By Conor O’Neill
Hugging the side of Lisburn’s White Mountain, there’s a bit of land called The Little Green Allotments. 11-years-of-age and with a tight knit community growing their own, sustainable, and plastic free produce.
Beanstock was first a gathering organised by founder Peter Millar and hosted just four bands literally a stone’s throw down the road. This year, the this festival has see Peter team up with neighbour and fellow music lover, Grainne Philips to bring about a bigger and better festival. Culturecrush NI met with the pair on the site as the marquee for the stage was literally being built. With workmen working to a tight deadline in one of this month’s worst days with heavy rain pour and gusting winds I get the low down and what the crowds can expect.
I ask first why the change of venue?
Grainne: “Well Peter invented Beanstock and our paths crossed last year and we chatted about what we were both doing. I’d been doing different events here like weddings and craft markets and nights of folk music, so we decided after much conversation to bring Beanstock here and organise it together.”
I gather from what I’ve read it’s a vegetarian/vegan food festival as well?
Grainne: “No, it’s all sorts. But all of the food is delicious, you wouldn’t notice the difference, and all locally sourced from the best of local growers and producers.”
The last two years has been bring your own, this year you’re licensed, is that just because of the bigger crowds?
Peter: “Well previously I didn’t have much of a budget to work and it was much louder with bring your own. This year it’s much more family friendly we wanted to make sure there was enough for everyone.”
And I believe the camping is segregated, one area for the average Joe and one for families?
Peter: “We’re trying to split it up as much as possible. I’ve been to festivals where people can get pretty rowdy but if there’s families there we think it’s best to keep it wee bit quitter, to keep families with wee ones as far from the bands as possible.”
For the kids will there be face painting and bouncy castles etc.?
Peter: “There will be face painting and there’s a lot of different things.”
Grainne: “Kids farm NI are bringing a whole array of animals for the kids to touch and it’ll be very education. We also will be having an arts and crafts tent and that’s run by Zara, she has a place called ZaZaMakes (you can find Zaza on FaceBook) and We Love Wild Life Watching will be coming and they’ll have a hunt which is also educational and fun for the kids. Mr Hullaballo will be coming to do a puppet show and story telling.”
I’ve been listening to the acts who’ll be performing over the weekend, the talent is really varied and exceptionally good, are they all local?
Peter: “They’re all local and some from Belfast. A lot of bands from Lisburn wouldn’t get the opportunity to play at a festival. With this we try to keep it as local as possible. A lot of the bands are from the nights I’ve been to SONI (Hagues’ Bar’s Friday night live music event) it’s great to be able to go down and listen to them and hear what there are like live. Sometimes bands can sound brilliant recorded (as on demos etc) but it’s better to see what there are like live. I love live music, to hear the speakers blasting and see them perform.”
And Grainne you I assume have also had an input on what bands were booked?
Grainne: “Well, Peter did source out the bands but when it came to we had quite a lot to go over and decide which to pick. We had 80 applicants which unfortunately we had to cut to 25. Every band there, and I know I’m being biased, is great but we’re really happy with who’s playing.”
*Above – the campsites – now empty of all but rain. Come Saturday night the place will be heaving with activity*
How has the growth been over the years?
Peter: “The first Beanstock had fours bands, the next year we had double that, and then this year we’ve 25, which is incredible and we’re just trying to make it feel as big and as good as possible.”
Grainne: “If you listen to the bands, and again I may be biased but to me I can go to things and they all sound similar, but to me this sounds like a proper festival and everything marries together. What we aim to achieve are quality bands, quality location and a quality atmosphere. We’re just hoping for the weather.”
Grainne: “We’re also going to make a Beanstock album. We’ve asked all the band for a song that defines them.”
Peter: “They’ve all given us a recorded track, so even though the crowd will have heard them live, they’ll all be able to bring the album home with them. There’ll be a limited amount of them on the day, and then just see how it goes. Depending on the outcome we hope to release a live recording after the event.”
Who’s doing the live sound?
Peter: “There’s two companies doing the sound on the two different nights, Saturday’s sound is provided by Silhouette Audio Engineering and Sunday’s engineers are from Bright Green Octopus Productions.
“We’re trying to keep our theme as local as possible for as long as possible and try not to sell out to bigger things.”
A family festival, music from the wider Lisburn and Belfast area, single use plastic ethos, fun for kids of all ages and locally sourced vegan and non vegan food and beers. What a lovely idea now reality. Fingers crossed for the sun.
Beanstock 2019 runs from Saturday 20th June to Sunday 21st. For booking details please visit their Facebook page.