Ahead of 2020’s edition, Ben Standring provides an extensive preview of the annual charity festival set to take Nottingham by storm.
In less than a week, more than sixty artists will be taking over Nottingham for Beat The Streets Festival. Hosted across eight stages and four venues, nationally and locally-acclaimed musicians will come together in the city centre on Sunday 26th January to help raise money for Framework, the Nottingham charity dedicated to bettering the lives of homeless people.
With set-times and the full line-up now announced, there is a whole host of talent and festivities ready to enjoy at Rock City, Rescue Rooms, Bodega and Rough Trade, on a day which will deliver much needed funds to help homelessness. In startling fashion, Nottingham’s own crown prince Jake Bugg returns to play Rock City, headlining the festival for the first time a matter of months after wowing crowds with a show that sold-out the same venue in just a day. The Clifton-born singer-songwriter’s growing versatility throughout the years and over four records makes a set like Bugg’s one to be relished. Expect the chart-topping indie-rocker to deliver a mix of new tracks, whilst also returning to tracks from his 2012 self-titled debut record that shot to the coveted number one spot in the UK album charts.
Whilst Bugg headlines the Main Stage at 15:45, opening the festival will be rock and roll four-piece Reflekter, whose 2019 saw them sell-out The Bodega, score a Top 5 entry in the Official Vinyl Singles Chart with the anthemic 75 Trips, and receive BBC Radio 1 airplay, all whilst building towards their biggest year to date in 2020. Their foot-stomping, toe-tapping sound has gained a raucous grassroots following, making their opening set a reason to get into the city as early as possible.
One of the surprise highlights from last year’s Dot to Dot Festival, Sheffield rockers Sheafs return to Nottingham for an early Rescue Rooms slot at 15:15. Fresh off the back of a UK headline tour, which included a riotous show at the same venue in October, their set at Beat The Streets will be an early highlight on a day bristling with rock talent. Nottingham quintet Sancho Panza will bring their psychedelic-pop and slacker rock blend to Rescue Rooms’ Main Stage, whilst Velvet Blush headline Rock City Beta with their grunge-led anthems, which have already been compared to Wolf Alice and Courtney Barnett. A wide range of indie, rock and alternative highlights will also come from Kynch, Celestines, Cucumaras, Nactus Kunan, Joey Collins, Vega Bay, Black Cats and Magpies, The Mocking Jays and many more.
Eyre Llew’s genre-bending neo-classical sound is priceless in the current musical climate. The overwhelming power within the trio’s reverb-driven tracks carries enough momentum to transport even the most complex of individuals back into a state of primality, and with the addition of a string section on Rock City’s Main Stage, their set could prove to be the highlight of the day. Winner of The Mic’s Nottingham Solo Artist 2019, Tori Sheard’s timeless smile has the ability to light up venues bigger than the Main Stage slot at 14:45, yet her blend of modern pop and folk-inspired tracks have gained comparisons to the likes of Emmylou Harris and Stevie Nicks. Her Bodega sell-out show was a local highlight of the year, so expect a large crowd to be kicking off 2020 by basking in Sheard’s love-torn adolescent tales, resonating on a spiritual level that cascades into the physical realm.
Nottingham sensation Mollie Ralph’s contemporary twist on soul has gained plaudits from Dean Jackson on BBC Introducing, and her set is not to be missed with the prospect of new material being performed. A MOJO Top 10 album winner in 2017 and 2018, Grace Petrie’s unique takes on life, love and politics led to The Observer describing the folk activist as ‘the urgent, pulsing, compassionate talent this world desperately needs’. In 2018, Petrie launched a kickstarter campaign to fund her first studio album Queer As Folk, which subsequently raised £18,000 in just two weeks – a demonstration of the impactful nature of her music and the grassroots support she has subsequently received.
Whilst Jake Bugg highlights a Nottingham artist at the peak of his powers, Laurie Illingworth is beginning his climb in 2020. Possessing the potential to be one of the city’s most important artists in recent memory, Illingworth’s voice is so startlingly pure and raw that it cuts through the air like a knife through butter, and, combined with a band, his sound infuses influences ranging from Bon Iver to Dermot Kennedy to James Blake. No Water is already a live highlight with an insatiable saxophone groove, and despite having nothing released to date, the maturity of the artist looks set to place him in good stead to take Beat The Streets and the city by storm this year. Whilst only releasing debut single Copenhagen last year, singer-songwriter Camille Christel’s beguiling brand of ambient folk has already picked up support from seasoned industry figures such as Mary Anne Hobbs. The thirst for escapism conjures an ethereal live experience, drenched in emotion and maturity that makes her an exciting prospect for the coming months.
