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Badgering about at Beachdown 2008

As a young festival-goer raised on the battery eggs of festivals such as Reading and V, the inaugural Beachdown Festival is a breath of fresh air and an all together more free-range affair. No overly crowded, overly littered site; no ridiculously priced food from questionable sources; no attempts at headline-grabbing by booking the ‘next big thing’ or last year’s washed up ‘next big thing’.

Instead, Beachdown is nestled amongst the picturesque Sussex downs, with the modest crowd of 10,000 being treated to fare from some of Brighton’s best eateries and a plethora of great acts spanning four stages and four days.

The Main Stage is peppered with fantastic local talent, but also serves up the obligatory helping of big names like The Magic Numbers, José González and Gogol Bordello, whilst Stage Two’s focus fixes firmly on music to make you feel good. Impressively, the Brighton Stage hosts acts all day, every day, helping to showcase the strength and originality of the local music scene, and the Electronic Tent has tunes for those with their dancing wellies on.

So, here are The Badger’s top picks from the best spent bank holiday weekend in a long time…

Brakes (Main Stage, Sat)

If The Badger ever had an awards ceremony, then Brakes would definitely win ‘most versatile live band’ hands down. The Brighton-based four-piece are equally comfortable playing their short, sharp, humorous punk songs as their quirky yet emotional sunny indie tunes, with ‘Porcupine or Pineapple’ being a personal favourite. Catch them live as soon as you can.

Lightspeed Champion (Main Stage, Sat)

The latest project from Dev Hynes, formerly of chaotic punks Test Icicles, shows a much softer side, with delicate violin accompanying gentle guitars and heartfelt lyrics. Sadly, the lack of energy in the music comes over on stage, making for a less than thrilling set to watch.

Heels Catch Fire (Brighton Stage, Sun)

Spiky guitars, thumping drums and boy-girl vocals form the engaging sound of Heels Catch Fire, who should be on the ‘ones to watch’ list of any Brighton muso.

Hercules and Love Affair (Main Stage, Sat)

This New York outfit pull in festival- goers like the pied pipers of disco, showing everyone just how dance music should be: funky, original and fun.

Fink (Main Stage, Sun)

Brighton’s Fink stand out from the mire of middle-of-the-road folksters with beautifully harmonised vocals and lyrics laced with tension and suspense. Hauntingly breathtaking.

José González (Main Stage, Mon)

Minimalistic singer-songwriter José Gonzalez impresses with his intricate Latin-inspired guitar sound, but fails to excite the crowd, rousing only a mildly animated cheer or two when the opening bar of ‘that song from that advert’, aka ‘Heartbeats’, kicks in.

Gogol Bordello (Main Stage, Mon)

By far the most entertaining act of the weekend, this Russian-American alliance of gypsy punks led by inimitable front-man Eugene Hutz didn’t even stop for breath between songs. Complete with a duo of acrobatic backing dancers, the band relentlessly hammered out their best-known hits, as well as lesser known ones, to a rapturous crowd. Exhausting to watch, but definitely worth it.

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