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Forwards Festival announces its 2023 line-up

Forwards festival reveals a star-studded lineup for its second year.

By Josh Templeman, Co-Deputy Music Editor

Returning to the Clifton Downs after its debut last year, Forwards has announced a stellar line-up for the second edition of the festival later this Summer.

Taking place on the 1st and 2nd of September, founders Team Love and AEG will be welcoming some of the most electric names in international music to the stages of Forwards in a line-up that crosses genre boundaries and defies imagination.

Credit: Giulia Spadafora


A name that requires minimal introduction, the Friday of the festival will see the queen of neo-soul, Erykah Badu, perform as headliner to the Bristol crowd. A true pioneer of the genre, expect nothing less than to be sent into a soulful trance by the ethereal vocals of the four-time Grammy winner.

We’ve all seen the posters dotted around the city but now it has been confirmed. An artist who defines experimentalism and innovation, the Saturday will see the legendary Aphex Twin headline. An elusive figure, live performances from the producer are scarce nowadays, but punters can expect a life-changing performance with cutting-edge sounds and mind-boggling visuals. Bristol – this is a big one.

Credit: Plaster Communications


As well as headliner Erykah Badu, other artists performing on the Friday include the iconic DJ and producer Bonobo who will bring his unique sound to The Downs following the release of his acclaimed 2022 project, Fragments.

Also performing on the day is the up-and-coming Welsey Joseph, who has been making serious waves in the UK R&B scene, alongside the brilliant Biig Piig who continues to defy genre as she consolidates her sound that deftly amalgamates pop, R&B and soul.

Also in attendance on Friday are Raye, Confidence Man, Olivia Dean and the very special guest of Goldie and his live ensemble.


Alongside headliner Aphex Twin, Saturday boasts an exciting line-up. Forwards will be bringing iconic Scottish rock band, Primal Scream, to its stage for the second day of the festival. On top of this, delivering her distinct sound, Mercury Prize-winning Arlo Parks will be performing in what will undoubtedly be an exciting set.

Following their critically acclaimed 2022 effort, I Love You Jennifer B, Jockstrap will be bringing their innovative and experimental sound to the Saturday of the event. Also performing is Nottingham-based Yazmin Lacey whose candid songwriting and confident vocals have rightfully attracted significant attention in recent years.

Also performing on Saturday are electronic innovators Leftfield alongside a glowing list of names that includes the punky Amyl and the Sniffers, Viagra Boys and Katy J Pearson.

Credit: Plaster Communications

Combined with its expansive musical lineup, Forwards aims to provide a space for constructive discussion and debate, with the event's 'THE INFORMATION' stage welcoming a host of writers, experts, thinkers and everyone in between. Further details of those who will be at the stage will arrive later this year but expect exciting names like Jay Rayner and John Barnes who attended last year,

So much more than just a music festival, the festival truly seeks to challenge the perspectives of metropolitan festivals and demonstrate the good that they can do. Tom Paine, co-founder of Team Love, has said: "“We’re proud to be bringing FORWARDS back this year to the best city in the world, and our hometown Bristol."

"Building on our work from our inaugural year, we are incredibly excited to be able to pull together a musical offering with such an amazing array of talent. It continues to be our aim to make FORWARDS a space which invites debate and challenges the status quo. Offering our audience a place to come together, dance and make memories, while trying to inspire discussions, actions, and to enact positive change through the urgent conversations at  ‘The Information’."

With the announcement of this line-up, it seems safe to say they've done it again.

Tickets for the festival will be available from 10:00AM on the 24th of March, with those who signed up to the presale able to access the day before.

Featured image: Plaster Communications

Will you be heading to Forwards this year?