Bingley Music Live is hailed as an alternative to the Goliath that is Leeds Fest. Yes, it’s smaller, more family-orientated and probably friendlier, but think of it like this – you can get right up close and personal with your favourite bands, you don’t have to queue (for as long) for your food and drink, and your kids can run around with other cup-collecting miniature humans. The event is relaxed and fun; I would recommend it for a festival first and to those hard-worn festival goers!
With something for everyone, I witness an eclectic mix of artists from Skindred to Athlete, to Chase and Status. The festival’s intimacy means they can implement a range of policies – green initiatives, workshops, and a kids’ area. You’ve got to love live music; it’s really loud, you have the reaction of the people around you, and you get to see the band enjoy the music as much as you do. Bingley’s intimate setting makes it the perfect place to do it.
A huge crowd gathers for this event; people queue out of the park and down the street. We may be late for the Young Guns, but they are late themselves. Apologetically, they tell everyone they are hung-over and they’ve been travelling for hours, but they give it their best shot and get the crowd going magnificently, with mosh-pits galore. Traditionally, they get everyone crouching on the floor, only to jump up when Gustav Wood tells them to. Someone has to do it, right? Their anthemic rock fills the field with energy, and we have enough fun to forgive them their tardiness.
The Go! Team follow with their energetic party alternative tunes; hip-hop-rock-dance-indie music. Two drum kits are always impressive. Hailing from Brighton, the crowd seem to embrace them and dance along with Ninja as she jumps around the stage.
Next up are Skindred, who totally steal the show. One of my personal highlights of the entire weekend, they get the crowd pumped up and rocking out to their ‘ragga metal’. The lead vocalist, Benji, incites the audience to dance the robot along with him; an awesome experience. There are circle pits full of people who’ve never heard of the band before, rocking out to the extreme.
Even though their music is probably a mixture of metal, reggae and punk rock, one may assume it would not be for everyone, but Skindred drop tunes recognisable to all, such as a dubstep remix of The Prodigy. Everyone seems to have fun; even a friend who, as far as I am aware, never listens to anything heavier than the Arctic Monkeys, admits he’s enjoying himself immensely.
The Fun Lovin’ Criminals finish off the night, playing their hits ‘Big Night Out’ and ‘Scooby Snacks’ which have the whole crowd chanting.
I’m kept awake ’til the (far too) early hours of the morning by hardcore party people with a laser pen, an arguing couple in the tent next door and someone using their car as their sound-system.
Following a dash to the chemist for a wasp sting allergy, I relax to the grime music of Dot Rotten. He raps his insights into human nature; ‘Freedom is invisible’, convincing us he is a rising star. Watch this space, you may see him in the window of your local record store yet.
Following Rotten is a very different artist, White Denim. The almost warm weather complements the classic American rock sound they exhibit. A combination of prog-rock and bluesy psychedelia, the music is perfect for a sunny afternoon. However, if you want interaction and personality, I’m afraid you’ll have to look elsewhere. Whilst every other artist seeks a reaction from the audience, to thank them and get them excited, White Denim appear excited by the music, but they don’t seem to care if you were.
Jon Fratelli delivers a fun set, though it is overshadowed by the Fratellis songs he plays, far and away the best bits of his show. ‘Chelsea Dagger’ sets the whole festival rocking with everyone dancing away.
Along with Feeder, Athlete are the highlights of Saturday. If you’re a fan of their music, but never seen them live, you simply must. Joel Pott singing to you, full of emotion and passion with sweeping guitars is amazing. Anthemic and epic, Athlete do themselves proud (apart from a slight hitch when Joel missed his cue, but music isn’t music without imperfection). Calling Bingley the ‘Glastonbury of the north’ and requesting the audience to get on each other’s shoulders, how can you not love them?
Looking uber-cool, Mystery Jets perform their trademark post-punk power pop to the height of enjoyment. The audience love it, with hardcore fans dancing and singing to their heart’s content.
Feeder is ever grateful, playing their hits with energy and passion. They thank the audience after almost every song, dedicate various songs to other bands, including Skindred, and are generally very smiley. Of course, the crowd loved them and bopped along to their hit-filled performance.
After another night in the tent (the couple next door make up, and the party animals are burnt out), I head down to the arena. On the way, an old woman tells me she wouldn’t have been brave enough to go out looking like me. The weather isn’t as nice as Saturday, but the occasional showers do nothing to harm the enjoyment of the day. Unfortunately, Russo is unable to play, so there’s a bit of re-jigging and Wretch 32 played earlier. Blasting his hits ‘Don’t Go’, ‘Unorthodox’ and ‘Traktor’, he really gets the crowd excited for his grimey British hip-hop.
The Stereo MCs are up next and their combination of groove, soul and rap is fabulous. Lead vocalist Rob Birch uses the stage to full advantage by singing to the crowd, and the backing singers are dancing away as they should be. The audience is thrilled to hear the hits, including ‘Step It Up’ and ‘Connected’. By this time, I’m right in the midst of the crowd and enjoying the music as much as the next bouncy guy. The Sunshine Underground’s electronic indie pop is confrontational yet compelling, and the crowd loves it. Happily, the sun comes out and stays to see the festival out.
Heading towards the very front of the crowd to get a close-up of The Coral, I notice a distinct smell of cheese. Putting it down to the amount of food, drink and sweat that must be mushed up in the ground below, I push through, and eventually it gets so crowded I can only smell the people around me. It’s better than cheese.
Looking like the 60s inspired band they are, The Coral walk on and play a beautiful set. Having a sway to their psychedelic folk rock, they look shy and sound mumbly. The songs seem to blur into one another.
Chase and Status end the festival on a high. Playing favourites such as ‘No Problem’ and ‘Blind Faith’, the drum and bass, probably heard for miles, makes the crowd literally go wild. I acquire a straw cowboy hat for a while, but unfortunately can’t keep it for long. There’s screaming, sweating, moshing, rocking and raving as Chase and Status complete their set.
With relaxed atmosphere, great eclectic acts and friendly people, Bingley is definitely one you must experience. As a random old man says to me on the way home, surveying my unwashed hair and camping gear; “And a good time was had by all”. Thank you Bingley, it’s been an absolute pleasure.
For further information on Bingley Music Live, please visit the event website.