn’t even know who we were. At substantial cost to all of our team we placed weeks of work into making something unique and exclusive to Beacons that was genuinely about providing a better festival experience and for all our efforts we managed to get half a sentence to explain our 72 hour feat in the festival printed programme.

    We would love to get any feedback from people who experienced our tent so we can build and learn for the future. Just to say we had an epic time and all the images and video we have collected indicate a shit load of happy faces.

    • Carol Lee

      Saw your pic’s of your 72 hours as Beacons and it looks like you guys delivered – in spite of the toilet/water situation and bad management :)

      pics here http://www.facebook.com/indivisibleuk

  33. Dan

    I had a great weekend personally thanks to the superb standard of music on all 3 days & the company I was with – I’d definitely go again.

    Having said that, I definitely get the gripes of some people on here. The toilet situation & the lack of tap water was basically unacceptable. The sound wasn’t good enough, more than a few occasions when sets were spoiled by the noise from other stages – Lanterns on the Lake being the worst example. A cash point or two would’ve been nice as well. Also, the attitude of some of the stewards was dire. Having collected our parking ticket & been directed to the field we were supposed to park, we drove there & didn’t realise another steward further into the field wanted us to stop. We stopped seconds after passing him & apologised only to be told “stop acting like fucking cunts cos im not in the fucking mood”. Lovely welcome to the site.

    I’d prefer to focus on the positives though. The ale tent was immense, the food stalls were great, the crowd were amongst the friendliest festival crowds I’ve been in, the weather was decent (mainly) & like I mentioned earlier, and surely the most important part of any festival, the music was quality throughout the weekend!

  34. Kerry

    I found this review because I nearly went to Beacons and I’ve seen people quite high up presumably from the festival on twitter and Facebook just slagging off the reviewer and now I’ve read it and some of the comments are doing the same. When I was reading the review I thought that if what the review says is true then I’d be just as disappointed if i’d brought my kids to it because it says it’s a family festival but these things in the review aren’t acceptable for a family festival and I’m sorry to hear that little children got ill. From some other comments about drugs, violence to performers, sanitary conditions, horrible merch and awful security it seems like the review could have been even more harsh and still been true even if it wasn’t something everybody cared about. I’m most shocked that this review and these comments are telling true stories about what they saw and that they all match each other so there must be something in it and yet all I have seen the festival and some commenters do is say that anyone who complains wasn’t cool enough to overlook all of this. Not impressed, makes it look like this festival does not care that people had these experiences and I can overlook things not being perfect at a festival if I feel like they care about me having a good experience. Beacons just take the Micky out of you??

    • Ben

      I don’t think anyone including Beacons have skirted over any issues. There are issues to improve toilets, seating, segregated family camping. There are many responses on this site that give concise reasons as to how this review is wrong, yet you have focused on some poor comments. This article creates a untrue view of the festival and is full of conjuncture backed up by supposed conversations with staff and band members. This is low level journalism and I think the writer should think about the consequences of this article. Especially as he decides to answer any points he makes with little regard of whether it is true or not. For example Beacons only out to make money? it was £3.50 a pint same as leeds city centre, this was the first time that Beacons had been ran even if some Moorfest staff were involved, this is going to create teething issues. Beacons have already apologised for any complaints and have taken them on board for next years festival, there is no mention of this in the article. I realise I sound like a member of the Beacons team but an article like this genuinely concerning for a festival that had a lot of positives and a few easily solvable negatives, I am looking forward to next year.

