One Big Showcase – The Academy of Music & Sound- back at Bearded Theory 2019


One Big Showcase
The Academy at Bearded Theory 2019


The Academy of Music and Sound were back at Derbyshire’s mighty Bearded Theory festival this year. Returning with a stage packed full of student talent, as well as a line-up of competition winning bands and soloists, selected from over a thousand applicants to play a slot on the One Big Showcase Stage.

The AMS stage at Bearded Theory – unmissable in bold red and blue stripes – offering an exciting line-up each day of the event to gathering festival crowds offering everything from punk rock, to indie, acoustic singer song writers and Ska to get your knees up to.

AMS Gateshead students kicked things off on the Friday afternoon, with a wide array of styles covered including an acoustic set, a rock band and a DJ.

This was followed by an eclectic array of bands including award-winning country singer Katy Hurt, the sassy, lively and wonderful Dana Immanuel and her Stolen Band, badass all-female punk metal group HAWXX, donning perhaps the most styling and statement-making attire of the event, plus Jersey based three-piece Hot Plastic. The Kubricks closed proceedings on the Friday with a suitably skanky set which got the packed crowd buzzing in the intimate tent.

Saturday afternoon began, lit up by Exeter AMS student performers, including bands Violet Eye, Wish Hounds, First Person, plus Shadow Project and AMS Southampton band Wooden Spoons. Guests Beth Porter and Pavey Ark, settled the revellers in for a mellow, dreamy afternoon, before Cuba Libre hit the stage, offering some funky rhymes and beats to truly get the crowd going. Candidates followed suit, and headliners Tres Kings closed the night with a polished performance stiking a bold balance somewhere between Arctic Monkeys and Jamie T.

Sunday featured AMS Exeter band Athelas, a seriously well rehearsed metal outfit. Next up, in the truest spirit of diversity was singer song writer Kimwei and then 19 year-old, finger style guitar player extraordinaire Connor Thomas. In keeping with the vibe of the early afternoon, Jon Kenzie then stepped up to sit down and play an hour’s set of original finger style blues and Americana. The tent was suitably chilled out at this stage, so to liven it up, Manchester based 6 piece, The Retrosettes encapsulated the audience with their blend of 50’s inspired original rock ‘n’ roll, before the two most lively acts of the day; Dutch Mustard (upbeat heavy rock) and headliners Bad Transmission (ska/rap/drum ‘n’ bass) saw off the event in style.

The One Big Showcase has a proud legacy of grassroots support, and introductions for independent and emerging artists. Last year the One Big Showcase presented Exeter based indie-pop band Pattern Pusher, who this year upgraded to the main stage of the festival itself, securing the first slot of the event and opening things up, in grand, colourful, eccentric and altogether lively style, on the sunny Friday afternoon. Other groups that came through the One Big Showcase route to play other stages this year also included Longy and the Gospel Trash, Broken Bones Matilda, Indigo Velvet and the Winachi Tribe.

“What a great success The One Big Showcase stage has been. Proper grassroots support with a policy of promoting top performing bands to the main and Woodland stages the following year”

AMS Principle, Steve Ryan

Not only did the AMS students put on some memorable performances – perhaps even setting themselves up to follow the Pattern Pusher path and become main-stagers next year – but, behind the scenes student work in artist liaison, lighting and sound, as well as stewarding and merch sales provided some valuable industry experience, not to mention help with essential logistics, without which, One Big Showcase might not have been possible.

AMS students on and off stage

Of the success of the One Big Showcase, and its help to get independent bands and artists onto bigger, main stage venues along side the festival itself, AMS Principle Steve Ryan said: “What a great success The One Big Showcase stage has been. Proper grassroots support with a policy of promoting top performing bands to the main and Woodland stages the following year. No other festival offers this direct route as far as I know. Excellent policy.”

AMS Students experience at Bearded was aimed to provide them with some industry experience, as well as the opportunity to play a proper festival gig. Its proved to be a sure-fire stepping stone for some, as well as some key additions and skills to add to any working musicians CV. The One Big Showcase has become proof that AMS students are encouraged to develop some key, multifaceted industry skills alongside performance based ones. Our courses, which range from Production, to Performance, to Business, and you can read more about them from our Prospectus if you want to be part of something like this next year.

With another great showing at Bearded Theory under their belt, the Academy is now looking froward to its 25 years in music education celebrations this summer with various events up and down the country. As ever, stay tuned.