Three train journeys, half an hour on the tube and a shuttle bus later and Summer Festival Guide has arrived at Kent County Showground.
A mile-long queue waits impatiently outside as they hold on to their tickets for dear life.
On first impression, the venue where we'll spend the next 10 hours looks like somewhere you'd hold a wedding, but on closer inspection and once inside, it's more like an aircraft hanger techno haven. Conveniently laid out, you can pop in and out of The Barn and The Meadow, making tough clashes like Guy Gerber or Steve Lawler and Maya Jane Coles or B Traits just a little bit easier.
The soundsystems in both rooms are as good as any night-time club and the overall aesthetic is pretty minimal.
Stepping outside is the only time you'd know it was still the middle of the day, because once immersed in B Traits' techno set you'd be forgiven for thinking it’s 4 in the morning at Fabric.
The VIP area, as well, is a nice addition, with leather sofas and bar stools to sit at, as well as some surprisingly fresh smelling toilets…
Eli & Fur opt for their trademark melodic deep house sound, whilst Russ Yallop takes Kent to Paradise with his undeniably infectious wAFF collaboration 'Mike The Swamp' – as one guy gets over excited opening his beer, which ends up sprayed all over the clean floor.
There's not really an age limit, either. If someone's into house and techno music, chances are that they're somewhere among the few thousand in the crowd.
AME, playing an early afternoon slot, starts his journey of melodic, building techno with plenty of eery vocal-led tracks just as two girls in fluorescent orange vests synchronise the same dance moves.
B Traits, meanwhile, opts for acid, electro and techno in The Barn, dropping some bangers that fill up our Shazam pretty quickly.
The seasoned DJ even dares to be different, throwing in a drum and bass track in her final half hour, before flawlessly mixing it into Barnt's techno thumper 'Chappell' – a track that we'll never get tired of.
Steve Lawler then delivers a standout set full of VIVA Warriors’ tech-house hits, as Eats Everything gets himself psyched up watching on from behind the decks and one guy at the front barrier starts bowing down and goes in for a hug with Bristol's favourite party animal.
Whilst Eats goes back to back with Yusef in the Barn dropping Basti Grub, Natch! & Dothen’s 'Oh Baby Dance' to get everyone warmed up for their three hour slot, Nina Kraviz delivers a set full of fire – quite literally.
Throughout the faultlessly energetic heavy techno onslaught, flames burst from in front of her as she bounces around behind the decks.
It’s the first time SFG has seen Kraviz play and it certainly won't be the last. Fifteen minutes into her hard-hitting set and she’s already won the day.
Nina Kraviz proves time doesn't wait for techno – it's only 7.30pm but when Josh Wink and Lil Louis' 'How's Your Evening So Far?' drops, it feels like 3am.
A tough act to follow, but Social founder Nic Fanciulli going back to back with Joris Voorn delivers another impressive few hours, leaving Drumcode's Adam Beyer to headline the event – certifying The Social's status as the UK's best indoor house and techno festival, undoubtedly. See you next year!
What do you get if you throw 50 of the biggest names in house, techno, garage and grime into Butlins with thousands of other party hungry ravers from across the country that are beyond fed up of the January blues? The biggest party this side of winter, that’s what. Who ever thought up the idea of getting DJ's to play at what is usually a relaxed, child-friendly family holiday resort is, unquestionably, a genius. Because it works unbelievably well…
After resurrecting Floorfillers Club Classics from a dusty glovebox early on during our Friday afternoon journey, it proves the perfect soundtrack to get us in the mood for a weekend at Butlins.
As soon as we've checked in we head to Spar for some essentials. Though, instead of the usual mum-friendly songs on its radio, it's a Bugged Out Weekender takeover as Skream's ‘Midnight Request Line' subtly makes itself heard. And it's not just the corner shop with an unusual soundtrack. The lifts, too, reject their usual music as Artwork preaches, "What comes up must come down" and "don't forget to eat before the pool party" as just two of the cheeky remarks to guide everyone along…
Heading into the main pavilion we’ve no idea what to expect. Greeted by a man in full Star Wars attire, we zoom past retro arcade games to check out DJ Barely Legal's grime and bass-heavy set. Not much later and we’re running into Reds – 'the home of the Redcoats' – as B Traits drops Barnt's face-melting techno thumper, 'Chappell' … everyone’s practically forgotten we're in Butlins by now.