  35. Just Saying

    A few points worthy of comment here Jim but I\’ll limit it to three; firstly, I\’m a little surprised that a LTW contributor would countenance banning anything just because it\’s \’offensive\’. Your views on the Rihanna tee shirt smacks of championing freedom of speech just so long as everyone agrees with you. Shades of the Pistols \’God Save The Queen\’ marketing and the outrage that caused to some at the time me thinks? Of course its offensive but change attitudes by educating, not by demanding removal. Vote with your feet and don\’t buy it if it offends for goodness sake.
    Secondly, I attend festivals as part of my job & was at Beacons. My only real gripe was the grotesque toilet facilities. In 2012 we\’ve moved on from the festival horror shows of the past and Beacons was way off the scale for unacceptably. However your diatribe regarding the festival in general was harsh in my view. It was OK. Not great / not terrible. Just OK. You make it sound awful in every respect. It wasn\’t. Opinions I guess. Next year will be the real test regarding lessons learned. If you do want an example of how an inaugural festival should be then check out Nuts In May in Cumbria – first year in 2012 and it was, in my view, virtually faultless. Opinions again I know.
    Finally, what\’s all this about Beacons somehow being the great Mammon simply because they want to make a profit? If you\’ve an argument with capitalism then there are surely bigger and better targets to focus on. You should know that festivals allowing personal alcohol into the arena itself are largely a rarity these days. My personal view it that the one\’s that still do (Beat Herder / Bearded / Beautiful Days / Solfest / etc) still make money on the bar because there will always by punters who would buy from a bar irrespective of whether they could take a wheelbarrow of the stuff in. That said I can understand most events choosing to ban personal alcohol from the arena; bar takings are factored into the event cost model just like ticket sales and many events offset the ticket price against expected takings from other sources like programmes and bar sales – I assume you wouldn\’t wish to bring a take-away to your local restaurant or take Tesco beer into your local boozer – so why the anguish that a festival makes a profit on the beer and other outlets? Don\’t understand your logic for deriding their profit motive here at all.

  36. Katy

    That t-shirt thing has turned into a bigger deal by how the festival has reacted to it and that is the pure bullshit part of it. Free speech gives the festival the chance to come out and say ‘we thought this t-shirt was appropriate for a family festival to be next to all the official merch, that’s up to us’ and everyone could agree to disagree including the person who wrote this review who is saying he thought it was out of order. What happened instead is that people complained as soon as they saw it and all weekend after, including going to the festival production team. Then afterwards the festival said that they didn’t know anything about it til after the festival and crucially that they’d have KICKED the vendor OFF SITE if they had been told! That’s just a horrendous load of crap! At least they should have admitted they’d decided it was ok and then everyone would have known where they stood.

  37. Katy

    Agreed on who cares if they make a profit? As long as basic conditions are fine as well. I didn’t mind the loo where we were even though it got worse than I expected even at a festival. Beer was still cheaper than central Leeds so that wasn’t an issue.

  38. I make a point of not reading other people’s reviews of anything while I’m still writing my own, which I have just finished, and I have to say I’m stunned. Firstly, moaning about not knowing where to pick up your press pass is utterly irrelevant to the average punter, but if you’d read the email that came with your accreditation you’d have seen the bit where it said go to the production entrance. I did this and there was a portakabin that said Artist & Press Passes. Nobody took my water off me then or at any other time. I then enjoyed three days of exceptional music, much of it new but with a handful of bigger bands scattered throughout. I had to miss a few bands I wanted to see due to clashes but this is a sign of a good bill! Nobody bunged me any money by the way, unless you count the press pass. You can read my reviews at http://www.manchestermusic.co.uk – they are mostly about the actual music but then that’s what I go to festivals for, and most people I knew there were there for the same reason. I’m 40, I have no interest in fancy dress competitions or hippie healing tents or all that “festival experience” crap.

    I didn’t feel it was “about money” at all – quality real ale was served at a cheaper price than you would pay for industrial lager at the big corporates, decent food, and the foresight to have all the stages under canvas was welcome. I’ll be back next year so long as the line-up’s of a similar standard.

  39. bobjo

    The middleclass wankers have taken over, get back to watching the jubbilee you tosser. Next time ill bring my gold plated toilet for you to take your shit of roses on. jesus.

  40. Sean

    Positives:

    -Had a really good time with a small group of like-minded friends.
    -I thought the musical line-up was fairly exciting and had a fair amount of variety, hence buying a weekend ticket and travelling over 100 miles to the festival.
    -I was also pleasantly surprised with the small amount of clashes between bands that I planned on seeing (obviously, this is my experience and not everyone-else’s.
    -There was a friendly atmosphere
    -I liked the idea of having all the music in tents for a number of reasons. Firstly, the weather may have caused havoc with the way the main arena was by Sunday afternoon (extremely boggy) plus it kept us dry with the rain at certain points. Secondly, the intimacy was great, especially with the bigger/headline artists. Finally, I felt it was a good way of finding out about new artists in that the stages were thoughtfully planned with what seemed to be similar genres/styles on each tent.

