The best festival bands on the circuit – a booker’s and punter’s guide…

Once all the headliners are out of the way what is it that makes a great festival act?


Quite simply it’s that undefinable ability to capture the imagination and attention of a crowd in an environment where there is always something else potentially more interesting just around the corner.

And with tens of thousands of bands to potentially choose from that means that for a festival booker it’s always a huge challenge to bring together a line-up that is back-to-back perfection – because although many of the acts out there are perfectly good at what they do it takes something just a bit special to ignite a festival stage.

Here at Festival Flyer we’ve been on the circuit for over 20 years, and in that time we’ve seen thousands of sets – but only a few of them stick in the mind.

Sometimes it’s the music or the lyrics speaking for themselves. Sometimes it’s stagecraft and crowd interaction.

Generally though it’s a mix of both – great words, great tunes and that skill that can’t be learned that allows a performer to have the crowd eating out of the palm of their hand…

Of course there are loads of different genres of festival – and for each style of music there’s a slightly differet take on what makes a band stand out.

We’ve put this guide together for events that cater for a wide range of musical tastes – but that probably focus more on an older audience who lean towards a more rootsy/bluesy/punky/folky style.

That doesn’t mean these are all older acts – far from it. We’re always seeing young musicians who impress us, and that’s the brilliant thing about festivals – they are an opportunity to uncover new talent at the same time as satisfying an appetite for old favourites.

Anyway – here’s our top tip for acts who we think should be on your stage (or if you are apunter acts you should definitely go to see) – it’s in no particular order…so just give the playlist a spin and see what grabs you – but we think you’ll agree all of them deserve to be more widely heard.

The Spotify Festival Heroes Playlist

The Bar-Steward Sons Of Val Doonican – Festival Heroes

Mik Artistik’s Ego Trip – Plastic Fox

Black Thorn – Cabin Fever

King Size Slim – Milk Drunk

Matilda’s Scoundrels – Pissheads Anthem

Gavin Martin, VITO – I Want to Tell You Something

Kid Kapichi – Revolver

Someone Anyone – Peach

Tom Williams – Everyone Needs A Home

Galway Street Club – Have You Ever Been

Buster Shuffle – Brothers and Sisters

Beans On Toast – M. D. M. Amazing

Trampolene – You Do Nothing for Me

Nick Parker – Terry and June

Man the Lifeboats – A Wasted Life

The Brandy Thieves – Broken Records

Funke and The Two Tone Baby – Not Enough Bonobo

Pete Bentham & The Dinner Ladies – Queen Victoris’a Knob

Wonk Unit – Go Easy

The Lovely Eggs – Don’t Look at Me (I Don’t Like It)

Leylines – Sat in a Field

Doozer McDooze – Not Going Back to That

Samantics – Smile all the Time

Josephine & The Artizans – Stay

Gaz Brookfield – The Diabetes Blues

Magic Bus – Mystical Mountain