Instead, we could be at any of the country's best clubs. With an unexpectedly strong sound-system, a good-sized stage, expansive dance-floor and incredibly on-point strobe lighting set up – Reds is where we spend most of our nighttimes…
Groove Armada put in a set full of euphoria, dropping 'You've Got The Love' to arms-in-the-air effect. There's almost a Bestival vibe to the night so far; one group of lads sport homemade ‘to dare is to disco’ printed t-shirts. Everyone’s just high on happiness.
Meanwhile, in the more intimate Escape setting Erol Alkan is delivering the perfect electro set, and DJ EZ takes a packed Centre Stage crowd on a one-hour journey of past, present and future hits.
Grime, house, pop and garage – you name it EZ's playing it. From Bieber ('Where R U Now') to Stormzy ('Shut Up') to AJ Tracey ('Naila') to Chase & Status ('Hypest Hype') and even a weird-but-it-works edit of The Clash ('Should I Stay Or Should I Go?') …it's a bit like being at Oceana on a Saturday night.
Saturday afternoon rolls round too quickly and before we know it it's time to start drinking again – plans to explore Bognor’s beauty are fast disappearing…
Armand Van Helden, following Eats Everything’s energetic house and techno, plays a 90's throwback set – attracting one of the Weekender's biggest crowds and a whole lot of confetti. It’s all about unashamed fun as Mouse T’s ‘Horny’ is met with two guys waving their half-eaten carrot and cucumber in the air like glow-sticks. Completely ridiculous, it seems we are at Butlins after all.
This is all going on whilst Mumdance takes a smaller but focused crowd through a hard-hittIng ear-punishing soundscape of electronic bleeps and bass in The Escape; whilst back on the Centre Stage, Skream and Jackmaster are preparing for Bigger Than JESuS with Armand and Eats, who see us through the rest of the night perfectly.
With Jackmaster behind the decks, Skream adds a new string to his bow, acting as a sort of hype-man by coming crowd level to encourage a clap along; at Bugged Out Weekender the fun never stops…
With it being the last day at Butlins, it’d be shameful not to check out a pool party. Inflatable’s, slides, wave machines, a lazy river, hot tub and dozens of dinghy's are just the tip of the iceberg – because it’s soundtracked by house and disco purveyors Bicep, a duo who’s 2015 was nothing short of amazing. As Sunday afternoon's go, this one takes the crown.
Come midnight we're straight down the front for Glaswegian star-in-the-making Jasper James's brilliant house and techno set. There’s not one track that misfires throughout Jackmaster’s housemate’s 90-minute set. We even watch man on his own, at least 70-years-old, throwing some crazy shapes; whilst a group of guys physically bow down in front of Jasper.
With the whole crowd applauding and having the time of there lives, there's an energy from the constantly on-point track selection – highlights: Emmanuel Jal ‘Kuar’ (Henrik Schwarz Remix) and Lil Louis and the World ‘I Called U (The Conversation)’ – that's been, so far, unmatched…
That is the case … until The Black Madonna puts in an effortlessly show-stealing performance. Most artists would struggle to follow a great set like Jasper’s, but Marea Stamper takes the pressure completely in her stride. Having played a show in Istanbul on Friday, it wouldn’t be wrong to expect she’d be just a bit tired, but no. Contrastingly, it’s rare to see a DJ getting as involved as The Black Madonna does. She looks completely at home behind the decks, putting in the most eclectic – and easily the best – set of the weekend.
From driving, vocal house to heavy, relentless techno, via personal highlights: Green Velvet and Harvard Bass’s sonically blinding 'Laser Beams' and Jimmy Edgar's ground-shattering 'Let Me Tell You' – The Black Madonna keeps the audience dancing like it’s their final night on earth.
It's clear from her hand claps, hair flicks and exuberant moves that she's up for a proper party. I could carry on with how great it was – especially the tribute to Bowie near the end – but The Black Madonna summed it up perfectly on Twitter: “I was maniac raving out here! … I literally don't know if I've ever danced as hard as I did on these last two shoes”. We couldn't have put it better…
Closing out Reds for another year, Bicep take the reigns for a set that ends up extended by an hour – because it was so good. Opting for Hubie Davison's brilliant 'Sanctified' to open, they don’t put a foot wrong from thereon. House music legend Kerri Chandler, meanwhile, provides the perfect send off at Centre Stage with a New York classics set full of soul and piano chords aplenty. Veering from a rapturously received ‘You’re In My System’ to ‘Lost In Music’, there’s no age limit.