    Unfortunately, there were a few negatives about the festival:

    -Toilets (to get this one out the way with a positive suggestion). Obviously, a lot of people had terrible experiences at this festival wit regards to these facilities but I feel a sensible solution to improve this would have been to have loads more urinals for the men in the camping area and the main arena. The queues were often ridiculous just to have a piss and this would cut down the queues for the main porter loos (of which more were also needed).
    -Staff were way too lax and it seemed to me, more interested in getting high and a free ticket than actually doing a worthwhile job (I’m aware this happens at all festivals but a ridicuous amount at Beacons). Some examples: the parking ticket people were at the car park entrance were particularly rude upon arrival (I WAS expecting to pay and fine with it), the wristband tent had a grand total of about 7 people in when I arrived, yet it still took 15-20 minutes to get a wristband due to incompetence and a poor attitude, there was absolutely no crowd security (which I understand can be annoying at certain gigs) in any of the tents. I actually felt sorry for Cloud Nothings who were ambushed on stage by a FEW narrow minded festival goers who thought it was acceptable to climb the barrier, jump on stage as well as on equipment and hamper certain band members’ performances. One of the band members had to physically push them off stage whilst the sound engineer sat laughing at them for at least a minute. I was also shocked to see no parking attendants on the Sunday night, which meant no directions for the exit other than a few poorly positioned signposts. I was also a little shocked that one car had been stuck in mud for at least 30 mins before we and a few other festival goers (not staff) had to help them out.
    -I felt a few bigger name artists on the main stage would have really put the icing on the cake musically and was left wanting with quite a few ‘main-stage artists’, but that’s my personal opinion.
    -The layout of the arena could have been a little more consumer friendly as vast open space seemed to be either a little wasted or various opportunities missed (seating, toilet facilities, arts, etc).
    -Should be more (free) water and shower facilities that are easy to locate and in helpful positions around the site.

    So, overall, not the best festival I’ve been to (large or small) but a really enjoyable weekend with just a few too many teething problems for the organisers. I would go again (depending on the quality of the line-up) and would expect to see improvements on the essential facilities. I think it’s wrong to expect Beacons not to make a profit and didn’t feel that prices were too over the top. I have no problem with the organisers making money out of the event as long as all the artists are paid fairly and it’s put to good use for next year!!!

    My favourite performances: JPNDRDS, Sunless 97, Peace, Wild Beasts, ERRORS and Swim Deep.

    In the words of Abram Stinken (see above) – “just my two pence”.

    • Francis

      Fucking Gold! Damn right.

      I’ll wipe his arse for him as well.

      Next time Louder Than War can send me rather than a whining tart.

  41. Sarah

    There are quite a few UK festivals like this now that are getting away with it. I went for a day and the reviewer is sgenerally right.
    We need to rethink festivals. If you pay to get in you need some kind of service.
    Offensive comments on this post that look like they were sent by the same person are not going to help- funny how anyone would get that defensive about a festival that they are not involved in putting on…

  42. maladroitmattoid

    Got to agree in most part with the reviewer here. I paid for the upgraded camping and got 1 small toilet trailer that wasn’t cleaned often enough, showers that didn’t work and a closed cafe tent. Far from what was promised.

    I enjoyed the bands and the sound was generally good, however after being there since 4 on the Thursday, at 8pm on Friday I stopped eating and drinking in order to avoid the need to use the toilet facilities. This is not the way it should be. I got up on Sat morning packed my stuff away, watched bands until 6, and then I cleared off, got a hotel in Leeds and spend Sunday at museums and the sculpture park, much more enjoyable.

    I have been to festivals before, and never had these issues. Green Man is 2-3 times the size and has 10x the amount of toilets, and they are emptied and cleaned 3 times per day. I’ve been to Hurricane in Germany, and they manage to cater for 80,000+ with ease. Beacons at 5000 should be a doddle, if you really care about putting on something that cares about the welfare of those that are attending.

