LONDON OUTDOOR GIG/FESTIVAL GUIDE 2015 – Evening Standard, 17 April 2015

Calling all lightweights! London must be the best place in the world to be someone who loves festivals but hates all the peripheral stuff: the dew, the dirt, the guy two tents down who brought an acoustic guitar. As the nights get longer it’s time to make plans to see some outdoor music right here, where there are the options of courtyards or stadiums as well as fields, and the tube home to bed feels better than any confetti explosion. They’re all coming to London’s 2015 outdoor music season, from future stars to the biggest on the planet, and you can pack an Oyster card instead of a mallet. Here’s where  to find the fun.


Barclaycard presents British Summer Time Hyde Park

June 18-27, Hyde Park, W1 (

The place to be: these five giant shows couldn’t be more central, in a Royal Park with clear sightlines and plenty of room to catch some of the biggest stars in the world.

Get there for: bright new pop band Years & Years and their number one single King will be there on June 21. Future Islands and their magnetic singer Samuel T Herring have to be seen to be believed on June 18, while Blur provide an eclectic support bill on June 20 including Fufanu, Drenge and Roots Manuva.

Stay there for: the main attractions cover the spectrum of rock, indie and pop. The Strokes kick things off on June 18, followed by the reunited Blur on the 20th and Kylie on the 21st. The following weekend there’s The Who on June 26 and probably the biggest pop star in the world right now, Taylor Swift, ending the party on the 27th.


Field Day

June 6-7, Victoria Park, E3 (

The place to be: east London’s most pleasant green space may not look its best when scattered with beer tents and fairground rides, but its close enough to the city’s hipster hangouts that they can all get here on their fancy bikes.

Get there for: most of the line-up consists of hot new obscurities. Look out for the smile-inducing electropop of Sylvan Esso and the moodier Shura, while Clarence Clarity brings his sonic oddities and Jack Garratt proves himself to be a remarkable one-man band.

Stay there for: FKA twigs ought to be Saturday’s greatest spectacle with her elaborate dance routines and daring outfits. Patti Smith takes the legend’s slot on Sunday, with headliner status for Caribou’s warmhearted electronica and the first London sighting of the reformed Ride.


Hampton Court Palace Festival

June 11-23, Hampton Court Palace, KT8 (

The place to be: Tudor history plays second fiddle to supperclub vibes during the annual season of music in the courtyard of Cardinal Wolsey’s pad. Bring a picnic.

Get there for: support acts are still TBC.

Stay there for: Jools Holland makes his inevitable appearance twice on June 11-12, and there’s classical fare from tenor Alfie Boe on June 19 and the sounds of the classic film musicals with the John Wilson Orchestra on June 14. Peter Andre has a rare opportunity to make an appearance in a classy setting on June 20, Paloma Faith makes things relatively hip on June 16 and 18, and there’s a genuine legend wrapping things up on June 23: Burt Bacharach.


Live at Chelsea

June 12-14, Royal Hospital Chelsea, SW3 (

The place to be: in its first year as a concert venue, this beautiful 17th-Century building could become a rival to Somerset House, provided the musicians don’t disturb the snoozing Chelsea Pensioners.

Get there for: the only support act announced so far is Mariam the Believer on June 13. That’s the solo guise of Mariam Wallentin from minimalist Swedish art band Wildbirds & Peacedrums.

Stay there for: Rufus Wainwright romps through his extensive back catalogue on June 12, intense Irishman Damien Rice makes a rare London appearance on June 13, and Alison Moyet focuses on the electronic side of her back catalogue in a synthesizer-heavy set on June 14.


Wembley Stadium

June 19-July 12, Wembley Stadium, HA9 (

The place to be: with no gigs at the Emirates or Twickenham this summer, Wembley is the only place to go for the full stadium rock experience. Bring binoculars, especially when little Ed Sheeran takes to the stage completely alone.

Get there for: Foo Fighters are bringing along the suitably loud Royal Blood and Iggy Pop on June 19 and 20. AC/DC have yet to announce the appetisers on July 4, while Sheeran is spreading the love across July 10, 11 and 12, with OneRepublic, Foy Vance, Rudimental, Example and Passenger tagging along.

