Monday, 24 May 2010

Yemen Feature For Vice V8N5

This is a piece that I wrote the intro for. My colleague Bruno Bayley conducted the interview which I re-produce here just because it's really interesting.


Yemen has never been the most peaceful corner of the Arab world. Situated in the southernmost tip of the Middle East, just across the Gulf of Aden from Somalia, it is the region’s poorest country. It is also one of the more heavily armed Arab nations: it is estimated that there are more than 60 million guns in a country with a population of 25 million. That’s two and a bit guns per person in case you can’t do the math.

The country’s only constant is civil war. Despite supposed unification in 1990, Yemen remains divided between the traditionalist north and the separatist south. But even by its own warring standards, things have been going a little bananas since 2004.

Yemen’s local squabbles, both separatist and sectarian, have, in fact, got so bad that they are threatening to destabalise the entire region. Everyone from Saudi Arabia to Iran, Egypt and Jordan have got involved and started lining up to back sides.

An ongoing conflict in the north of the country between Sunni Yemeni forces and Shiite Houthi insurgents has been bolstered by an independence movement in the south, led by rebel Yemen army militias disillusioned by the northern-based government. Among the leaders of the southern separatists is one Tarik al-Fadhli.

A veteran of the anti-Soviet jihad who fought alongside Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, al-Fadhli and his supporters have been accused of wanting to establish a separatist, extremist Islamic state in southern Yemen. Since allied clampdowns in Pakistan and Afghanistan, it has long been suspected that southern Yemen is a key training centre for Islamic militants.

That belief was confirmed on Christmas Day last year when it was revealed that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian who attempted to bring down a Northwest Airlines Airbus A330 over Detroit, received both his weapon and training from al-Qaeda cells operating in Yemen.

Publicly claiming responsibility for the attack, AQAP (al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula) asserted that it had been prompted by US air attacks on supposed militant targets in the region. This led to an escalation of western-masterminded attacks and AQAP retaliation recently culminating in the recent suicide attack on the British ambassador to Yemen in late April.

While the world’s media continues to train its sights on Afghanistan and Iraq, the US has silently opened up a third theatre in a war on terror that looks about as likely to end as their old favourite, the war on drugs. We decided to speak to Brian O’Neill to find out what’s up in a country with lots of guns, no natural resources and escalating wars both civil and international. Brian used to write and take pictures for the Yemen Observer so it’s safe to say that he knows more about the place than you.

VICE: How did you become so interested in Yemen? It’s not exactly a country that regularly features on A Place In The Sun.
Brian O’Neill:
I have always been interested in the Middle East, I studied in Cairo and even in the Arab world and the world of Arab scholars, Yemen was always this exotic backwater. A strange land. As a younger person that appealed to my sense of exotic adventurism. As I studied it more and looked at its political, demographic and economic trends and its history I began to realize that this country was going to become really important really soon. Its systems were falling apart, its institutions didn’t really hold and there was a growing threat of Al Qaeda. It seemed clear that this country was not going to stay anonymous for long.

The coverage of Yemen in mainstream media seems quick to condemn the place as going to hell in a handcart. Can it really be that bad?
In some ways, and this might be because I am a contrary bastard, I tend to think people are underplaying the story. Almost every economic, climatic and demographic problem that a country can face, Yemen is facing. 50% of the population are under the age of 15 so there will be a generation of young men growing up without jobs or opportunities. I think the story that is most important however, and one that the media is not concentrating on the way it should, is the impending water shortages. By 2020 the capital could well be out of water and within the next decade we could have millions of people without water.

How did this water crisis come about? We’re guessing it wasn’t a case of too many people leaving the sprinkler on.
There are a lot of natural factors, but the main cause is that in the 60s and 70s the UN got involved in the way that Yemen collected its water. Those methods mainly consisted of collecting rainwater and storing it. The UN said, “don’t do that, its not going to work” – even though it had worked for thousands of years – and instead encouraged themto tap into the underground water tables. This quickly became a matter of whoever was richest digging the deepest and draining water for their own use. The inherent corruption in Yemen combined with the good, but ultimately misplaced, intentions of improving water collection by the UN has drained the water tables much faster than anyone could have imagined.

