REVIEW // Beach Break Live 2012 // 14th – 18th June 2012
I don’t know whether or not I was surprised with the weather at Beach Break Live 2012, but I was certainly under prepared. Arriving during a torrential downpour and having to ditch the tent (along with other items such as note pads, phones and the will to live), the fact that I was in Wales for the first time immediately sank in.
All the more reason then to admire the 20,000 students who partied through the wind and rain regardless. With the beach, or outside in general being out of the question, most people flocked to the tents. Here they were treated to up and coming talents that they might not have done had it been sunny. On Friday, the Chai Wallahs stage hosted Joe Driscoll and Sekou Kouyate, a two-piece who play an interesting mix of hip-hop, afrobeat, reggae and folk. The two band members do not share a common language (Sekou is from Conakry,Guinea and speaks French), yet they have recorded an album in the last few weeks and warmed the bones of the damp crowd.
Will And The People also impressed the same stage with an energetic performance of ska, reggae and infectious pop. But soon an army of English fans invaded the tent, apparently some kind of football was on.
After England had narrowly avoiding humiliation against Sweeden, Rodigan (MBE) and Mistajam got the party started in Merlin’sForest. Both men played to a packed tent of enthusiastic party animals who danced under the spectacularly decorative tent. Many who had been to watch Chase and Status rock the Main Stage then carried their energy through to Nero, or through to the Bristol based house sensation EATSEVERYTHING. Here the beats from the Ghetto Blaster could be heard for miles, pumping from the huge Deuce Soundsystem – a 20KW cassette player which carried the crowd through to the early hours of the morning. Mightily impressive.
Saturday brought more wind and rain, and another intriguing combination of beat boxing and off beat guitar rhythm in the shape of Haymoonshaker. On their first festival circuit, they caught the mood perfectly with some funky western numbers.
Saturday night was most definitely one for the fans of grime, beats and all things dirty. After DJ Fresh Live displayed that they were probably too high up the bill (with few recognisable big-time tunes), Dizzie Rascal showed them exactly how things were done. From the grittier sounds of ‘Sirens’ and ‘ILluv U’ to the chart topping ‘Dance Wiv Me’ and ‘Holiday’, Dizzie gave a master class befitting the fireworks and smoke bombs also on show. Later on, Toddla T demonstrated why his name is becoming more and more recognisable by helping the bass worshippers to keep on partying on through the night.
Sunday lived up to its name and saw people flock to the beach. Upon the pristine sand, revellers played beach sports, or competed in extreme sports. Catching the eye here was Ben Wheeling, who came heroically close to landing a backflip whilst carrying a broken shoulder.
Many chose to survey the scene from the sand dunes, or chilled outside The Wreck, a stage pertaining to be a shipwreck. Here, Roxanne de Bastion entertained late afternoon crowds with delicate and uplifting songs. A quick drink back at the Chai Wallahs saw the Hempolics entertain an upbeat crowd. Divine late afternoon reggae from the five piece fitted the fading sunshine perfectly. Around the corner, The Celtic Games were being contested. One memorable event saw competitors dress in fat suits tackling an obstacle course - very funny.
The final evening rolled around quickly, with the acoustic guitar of Ben Howard drowning out the screams of his more soppy teenage fans. Above the yelps of ‘I love you, Ben’ soared ‘The Fear’, and the gentle howling of ‘The Wolves’, which ended Ben’s set – leaving his female followers rather devastated. Next up were The Maccabees, who have been touring their spectacular new album ‘Given to the Wild’ for months. Old favourites like ‘Letchmere’ sat next to new material such as ‘Pelican’ with ease. After being introduced by Ben Howard as ‘the best band in the UK’, The Maccabees provided the highlight of the weekend with a great set.
Friendly Fires picked up where The Maccabees had left off – closing the main stage in style. Yet the party was not over for those of a dance persuasion. While Oneman was finishing off on the Ghetto Blaster stage, Camo and Krooked were rocking Merlin’s Forest.
A light rain recoated the festival on Sunday night, reminding the 20,000 strong crowd what they have endured on an otherwise brilliant Beach Break Live 2012. The only regret was that the rain swept away the chance to indulge in many of the other activities that this unique festival has to offer.
New talents to watch out for:
1 – Roxanne de Bastion
2 – Tom Figgins
3 – Joe Driscoll and Sekou Kouyate
4 – Haymoonshaker
5 – Will and the People