beach-break-live-festival-review

Last weekend I was sent to Wales, armed only with a camera and my wellies, to write a review of Beach Break Live for the good folks over at Lucozade. After 9 hours of motorways, sheep and signs with an alarming consonant/vowel ratio I arrived at the festival site chucked my stuff in a tent and headed straight into the arena with a thirst for live music and complimentary Lucozade.

Beach Break Live 2011 Review

Last weekend I was sent to Wales, armed only with a camera and my wellies, to write a review of Beach Break Live for the good folks over at Lucozade. After 9 hours of motorways, sheep and signs with an alarming consonant/vowel ratio I arrived at the festival site chucked my stuff in a tent and headed straight into the arena with a thirst for live music and complimentary Lucozade.

In the five years since it’s inception, Beach Break Live has managed to establish itself very successfully in an extremely saturated and competitive market. The last few years have seen a massive increase in the number of new, boutique festivals, too innumerable to list here. Now, in summer 2011, there’s not a weekend goes by that doesn’t see an army of revellers flock to a field somewhere to see their favourite bands and drink over-priced lager. So what is it that separates Beach Break Live from the flock? Well, all good festivals have their own niche, and Beach Break Live has more than a few!

First and foremost, they recognised that whilst the majority of people that go to festivals are students, there wasn’t actually a festival that was designed specifically for them. Being students themselves, it was probably fairly easy to work out what the ideal student festival should involve, and it seems to me like they’ve hit the nail pretty much on the head.

beach-break-live-2011-wales-festival

Whilst the underground music aficionado may not be blown away by the relatively middle-of-the-road lineup and music policy I do genuinely believe the musical programming provides something for all tastes; along with some very impressive headliners. This year’s lineup included (to name but a handful) the likes of Example, Professor Green, Tinie Tempah, Magnetic Man, Katy B, Mark Ronson, Ed Sheeran, We Are Scientists, Beardyman, Zane Lowe and Sub Focus. Whilst this was undeniably a heavyweight lineup, some of my personal highlights came stumbling across hidden gems playing on the smaller stages. The most notable example of this, for me, was the Chai Wallah tent. The Chai Wallah tent tours the UK festival circuit, putting in appearances at Glastonbury, Bestival, Secret Garden Party, Shambala and of course Beach Break, bringing it’s own roster of bands and DJs, food and drink, with a focus on a soul-warming party atmosphere. Musically, you can expect hearty doses of soul, funk, ska, hip hop, dub, reggae and jazz from some of the most talented musicians in the country. The first band we saw in the Chai Wallah tent was Bristol’s Baby Head. I had never even heard of them before, but the first thing I did when I got home (after a shower, of course) was to go and buy their album on iTunes. For me, this is what festivals are all about – organically discovering fresh music – and I urge everyone to take an occasional break from the main stages this summer and have a hunt around the fringes and see what you find. If you’re a die-hard specialist music fan, looking for an upfront specialist music festival, Beach Break Live is probably not for you, but that’s not really what Beach Break is about – Beach Break is all about the party.

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And what a party it is. It’s generally accepted that the people are what make a party, and when you’ve got 20,000 like-minded students together in one place the atmosphere is noticeably different from other festivals. I went to Beach Break Live in 2010 and 2011, and did not see a single fight either year. The general vibe all weekend is really laidback and friendly with students from different universities, towns and cities mingling freely, the shared common ground of being students making talking to complete strangers an easy undertaking (I must have overheard “What uni are you from?” at least a dozen times).

If a tantalising line up and the promise of 20,000 students wasn’t tempting enough, Beach Break Live has another, unique, selling point; a beach. Originally taking place at Polzeath, the eponymous beach is now at Pembrey Country Park in Carmarthenshire, Wales – a 500 acre park including 8 miles of sandy beaches, a dry ski slope (yes, you heard correctly), the longest toboggan run in the country, zorbing facilities, golf courses and some kind of tree-top high-wire adventure playground. The beach plays host to a wealth of activities and attractions including surfing, kitesurfing, windsurfing, wakeboarding, volleyball competitions, sand sculptures, (girls in bikinis!) and it’s very own stage of live bands and DJs. Whilst I kept my feet firmly on dry land all weekend, I saw plenty of people taking part in the extreme sports on offer and it really adds a very special extra dimension to the festival.

beach-break-live-2011

My second year at Beach Break was no less enjoyable than my first, and I fully expect next year to be just as good again. If you’re looking for a unique festival experience, a little different from your average musical mudbath then you should definitely give Beach Break a look. Big thanks to Lucozade and Beach Break Live for an excellent weekend away.

As you can see from the snaps, we met more animals than just sheep, many girls with little clothes, a Lucozade YES charging station (they are not weeing behind there we promise!) and a guest appearance by Chewbacca!

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