Festival Preview: Bearded Theory Spring Gathering 2019
With just over a week to go, and the sun shining we thought we would look ahead to the forthcoming Bearded Theory Festival, the 11th event since its inception in the beer garden of a pub. Since then the festival has relocated twice, and since 2014 seems firmly settled within the grounds of Catton Hall, an 18th Century listed building in the rolling Derbyshire countryside.
Bearded Theory Spring Gathering
Catton Hall, Derbyshire
Thursday 23rd – Sunday 26th May 2019
Despite the moves and the growth of the event, organisers of Bearded Theory have remained true to their original aims, to create a truly independent festival; this is a festival without sponsorship or branding, thankfully devoid of stages being named after toothpaste and the like.
The festival has a number of unique attractions, one of which is the Bearded Theory School, clearly with the festival taking place from a Thursday some people were unable to attend as their children were at school; the answer being the Bearded Theory School, an Ofsted registered school that provides two days of education based around the National Curriculum.
The festival boasts six different stages: The Pallet (main stage), The Woodland, Magical Sounds, Maui Waui, Convoy Cabaret, and One Big Showcase… though a few of us fondly recall Tornado Town named after a tornado hit in 2009 and destroyed the original stage. In addition there is the Earth Area which offers a range its craft workshops and therapeutic tents if you want to get away from the music, failing that there are a number of bars offering locally brewed beers, ales and ciders, a market place and a small fun-fair, as well as a n impressive range of food outlets.
All of this takes place over the late May bank Holiday weekend: Thursday 23rd – Sunday 26th May.
We are not going to list every band playing, instead we have selected some of our highlights.
The Thursday is essentially an arrival day, however of an evening The Woodland Stage is generally open with a selection of DJ’s playing, whilst in the Something Else Tea Tent the Fourth Annual Beardy Keith Gin Tasting Competition will be taking place; anyone can enter, entry is free bar the purchase of a coffee and slice of cake, your gin to be submitted in a plastic bottle containing up to a pint of your flavoured gin. All gins will be tasted by all entrants… but be warned they aren’t all good; the Pea, Carrot & Sweetcorn Gin from 2017 has become infamous for its foul taste!.
Friday sees the festival officially open, we are looking forward to Hollie Cook taking to the Pallet Stage performing material from her current ‘Vessels Of Love’ album, alongside previous album ‘Twice’, later in the day The Wildhearts take to the Pallet Stage, now whilst the bands off-stage antics are somewhat infamous you can rest assured that their performance will be equally impressive as they feature material from the brand new ‘Renaissance Men’ album. Later that day the Oh Sees take to the stage, the band is arguably a vehicle for the prolific founder John Dwyer whose catalogue of songs spans every known genre from blues, post-punk, noise rock, twisted psych and beyond, as such this will be a set not to miss.
The Woodland Stage is I believe the best stage of the entire festival, the stage itself is tiny, however the audience area fans out to allow up to 1800 into a beautifully lit wooded glade; both The Skids and Stiff Little Fingers are playing on the Friday; how Richard Jobson will cope within the confines of this stage will be interesting to see, SLF played the same stage back in 2016, their set was a ‘lock out’… no doubt this years will be equally as popular.
We would also recommend catching Henge over on the Maui Waui Stage whose unique space psychedelia will close the night.
On Saturday both The Angelic Upstarts and Bristol’s Heavy Lungs take to the Pallet Stage, I’ve seen both recently, and both will deliver a full-frontal set; the Upstarts traditional punk versus Heavy Lungs post punk noise. Headsticks will be in the Woodland which again will be worth seeing as they play material from the brand new ‘Kept In The Dark’ album. The Cult headline the Pallet Stage, the core of Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy have been performing now for approximately four decades, and have transitioned from post-punk, via goth to full on rock ‘n’ roll with an arsenal of legendary material from each era… sadly I cant see them pulling either ‘Fat Man’ or ‘Moya’ from the vaults for this appearance, the bands only UK festival date for 2019.
Sunday in the Magical Sounds tent will no doubt witness some fine performances from both Banco De Gaia and The Orb, whilst over on the Pallet Stage, Blinders will be demonstrating just why they have in a relatively short space of time become one of the must-see bands; now based in Manchester their hellfire blues tinged punk coupled with some acerbic lyrics as showcased on 2018 debut ‘Columbia’ will see them set the arena alight.
Both Steel Pulse and Dreadzone have based much of their careers around live performance; Dreadzone, no strangers to Bearded Theory will instantaneously have the crowd bouncing ahead of Doves who are breaking their 9 year lay-off to appear at Bearded Theory. This is certainly a coup for the organisers. By all accounts there is no new material, that said they have a huge raft of hits to draw from.
Other highlights include the annual Worlds Most False Beards in one Place challenge, this normally takes place on a Sunday afternoon, and if you can drag yourself up early enough then head to the Pallet Stage to witness The Red Barrows with their syncrhonised wheel barrow dispaly, Drum Machine normally appear at least twice early on outside Magical Sounds whilst the festival website lists Bar Stool Preachers as appearing ‘across the weekend’ which should allow you to catch their ska infused street punk anthems at least once.
All we need now is the sun to keep shining!
Full line-up and a handful of tickets remain at the Bearded Theory site.
The Cult pic courtesy of Ian Cadiente