Festivals Focus 2007: The Dream Trip (part 1)

01 May 2007

If time, money and a job were not a worry, you could spend six months on the festival circuit. Given the opportunity would you do it? Could you do it?

We think so. In a special focus on festivals for 2007, we chart a dream itinerary of festivals.

Our journey begins in the south of England. In Brighton to be precise, where The Great Escape (17-19 May) is the place to be for you new music junkies.
A melee of gigs, parties, talks and clubs sets the scene for our answer to SXSW. The bill has everyone and everything from Bonde Do Role, Willy Mason and CSS, to the likes of Gallows, Soho Dolls and Kitty, Daisy and Lewis. Expect queues and futile attempts at schmoozing through them, though not as pathetic as the ones at the Camden Crawl.

On an indier note, there is Minehead, Somerset for ATP Vs The Fans (18-20 May). The ideas simple. The organisers pick half the line-up, the fans pick the rest. At the latters request Modest Mouse, Mogwai, Explosions In The Sky and Wilco will be present. The organisers havent done too bad themselves either: Patti Smith, Brightblack Morning Light, Grizzly Bear and Slint are all on a bill that is so indie itll make even some of the punters smile.

Youll be feeling pretty claustrophobic and sick of looking at people with tidy fringes and chic spectacles so there probably isnt a better place to lift your spirits than to head to the south Netherlands for Pinkpop (26-28 May).

Now in its 38th year, Pinkpop will witness The Smashing Pumpkins first European festival appearance since reforming. The Arctic Monkeys, The Kooks and Razorlight lead a very British bill that also sees Amy Winehouse and Paolo Nutini play the John Peel stage (yes they love him out there too).

A flight down to Barcelona will give you a couple of days R&R before Primavera Sound (31 May-2 June). The line-up is depressingly good. Enough to make you want to consider armed robbery to get yourself over there: The White Stripes, Justice, Dirty Three, Fujiya and Miyagi, Spank Rock, Sonic Youth (performing Daydream Nation), Pelican, Klaxons.

Billy Corgan
Billy Corgan
There are enough days after Primavera to ready your body for a busy June. The month begins in earnest with a trip to the Isle Of Wight Festival (8-10 June). The rejuvenated festival has fast developed a reputation for jolly festival camaraderie and atmosphere. The organisers have pulled off one of the biggest coups of the summer by being the only ones to book The Stones for a festival in the UK since Let It Bleed.
Muse, Kasabian, Snow Patrol, Keane and The Fratellis will be about, but like we said, the freaking Stones are playing, .

We know what youre thinking. That line-up looks a little on the light side doesnt it? A better option, for those who like it hard and heavy, is to head to Donington for Download (8-10 June). The bill is bruising (Mastodon, Slayer, Suicidal Tendencies, Dragonforce) as it is a galaxy of rocks consigliere – Iron Maiden, My Chemical Romance, Linkin Park, Velvet Revolver, Korn, Motley Crue.

After camping for three festivals in a row, Sonar (14-16 June) is just the ticket to feeling something close to normal again. It takes place in the university district of Barcelona, so hostels and hotels are the way to go.

During the day, the Centre of Contemporary Culture and the Museum of Contemporary Art plays host to bands, DJs, art installations, film screenings and record and technology fairs. In the evening, some of the finest names in electronica and avante garde music perform – the Beastie Boys are doing a conventional and instrumental set one night after the other, while Dizzee Rascal, Simian Mobile Disco, Miss Kittin, Mira Calix, Digitalism, Timo Maas and Skream will all be there. Ed Banger also have their own room with now usual suspects DJ Mehdi, Justice and Uffie in tow.

Dont forget London though. The O2 Wireless Festival (14-17 June) has The White Stripes only UK festival appearance alongside fellow headliners Kaiser Chiefs, Faithless and Daft Punk.

Daft Punk
Daft Punk
Perry Farrells new band Satellite Party will be there, along with welcome returns from Queens of the Stone Age and the Editors. We, for one, cant sit still at the prospect of Daft Punks electro day which has Klaxons, LCD Soundsystem, Simian Mobile Disco, Datarock, Digitalism, Metronomy and Shy Child all billed.
Keeping the clean and no camping theme (for now), again in London, is the Jarvis Cocker-curated Meltdown at the Southbank Centre (16-23 June). The festival opens with sets from Motorhead and Melanie, and ends with a show from Jarvis himself, taking in performances from The Jesus and Mary Chain and Iggy & the Stooges.

BUT (yes its a big but), do you stay to see out Jarvis and the JMC on the closing nights, or do you join the exodus to Worthy Farm? Glastonbury (22-24 June) has capacity up to 177,500 (gulp) for its return. Weve been promised more toilets, more bins, more stages, more of everything.

Its a question of who isnt playing this term too, with headliners The Killers, The Who and Arctic Monkeys joined by everyone from Dame Shirley Bassey and Smokey Robinson, to Bjork, Arcade Fire and Hot Chip. The Dance Village is bigger than Milton Keynes, and of course the possibilities endless in terms of experiences to be had.

Culture doesnt stop in Pilton though. Train it 300 miles north for the Manchester International Festival (28 June-15 July). There is an incredible amount on offer here with exhibitions, films, debates and discussions alongside a live music programme that will see Lou Reed perform Berlin, PJ Harvey in a rare UK outing and Kanye West.

The opening performance of the Chinese circus opera classic Monkey Journey to the West is the one not to miss though, and will feature a live performance of the score written and performed by Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett (Gorillaz).

A fortnight is a long time to spend at a festival, so if Manchester starts to drag, grab that passport again and head to Denmark for Roskilde (5- 8 July). The spectrum of bands runs from all corners of the planet: Beirut, The Kissaway Trail, Mastodon, My Chemical Romance, to Tiesto, Bjork, Queens of the Stone Age, Clipse, Mika and LCD Soundsystem, to stages devoted to unsigned Danish indie and drum n bass.

By this point a break is in order. Eight weeks into festival season and 10 festivals is no mean feat. You get a week off.

Batteries recharged, Latitude (13-15 July) is a good way to get back into the flow of things. The surroundings of Henham, Halesworth provide the environment for three days of indie, folk and alternative that sees the likes of Peter and The Pirates, Im From Barcelona and Bat For Lashes mingle with Damien Rice, The Good The Bad and the Queen and Arcade Fire. There is plenty on offer aside from live music too, with film, comedy, cabaret and literary arenas. Children are welcome and walks and parties in the woods are also on the cards.

Be sure to pack your factor 35 as our next stop is the Costa del Azahar for Benicassim (19-22 July). Although the beach party has been scrapped, this year is even more nocturnal (first bands on 8pm, last act 6am) with a bill that sees the Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Iggy and the Stooges, Wilco and Rufus Wainwright. Theres also one of the best dance stages on the European circuit which welcomes Vitalic, Gus Gus, Simian Mobile Disco and Ellen Allien. And the beach.

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