Stay there for: Foo Fighters and AC/DC have the volume to shake the seats way up in row Z, but it’s Sheeran whose appearance here is the most impressive. Three nights in this huge space as a solo act with a few loop pedals is some leap from the pub gigs of just a few years ago.


New Look Wireless 10

June 28, Finsbury Park, N4 (

The place to be: once a more eclectic affair, Wireless is now the top event for hip hop, dance and R&B. This year it celebrates 10 years with this one day extravaganza in addition to the main festival the following weekend.

Get there for: mellow LA R&B singer Jhene Aiko is on early doors, as is Drake-endorsed rapper IloveMakonnen. There’s also classic feelgood hip hop from De La Soul.

Stay there for: rap superstar Drake tops the bill, as he does the following Friday at the main Wireless weekend. Warming up for his grand entrance are two homegrown dance-pop girls, Rita Ora and Katy B.


New Look Wireless

July 3-5, Finsbury Park, N4 (

The place to be: Wireless has had a nomadic existence since it left Hyde Park, with one hard-to-reach year at the back end of the Olympic Park. Now it seems settled in north London at this well-established location for major outdoor gigs.

Get there for: while a “special performance by Jaden & Willow Smith” promises to be excruciating, early in the day there’s also grime from Lethal Bizzle and Krept & Konan, innovative UK R&B from Raleigh Ritchie and MNEK and dance-pop from Sinead Harnett and Tove Styrke.

Stay there for: Drake will be the main attraction of the weekend, especially as he cancelled his Wireless appearance last year. From the hip hop world, Nicki Minaj and Kendrick Lamar are almost as appealing, but it’s brash Eurodance that tops the bill on Saturday and Sunday, with Avicii and David Guetta.



July 4, Clapham Common, SW4 (

The place to be: since it moved south from Hyde Park and lost the Hard Rock Cafe branding, this day out for the dads has got progressively smaller. It’s down from two days to one this year, but should still appeal to everyone who signed the Save Jeremy Clarkson petition.

Get there for: a comparatively youthful line-up this year includes US indie rockers Modest Mouse, back with their first album in eight years, and new London rock quartet Wolf Alice.

Stay there for: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds top the bill, so expect to sing along to plenty of Oasis classics. Echo & the Bunnymen are back, and Ryan Adams will be rocking a little harder than usual with his current band The Shining.


Kew the Music

July 7-12, Kew Gardens, TW9 (

The place to be: with a stage set up in front of the vast glass Temperate House in Kew Gardens, the organisers understandably don’t want to book anyone who might smash a window.

Get there for: big-voiced Nottingham soul man Liam Bailey is supporting Paloma Faith on July 7 and 9. You may recognise his husky tones from the Chase & Status hit Blind Faith.

Stay there for: Paloma Faith will be basking in the glory of being the current BRITs Best Female over two nights, July 7 and 9. There’s also a modern take on jazz and swing from Caro Emerald on July 8, and vintage British reggae –  from one of two UB40 line-ups doing the rounds plus The Specials – on July 11 and 12 respectively.


Somerset House Summer Series

July 9-19, Somerset House, WC2 (

The place to be: this grand courtyard by the Thames is a remarkable spot for a pop concert, with plenty of Neoclassical architecture to ogle between bands.

Get there for: support acts for these 11 individual gigs haven’t been announced yet, but no doubt will include a few future headliners. Of the less familiar names on the schedule, there’s Jamaican reggae man Chronixx on July 12 and new London soul singer Kwabs on July 17, booked on this prestigious bill after just one single.

Stay there for: indie pop veterans Belle and Sebastian are back on July 18 after a five year absence. Scorching hot men with guitars George Ezra and James Bay play on July 13 and 16 respectively, and Jessie J rounds things off with a bang on July 19.



July 17-18, Victoria Park, E3 (

The place to be: Victoria Park will be almost unrecognisable when littered with nitrous oxide cannisters and worse-for-wear partygoers who favour the tireless dance tents over the main stage.

