Festival and Venue Review 2015
The British Summertime is well and truly in full swing! At KUBE HQ we’ve had a collective discussion (argument) to decide where and what our favourite festival/gig venue is. Needless to say we all disagreed completely and so we thought it best to bring you our take on the committees favourite haunts!
First up we have Station Manager Alex Whitworth, seen here in a rather fetching poncho…
Have you ever fancied being the hippest of the hipsters without getting into plaid shirts, curly moustaches and nose piercings? Then look no further than a festival abroad, where all that can go wrong will and where sun tan cream is actually required. Arenal sound presents something similar to Reading/ Leeds except rather than being in either rainy Leeds or rainy Reading it’s location is a large beach with pool parties, beach stage and two main stages all in one large arena. Drinks are exceptionally cheap (2 Euro for 2 Beers) and you can buy everything (incl. Spirit and mixer) by the litre…
The music ranges from alternative rock (Klaxons the year I went) right through to dance (Chase and Status) and techno (The Suicide of Western Culture). Acts start at around 10pm and finish at 10am so get ready to have your sleeping pattern completely destroyed. Also, as a warning if you’re English you will be unable to sleep past 12am due to the ridiculous heat (think 37 degrees C). Luckily Red Bull sponsor the event, and sleep for the Spanish is widely regarded as for the weak.
Other than this it’s a festival that offers a week of live music and entertainment for as little as 55 Euros, including camping, with guaranteed good weather and a crowd of people who aren’t 14 and ‘on the lash’ (cough Reading cough). For that money you get pool parties, boat parties, 15+ pop up nightclubs and 3 stages.
I’d give this a 7/10 mainly due to the price, weather and surprisingly current line up. Just prepare for heat and being the only English at a festival of 110,000 people.
The hottest ticket of the Festival circuit for a reason. Glastonbury offers something completely unlike anywhere else on earth. Attend for the spectacle rather than the music and you’ll have the best weekend of your life, just be prepared to throw away your clash finders and lose some of your mind in the hippie filled wastelands of Pilton Farm. This is not the festival for you if you fancy wandering round wearing flowery headbands and have an instagram account filled with motivational quotes… Sure plenty of these people go but I would bet money that 9 times out of 10 they miss the real essence of Glastonbury. What is that real essence? Well I would say my time at Glastonbury has been spent enjoying a countercultural movement that strives to better our world whilst having a hell of a lot of fun in the mean time.
Things that you can’t miss out on:
Watching the sun rise at the stone circle
Wandering around shangri-la after a few too many beverages
Watching someone at the Pyramid stage
Proceeding to call the Pyramid stage mainstream and wander until you find vinyl turntabalists, jazz bands and secret acts.
Total score is 10/10. I know it’s sold out but next year go, for the love of everything just go you won’t regret it!
Next up it’s the turn of Tayla Dickinson KUBE’s Head of Music (on the left hand side) reviewing Dames of Darkness:
Every year, I attend the Dames Of Darkness festival in the back end of Wolverhampton. Dames Of Darkness is attended by hundreds metal heads annually, many who travel from the other side of the world for the festival. This year, the festival expanded to a two-day event and saw the likes of Sirenia and Leaves’ Eyes as head liners. There is no secret about my love for female vocal led metal bands, and Dames Of Darkness ticks all the boxes with its all female fronted rock and metal line-up. The festival showcases a huge variety of bands, from big names in Europe to up-and-coming local bands spanning across a wealth of different metal sub genres. If you like metal, there will be something there to tickle your taste buds.
Unlike most festivals, Dames Of Darkness is held in a single indoor location so there is never any concern about slipping in sludge or losing a shoe to the mud. There’s two bars for all the thirsty festival goers, as well as a takeaway style kitchen service. None of that really matters though compared to the impressive performances which in such an intimate setting really suck you in. There is a real community atmosphere at the festival that is ready to welcome anyone into the fold with open arms. Another great thing is that you will always get to meet the bands after the show, or even dance with them in the crowd.
Continuing the metal vibe up next is Download, championed by our very own Secretary Tori Morris. Not pictured here due to actually having a censored social media output (cough Alex cough):
Known for being one of the largest rock and metal festivals Download is definitely an experience you need to have at some point. Situated on what many call the ‘holy ground’ of Donington Park, I had the time of my life when I attended. While V and Glastonbury are known and popular, Download is something that has been around and developed from the Monsters of Rock festival. The fact that it is a rock and metal festival may concern some people, however everyone is so friendly and you can come away with your own ‘Download Family’. These are people who you will see year after year, you meet in the same spot and get to know each other.
