Here's our guide to what you can expect at this year's Wide Awake festival.
Last updated: 3rd May 2023
This year, Wide Awake is back in London's Brockwell Park. A festival that celebrates the very best in experimental and forward-thinking music, the artists that they invite down are the ones who are thinking outside of the box in order to create something new.
This year will see Caroline Polachek headline Wide Awake and she exemplifies everything that the festival is about. A pop artist who has created her own unique aesthetic that feels completely ethereal, she released a new album in February called 'Desire, I Want To Turn Into You' and it was met with huge critical success.
Other names on this year's line-up include Alex G, Jockstrap, Daniel Avery and Gretel Hanlyn. It is the perfect place for you to find your new favourite artist across a wide range of genres. We caught up with Jamal Guthrie of the festival's partnerships/marketing team to see what people can expect from this year's edition of the festival.
One of the most interesting things about your line-up is that there’s a clear intention to book artists who are striving to experiment with genres in new ways, how much consideration goes into curating a festival where all the artists suit that specific ethos?
"It's a huge part of how we curate the festival and stems from our work programming grassroots venues MOTH Club and The Shacklewell Arms. At that size of show, you get to work with emerging bands and performers who are really exciting and not afraid to push the boundaries and we're super pleased we can support them as they grow onto bigger stages."
Caroline Polachek is making some of the most unique pop music around at the moment, it feels as though she’s treading her own ground. What made her the perfect headliner for this year’s Wide Awake?
"We think of Wide Awake as a new music festival and she captures the essence of where experimental pop music is in 2023. Both sonically and everything that goes into the live show, she's such a captivating performer."
There are plenty of upcoming indie artists at the festival this year, who would you personally say is exciting you the most?
Blondshell, Alex G, Enumclaw, all these names and more at Wide Awake have released brilliant albums over the last year, which ones have blown you away the most?
"That's a tough one! Most recently I've had Model/Actriz - Dogsbody on repeat."
It feels as though a lot of these names could become much bigger in the future, how conscious are you that the festival could be seen as a launchpad for artists?
"We think we'll look back at the line-up in a few years and be really proud of who's on there. Getting artists at this stage of their careers is really exciting and it makes a difference to the experience of the day from an audience perspective too. It's a festival for musical discovery where you might stumble upon your new favourite artist or band."
What makes Brockwell Park the perfect location for the festival?
"While we're working with an expanded site this year, it's still going to be a really nice size with enough breathing room but stages close enough together so you can just hop around and see as much as you can."
What do you think you have learnt and brought forward from the previous two editions of the festival?
"Wide Awake is still such a new festival that we're honing things each year. We just try to take the best things from each edition - the musical discovery, the mix of genres, good sound - and do our best to build on them whilst reaching more and more people."
You have an initiative where you’re trying to make less of an impact on the environment, what have you put in place to increase the festival’s sustainability?
"Our Positive Policy includes actions such as banning single-use plastic, recycling and reducing back-of-house waste, eco toilets and compostable cutlery. We want to help change the way live music events take responsibility for actions towards our planet and by working with climate change and pollution experts, each year we aim to collaborate on solutions that can make festivals carbon neutral in the future."
Rough Trade will have a presence at the festival, what other activities can people expect to find apart from some crate digging?
"Rough Trade will be hosting album signings with some great artists on the bill. We also have a Zine Fair curated by hate zine with over 20 independent publications covering everything from music to activism, the environment, feminism, folklore, literature, outsider art and more. There's a great food and drinks line-up made up of local traders as well as workshops and panels covering things like the housing crisis, immigration policy and disability within the nightlife industry."
Wide Awake has an equal gender split this year, it seems as though it has been difficult to reach that as an industry standard, do you feel as though we’re some way off from having that balance be taken more seriously?
"I think people are taking it more seriously but there's a long way to go before ingrained attitudes and processes change significantly enough for gender equality to become the norm across the board. We're partners with Keychange who do some excellent work across the industry and consider it part of our responsibility to play our part both on and off stage."
Check out our What's On Guide to discover even more rowdy raves and sweaty gigs taking place over the coming weeks and months. For festivals, lifestyle events and more, head on over to our Things To Do page or be inspired by the event selections on our Inspire Me page.