Beyond the Tracks Day Three, 17th September, 2017

We stand in a muddy field as sheets of rain fall onto our jackets and boots. Huddled together we probably look like a pack of penguins, muddy and weathered penguins. For any at a festival it is a familiar scene. Masses of people huddled together standing firm against the weather as they listen to the blessings that are music. Sunday at Beyond the Tracks brought about such a scene; like moths to a flame we gathered to hear artists deliver amazing rock centered performances.

Despite the rain, bands like the legendary Peter Hook & The Light, Slowdive, Wild Beasts, and closer Editors took to the stage to cap off an incredible weekend of festival fun.

For anyone who identifies as a fan of rock music, then the name Peter Hook is familiar and well loved. Even for those who are less rock educated, the influx of Joy Division t-shirts is truly undeniable. You can’t walk into a hipster store or go to a mainstream music festival without seeing  Joy Division apparel on some individual. Peter Hook, bassist of Joy Division and New Order, then has a resounding importance in culture, whether you know his name or not. Peter joined with band mates in 2010, coming along as Peter Hook and The Light.

The band took to the Beyond the Tracks stage, completely wowing fans that were excited to see such an important and iconic figure. Pulling singles from both Joy Division and New Order, the band layered genius sonic moments with a visual display that was nothing short of magical. Each lick brought about a new exploration of sound that completely transformed the misty afternoon. To be in the presence of musicians who are so established and defined is truly a joy, and Peter Hook and The Light did not disappoint.

It is no doubt hard to follow the insanity and beauty that is Peter Hook and The Light, but band Slowdive was up to the challenge. Slowdive is a Reading based band that mixes melancholy indie sound with some rock sensibility. After taking a few moments of rest, the band is back with label Dead Oceans, creating new music and back on the road. Like Peter Hook and The Light, Slowdive has amassed quite a following over these years. No doubt their fandom reached Birmingham some time ago, as the band played their top hits fans sang along with enthusiasm.

Along with their hits the band also played some newer tunes, showing fans that while they may have waited for new music the wait would not be too much longer. Slowdives show was a bit more melancholy and relaxed then some of the other rock bands of the day, and yet their set offered a beautiful light moment, an indie pop rock display of perfection.

Wild Beasts were up next. The indie pop rock band may not have the history as some of the others from the day, coming about in the early 2000s, yet with their fifth studio out only a year ago they have quickly released incredible music. The first thing you notice when watching a Wild Beasts show is their incredible and somewhat haunting visual display. The band was backlit by a large mechanic head that often seemed to undulate to the beat. The artificial presence was startling and very noticeable, giving the stage an eerie big brother sort of feeling. The visuals juxtaposed at times the more indie pop rock sound. Uptempo and danceable, the music was lively and fans reacted by bouncing around to each tune.

Each song displayed a new sonic treasure, a new bit of sound or intermixing of genres, giving the show a really intriguing explorative feel. That, combined with the visuals that made you imagine and think, produced a mind-altering show that quickly made Wild Beasts the best set of the weekend.

Editors ended the night, closing out the festival in a blaze of pure rock glory. Birmingham’s own, Editors lit up the night for the festival closing set. Like the other artists of the day, Editors impressive discography meant that they had a lot of possible sets to draw from. Playing hit after hit, the band wowed fans with their elongated instrumentals and powerful rock undertones. Each song seemingly displaying a new emotion of life; there were songs of excitement and joy, many where dark and mysterious. The band was able to string together a jarring yet soothing set that played on human emotion and the very existence of humanity. It was clear why the band have repeatedly been heralded as the best British rock band of this age.

Beyond the Tracks may be a new Birmingham festival, yet their lineup over the three days displayed a depth and perfection that is rarely noted at such a young festival. With a clear vision and a clear sonic string, the festival put together an experience that delighted and entertained despite the less than exciting weather. One left, looking forward to next year and the next announcements from Beyond the Tracks.

Reviewer: Kylie McCormick

Photographer: Katja Ogrin

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