It’s a scorcher of a day, I’m in the arena of a festival, and I’m about to go get a pint. I take the short walk to the bar expecting two things. a) the usual wrestle to the front of the queue, and b) booze prices as pain-inflicting as a trip to get petrol. As I approach in the early afternoon, with a degree of fear regarding wallet damage I am surprised by two things. a) there is no wrestle to the front of the queue – because there is no queue, and b) £5 pints. Five. Pound. Pints. Obviously that’s still a rough handover in a pub, but at a festival, it’s nothing short of glorious.

I’m at Lowde Fest, a local festival in Hartley Wintney, a village about 30 mins south of Reading. The yearly event is held in support of the Lowde Music Trust, a charity established “to help advance the education and wellbeing of young people, through the power and influence of music.”. The arena hosts two stages with a clashless line-up, a food vendor area, market stalls, and a huge kids area with rides.

A large part of the appeal of Lowde Fest is the volume of young bands that are offered opportunities to showcase music. This year there were a number of highlights. The Blue Highways brought their Americana-influenced alt-rock sound in a performance painting a picture of an extremely experienced band. Tribe is a new band experimenting with a combination of alt-pop, rock, and R&B that showed extreme promise. The top highlight for me was Barrera. The alt-rock four-piece from Guildford have already built a strong online following, releasing two records over lockdown and only recently getting the opportunity to showcase them live. Think classic rock-esque riffage reminiscent of Pink Floyd combined with fat, pronounced basslines, and a confident female vocal.

Lowde Fest © Harry Mowe

Lowde Fest is a fantastic argument for the importance of festivals and events of its kind. Grassroots, independent, and industry-supporting events are becoming harder and harder to run, but I would argue more necessary. There’s an audience demand for outdoor events and live music that still remains post-covid, and small bands and artists need spaces to showcase music and build audiences. Lowde Fest is a fantastic example of a well-run independent event, and of one well deserving of support in order to keep around.

Thanks to Lowde Fest for having us. Support the Lowde Music Trust.

Written by

Drew Manning

Drew Manning is the Owner and Lead Editor of Alibi London.