Aside from a potential complete lack of H2O what are the other major issues being overlooked by the media?
The rebellion in the south for a start. Obviously the Christmas bomber got everyone focused on AL Qaeda, and they are extremely important globally, but they are not massively important in terms ofYemen itself. There are two domestic rebellions going on, one in the North and one in the South. The one in the North got more attention initially because when the world started looking at Yemen in the wake of the bombing attempt there was still open fighting going on, which is exciting for the media. In that war the President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, dubbed his last battle ‘Operation Scorched Earth’ which was exactly what it sounded like. There was carpet bombing, villages being razed and hundreds of thousands of refugees.

That doesn’t sound so good. How about in the South?
The Southern issue was more political than anything. Yemen used to be two separate countries until 1990: North Yemen and South Yemen. The North had been a democratic state and south a Marxist state. The two unified in 1990 because they were both broke. There was a lot of tension, and a civil war between the North and South in 1994 which the South lost. President Saleh used a lot of Jihadis in that war who had just returned from fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan and after they won he let the Jihadis sort of take over and rule the South.

So it became a little Jihadi colony?
Well, the people of the South were very much colonized and oppressed by their own countrymen. In 2007 there was a movement for more rights, but since then Saleh has cracked down again and it’s an open call for secession. It looks like they are lurching back towards civil war and that is the issue more than Al Qaeda. By focusing on Al Qaeda we are ignore the broader and more dangerous issues in Yemen. Our overriding interest has to be to keep Yemen from falling apart. By focusing on Al Qaeda we could actually accelerate Yemen’s breaking up and if the country breaks up it will become an incredible safe haven for Al Qaeda.

How deep has Al Qaeda sunk its tentacles into Yemen?
They are very involved in everyday Yemeni life but certainly not in the central government and mainstream of Yemeni politics. In fact they have pretty much declared open war on the central government. They have focused their efforts on infiltrating the tribal system on a local level by marrying into tribes and gaining local bases of support. Their numbers belie their strength. There are only 2-300 AL Qaeda in Yemen, but they are smart and patient and have been getting stronger over the past few years. It is interesting to contrast Al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula, with Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, al-Zarqawi’s group. Their goal was carnage, so it was inevitable that people in Iraq would turn against them, but Al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula has not really made any attacks in Yemen or on the Yemeni people. So, though people might not actively support them, or agree with everything they say, at least they aren’t killing anyone. Unlike the government, who are.

What sort of poverty levels are we talking about in Yemen?
It’s Sub-Saharan-esque. In almost every poverty and developmental standard it is usually in the bottom five or ten countries in the world. There are not a lot of jobs, the economy is mostly based on oil, and that is running out.

Everywhere seems to be running out of oil. Is Yemen’s case more pressing?
It’s more dire than most. They never had that much oil to begin with as they are stuck at the shit end of the peninsula. Most of the oil is concentrated in the South, so the political situation there makes it much harder for the central government to get any money from the oil. In Yemen, every issue ties into at least two or three other problems that make it harder to solve.

There are also problems with piracy right?
Yes, and it’s getting worse. For a while it was concentrated off Yemen’s Western coast, close to Somalia, but now we are seeing a lot more piracy around the South, near The Port of Aden. I think what is interesting is that Yemen is so much closer to Somalia than it is to the Arab heartland. We tend to see things too simply. We connect Yemen with the Middle East, but culturally it is far closer to Somalia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Ethiopia. When you see similar paterns of piracy in Somalia and Yemen, it makes sense, crime often follows the same links as culture.