While there I no guarantee of dry weather (I’m looking at you Download 2012), you can definitely have a great time. It has its own village and is practically a home from home when you embrace the atmosphere and the fact you’re all there for something you love, music.
Overall I give it a 9/10. You go with friends and you come away with a family, what more can you want from a week.
Head of Production Jon Peel (no relation) transports us to Reading Festival, observed here (at Reading) again on the left hand side (we do love the left at KUBE):
Reading 2014 was my first festival, and in typical British festival fashion the heavens opened when we arrived. However, massive headliners including the Arctic Monkeys, Blink 182, and Paramore more than made up for it. The sheer scale of a festival never really hits you until you get your first glimpse of the sea of tents that now stands before you, and it becomes hard to imagine that the festival site was just a bunch of fields in the middle of Reading a few months beforehand. And with Reading pulling around 80,000 – 90,000 people a year, there were a lot of tents.
Reading has traditionally been the home of rock music, and this year was no exception. With acts such as Blink 182, Papa Roach (they were hilarious), Royal Blood, Don Broco and Lower Than Atlantis to name a few. However the line up has been broadened to cover a larger swathe of genres with artists ranging from Paramore to Die Antwoord, so it’s pretty likely you’ll find at least one artist that appeals to you. With Reading covering such a larger number of different genres it’s also a great place to find new bands you’ve never listened to, and try something that might be traditionally out of your musical comfort zone.
Overall I’d give Reading a 8/10. Ticket prices are usually around £200, but if you like rock, (largely) alternative music, and the usually decent southern weather then Reading is the festival for you.
Up next is Leif, KUBE Head of Design, telling us all about T in the Park and Leeds Festival:
T in the Park. What’s better than a night out up north? A Yorkshire puds or maybe chips and gravy I hear you cry?
Well, no, actually… It’s an entire festival set amongst the innately wild hooligans that put even those of us from around the Peak District to shame. Yes, I’m talking about Scotland’s worst kept secret, T in the Park!
From the absolutely filthy (in the best way) King Tut’s Wah Wah tent, to the bohemian paradise that’s filled with all the vegan food and vintage clothing any self-conscious festival hippy could ask for, this festival is one that really does cater to every type of festival go-er. The year that I went had Paolo Nutini followed by Calvin Harris and Will Smith, so if that doesn’t show they mean business, I don’t know what does!
Of course there’s always the risk that by trying to please everyone you end up delivering a more vanilla experience that T4 on the beach manages to do year after year. Fortunately, T hits the nail right on the head and is able to create an atmosphere where you can find pretty much anything incredible, even bagpipe covers of Calvin Harris. We were even lucky enough to get sunburn, despite Scotland’s infamous climate!
Insider tip? Hit up the Lucozade silent disco to end the night with a bang (plus you can bag yourself tons of freebies, and who doesn’t love freebies?!)
With T having moved to a new location at Strathallan Castle, there’s never been a better time to go. Overall I’d give T in the Park a solid 7.5/10, for the sheer variety of experiences available and the good old fashioned northern hospitality. Would recommend.
Finally, it’s Anthea reviewing the Sheperds Bush O2 as her gig venue of choice, shunning muddy fields for premium sound quality and the chance to go home for a shower!
The O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire is possibly one of the best concert venues in the UK. It certainly proved to be an experience I would never forget due to the flawless acoustic sound I was able to experience when attending the final show of the Bear’s Den tour in March this year. Being chosen as a final destination for their last leg proved to be the best decision they could make as an alternative folk group.
Frequented by artists inspired largely by acoustic instruments such as James Bay and Ben Howard often proves to provide memorable events due to the shape of the venue. It’s dome shaped main room means sound is magnified to the all sides of the room without too much white noise, and creates a unique sound most venues lack. The small and intimate area provokes a familiar relationship between the artist and the audience, and as Bear’s Den proved in their performance of Bad Blood, as a surprise at the end, no presence of microphones or amplifiers for instruments was needed to project the sound throughout the room, as the mere point of placing themselves in the center with fans stood around them created an unforgettable and clear experience most venues would not be able to execute.
Understandably because of the small scale of the venue, and the fact that is can only house 2000 people, events tend to sell out quickly or focus mostly on groups with smaller fan bases. However, it is justifiably one of the best venues for acoustic based groups, and I highly recommend keeping an eye out for upcoming events they host. It will prove to be a memorable experience that very few other venues can give you, and will be well worth your while.
I’d give it a solid 9/10, and put it as my favourite venue due to its amazing and clear atmosphere.
Thanks for reading our festival and venue guide for the Summer of 2015, however much we disagree we all hope that everyone gets out there as much as possible this Summer. Go wild for KUBE! Send any snaps to @KUBEradio on twitter, we like to have a good laugh!