Friday, June 10, 2022

Go big or go BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend

Hidden away from the tree-lined edges, in the stunning Coventry War Memorial Park in Coventry, sat the setup for one of the most anticipated festivals of the year thanks to its continually moving location and low ticket costs. 

BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend certainly channeled the idea of going big or going home. Whether it’s the thoughtful layout, extensive food options or interesting set lists, it's clear to see that cutting corners isn’t on the cards for the media powerhouse. Across the weekend’s three days, some of the world’s most popular music stars, as well as fresh, up-and-coming talent graced the festival's many stages.

Opening the weekend was a stacked list of electronic performers that each brought their unique mixing abilities and show-stopping visuals to the stage of the tent -- with the mainstage not opening until the following day. The energy was buzzing with anticipation of what was to come and fueled by the beats of the acts. A slew of the world’s top DJs were billed to capture the hearts of Coventry including Patrick ToppingEats Everything b2b Shermanology and Danny Howard to name a few.

The highlight of the line-up for the day was Disclosure (pictured), world-renowned duo who have continued to top the charts for the last decade. The crowd was moving with the rhythm of every song in their set list, erupting constantly to sing along and scream appreciation. Disclosure amped up their performance with live additions, they brought out singer RAYE to sing live to their latest single ‘Waterfall’ and her voice echoed with power that can only be felt during a live set. As well as this, a five-piece brass band was used for their closing number ‘Tondo’ from album ‘ENERGY’ the band brought welcomed layers to the song, elevating it beyond the levels of the radio release - the live performance is a must watch.

The Saturday was packed to the brim with acts, including industry powerhouses Ed Sheeran, Calvin Harris and Anne Marie. The latter of which had a voice that was able to transcend beyond the expected, with the production of her studio recordings tending to do no justice to the vocal power she displayed.

In the tent there was a mixture of fresh and emerging talent like Sam FenderEasy Life and Fontaines D.C, who are quickly becoming household names for their unique twists on indie, pop, and rock genres respectively – certainly holding their own against the heavy-hitters on the mainstage.

Opening mainstage was one of the highest profile artists of the last decade, Ed Sheeran. He delivered on some intimate classics like ‘The A Team’ as well as plenty of hits from latest album ‘=’. He’s an act who puts on a one man show, rife with the use of his loop pedal. His tender voice booming across the arena showing that one man really can do it all.

Sunday was another heavy-hitter with the likes of George EzraLorde and Harry Styles gracing the mainstage. Lorde had a hypnotic presence, clearly born to be a performer, her movements magnetic and her voice enchanting.

In the tent was the soulful Joy CrookesAlfie Templeman and instant hit Wet Leg. Seemingly hitting the scene overnight, Wet Leg have become a household name after the release of their self-titled debut album. Their performance stood out amongst the rest, pulling a lively and bustling crowd that got that morning going, especially with popular track ‘Chaise Longue’.

Due to Charli XCX falling ill and pulling out of the weekend gave way for a surprising last minute addition of Chase and Status. Even more impressive considering the time frame, the jungle-infused electronic duo kept the afternoon’s energy up. Their set list ignited the crowd’s involvement to the max with tracks like the harsh  ‘No Problem’ and ‘Blind Faith’.

Playing the headline slot of the tent that evening was indie sensation Foals, whose crowd were amongst the most intense of the weekend, with a sea of people opening pits as big as the whole tent. Everyone there was looking to let loose and rock out to the classics that Foals delivered upon.

Closing the night was Harry Styleswho easily amassed the largest crowd of the weekend. His global stardom has taken over the world, especially during the course of his solo career. He bounds across the stage, gleeful and effortless. He is a gazelle with the voice of an angel, and it’s not hard to see why he’s so popular. He recently achieved an accolade of having four singles within the top ten of the USA charts at one time, the only other British act to have ever done the same – The Beatles.

Overall, the weekend was a great opener to this festival season -- feel good, family-friendly fun and plenty of acts across a variety of genres that you’re bound to enjoy. Don’t go and expect the gritty scenes or crazy crowds you might find at other UK festivals but do expect to be impressed with the overall production and bang for your buck – especially if you live in the area of the next one!

Jessica McCarrick


Images: BBC Newsbeat

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