What form of piracy is this? Is it the kidnapping and ransom type you hear a lot about in Somalia?
It’s mostly for ransom. But then you have a lot of smuggling routes that follow the same lines as the piracy routes. I think the smuggling of arms and drugs is more of a threat than actual ransom piracy. Yemen is a hub for international crime. It is geographically ideally suited to smuggling arms into war zones in the horn of Africa, drugs up through Saudi Arabia and it’s a major route for arms supply to terrorist groups.

Is there any meaningful effort being made by the West or international organisations to try and avert any of these impending disasters.
There have been a lot of conferences and there is the Facebook group sounding ‘Friends of Yemen’ who have meetings and talk about helping. We will see if that actually comes to anything but historically these talks don’t.

If things were to continues as they currently are how long do you give Yemen before it becomes a totally failed state?
I would say it could very easily happen within a year.

Would a total collapse make the country and even better base for Al Qaeda operations?
The huge fear is that the autonomous tribes now have connections with Al Qaeda, and they can use their safe-havens, without any government interference, to strike abroad. Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula needs space, but also some structure, and Yemmen’s tribal havens can provide both. They have already shown themselves able to strike at the heart of Saudi Arabia, and the fear is that a Yemen that can no longer harass them would be a country where the Saudis, or even worse, the West, feels they need to intervene militarily. That would make Afghanistan look like a cakewalk.

Vice V8N5 Record Reviews

The Blackest Curse

10 Half a decade in the making, Dwid Van Hellion emerges from behind the shrouded myths to lay down a whole album’s worth of pure Holy Terror. If last year’s Walpurgisnacht EP got you excited then the first chords of opener “Process Of Illumination” will have you hooked. From there on in it’s a sheer masterclass from an unparalleled outfit that defy just about anything you’ve got. Rumour has it they may or may not be playing a certain pub at some point in the very near future so watch out for that.

Jimson Isolation

Black Helicopter
Don’t Fuck With The Apocalypse
Ecstatic Peace

8 We were bananas for this one before we even got past the Pettibon illustrated sleeve but once we actually got this thing in the CD player all manner of spiralling riffs spilled out and then we were even happier than when we saw the cover. Definitely a better signing than the guy who pretended to be Kurt Cobain in that Gus Van Sant movie Thurston.

Cosmopolitan Girl

Lair Of The Minotaur
Evil Power
The Grind House/Southern Lord

8 This is a record called ‘Evil Power’. It’s by a band called Lair Of The Minotaur. It features guest vocals by a guy called ‘General Diabolical Slaughter’ as well as tracks with titles like “Let’s Kill These Motherfuckers” and “Riders Of Skullhammer”. In other words it wouldn’t be all that hard to laugh at this album if it wasn’t so uncompromisingly raw and utterly great.

Bloody Pussy

Riot Season

8 How has no doom band ever in the whole history of playing Sabbath riffs slower than Sabbath thought to call themselves Sloath before? I mean Sloth was good but Sloath? It’s perfect! I even doubled checked on and these chaps from the South Coast really are the only ones. Congratulations on the name there guys. These three 10-20 minute dirges on the CD you sent me aren’t too bad either.

Beezer Guttler

False Flag
Drag City

9 The concept of Ben Chasny, Sir Richard Bishop and the drummer-that-makes-all-other-drummers-look-plain-lazy aka Chris Corsano embarking on a project together was always going to be one that built expectation. False Flag however, easily vaults any expectation and thumbs its avant-free-form-indescribable-jazz nose at us for ever doubting it for a second.

Charlie Harper

Born Ruffians
Say It

5 The band who everyone found lots of nice things to say about first time around and whose song was in all those Orange ads are back and guess what? They are still about as interesting as having a conversation with a fermenting pot of crème fraiche. There’s absolutely nothing wrong here and that’s probably the problem.

