Final summer season, on my fourth day of sploshing by Glastonbury’s sodden fields, I assumed: “Why do I maintain doing this to myself?”
Certain, the music was nice. Skepta, Adele and Grimes gave unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime performances; and Philip Glass’s Heroes Symphony, an orchestral tribute to David Bowie within the useless of the night time, was unexpectedly transferring.
Even Coldplay – beforehand the one band who’d provoked me to stroll out of a live performance early – gained me over, with a spirited, kaleidoscopic set the place each track felt sufficiently big to be an encore.
However nonetheless, the thought lingered: There should be a greater means.
And it seems I wasn’t alone.
The final decade has seen an explosion in city-based festivals, bringing bands to the doorstep, normally with the additional benefit of getting to twist up in your personal mattress (or another person’s, should you favor) on the finish of the day.
“They’re bobbing up completely all over the place,” says Paul Reed of the Affiliation of Impartial Festivals (AIF). “Simply inside our membership, we have added round eight city-based festivals within the final couple of years.”
One of many latest is Bushstock, which takes place in Shepherd’s Bush. Because it began in 2011, Bushstock has staged early gigs by the likes of Bastille, George Ezra and Michael Kiwanuka in close by pubs, golf equipment and railway arches.
“We have had individuals like Hozier play to 300 individuals in a church, now he performs in entrance of tens of 1000’s of individuals,” says Maz Tuppino, who co-founded the pageant from his buddy’s entrance room eight years in the past.
“We have had Bastille at [local pub] Defector’s Weld in entrance of 200 individuals in 2013. Now they’ve performed the O2 twice.”
It’s a modest occasion, open to simply 1,500 individuals. However tickets begin at simply £18, for which followers can see any of the gigs at any of the venues.
This yr’s line-up is headlined by folk-rock trio The Staves, who’re coming back from a headline tour of America to play a tiny, intimate present at St Stephen’s Church.
For singer Emily Staveley-Taylor, the dimensions of the occasion is the principle attraction.
“Typically, enjoying festivals can really feel like a battle, as a result of 50% of the group are there to get wrecked,” she says.
“I really feel that, an increasing number of, the large festivals have gotten an Instagram-fest. At Bushstock, it looks like the main target is music and the individuals who go there are music followers.
“Once you’re enjoying a venue like a church, the acoustics imply you possibly can hear if somebody is speaking. So when somebody’s telephone goes off, individuals will glare and inform them to kind their lives out.”
For The Defectors’ Weld pub, Bushstock has been a shot within the arm throughout the quiet summer season season.
“We now have to maneuver all of the furnishings out, which is one thing we do not usually do till New Yr’s Eve,” says proprietor John Da Costa.
“Then final yr, we tried to get a photographer in right here and he simply could not discover the house. He needed to climb on the tables and chairs to really get any images. It was completely packed.”
The pageant has a knock-on impact throughout the remainder of the yr, he provides.
“We get followers who go to gigs on the Shepherd’s Bush Empire saying, ‘we’ll positively come again for a drink right here subsequent time, quite than go someplace else’.
“It has been a great pull for us, and prospects returning, completely.”
Whereas Bushstock stays a comparatively small affair, different city festivals have grown to a measurement the place they rival “greenfield” occasions like Latitude and Inexperienced Man.
Sheffield’s Tramlines pageant began out as a free occasion in 2009; unfold throughout 17 native venues, with acts together with The xx and Reverend and the Makers.
This yr, it boasts three purpose-built outside venues, the place the likes of Primal Scream, The Libertines and Kano will play to 20,000 individuals.
“Because it’s grown, I assume individuals have demanded extra,” says the pageant’s co-founder Sarah Nulty.
“We might get followers saying: ‘I purchased a ticket to see Billy Bragg, why cannot I get in to see him?’ and we would should say: ‘He is enjoying a 900-capacity venue and also you did not flip up on time – however take a look at all these different individuals you possibly can go and see!’
“I assume that is the principle motive we moved out of the venues.”
Regardless of the price of constructing and staffing these new phases, prices have been stored down. Tickets for the three-day occasion begin at £30, rising to a most of £45, whereas youngsters go free. Glastonbury, by comparability, prices £238.
“We’re a good-value ticket however should you then issue within the value of a resort, it may well all of a sudden grow to be unaffordable,” Nulty acknowledges.
“So what we have tried to do is figure with pupil halls which are empty throughout the summer season, so you possibly can nonetheless get a mattress and a bathe whereas making the pageant inexpensive.”
And, similar to Bushstock, the Tramlines pageant has given the native financial system a lift, with as much as 70,000 individuals descending on Sheffield each July.
“The wonder is that the entire metropolis joins in,” says Nulty. “So there’s virtually two festivals – a bit like Edinburgh the place there’s the principle pageant after which you’ve got the perimeter.
“A few of our fringe venues have huge, huge line-ups. There was a pub final yr that put Deap Valley of their beer backyard totally free, they usually had individuals climbing over the partitions to attempt to get in.
“It helps make the pageant really feel superb, but it surely’s additionally our competitors – as a result of it is free.”
So, may these city festivals ultimately change the likes of Studying & Leeds or the Isle of Wight pageant?
“There’s nonetheless an excellent urge for food for that conventional tenting expertise,” says Paul Reed on the AIF. “However metropolitan festivals function nice incubators for rising expertise.
“Persons are extra open to discovery. As a result of the line-up is a number of alternative, you possibly can simply stumble into one thing or discover your new favorite band by probability.”
The Staves, in the meantime, are all the time extra prone to say “sure” to a pageant with its personal roof.
“I have been to festivals in fields the place it has been an absolute washout and everybody has left,” laughs Emily Staveley-Taylor. “Otherwise you’re acting on a stage the place the electrics are sparking due to the rain, and you are like, ‘What the hell are we doing?
“Why are we staging outside festivals in a rustic the place it all the time rains in the summertime?’ It is insanity to me.”
- Bushstock takes place on Saturday 10 June, with a line-up together with The Staves, The Massive Moon and Benjamin Francis Leftwich.
- Tramlines runs from Friday 21 to Sunday 23 July, that includes performances from Primal Scream, All Saints, The Libertines and Metronomy.
Comply with us on Fb, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. When you have a narrative suggestion electronic mail.