An array of huge voices will be littered around the city on Sunday 26th January. Rising star Jerub plays a huge slot on Rescue Rooms’ Main Stage at 18:15, whilst Megatrain, Jonny Olley, Sunflower Thieves, Wilted Flower, Alfie Sharp and Chloe Rodgers are all worth trying to see. Nottingham’s music scene has been brimming with solo, acoustic and pop-based talent in recent years, making 2020 an invigorating and competitive period to be solo artist. Beat The Streets 2020 will see the likes of Katie Keddie, Callum Kerrigan, Louis Croft, Jinda Biant, Tash Bird, Wilf & The Hullabaloo and Ryan Brooks performing at the festival, with Sam Barker opening Rescue Rooms’ Main Stage after winning the Acoustic Rooms competition earlier in the month.
Nusic’s current ‘Future Sound of Nottingham’ champion, Remy, is currently working with Nina Smith’s First Light label, and following a breakout year in 2019 with a Splendour main stage slot and Sofar Sounds backing, the singer’s brand of John Mayer-esque guitar-pop will be a dreamy break from reality on Bodega’s main stage. A BBC Introducing favourite and bonafide popstar-in-waiting, Jacob Fowler not only has the internal team behind him to help deliver a catalogue of hits, but also possesses the drive and voice to carry them off. Emzae’s self-produced, electro-pop combines confessional, bold lyrics with pop hooks and exquisite production. The Derby artist and producer has already received praise from BBC Introducing and Transgressive and her set will be a unique spectacle for pop fans.
Alongside the conventional range of artists on display, there are some more left-field alternatives for attendees. A moment of podcasting history will be created at Rescue Rooms, with Reservoir Red Dogs’ first ever show recording with a live audience. Funded by Youth Music and the National Lottery Community fund, the Circle of Light project brought together over twenty music industry professionals, including the likes of Scor-zay-zaa, Rob Green and Stacey McMullen, to help sixty 16-25 year-olds achieve their dream of creating an album over a three-week period in the summer, whilst also helping to create a safe space to encourage free and open conversation about mental health. The group released their album at Metronome on World Mental Health Day in October last year, creating a piece of Nottingham music history in the process. As such, their set on the Rock City Main Stage will be an inspirational moment for many.
Bringing proceedings to a momentous close on the Rock City Main Stage with their legendary communal singalong experience, Bama Lama Sing Song have enjoyed unequivocal success in the past for years. With no singer, audience participation is very much encouraged, with covers from Elvis to Radiohead being played by a stunning live band. Whilst proceedings in Rock City will stop with a communal singalong, those wanting to continue the party can dance the night away at Rescue Rooms and The Bodega as a host of live DJs will be spinning records until the early hours of the morning.
Having raised a grand total of £167,000 over the past two events, this year’s festival is still rooted in its drive to eradicate homelessness in Nottingham. 2019’s event managed to keep Sneinton’s homeless shelter open throughout the year, providing ten direct accommodation places for those sleeping rough in the city. Beat The Streets’ organisers aim to keep helping the charity grow its front-line vital services with all proceeds raised from ticket sales, merchandise and bar sales in DHP venues (Rock City, Rescue Rooms, Bodega) going to Framework.
Due to popular demand, the charity tombola will be making a return to the event in 2020, located at the Rock City merchandise desk on the day. Expect a vast array of exciting prizes, which include donations from the likes of Splendour Festival, Dot To Dot Festival, Rock City, Broadway Cinema, HMV, Brewdog and many more, with all proceeds from tickets donated to Framework.
Beat The Streets is being delivered by DHP Family in collaboration with local organisations and music groups including I’m Not from London, Farmyard Records, Hockley Hustle, and Rough Trade. Tickets are priced from £10 and are on sale now from www.alttickets.com/beat-the-streets-tickets - these will allow access for 14+ to all participating venues. With live music due to get underway at 13:15, attendees can savor performances from a huge range of artists. The full list of set times can be found here.
You can also stay up to date with the festival on their social media:
Mailing List: http://www.dhpfamily.com/beat-the-streets-mailing-list/
The Mic will be there on the day as well, providing highlights on our Instagram story @themicnotts. With an array of talent on display, there is no reason to miss one of Nottingham's best day's of live music.