Buster Bloodvessel

Holy Fuck
Young Turks

8 Wait a second. Did you hear that? A guitar! Yes, everyone’s favourite capering Canadian purveyors or euphoric, ramshackle dance music are back and they have added a Strat they probably found backstage at one of the 475 shows they play a year to the mix. Despite departures on the instrument front it’s business as usual in the main as looped, chirping keyboards build walls of melody and textured sound to the point you think your head might implode. More please.

Freeda Khalo

The Bride Screamed Bloody Muder

8 The whole having two drummers gag got a old a while back but luckily King Buzzo seems to have decided to go all weird again. If you like your Melvins closer to Bullhead than Nude With Boots then this is worth picking up. There is even a totally unhinged cover of The Who’s “My Generation” that goes on for about 8 minutes and is worth the price of admission alone.

Hung Bunny

Dead Meadow
The Three Kings

6 This release is the soundtrack part of a DVD for a film that looks like it was definitely conceived under the influence of too much marijuana and YouTube searching Jodorwsky clips. Trying to explain what goes on in said film is pretty pointless as we genuinely have no idea but if you like Dead Meadow, smoking marijuana or the films Jodorwsky of you will probably be in to these songs.

Perry Nutkins

Thee Oh Sees
Warm Slime
In The Red

8 Yet another near-perfect, frazzled, frayed, battered and blown out nugget of psyche-garage brilliance from one man garage rock jukebox John Dwyer. The title track goes on for a mind-warping 14 odd minutes but elsewhere it’s rip-snortin’, boot-stampin’ business as usual.

Alexis Petri-Dish

Male Bonding
Nothing Hurts
Sub Pop

8 After what seems like approximately 211 7” and 12” EP’s and splits Male Bonding finally release their debut long player on Sub Pop. Yep, you read that right, Sub Pop. If you aren’t familiar with the London three-piece’s kinetic Wipers-played-at-45-instead-of-33rpm punk then you’ve probably been sleeping under a boulder since 2008. Here’s a handy single disc to get you familiar.

Tommy Slammer

Perfume Genius

7 It’s amazing that anyone can hear this guys frail but wholly engrossing vocal and piano-led laments of pain and suffering above the furious tapping of fingers hitting keyboards to blog about the tough years which bore these ten sparing tracks but really, who gives a crap about another teen-years sob story when the tunes are this good? Just saying.

Peter Shilton

Festival Previews 2010

Written for the Vice Festival Guide.

September 3-5, The Garden, Petrčane, Croatia
Why Croatia remains unexplored by the marauding English holidaying hordes is beyond us. It’s cheap as chips, the food’s good, the weather is amazing and both the urban architecture and the countryside are mind blowingly stunning. As it is we’re pretty happy to keep Croatia to ourselves and share it with the slowly increasing number of Stag Do’s that seem to represent the only other form of English tourism in the area. Stop Making Sense may be the undoing of keeping Croatia a guarded secret though offering as it does a great lineup if you are into dancing lots (Carl Craig, Theo Parrish, Matias Aguayo and Nathan Fake) and a great backdrop (it’s by the seaside). Get there before everyone else does by heading over to and getting yourself a ticket for just £80 for the whole weekend.

July 15-18, Henham Park, Suffolk
The festival that was born to be mild goes from strength to strength. Constantly pigeon-holed as a fun for the whole family affair if you have a hunt around behind the poetry tents and stand up shows Latitude has some teeth. The xx, The Horrors, The Big Pink and hot tips Egyptian Hip hop and Active Child are all worth a look with Belle & Sebastian, Vampire Weekend and Florence & The Machine proving to be the big draws. Latitude has in fact proved such a hit with all-comers that there is not a single ticket to be had via legitimate means so you won’t get any of them at but you will be able to find out anything else Latitude-related.

