When we think of the UK festival landscape, our thoughts are no longer limited to fields. In fact, the imagination has no limit. Festival sites have emerged in our parks, docks, cathedrals, seaside and streets. One thing these city festivals do so well is champion new music.
Championing new music means more than booking lesser known acts to fill gaps. The city festivals on this list artfully curate unique settings for discovering your new favourite band. These quirky city festival experiences remain unforgettable to the artist and fan.
The Great Escape - Brighton - May 19th - 21st May 2016
Most famous for championing new music here in the UK is of course, The Great Escape. A valued music business convention, The Great Escape showcases over 400 up and coming artists from all over the world across 35 walk-able venues every May in Brighton. After securing a spot on the bill, performing at the festival is sometimes a daunting and exciting experience for new artists.
Last year we enjoyed a chat with emerging talent Rag N Bone Man who summed it up perfectly: I know what it’s like feeling the pressure of going into a music business environment where you’re cautious of how you’re coming across to certain people.
In the audience at The Great Escape you will find: A&Rs, agents, artist managers, festival bookers, festival promoters, journalists, labels and more. Among the artists performing this year is Lady Leshurr. A lady responsible for championing the rise of female rappers, brining a dose of fierce, gritty urban rhymes.
Sound City - Liverpool - May 28th - 29th 2016
Crowned winner of Best Metropolitan Festival at the 2015 UK Festival Awards, it’s no surprise Liverpool Sound City tops our list. Once a conventional city festival held across multiple music venues in Liverpool, Sound City recently moved to Bramley-Moore Dock. Steeped in history, the festival’s new home champions new music in settings that redefine the ordinary.
This year’s festival continues to push boundaries, teaming up with innovative Liverpool club promoters Freeze. Showcasing the magic behind championing new music, Sound City also features the return of Catfish and the Bottlemen. After applying through Sound City’s Apply to Play scheme, Catfish first played the festival as an unsigned act in 2011, and will headline in 2016.
Not content with changing the format of their music festival alone, Sound City 2016 are completely changing the conference game. Rebranded as Sound City+, this year’s industry and artist focused conference is no place for the light-hearted or delicate. This new approach aims at people who want to shake things up and change everything. A place to meet people, be inspired, have arguments and do some great business.
So there you go, Sound City isn’t just championing new music. Sound City is championing change.
Live At Leeds - April 25th - 30th 2016
A dynamic festival with its finger on the pulse of new music. Live At Leeds consistently perfects the conventional one-day metropolitan festival format. Making the most of Leeds’ famous music venues and their proximity, Live At Leeds sees fans seamlessly wander from venue to venue on a championing journey of discovery.
Live At Leeds is steps ahead of the game in finding and breaking new artists, and this year’s 10th anniversary line up is stronger than ever. Live at Leeds is a music and digital festival, with the digital programme running from 25th – 29th April, and a full day of live music on Saturday 30th April.
Samm Henshaw, Izzy Bizu and the sun drenched indie-pop sounds of Sundara Karma are our top three picks from this year’s diverse bill. Devastatingly, late Viola Beach were among the acts destined for big things at Live At Leeds. Their tragedy serves as a reminder that life is short and unpredictable.
Lovebox Festival - London - July 12th - 16th
Ah, East London. The creative hub of the UK capital, famously home to hipsters, millennial entrepreneurs and other struggling creative types. There’s no short of inspiration in this city, especially not here. Held at Victoria Park, Lovebox Festival started in 2002, founded by DJs Groove Armada.
Fast forward 14 years, Lovebox Festival has announced summer 2016’s most exciting line up so far (in our opinion). Juxtaposing exclusive headline performances with UK festival debuts, Lovebox fiercely champions electronica all the way from Jungle to Jack Garratt. Up and coming acts we’re most excited to see on this year’s line up include Oh Wonder, SG Lewis and DJ Barely Legal.
Field Day - London - June 11th - 12th 2016
The last, and by no means least on our list is another incredible use of East London’s Victoria Park. But this isn’t about London. Field Day looks outside the city, championing new music from across the globe. This year’s festival invites african 7-piece band Mbongwana Star from Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Their music is described as a clever balance between the sunshine vibes of soukous with the gritty reality of life in a Kinshasa slum.
Interesting new music is at the forefront of everything Field Day stands for, creating a line up that educates, entertains and shies away from the usual major label suspects. Take experimental rock band Yeasayer. With their new album Amen & Goodbye set to drop in April, Field Day 2016 will be one of the first opportunities to hear the band’s superbly odd and fantastic new material live in the UK.
A Bit About Our Contributor:
Created as a bedroom project in 2014, Music Festival News is the new kid on the block. When the much-loved festival market totally exploded in the UK, MFN exploded onto the web with a mission to help each festival tell its own story.
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