Highest Point Festival 2024: Friday Review

Highest Point is back and well underway. Check out our thoughts from this Lancaster fest kickstarting the summer in style.

Skiddle Staff

Date published: 11th May 2024

As the clock struck half 3 and the grand gates of Williamson Park swung open, this year’s Highest Point Festival got well underway.

With weather rivalling the Balearics on its best days, sunshine and positivity was beaming across Lancaster stretching to the edge of Morecambe Bay. Crowds of all ages rolled through past the luscious park gardens, through to the Main Stage nestled amongst the footsteps of the mighty Ashton Memorial. 

To kick things off, eyes were on Lancastrian quartet Indifferent Monkey. As winners of a competition for local bands to open the Main Stage, the fresh-faced group didn’t disappoint, offering a heavy and enticing brand of trip-hop-infused rock. Their tracks juggled between bombastic rock, jungle beats and 90s trip hop, all backed by infectious guitar licks and imposing drums. 

Over on the other side of the Ashton Memorial, wunderkind Chase kickstarted his career behind the decks while opening the Charlie Tee presents Unitee Memorial Stage. Beats echoed across the city and the open sea beyond, while tops were already off and swinging over heads as gun fingers shot into the clear blue sky within the festival’s first hour. 


BBC Radio 6 Music powerhouse Chris Hawkins opened the picturesque Sundial stage in style with some reworked, chopped-up throwbacks from the start of the millennium, from ‘Get Lucky’ to ‘Move Your Body’, they were the perfect twists on beloved classics to pair with the warm weather. Nearby, tucked amongst the mouth watering offerings of crepes, fish & chips and Cumberland sausages, sat the Beatz Cookin stage. Offering tantalising summery house bangers from the comfort of a food truck, the unique stage was opened by Highest Point veteran Summer J, in her sixth appearance at the festival. 

The good vibes continued around the corner, as amongst the serene ponds and fountains, the Waterfall stage transformed Lancashire parkland into a tropical paradise, backed by Bushrocker HiFi’s finest Caribbean rhythms. Bushrocker was succeeded by the Buddhakan Headset to keep nirvana rolling. If you were after a change of pace from the other stages this was the perfect antidote. A veteran of underground house music, having first graced the scene 27 years ago, Buddhakan Headset more than delivered on some lesser-known gems stored in his mighty record collection. 

Back on the Memorial Stage, smoke spilled over as Juice Box, the local DJ and MC collective, took their brand of feverish two-step to Williamson Park after garnering fans from their Lancaster club nights. “A perfect start to a perfect day” the MC surmised as their two-hour set touched upon the scattiest and most electric DnB you could desire. 


As their psychedelic logo glitched and sputtered in the background, Lowes blasted their electronic rock sound. Led by lead singer Evie’s soaring vocals, the trio of local talent dominated the Main Stage, with their new unreleased track ‘Contagious’ absolutely rocking. The band’s change in sound since going independent also shone through the set, as tracks like ‘365 Kid’ and ‘Satisfaction’ paint the picture of a band reborn in a new and exciting direction. 

Up next over on the Sundial saw Leeds-based dance pioneers Utah Saints delivering a DJ set crammed with the sample-heavy masterwork that made them trailblazers in the late 80s and early 90s. Within a handful of needle drops the Sundial Stage was rammed with dance fans, mounting the eponymous sundial sculpture in the stage centre. A fun rework of Fugees classic ‘Ready or Not’ and Aphrodite’s ‘B.M. Funkster’ were some of the tunes that came towards the end of the set, while ‘You’ve Got the Love’ was their grand finale. The jubilant crowd threw their hands up in the hair to see them out. 

A tough act to follow, but Hip Hop Karaoke exceeded expectations. After springing to life in the form of beloved club nights in the capital, they took their talents up north to Williamson Park. As hip-hop hopefuls stepped to the stage the crowd took 20 steps forward and the Sundial stage was bouncing. If you think that inebriated Lancastrians didn’t sound exactly like Cypress Hill’s ‘Insane in the Membrane’, we don’t know what to tell you.