September 9-12, Robin Hill County Park, Isle of Wight
Crazy costume ahoy! It’s only Rob Da Bank’s insanely popular late season Isle of Wight shindig. If the summer months have passed you by without of a weekend spent in tents with no running water then Bestival is a good bet. The line-up is as diverse as ever: LCD Soundsytem, Roxy Music, Richie Hawtin, The Wailers, Vitalic, Joy Orbison and Todd Edwards all feature and if you plan on dressing up the theme is “Fantasy” so you can basically go wild. There are a handful of tickets left at £160 each for the weekend and you get them and find out everything else you need to know at

May 29-31, Various venues, Bristol, Nottingham and Manchester
What started as Camden Crawl-style affair across a handful of venues in Nottingham a few years ago now engulfs a phalanx of bars, clubs and pubs in probably the three best cities for live music in the country that aren’t London. Dot To Dot tends to plump for the exciting and new and there’s now deviation from that manifesto with this years line-up seeing turns from Chapel Club, Yuck, Washed Out and Jamie Woon with Beach House, Wild Beasts and The Mystery Jets in the headline slots. Tickets are a snip at £30 and you can get those and more information over at

July 16-18, Victoria Park, London
Lovebox now sprawls over a whole mid-July weekend of dance-orientated shenanigans handily located in popular London summer spot Victoria Park. Dizee Rascal, Chase & Status, Roxy Music, Grace Jones and Hot Chip hog the limelight with plenty of things to keep you dancing from Chromeo to Booka Shade and Joy Orbison and MJ Cole representing the improbably healthy state of UK garage music in 2010. All of that and you can probably pop home for tea if it all gets a bit much. Tickets for one day are £45, two days is £80 and it’s £99 for all three. You can get a hold of those and find out more at

June 17-19, Various Locations, Barcelona
The gilded swan of electronic music gatherings, Sonar has amassed an almost statesman like reputation that can easily mislead. Take away the more refined than thou aesthetic and it is basically a load of the best DJ’s and produces on the planet all shoved into one of the best cities to throw a party in the world. Sounds like a good combo? That’s because it is. It is basically not humanly possible not to have fun at Sonar. There things that are worth seeing are too numerous to mention here but if we were you we’d be excited about Zomby, Roska, Jackmaster, Wooky and perhaps worthy of the flight alone: a rare appearance by Detroit City’s finest: Kenny Dixon Jr aka Moodymann. Tickets are 155 euros and you can get those and all other info at

August 28-29, Daresbury, Cheshire
Probably the closest you’ll get to a spirit of ’88 M25 outdoor rave with overtones of being trapped in the Cirque de Soleil on acid anywhere in the festival season. One for the committed hedonist, Creamfields doesn’t let up on the bpm’s so if high-octane dance floats your raving boat then this one is for you. Several dance music titans will be making the trip to a field near Runcorn for your dancing pleasure this year including Tiesto, Armin Van Buuren, David Guetta and Sven Vath. Joker, High Contrast and Erol Alkan are of interest elsewhere. A weekend ticket including camping comes in at £100 and ‘hospitality camping’ tickets (whatever that means) are £185. Those and whatever else you need to know at

August 10-14, Gamlebyen, Oslo, Norway
If you are considering getting out of the UK in order to get your festival fill Oya offers some pretty stunning Norwegian countryside and a line-up that puts most of the UK’s grandstanding events to shame. Pavement, M.I.A., The Stooges, a solo turn from Outkast guy Big Boi, LCD Soundystem, The Specials and Fucked Up will all be there. Book your flights early enough and getting out there will be cheap enough to make all the terrifyingly expensive booze you’ll drink worthwhile. Tickets cost a scary sounding 1940 NOK and you can get those and further information at

July 8-11, Petrovaradin Fortress, Novi Sad, Serbia
Exit takes place in a 13th century medieval Hungarian fortress overlooking the river Danube in Serbia. Which sure beats Clapham Common or that park somewhere outside Leeds that Google Map can never find in terms of a location. Throw in appearances from acts as varied as hardcore survivors Bad Brains, disco-punk pioneers LCD Soundsytem and Chilean techno magi Ricardo Villalobos and a four day ticket for just £85 if you book before June and you have a very attractive excuse to explore Serbia for the first time. Find out all things Exit-related at

