Despite the recession, this Summer’s selection of boutique festivals across the UK is strong, with many pushing their biggest line ups so far. Festivals such as those we’ve selected below offer a fantastic alternative to the billboard loving, litter strewn, near-riots of the corporate sponsored mainstream festivals such as V and Reading. Thoughtfully curated line ups are often supplemented by nice food, comedy, film and activity tents, play areas for children and clean toilets, while the smaller numbers mean you stand a chance of actually seeing the bands.
So you want to put on a load of C86-worshipping, twee-core indie pop bands. What could be better than to have them play on a steam train as it snakes its way through the idyllic Derbyshire countryside? Visitors can also enjoy the farm and museum at the festival’s main site of Butterley, where the stages proper are located: a converted engine shed, a church and the more conventional setting of the Elefant Records outdoor stage.
Musically, expect to come back with toothache as it’s all achingly sweet, affected and gentle heartbreak with Camera Obscura, Teenage Fan Club and Emmy the Great headlining, supported by around 50 indie-pop bands I’ve never heard of.
Don’t Miss: Teenage Fanclub / Emmy the Great / Camera Obscura
On the same weekend but the polar musical opposite to Indietracks is Birmingham’s own Supersonic Festival, run by local promotions legends Capsule. As usual, the line up of acts promises to offer music that’s challenging, progressive and often pretty abrasive. Now in its 7th year, Supersonic has grown to cover several sites in the city centre, with the music accompanied by films showings, art and the near-obligatory presence of cake.
Even if you don’t think black doom metal and noise are your thing, Supersonic’s lineup will challenge your perceptions and offer an experience you won’t get at any other festival in the UK. Caribou, Pram and Arboureteum are also on hand to provide something a little more psychedelic and lovely.
Don’t Miss: Caribou / 65 Days of Static / Pram / Arbouretum
The wilderness of the stunning Brecon Beacons location seeps into the ethos of the Green Man Festival: the line up is always heaving with alt. and freak folk, Americana and psychedelia, supplemented by late-night campfire jams, a family-friendly hippie vibe and lots of lovely organic food. This year also sees a greater focus on comedy and literature, with performances/readings by Josie Long, Howard Marks, Julian Cope and producer Joe Boyd, among others.
The only problem with Green Man can be heavy downfalls of rain which turn the site into a mini-Glastonbury, but this year the organisers (including folk duo Its Jo & Danny) have had local Druids bless the site, so I’m sure the sun will be shining over the Welsh hills all weekend long.
Don’t Miss: Animal Collective / Wilco / Grizzly Bear / Andrew Bird / Beach House
Closing out the Summer is End of the Road festival, which is similar in feel and inspired by Green Man, but with a greater disposition towards country and folk artists from across the pond and less of a patchouli whiff surrounding it. Campers are sure to enjoy the rural North Dorset countryside setting of the Larmer Tree Gardens, sharing the space with peacocks and parrots.
We’ve wanted to head for EotR for a couple of years now but this Summer will be our first visit. Looking at the line up there’s probably going to be some heartache caused by scheduling clashes; it’s genuinely one of the best selections I’ve seen at a boutique festival and the organisers claim that it’s the kind of festival “where the entire line-up is the headliner in itself” is actually true.
It will also be a good chance to catch Charlie Parr again as we were totally blown away by his set at Colour back in February.
Don’t Miss: Magnolia Electric Co. / Malcolm Middleton / Richmond Fontaine / Fleet Foxes / Charlie Parr
I hope our little round-up has been useful. We’ve also compiled an 19-track Spotify mix, featuring artist from the four festivals above. Give it a listen and be sure to let us know which festivals you’ll be at this Summer in the comments.