What’s that, there, on the horizon? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a spaceship? No, It’s Beacons Metro! Northern staple Beacons Festival has this year spread its wings and left its Skipton home to colonise the Leeds gig calendar this autumn, changing its name to reflect its newfound urbanity. Possibly it also went to a hairdressers and asked for a short-back-and-sides-and-quiff; it’s looking very trendy, at any rate.
Presenting a full 12 week programme of events across three cities, it aims to be more broadly accessible and affordable than its previous incarnation as a traditional camping festival. Its storming line-up and superb venue choices cement its place in the list of ‘Things You Should Be Excited About Now’.
The festival really kicks off in Leeds on the 2nd October, with a free-entry party headlined by enigmatic electronic wanderer East India Youth at Headrow House. ‘But wait,’ you say, ‘Headrow House doesn’t sound familiar!’ That’s because the 2nd of October is also its launch party, when this behemoth of a venue will slip its moorings and swim free into the wild of Leeds culture. A former textile mill, the three-storey building has over 11,000 square feet of space – exciting news for those of us who find music more enjoyable if we can flail our limbs around at the same time. From the minds behind the Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen, with its successful mash-up of art, music, beer and food, Headrow House will contain a beer hall, cocktail bar, live music space, a restaurant, outdoor areas and two roof terraces. The venue will be the base for Beacons Metro in Leeds, with the majority of the festival’s gigs taking place under its enormous roof; other venues involved are the rock solid Belgrave Music Hall and Canal Mills.
Mainly rock and electronica in a multiplicity of forms, the line-up boasts names such as Everything Everything, Portico, The Wytches, and Titus Andronicus, as well as showcasing firmly home-grown talent such as emo-rock band Calls Landing – who take their name from the eponymous pub known for its oysters – at least one member of which you may well have been served a pint by in the Belgrave. They also play dancey, headbanging music to make you want to flick your fringe over your eyes and dig out your Panic! at the Disco-era skinny jeans.
Also playing are nihilistic Glaswegian trio Baby Strange; London four-piece Palace, who bill themselves as alternative blues/rock and play music that sounds like going through old summer photographs; and Son Lux, an American artist who creates sun-drenched, dreamy electronica and who is definitely one of the (many) highlights of Beacons Metro.
The newly-branded, newly-reborn Beacons Metro looks set to be just as important as Beacons Festival ever was, if not more. Go and dance into the dead of winter with it, because it will be wonderful.