The rapid rise of mini music festivals, all-dayers and inner city jaunts mean that there has never been a stronger time for live music across the scene; but it also heralds in greater choice for music fans and a changing landscape for the major festivals. All over the UK, likeminded promoters and patrons alike, come together to enjoy fantastic lineups all without the hassle of muddy campsites and rain-soaked tents.
One of the most popular and long running mini festivals is Live At Leeds, an indie music Mecca held annually in the city centre. With consistently strong lineups comprised of big name acts and independent bands, all sharing stages at venues dotted around the city it’s easy to see how year after year the festival draws in the crowds.
When you compare early bird Live At Leeds tickets for £25 against the price of a Reading and Leeds day pass at around £70, the smaller and more accessible underdog clearly comes out on top in the value for money category – and because most of the performances are in bars or dedicated gig spaces, alcoholic refreshment for the day shouldn’t break the bank.
A festival such as Kendal Calling or Latitude takes place in the countryside far from any city centre and therefore any public transport access can be a challenge. A festival such as Sheffield’s Tramlines however – well, the clue is in the name really. This years lineup also doesn’t disappoint with Stereophonics, Craig David and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds as the headliners across three days. Inner city festivals give those less physically able to travel the same chance to enjoy a vibrant festival experience without any compromises on the quality of the acts.
The opportunity to curate individual experiences is also apparent when looking at the boom of these comparably smaller festivals. One weekend you could be checking out the latest indie starlets at Live At Leeds, and the next, dancing to the freshest sounds from World Island – another Leeds inner city all-day party specialising in vibrant pop and dance. The point is you are no longer confined to just one major festival lineup, there now exists the variety, the scope and the freedom to dip into differing genres across different cities.
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As the success of mini festival ventures continues to be proven, further niches in musical tastes can be catered for. Although taking a break for 2018, Liverpool Psych Fest has for years provided the very best in mind-bending music with bands such as Spiritualized, Super Furry Animals and The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Anything but small scale, the inner city festival takes over a large warehouse venue and in addition to music, psychedelic art and cinema also play a big part. Despite any obligation to stay on site, Liverpool Psych Fest offers hostel and hotel packages – a far cry from camping in the rain.
And whereas Reading and Leeds festival has gradually shifted their lineups away from guitar music to reflect the pop and dance tastes of today, the one-day Mint Festival in Leeds has, for years, purely catered to lovers of house and EDM. Smaller festivals like this are often way ahead of the curve on new trends and are able spot the next big thing before they hit the mainstream.
Whilst indeed any live music is a great thing, the typical festival in a field format does appear to have taken a back seat as more varied events spring up from city to city. The inner city festival offers so much and puts the patron’s experience as paramount. With the wide range of options to suit fans of any music, perhaps it’s finally time to hang up the wellington boots and head for the city.