Get there for: London’s premier female rapper, Little Simz, is in attendance, as is modern day bluesman Rag ‘N’ Bone Man, impressive Atlanta soul/hip hop chap Raury and future grime star Novelist.

Stay there for: the top of the bill looks like a lot of fun with hip hop giants Snoop Dogg and Cypress Hill, local heroes Rudimental returning with sounds from their second album, and soulful dance music from Hot Chip and Jessie Ware.



July 19, Victoria Park, E3 (

The place to be: this new one-dayer might have the same layout as Lovebox, from which it takes over Victoria Park on the last day of the weekend. But the guitar-loving attendees may look very different. There’s also posh food from Richard Turner of Hawksmoor and Pitt Cue Co, and a series of talks, making this a London version of Latitude.

Get there for: in contrast to the arty rock on the rest of the bill, seek out the Despacio soundsystem conceived by 2ManyDJs and James Murphy. Its seven 11-foot-tall speaker stacks provide 50,000 watts of noise for an all-vinyl DJ set in ultimate surround sound.

Stay there for: there’s sensitive guitar work in the evening from Ben Howard and Bombay Bicycle Club, plus a full band performance from acclaimed Philadelphia indie rocker Kurt Vile & the Violators. Most intriguing is a collaboration between Anna Calvi and The Heritage Orchestra.


Greenwich Music Time

July 23-26, Old Royal Naval College, SE10 (

The place to be: another smart backdrop for this outdoor stage, with the Naval College over to one side and Canary Wharf twinkling across the river. If you book a “platinum experience” you can head there by boat and eat in the grand Painted Hall first.

Get there for: support acts are still to be announced.

Stay there for: the four concerts provide a wide choice for an older crowd, with the Gipsy Kings doing their rousing Latin thing on July 23, Ray Davies strolling through the Kinks back catalogue on July 24, jazz guitarist George Benson on July 25 and the biggest voice on The Voice, Tom Jones, wrapping up on July 26.



Aug 8, London Fields, E8 (

The place to be: Visions takes place all over the Hackney area, sometimes inside at Oval Space and the St John at Hackney church, for example, and outdoors in the courtyard of Space Studios and on the rooftop of Netil House. Buy a ticket and wander at will.

Get there for: an event like this is all about making new discoveries, so there are no huge stars. Look out for Sufjan Stevens collaborator Son Lux and LA electropop duo Peaking Lights.

Stay there for: the big names, relatively speaking, are dissolute local lads Fat White Family, psych rockers Toy and Brooklyn’s grandiose indie rockers The Antlers.


South West Four

Aug 29-30, Clapham Common, SW4 (

The place to be: Clapham will be bursting at the seams with ravers over the August bank holiday weekend, ready to move relentlessly to an A-Z of the biggest names in electronic music.

Get there for: on Saturday there’s a showcase for the less well-known acts on the Anjunabeats label belonging to dance giants Above & Beyond. Look out too for Birmingham house DJ and producer Hannah Wants and forward thinking electropop youngster Shift K3y.

Stay there for: the big news is that London dance veterans Faithless, having split in 2011, will be reunited here to mark their 20th anniversary. Two more homegrown acts of a similar vintage, Fatboy Slim and Basement Jaxx, are also high on the bill. Meanwhile Skrillex will be taking off towards the future on Sunday night.


On Blackheath

Sept 12-13, Blackheath, SE3 (

The place to be: this big green space down south is no longer just the start line for the London Marathon. Its two day music festival is now on its second year.

Get there for: among the extracurricular activities are a mysterious stage curated by the magician Dynamo, an “urban arts experience” whatever that is, and a fancy food village. Still-to-be-announced smaller stages are being put together by Heavenly Records and DJ Gilles Peterson, which bodes well.

Stay there for: the main stage is roughly divided into rock on Saturday and pop and soul on Sunday, with Elbow, Manic Street Preachers and Anna Calvi booked for the first day, and Madness, Kelis and Laura Mvula following on the next.