On its tenth anniversary, Bearded Theory managed to bring to festival goers its eclectic mix of mainstream musical artists as well as more obscure acts that are not so well known. With a variety of stages and circus tents ranging from the seclusion of the Woodland Grove to the Big Top and Main Stage, there was something for every taste. When you first land on planet Bearded Theory, it’s a sensory feast. Pure escapism and an excuse to set free your inhibitions and sensible wardrobe are compulsory. The fields adjoining the festival site are rammed with pop-up villages and settlements of caravans, tents, forging communities amongst the thousands of people that attended. People converged and socialised with old friends to a backdrop of spiritualised and liberating society contained within the boundaries of Bearded Theory. If you have a beard, which although not compulsory, is recommended (unless of course you’re a child or a lady) you know you’ve found a home for the weekend. This year, John Robb (The Membranes and Editor of Louder Than War) hosted the ‘Annual Attempt To Break The World Record For The Largest Number of People Wearing False Beards’, I caught up with John after the event but he wasn't 100% sure whether the 2016 record was beaten or not, more info on this story as it emerges!
I took in as many bands and styles of music as possible during the festival. The Woodland stage set in a sunny glade was home for a diverse number of acts. From rock roots artists like SON PRIMO, who sounded much like the Manic Street Preachers, to perennial circuit favourites WILLE AND THE BANDITS there was plenty to please the masses. With most acts here dropping 45 min sets, there was plenty of variety and content throughout the day. Other acts I caught in this shady oasis included SMILEY AND THE UNDERCLASS, and MAIA.
Moving into the central arena of the festival we have the main stage and its orbiting big tops. Offering DJ and dance music, through to nightmarish punk carnival trash. All venues offered a diverse and cultural home for those liking their music off the spectrum or normality and banality.
The main stage this year was able to attract some bona fide A-listers such as SLAVES, MADNESS, and SEASICK STEVE, these mainstage marvels were ably supported by ALABAMA 3, FAERGROUND ACCIDENT and SKUNK ANANSIE who gave the crowd a real taste of diversity via the quick rotation of sets.
The weather was kind for this coming together of kindred folk and travellers, something previous years has fallen fowl of, people commented that it was nice NOT having to yomp around in knee high mud! Children saw their parents dressed in outrageous and free-spirited costumes, the family emphasis was very much on display throughout these three days. If you like your festivals colourful, loud, and with a sprinkling of fantasy and carny, you wouldn’t have been disappointed. The fact it is celebrating its 10th year goes to show there is a high demand for this ‘mini-Glasto’ and long may that continue.
At the end of the day, it's people that make festivals what they are and to end our piece on the Bearded Theory festival for 2017, here's a selection of our favourite shots that we took throughout the site, enjoy!
To see ALL of the photos that we took at the festival, please click HERE
Words and Pictures by Mark Tipping