  43. Ben

    From reading the comments above it is clear the toilets were an issue. This is a problem that Beacons have apologised for and said they were going to fix mid festival (unsuccessfully). I can’t speak for them but can only assume the toilet situation will be fixed next year with notice I imagine it easy to get more toilets, at short notice (like the fri of the festival) not so. I first went to Glastonbury in 2004 the toilets were awful till 2009 when they improved, that festival has been running for decades give them a chance.

    Segregated camping is also obviously needed again an easy fix and they tried to separate camping this year it was just unclear, a fenced off area with a security guard on the gate would sort that.

    More seating needed again an easy fix.

    Outside of those points this is a good festival, nothing was too expensive. So what you can’t take your booze in do you take last nights left overs in a tupperware box to your favourite restaurant? If your at a festival and you want to drink it will cost money in the arena but £3.50 is city centre prices and over a pound cheaper than Latitude for example.

    This article is full of conjuncture (at best, some points just appear lies) some of it backed up with supposed conversations with staff and bands, none of it quoted. Where is your evidence that Beacons is just looking to make money? Just the fact that alcohol isn’t allowed in the festival? Non alcoholic products were allowed in, which was wrongly stated in your article. this is common of most festivals. The organisers have changed since Moorfest even if some staff have been kept but you implore people to ignore this, why not give this festival another chance if they improve their facilities? Also you lament this festival for not supporting the Yorkshire music scene yet a large number of bands especially in the Vice tent were from Yorkshire. Which is interesting as you brought the Vice tent up as a lucrative deal, well they obviously didn’t have much impact on the line-up if so many local bands were chosen. What’s it to you what the tent is called if it is still curated on a Beacons level?

    This is gutter journalism, opinion with little to back it up, it seems a deliberate attack on a festival for an unknown reason. You actually state in the article you don’t want to write anything positive. You tell your reader to go to beat herder or Kendall Calling instead. The latter with a vast amount of similar problems just spend 5 minutes on their discussion boards. There are some people that were unhappy no doubt and there are some legitimate complaints. But in writing your article you should really try to be balanced, as from what I can see this festival is genuine and what I mean by that is booking a good line-up of varied artists, supporting the local music scene, a chance to see local bands with good slots, decent priced food and drink and what mistakes they made came from freshers oversights. Your attack feels excessive and unnecessary and to be honest I hope I don’t come across any more of your reviews.

  44. Impossible Lecture

    A remission from my previous post:

    Lack of sleep and sustenance will throw even the most optimistic of souls into the realm of a furrow browed provocateur. Fact is that we have had outstanding relations with this northern festival from day one and living in the land of being anti-Beacons doesn’t sit well with any of us.

    We are tremendously proud of achieving what we set out to do and that Beacons believed-in and followed our vision. Moreover made it possible.

    Newness comes with teething problems, oldness comes with nostalgia. You savvy bastards get to say in years to come… I was at the first Beacons! — a privilege yet to be enjoyed.

    To the writer of this blog post and to the 10 or so people who even care enough to read the collected worth of these pixelated words. If your moral compass is so opposed to domestic violence how about not posting on a site that trivialises war for self gratifying effect…

    To all mine/ those we met/ the countless heads that made Beacons rise again; it was a pleasure and a mischievously well deserved birth.

    King of the bins indeed!

  45. I also reviewed Beacons http://www.offcumden.com/2012/08/our-trip-to-beacons-festival.html

    It was our first family festival. The Beacons website assured that it would be family friendly, the family camping sounded good and there was even a promise of a trolley to carry belongings from the car park into the site. The facilities were awful. I pitched up at 2pm on Thursday and realised pretty quickly that we wouldn’t be able to actually camp with children.

    Your review is entirely accurate. It was a shambles. They only need to look at The Magic Loungeabout which takes place less than a mile away, to see how to deal with families.

  46. Adam

    Think I would have to had been detoxing from heroin to manage to have a bad time at beacons on of the best weekends of my life.

    P.S Whats a rhianah top got to do with the festival it wasn’t official merchandise, I mean how thick are you.

    P.P.S I volunteered at the festival and I can tell you it is far from a cash grab and the festival would have to run for another 5 years to even break even, you’re evidently talking out of your arse. The staff were all extremely passionate about the festival. I imagine if you organised a festival it would be so dull the usual festival lack of sleep problems would not apply.

    P.P.P.S Cheer up you miserable up yourself cunt xoxo

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