A trip back to the Memorial Stage saw Binx, a festival favourite after closing down the Sundial in style last year, occupy the decks for an hour alongside his entourage. A founder of the Manchester-based mushroom-themed DnB collective Mukes, Binx didn’t disappoint with some ground-shaking drum and bass. 

We next flocked to the Main Stage as Cat Burns marked a welcome change of pace.. Her catchy and heartfelt pop, which you can’t help but bob your head to, serenaded the crowd in the sun. A highlight of her set included Burns quipping “I hope you guys know this one” before kicking into ‘Teenage Dirtbag’. “You didn’t expect that one, did ya?” She asked the audience locked into a singalong. She left a roaring crowd desperate for more with her closing song and biggest hit ‘go’.

By this point, the festival was rammed with eager music fans of all ages soaking up the glorious North West weather. As large groups started to form beneath the Memorial, a wicked double bill took control of the crowd. Oko teared up her set, which included a huge bass-boosted mix of ‘Panic Room’, as the Unitee stage truly kicked off in some serious skank. 

She was followed by Issey Cross, who sent the crowd beserk with her signature track ‘Used to This’. Cross’ mix of heavy pop-rock with DnB beats and confessional lyrics had the gun fingers locked and loaded. Cap ending the set with bangers, she finished with her track ‘Bittersweet Goodbye’, the emotionally charged bass number that got people chanting. 

Faces scattered across the hills and steps of the Ashton Memorial as Eurovision runner-up, national treasure and displaced Viking Sam Ryder took to the Main Stage. Equipped with a bright blue guitar, a soaring band and cartoon visuals that leaped off the screen, he delivered his brand of heart-jumping anthems, topped off with his smash hit ‘Space Man’. His set was peppered with enthusiasm and crowd interactions and even included a touch of Live Lounge. A couple of cracking covers like ‘You Can Call Me Al’ and ‘You’ve Got the Love’ kept guests on their toes. 


While eyes were on the Main Stage, Chris Hawkins introduced the unique duo Inhere Brothers over on the Sundial stage. With just a pair of electric guitars between them, their deconstructed covers of classic songs from the 90s and beyond, including a crash course on different dance beats, proved a treat for stagegoers, who were hopping on the Sundial throughout.

The Memorial was still filling up with hit after hit. After Issey Cross’ infectious mix of DnB beats and confessional lyrics, the double trouble of Charley Tee & Savvy B followed up. The BBC Radio 1 DJ brought her bass-fuelled stomp in full force, while her MC Savvy B was on absolute fire, mounting the gates and MCing in scintillating form, keeping the crowd locked into the skank.

At last, the big Friday moment arrived as Tom Odell graced the Main Stage for its grand finale. Weaving through the hundreds of faces gathered in at the centre of the park, the stage evoked a cavalcade of colour, as Odell and his band’s distorted shadows flickered across the walls. Over a momentous hour and a half set, Odell serenaded the crowd with sorrowful piano-laced ballads. There were few dry eyes in the house after his big hits were wheeled out, from the emotionally complex ‘Black Friday’ to his mournful smash hit ‘Another Love’. The former BRIT Critics' Choice Award was a pitch perfect close to the Main Stage for Friday night. 

To cap off the day we headed over to Memorial. DnB rising star Mozey built on and exceeded the energy the Unitee lineup had been building throughout the day, with the energy dripping from the stage as much as the sweat was from Mozey's brow as he pulled from his catalogue of bangers. He just showcased to Lancaster why he clutched three awards at the DnB awards. 


After electronic master Culture Shock closed the night with some heavy DnB, it was time to call it a night. Crowds poured out of Williamson Park clamouring for taxis, sun-kissed and dizzy with joy. The Northern Lights even made a special appearence as its shadow cloaked Ashton Memorial in brilliant light. Anticipation was rife in the air for how Saturday could compare. 

We’ve got a sneaky feeling Saturday might just surpass this… 



Check out our What's On Guide to discover 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.








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