Rise Of The Guerrilla Festival

According to eFestivals there are roughly 778 music festivals happening across the UK this year. The vast majority, of course, are smaller bashes such as Wickerman and Standon Calling, which cater to music fans who long for a more intimate experience than the super-festivals can offer.

That’s nothing new. What is new is the recent proliferation of oddball music events, each offering a unique and strange take on the traditional festival experience.

Next month the Fence Collective – the co-op label run by King Creosote, James Yorkston and others – are holding a fest on the Isle of Eigg, situated off the West coast of Scotland. British Sea Power will headline.

Earlier this summer, Indietracks – a festival set up to raise money for the Midland Railway Trust – was a huge success and saw indie-popsters Pains Of Being Pure At Heart play on a stage made partly of railway sleepers.

Emboldened by the success of those events, there is a new phenomenon quietly being constructed in cities and towns all across the U.K, which is taking a decisive stand against promoters, identikit line-ups, and the regimented norm. It’s called guerrilla festivaling.

It’s a community-led movement, driven by music fanatics who are fed up of large-scale festivals run by major, international promoters. The manifesto is simple: no corporations, no sponsorship.

One such happening takes place this Sunday in Glasgow. A Wee Jaunt has been organised by bands, artists and fans, and is totally free.

Photo: Different Light Photography

The all-dayer takes place in weird ‘off-the-beaten track’ venues such as pub toilets, forests, rooftops and back-street alleyways.

Ticket holders are given an initial address and time to meet before they are lead on a crawl through the city to each of the bizarre stages where a band are positioned to play.

For the day to work it requires teams of volunteers donating generators, vans and instruments – there aren’t many bogs with drums set up in them, y’know.

Photo: Different Light Photography

Ally McCrae, who is one of the organisers, explained: “The idea for the day came from me and Crag (fellow organiser) just wanting to do something that can bring people, artists and musicians together. The ethos of it all is just to have a good time and remind people music doesn’t always have to be a business.”

He enthused: “It’s a community spirit; we all chip in to help each other. It’s a case of us against them”.

Photo: Different Light Photography

The “them”, Ally refers to, is the larger promoters who he believes are turning festivals into days of forced fun.

Whether or not guerrilla festivaling will last longer than this summer remains to be seen. But I think it’s a beautiful concept. Guerilla festivals give you the power to make a difference in your city.

If you’ve grown tired of the major music events, then use it as ammo to create something unique and exciting. Arm yourself with belief and form your own guerrilla festival. It could be the most fun you’ve had all summer.