September 4-5, Hainault Forest, Essex
Every year more festivals shift their dates further into what can realistically be described as ‘autumn’ to avoid doing battle with sixty million competing events in the busy June-August period. If you are attending a September festival though it’s nice to have the option of sodding the tent off and hopping on the Central Line back home to your own bed if the rain comes. Offset offers just that option. A discerning lineup that takes in punk-funk vets Liquid Liquid, krautrock royalty Cluster and a heap of bands that blogs have told you to like so may times that they already seem like part of the furniture (Telepathe, These New Puritans, Male Bonding) make Offset a safe bet if you live within the M25. Tickets are £65 for the weekend including camping, £55 if you plan on going home to sleep and £29 per day. Get them and all other info at

July 31, Victoria Park, London
Let’s face it, if you live in London, the sun is shining and you can’t face being rammed like a KFC battery hen into London Fields you’ll probably be in Victoria Park anyway. As well as all of the Park’s usual, slightly grubby charm, for one Saturday a year only you also get one of the most well thought out one day festivals in the country. The line up is, as ever, great with appearances from established older guys like The Fall and Andrew Weatherall as well as young whippersnappers that everyone is getting excited about such as Yuck and James Blake plus it’s all happening, quite literally, in most of your back gardens. Tickets are £39.83 after all the booking fee nonsense and you can get those and find out more at

July 25-18, Benicassim, Spain
Sweaty, lobster-coloured English people ahoy! It’s only Benicassim time again! So many English people make the trip to the East Coast of Spain for this European heavyweight every year that if you Google the thing the English fans guide to the festival beats the official festival site. Fact. Still, if you like following the herd and you want to roll a sunny week away into seeing a bunch of bands then you could do worse. Ian Brown and Kasabian should keep the Stella and sunburn brigade happy but dig a little deeper and you’ll come across jj, Lindstrom, Dirty Projectors and a rare appearance by the reformed Public Image Limited. If you are seriously considering going take our advice and get an air-conditioned apartment. You’ll thank us later. Tickets are £172.50 including camping and you can get those and further info over at

August 13-15, DeMontfort Hall, Leicester
Flying the flag for Midlands festivals this one seems to grow exponentially at a pretty alarming rate every year. Maybe one day in the future it will bulge to so many stages that you’ll be able to walk from Reading up to Leeds via Summer Sundae. While the main stage seems pre-occupied with folk this year, featuring turns from Seasick Steve and Mumford & Sons, have a look further down the bill and you get Caribou’s glitchtronica, grime from Skepta and interesting pop from The Invisible. Basically all things to all men. In a good way. For a reasonable £105 you get entry and camping and you can make that happen and find out more at

May 27-29, Parc Del Forum, Barcelona
Imagine an ATP but instead of staying in a Butlins you are staying in a nice apartment of the Ramblas in one of the hands-down best cities in Europe. Yep, Primavera is pretty good. So good in fact that ATP nullified our analogy back there by actually setting up shop with their own stage so you don’t even have to imagine that you are at an ATP, you will be at an ATP. Kind of. Oh, and it gets our seal of approval as they gave us a stage too. The list of bands that you will actually want to see as opposed to miss accidentally-on-purpose goes on forever but highlights include: Atlas Sound, The Black Lips, Sian Alice Group, The Clean, Shellac, Mission Of Burma and some guys called Pavement. Tickets are 180 euros but go get them quick at as this one actually sells out.

