Escape to the seaside for Rockaway Beach 2023

Did somebody say Butlins? Here are Dork’s picks for Rockaway Beach.

Did somebody say Butlins? Here are Dork’s picks for Rockaway Beach 2023.

Hey, Dear Reader! Like New Year’s Resolutions getting broken, making a trip to IKEA, and trying to convince our neighbours to let us build a giant stage on top of Dork Towers, we have a few January traditions here at your friendly neighbourhood music magazine – like nipping off to the seaside for Rockaway Beach.

Kickstarting the year over the first weekend back in January, Rockaway Beach is a refreshing dip back into the live music world after stuffing our faces with WAY too much chocolate over the Crimbo period. Going down at fun-filled family adventure land Butlins in Bognor Regis, it’s a hub stacked full of hugely influential greats, sizzling new favourites and bonafide Dork royalty each and every year. Where else can you jump on go-karts before watching bands destined for a massive year ahead? Exactly.

2023 is no different, with Rockaway Beach returning with its biggest lineup to date – not to mention Dork DJs taking to the stage in the Butlins Bowling Alley/Arcade Area. Where else would we be? It makes sense. Thankfully, there are more incredible acts not to miss – so for those heading down, grab a look at these picks and make sure you’re not stuck in that final air hockey shootout when this lot take to the stage. Please win us prizes, though.

AND even if you’re not down at Rockaway Beach this weekend, keep your eyes out for a special edition of Down With Boring coming soon. It’ll really capture the mood. Maybe.

Photo credit: Patrick Gunning

First playing Rockaway Beach back in 2019, Self Esteem’s rise since then has been nothing short of game-changing. Becoming an Official National Treasure, her razor-sharp pop hooks have gone global with a stage show rightfully acclaimed as one of the best of the year. After taking on Taskmaster and Jools Holland in recent weeks, Self Esteem’s biggest year may just be on the horizon in 2023, receiving plaudits that set her apart from the rest. Headlining the festival with a must-see show on Friday night, it’s a chance to witness that headline force before anyone else.

Photo credit: Em Marcovecchio

Yard Act are hard-working chaps. After turning 2022 into their own personal playground following the release of debut album ‘The Overload’, the Yorkshire titans are sure to deliver the sort of show that’ll leave no doubt about their rightful place at the top of the tree. Sure to have Rockaway Beach’s ‘Reds’ Stage filled to the prim, it’s an end-of-night party if we ever did see one – with a band leading the charge celebrating in style for what’s sure to be a 2023 filled with even more highlights to add to the memory book. Plus, frontman James will make a 50p coin disappear. He will, you know. 

Ever since VLURE nearly tore down Brighton Pier headlining our Dork Stage at The Great Escape, we’ve known they’re onto something special. Blending euphoric electro with punk ferocity and vulnerable emotion – their live shows are a revolutionary romp that have you eager to dive into the chaos all over again. Some bands are happy to wait around for their shining moment, but with VLURE, they’re already racing towards THE band to see live in the year ahead. It’ll get tasty in there, we promise. 

True favourites at Rockaway Beach, LIFE are a band irresistible in every sense of the word. Whipping crowds into a frenzy with their blending of punk vigour and soaring post-rock gleams, they’re a guaranteed good time, all led by frontman Mez. Taking on their biggest stage at the festival following the release of their stunning third album ‘North East Coastal Town’, Hull’s finest are in the midst of their most exciting era to date that pushes at the boundaries most bands get trapped into. Will Mez get on someone’s shoulders? Maybe. Will Mez bust some outrageous dance moves? Likely. Will thousands walk away talking about their set for the rest of the weekend and beyond? Absolutely.

Hype List alumni The Goa Express nail two distinct moves that’ll have fans glued to the stage at Rockaway Beach this year. Managing to sound like a wonderful snapshot of legendary British music from years gone by whilst also feeling incredibly fresh – their wide-eyed indie-pop-rock is a welcome jolt in the arm for bands up and down the land. With ‘Everybody In The UK’ and the shining ‘Second Time’ but two examples – it’s a live show focused on celebrating the good time. 

Photo credit: Siân Adler

With tunes ripped from the diaries and scrapbooks of modern life, there’s a reason why a lot of people are talking about Panic Shack. From the very first note, their scuzzy rock edges rip at the walls and refuse to let go – like a sugar rush of the greatest order that points to the fun and games to come from a celebratory new force. A band perfect for Rockaway Beach in its look to the best and the brightest new wave, we’ll get to the front now.

Photo credit: Jamie Harding and Matthew Sterling of we are jam

Scalping have become the talk of the wider music ‘town’ over the past 18 months, dropping the sort of propulsive heavy electro-punk that turns dancefloors into moshpits into dancefloors into moshpits all over again. A full-on takeover of the senses, they’re flipping the script on everything you may expect, and the result is a glorious party full of intensity and wild turns you’d never see coming. It’ll get lively, it’ll get loud, and it’s why Scalping are so damn exciting. 

Photo credit: Alex Matraxia

Effortlessly suave in every move they make, deep tan twist and light a fuse to everything that’s come before them – with angular hooks and post-punk glory taking charge of a set that’s sure to follow their run of spellbinding shows up and down the land over the past year. Expect ‘beginners’ krav maga’ and ‘diamond horsetail’ to be moments of magical rawness from a band who make spacious punk sound altogether something bigger. 

Rockaway Beach takes place at Butlins Bognor Regis from 6th-8th January.

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