When the news first broke of The Boaty Weekender last year, for Belle and Sebastian fans worldwide, it seemed almost too good to be true. For those of you who haven’t heard of The Boaty Weekender, Scottish 7-piece band Belle & Sebastian have curated an ambitious once in a lifetime music festival cruise around the Mediterranean with 19 other indie pop legends.
But, The Boaty Weekender isn’t the first time Belle & Sebastian have offered a little something extra to their fans. In the two decades since they released their first album Tigermilk, the members of Belle & Sebastian have created musical side projects, festivals and even a movie. So, to celebrate the upcoming Boaty Weekender, we’re taking a look at some of our favourite times Belle & Sebastian have been ridiculously impressive, without even releasing a new album.
The Bowlie Weekender (1999)
Just three years after the release of their first album, Belle & Sebastian created an event that would go down in alt music history as legendary. The event was the music festival The Bowlie Weekender in Sussex. The festival was completely curated by the members of Belle & Sebastian and the line-up included indie icons such as Broadcast, The Flaming Lips, Camera Obscura and, of course, Belle & Sebastian. The entire line up consisted of over 25 bands, many of who were just finding their musical footing in the late 90’s and have now become well-known names in the world of alternative pop and rock. The timeless curation of this event is a true testament to Belle & Sebastian, not just as musicians, but as taste makers and innovators in the music industry.
But, For those of us Belle & Sebastian who were too young (I was 4) and too far away ( hey Australia) to attend, the event would become a legend in the true sense of the word; a mystical, seemingly impossible festival that we’d only ever be able to read about while longingly while listening to If You’re Feeling Sinister. That was until …
The Boaty Weekender (2019)
Twenty years on from the Bowlie Weekender, this August, Belle & Sebastian are taking their music festival to the ocean. The Boaty Weekender, the cruise ship festival curated by Belle & Sebastian, sets sail from Barcelona and sails through the Mediterranean for four days. The Festival boasts five stages and the line up includes Belle & Sebastian (obviously), Camera Obscura, Japanese Breakfast, Mogwai and Teenage Fanclub. The carefully curated festival includes a handful of the bands that performed at the Bowlie Weekender, alt-pop favourites and three new up and coming bands selected through the Battle for Boaty competition. In classic Belle & Sebastian fashion, the cruise is set to be a homage to some of the great bands of the late 90s while also being a launching platform for new musical talent.
As if having Belle & Sebastian headlining and music festival on a damn boat wasn’t enough, the cruise will also offer intimate experiences such as Q and A’s with the band, yoga and limited edition vinyl records for some lucky punters. But the cruise leaves in less than a month so if you’re wanting to get on board (literally) you better do it quick!
Click here to book your room.
God Help the Girl – Band (2009)
Although this was technically a side project of front man Stuart Murdoch, God Help the Girl, included the members of Belle & Sebastian plus female vocalists Catherine Ireton, Celia Garcia, Brittany Stallings, Alex Klobouk, Dina Bankole and Linnea Jonsson. So, what was God Help the Girl? Well, God Help the Girl came in two parts; the band and the movie. The band came first in 2009 with the release of their self-titled album. The album, although written by Murdoch, had a female centric focus. Vocally, it centred Catherine Ireton, while lyrically the songs told the stories of girls and young women. The album included several original God Help the Girl songs and new renditions of existing Belle & Sebastian songs, Act of the Apostle and Funny Little Frog. While audibly similar to the chamber pop sounds of Belle & Sebastian, God Help the Girl offered a sense of delicate frustration.
God Help the Girl – Movie (2014)
Then came the movie. Written and directed by front man, Stuart Murdoch, God Help the Girl, was every Belle & Sebastian fan’s dream. Starring Emily Browning, Olly Alexander and Hannah Murray, the musical is a sepia washed, bittersweet, melancholy delight featuring beautifully awkward characters. Without giving too much away, the movie pretty much consists of largely uneventful yet incredibly cinematic adventures around Glasgow as the main characters try to define themselves as a band. With a bit of an unrequited love thing thrown in the mix, the plot makes for a nice little film. But what sets God Help the Girl apart from being just another indie film with uncomfortable yet somehow likeable characters is its soundtrack (stating the obvious), the 1960’s-esque picturesque setting, and the surprisingly sensitive and realistic treatment of mental health issues.
Bowlie 2 (2010)
While not technically a Belle and Sebastian side project and more just a thing they did, Bowlie 2 was the 10th anniversary festival of the All Tomrrow’s Parties. All Tomrrow’s Parties was a music festival inspired by the Bowlie Weekender and held at the same venue in Sussex from 2000 to 2006. Although the festival relocated in 2006, Belle & Sebastian were invited to curate the festival in 2010 as a 10 year anniversary special. Once again Belle & Sebastian put together a truly memorable line up with early 2000’s classics including the likes of Franz Ferdinand, Crystal Castles and the Foals, post-punk icons such as Edwyn Collins, Bowlie Weekender originals Camera Obscura and new-comers Best Coast.