August 27-29, Richfield Avenue, Reading and Bramham Park, Leeds
If you want to see the re-formed Libertines, Klaxons’ return to festival duty or whatever the fuck Axl Rose is now calling Guns N’ Roses this summer then you’ll have to bite the bullet and make it to Reading or Leeds. Sadly the days of Leeds descending into a good bit of arson, rioting and looting by the Sunday seem to have come to an end so it’s more a case of whichever is closer and whether you got a ticket in time or not. Beware if you think you already have one of the now sold out weekend tickets as the festival has been targeted heavily by ticket scammers this year. To find out if your ticket is real or not or get a day pass for £75 head over to or

July 9-11, Balado, Kinross-shire, Scotland and Punchestown Racecourse, County Kildare, Ireland
The Celtic answer to Reading and Leeds offers similarly safe line-up options but with the added bonus of lashings more booze and bad behaviour as standard. The Scots and Irish simply know how to have more fun than the English. Sorry, it’s a fact. I am English so I’m allowed to speak these words of truth and you’ll just have to deal with it. Have a root around below the Eminem/Muse/Kasabian sized headliners and Yeasayer, Black Mountain and a resurgent The Coral as well a solid dance lineup including Erol Alkan, Sven Vath and Richie Hawtin doing his Plastikman thing all make a trip north worth your while. Oxygen tickets are 224 euros including camping but you’ll have to resort to ingenuity to get yourself into T at this stage as it is completely sold out. All information can be found at and

October 22-24, The Custard Factory, Birmingham
Shockingly, Supersonic is already in its eighth year. It seems like just the other day the girls behind astute Birmingham bookers Capsule came up with the idea of shunting a bunch of their excellent shows together into a single weekend. If you have a beard, subscribe to The Wire and/or Terrorizer, haunt the Southern Lord blog or simply possess good taste in music then Supersonic is well worth your attention. The reformed Swans are the only act yet to be announced but what more do you need? Weekend tickets will set you back £75 and you can get those and more line-up information as it surfaces at

June 23-27, Worthy Farm, Pilton, Glastonbury
The labrynthine ticketing application/initial sale/refund/resale nightmare that seems to get more confusing with every year that passes. However, we can now safely say that unless you have a ticket already or are willing to risk almost certainly getting ripped off by eBay scammers then the golden passes to Michael Eavis’ annual mudbath are now officially all gone. If you do have a way of getting in then you will be able to bear witness to lots and lots of solo artists playing the main stage. Seriously go look at the lineup: Snoop, Shakira, Ray Davies, Stevie Wonder, Slash, Willie Nelson, Femi Kuti, Norah Jones, Paloma Faith. The list goes on… What happened? Are they allergic to bands all of a sudden? You know what to expect elsewhere and you’d probably just as well stay at home and watch it on TV as the BBC seems to mistake this yearly pop music event in a field for some form of world shattering current affairs dropping literally everything else in their schedules to bring you 24 hour coverage in multiple angles and possibly 3D across every channel they possess. No tickets but lots of information at

June 11-13, Donnington Park, Midlands
The Ronseal of rock festivals lumbers ever onwards. Not straying too far from the tried and tested riffs and leather formula this years edition of what was once known as The Monsters Of Rock sees a host of veterans return to Castle Donnington. Aerosmith, Motorhead, AC/DC, Saxon, Megadeath and even Billy Idol all make appearances on the main stage while Napalm Death, Suicidal Tendencies and Dillinger Escape Plan crop up elsewhere. Weekend tickets including five nights worth of camping will set you back £180. We’re not sure why you would need to stay for five nights but a trip to might explain that and anything else you wanted to know about the festival.

