Glastonbury, Reading, Roskilde, Primavera Sound. Names that roll off the tongue and get those same tongues wagging about lineup releases, set time clashes and the inevitable festival camping travails in the equally inevitable torrential downpour. If you’re reading this, however, chances are that you’re already familiar with the aforementioned heavyweights and are looking for an experience out of the ordinary, off the beaten path, or even just plain less expensive; and lets face it, in a world of Fyre Festival meltdowns for over a grand in greenbacks, the last of these considerations is undoubtedly close to everyone’s hearts. From far afield to closer to home, here are the OxStu’s picks of the festivals promising to be the sound of the summer.
Truck Festival, Oxfordshire
Closest to home out of the festivals on this list, Truck Festival nonetheless makes it onto this guide for several reasons. This year’s lineup, headlined by mid-aughts art-rock giants Franz Ferdinand, Liverpudlian late-aughts favourites the Wombats and the early tens singalong surf-pop stylings of the Vaccines, promises to be as heavy on the laddish chanting as Reading and Leeds, yet the festival’s commitment to being the “anti major festival” is genuine, ranging from its charitable commitments to its family friendly appeal, thus making it an attractive option for those staying behind in Oxford beyond ninth week.
Flow Festival, Helsinki
As much of a rite of passage for young Finns as Reading and Leeds inexplicably seems in this country to be for the recently GSCE-free, the Finnish upstart has attracted international acclaim in recent years for its eclectic lineups and all round good vibes. Electronic music is heavily represented, with the inimitable Aphex Twin, techno sensation Nina Kravitz, and Detroit godfathers Model 500 and Larry Fingers all on the bill. From the left field come the Sacramento experimental hip hop of Death Grips, with frontman MC Ride’s macbook-throwing antics providing guaranteed amusement, along with the live jazz-hop sensation of BadBadNotGood. The highlights, however, are all hip hop: RnB star Frank Ocean, oddball rappers Young Thug and Danny Brown, and the freewheeling Vince Staples top the bill, whilst the most ubiquitous soundtrack to disappointing sex since Barry White, the XX, make a welcome appearance for those with less adventurous palates.
Love International, Croatia
Another one for fans of underground electronic dance music, this Croatian heavyweight lives up to its name. The combination of sun-kissed beaches, picturesque mediterranean surroundings and all night raves is a winner made even more victorious by its reasonable pricing at £125 for an 8-day ticket. LGBTQ hero the Black Madonna, scene hero Ben UFO, and lush house guru Leon Vynehall promise crowd-pleasing selections all night long, whilst Midland, fresh from last summer’s ubiquitous end of set anthem, “Final Credits”, Horsemeat Disco and jack queen Heidi promise likewise. The more experimental appearances, however, appear the most tantalising, uncharacteristically for a beachside festival: acid techno banger merchants Paranoid London stand out from the crowd on that count, whilst left field duo Optimo promise hard and deliver heavy time after time.
End of the Road Festival, Dorset
Perennially renowned as the cast-iron guarantee of any indie rock lover’s dream lineup, this year’s iteration appears no different, bringing indie darlings such as Mac DeMarco, Father John Misty, Car Seat Headrest and Japandroids together with scene godparents in the Jesus and Mary Chain and Slowdive. Harder stuff is on offer from cult frontman Ty Segall’s fuzzed out garage rock, whilst effervescent summery pop from Alvvays and elegant jazz balladry from Tyneside auteur Nadine Shah round out the top billing. Real ale lovers, meanwhile, will be contented with the reappearance of their hugely successful beer tent, promising local ales and craft beers to slake any thirst.
Body and Soul, Westmeath, Ireland
Taking place at Ballinlough Castle, Ireland’s answer to the experience-driven festivals of the United States promises ethereal joys amongst the beautiful gardens of the castle grounds, complete with midnight jacuzzis in a multicoloured forest and other such Instagram-friendly installations. The music is not to be sniffed at however: flamboyant indie pop outfit Metronomy, downtempo legend Bonobo, and underground punk darlings Sleaford Mods all top the bill, whilst Anglo-Sudanese afro-soul outfit Sinkane and Songhoy Blues’ Talking Heads-meets-Ali Farka Touré’s melting pot of Malian groove both bring a welcome touch of multicultural diversity to the billing.
Weekend Au Bord de L’Eau, Sierre, Switzerland
The real joker drawn amongst this well-shuffled pack, this festival triumphs on its esoteric appeal and its strong sense of community. Situated in the picturesque setting of Sierre, surrounded by terraced vineyards, snow-capped alpine peaks and a stunning lake, pedalo rides and diving into the lake right off the stage are the order of the day. Local breweries and wineries provide the fuel for the alcoholic fire, whilst an eclectic lineup of deep house, electro, ska, and folk complete the kaleidoscopic scope. This writer can also confirm, after having worked for the festival last year without bothering to secure a camping spot, that camping out wild in the alps is a hell of a way to spend a weekend. Just beware of the mountain goats.