Bearded Theory Festival Preview

Words: Sophie Gargett
Monday 20 May 2024
reading time: min, words

Having previously lugged a tent hundreds of miles to music festivals, the prospect of an amazing weekend just an hour away from Nottingham in the beautiful Derbyshire countryside was too tempting to pass up. Bearded Theory Festival celebrates its fifteenth birthday this year and the line up is a brilliant blend of old school greats and modern marvels. Here’s some of the highlights we’re looking forward to catching…

Bearded Theory

Wednesday & Thursday

What better way to kick off the first night of a festival than with the wondrous extraterrestrial extravaganza that is Henge. If it sometimes takes you 24 hours to settle in the feral festival vibes, this band will sort you out with their psychedelic sounds and silly stage antics. Also recommended are Pet Needs, who have gone from living room gigs to their album Intermittent Fast Living reaching number seven in the UK charts earlier this year.

On Thursday catch Dublin band Sprints bringing garage punk sounds - their single How Does The Story Go has been a staple on my headphones for the past year, as has I am Always Happy by Grandma’s House - so I’m excited to see more from them both.


Now the party really gets started. There’s so much happening on Friday I’m already feeling FOMO from inevitable set clashes. Starting the day over on the Pallet Stage, Ibibio Sound Machine bring a cool and infectious festival sound - I caught these guys at Boomtown a few years ago and they were a delightful surprise. Next there’s the lure of raucous punk-metal duo Bob Vylan, who despite having seen more than half a dozen times keep luring me back for more. And then, of course, Dexy’s… Who could turn down hearing Come on Eileen and Geno live in a field before melting into the synth-pop sounds of Future Islands?

I’m definitely going to have to be feeling energetic to run over to The Meadow stage and catch a wonderful triple line up of feminine angst with The Lambrini Girls, Bis and Panic Shack. I saw The Lambrini Girls last year - chosen purely based on the name - and their middle finger to the patriarchy lyrics and wonderful heavy noise made me a firm fan. I’m extremely tempted by some old school Therapy? and New Model Army, but will have to see about splitting myself in two (or carrying on the festival jog).


So many good acts already and it's only Saturday?! I always recommend starting the day off with festival maestro Beans on Toast - a perfect act to see whilst sitting on the grass, sipping a coffee and contemplating life and the world. This is a particularly good day for Nottingham acts, so Divorce on the Pallet Stage and Do Nothing in The Meadow are on my list. I'm also tempted to check out The Menstrual Cramps and maybe swing by to hear music writer John Robb talking about his new goth history book The Art Of Darkness. For a dance fix, Slamboree Soundsystem always satisfy with their extravagant stage antics and anarchic audience interactions. Then, for evening entertainment a bit of the loud and the lairy with Wargasm and Sleaford Mods, before winding down with Jane’s Addiction.


Another excellent Notts band to catch on the Sunday is folk-punk act Ferocious Dog over on the Pallet Stage. I’ll be getting along to Amyl & The Sniffers, Baxter Dury and Dinosaur Jr, but for me this is a day for finding new artists and exploring those I haven’t heard much from. Desperate Journalist sound amusingly wry and quite relatable, while The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican seem like an appropriately mad name to follow on the last day of a festival. If I’m not heard from after that I’ll probably have ditched world of offices and early mornings to run away with the Old Time Sailors.

Ahoy festival season!

Bearded Theory Festival takes place at Catton Hall, Derbyshire between Wednesday 22 - Monday 27 May. Head to for tickets.


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