BBC 6Music Festival: Hear all about it

Polly Checkland Harding

Three stages, over 30 performances and a plug from Maxine Peake – it could only be BBC 6Music’s new festival.

If you tuned into to 6Music this week, you may have heard it mentioned… just a few times. The radio station is currently making full use of its airwaves to publicise the new 6Music Festival, which will be staged in Manchester at the end of February. It’s even got dulcet voiceovers from Maxine Peake to make double sure it doesn’t go un-noted by passing ears. It seems that the team is anxious about how the two-day festival will go down in its first ever year – nervous, perhaps, in the aftermath of the Great Yuletide Wallet-robbery and the sobering effects of dry January. Some 8,500 tickets go on sale this Friday (24 Jan) and you can bet your bottom dollar – or your granny’s festive knitting efforts, if you’d rather – that they’d love to compete with the record sell-out times of other yearly musical offerings. Well, we predict that the station needn’t be worried: the 6Music Festival may not be the Glastonbury of the north, but its line-up and price, as well as its place amid the relatively empty, rain-dreary weeks of spring (the festival is to be held under the shelter of Victoria Warehouse), mean that its tickets are likely to fly out the door.

6Music even has Maxine Peake to make double sure the festival doesn’t go un-noted by passing ears

At £25 a day, the door tax seems more than reasonable. Above 10 performances for about the price of two gig tickets, a high street t-shirt or one of Lady Gaga’s acrylic nails (first hand, at least: one of her castoff falsies was auctioned for over $12,000 last year) – that’s not bad. The festival features the likes of Mercury Prize winner James Blake, veterans Franz Ferdinand and darlings of David Cameron, Haim. Not to forget the nicely rhyming Midlake, Jake Bugg and the Staves – the latter of which are skin-chillingly good live. Then there’s Cincinnati band The National, who have, ironically, an international fan base, as well as the perversely-named rock group from Crouch End, Bombay Bicycle Club. Finally, Damon Albarn will debut music from his new album. The live acts are set to take up two stages; the third will be dedicated to a silent disco, presided over by Mary Ann Hobbs, Tim Burgess and Groove Armada. It’s entertaining just picturing what the silently grooving crowd will look like, let alone actually being there.

Running alongside will be a Festival Fringe, a separately ticketed, daytime schedule that includes a record fair, spoken word appearances from the main stage musicians, alongside 6Music’s best-loved poets, a photography exhibition and a silent cinema, overseen by Grammy Award-winning 6Music presenter Don Letts. Tickets for the Festival Fringe are free and will be available via a BBC audience ballot. Setting all flippancy aside, 6Music Festival is set to be light on the pocket and all the best kinds of heavy on the ears. They’re quite right to make sure you don’t miss hearing about it.

TICKETS FOR THE FESTIVAL HAVE NOW SOLD OUT. You can listen to the acts that are performing on the BBC Playlister – and watch the festival as it happens on the BBC Radio 6 Music website.

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