August 28-29, Clapham Common, London
For the final bank holiday weekend of the year South West London cottaging hotspot Clapham Common transforms into a ginormous dance arena. Formerly known as Get Loaded In The Park the event now stretches over two days as opposed to one and sees headline sets from household name DJ’s John Digweed, Judge Jules, Paul Oakenfold, Carl Cox and Zoe Ball’s husband. Elsewhere more interesting propositions such as bass envelope pushers Skream & Benga and SBTRKT and French disco don Vitalic make the whole thing worthy of your attention. Weekend tickets are £85 and you can get those and find out more at

July 22-25, Huntingdon Mill Field, Peterborough
If the characters in an Enid Blyton novel ever found themselves in the here and now and had to go to a festival it would probably be the Secret Garden Party. All leafy, whimsical, anti-branding and well manicured the Peterborough three dayer continues to draw a loyal following all of whom extol its virtues like it’s the second coming in festival form. Highlights include a live Gorillaz performance, a rare UK appearance by Mercury Rev and up and coming blue-eyed soul guy Othello Woolf. Head over to to get hold of weekend tickets for £149.50 including camping.

August 20-22, Glanusk Park, Brecon Beacons, Wales
The festival that banks on rustic charm and a cultivated sense of pastoral rootsiness, Green Man continues to gently woo the mature end of the festival-going spectrum with grandstanding sets from Doves, Billy Bragg, Tindersticks, The Flaming Lips and Joanna Newosm. Meanwhile, our favourite tear-jerking troubador Cass McCombs, Welsh hardcore hopefuls Islet and the much talked about Egyptian Hip Hop keep things interesting on the smaller stages. Tickets are £120 including camping and they are available from

August 1, Victoria Park, London
The Field Day for little people is so much fun that lots of big people try to get in every year masquerading as parents. True story. With a lineup as here and now as it is borderline pathologically diverse ranging from Lightspeed Champion to Donae’o to Is Tropical it’s easy to see why. If you are younger than 18 and live in London you probably already have a ticket but just in case you don’t they are only £29.50 and can be got at

July 23-25, Hill Farm, Steventon, Oxford
What began as DIY anti-festival with secret line-ups 13 years ago now takes in an Oxford version of SXSW called OX4, Wood, a folk-y sister festival and, as of this year, a Truck America in upstate New York. Not bad going for a couple of brothers who insist on minimal corporate presence and giving most of what they make to charity. Now that they tell people who’s playing in advance we can reveal that there will be sets from Fucked Up, Teenage Fanclub and Mercury Rev with dancing duties handled by DJ Zinc. Tickets are only £80 and you can get those and find out more at

June 11-13, Seaclose Park, Newport, Isle Of Wight
Back when Dylan made an appearance at the Isle Of Wight in 1969 in the middle of his reclusive Woodstock period the festival was one of the first of its kind. It’s probably a safe bet that if you’d asked Bob whether he thought a Beatle would be headlining the same festival 41 years later he would probably mumble something cryptic and incomprehensible but underneath all that we’re betting he’d be surprised. Paul McCartney takes on the Sunday with Jay-Z and The Strokes headlining the Friday and the Saturday respectively. The rest of the bill is equally heavy on big names with Blondie, Spandau Ballet and even Pink all making the trip to Newport. Tickets for a weekend on the Isle Of Wight will set you back £150. Find those and further information at

July 24, Shoreditch Park, London
Sean Mclusky’s 1234 one-dayer swaggers into its third year. Within spitting distance of the bars that many of the people reading this will be drinking in anyway.1234 takes place on a patch of green next to City Road that optimistically calls itself Shoreditch Park. You could probably guess the lineup with your eyes closed but that is no bad thing. These New Puritans, Veronica Falls, Dum Dum Girls and up and coming anarcho-punks Flats are all playing and the after party options will be numerous. Tickets are only £15 if you get them now from

September 10-12, Larmer Tree Gardens, Dorset
This one could be the festival manifestation of Captain America’s much missed Virgin radio Americana shows. They seem to somehow get Wilco to headline every year and it’s beards and acoustic guitars aplenty elsewhere too with appearances from Iron & Wine, The Mountain Goats and The Felice Brothers all turning up to strum and holler. There is also a cinema stage curated by Little White Lies in case you get bored of the bands. Tickets are £130 for the weekend including camping. You can purchase those and find out what else is happening at