“I’ve been raving since 1986,” explains a middle-aged man dressed in a flowing metallic cape with a neon pink flashing cupcake attached to his head. “It’s real music,” he gushes. “I do struggle to keep up these days, but I manage … somehow!” And that’s what the Bugged Out Weekender is all about. Offering fun for everyone, it doesn’t matter who you are or how old you are, when you get to Butlins all your inhibitions are forgotten. As the banner inside Reds reads …
After several years away, Maverick Sabre is preparing for a massive soul-filled return. With a brilliant new single, Come Fly Away, out now, a second album on the way and a headline UK tour imminent, Ben Jolley from Summer Festival Guide spoke to him about his musical roots and what he's been doing away for the last few years…
Sundown Festival returned this weekend for three days of pop, drum and bass and house music, offering, as one girl gushed on the first night, "great value and a great line up." Kicking off with an exclusive 'campers only' opening party from 5pm hosted by SubSoul, house music belted out of the Big Top tent throughout the evening. With one-hour sets from upcoming producers including Après – who has just graduated from university, DJ S.K.T who reached the top ten of the charts with 'Take Me Away', Friend Within (of Renegade Master fame), GotSome and Icarus, who closed the night with a grimier, bassier vibe. But it was Toyboy & Robin's set, from start to finish – with a perfect opening of Bicep's 'Just' mixed into Format:B's Ibiza smash 'Chunky' and ending with their own massive hit 'Jaded' – which gained the biggest reaction. With the music switched off dead on 11pm, the hundreds if not thousands of revellers were able to catch a good night’s sleep in preparation for nearly 20 hours of live music.
Photo courtesy of Sundown Festival
After filling up on a Sainsbury's big breakfast – the handy thing about Norfolk Showground is that there's a McDonald's, Costa and Sainsbury's within a short five minute walk – SFG made their way to the main arena for the first time, after mingling with Kiss FM breakfast presenters Rikki and Melvin and Facebook famous Jack Jones.
Following a last minute cancellation from Jess Glynne due to recent vocal surgery, Becky Hill – who gave a standout performance last year – was left to foot the bill, a task she took on with ease; her new collaboration All My Love, produced by Watermat and Tai showing off her seemingly endless vocal range to the booming house beat. Once the growing crowd realise how many of this year's chart hits she's put her voice too; Wilkinson's 'Afterglow', Oliver Heldens and 'Gecko (Overdrive)' to name just two more, everyone's lungs are given a real workout as she makes way for Karen Harding.
Similarly a go-to-vocalist for house producers, the glamorous singer shines brightest throughout her top-ten track 'Say Something' and new Blonde-collab 'Feel Good (It's Alright)' – the latter with a strong and catchy enough hook and chorus to top the charts when it's released. "Up next we've got the man that gave us the tunes Pow and Oi" proclaims Rickie and Melvin of Kiss FM fame as they ensure the crowd are suitably hyped up before introducing each act over the weekend. And the phrase 'hyped up' barely describes the atmosphere when Lethal Bizzle arrived onstage … gliding accords on a Segway no less. Sporting one of his own 'DENCH' t-shirts, the likes of Rari Workout and Flashing Lights descend into his request of numerous circles of mosh pits. "This is the last festival I'm doing this year. Let's make it the best one" he beckons, launching into The Drop and Fester Skank.
Contrastingly, MNEK, backed by two powerful female vocalists take things down a more smooth R&B/pop route during Take You To A Place and Ready For Your Love. Meanwhile in the Big Top it's a Defected Records take over. Returning for their second year, label boss Simon Dunmore, leading lady Sam Devine (cue crowd surfer) and relatively new Low Steppa keep the thousands of house lovers satisfied as they bring Ibiza vibes to Norwich. But, expectedly, the biggest draws come from Gorgon City and then Hannah Wants – the latter who's had a whirlwind year, with a Mixmag cover shoot and story last month.
Leading the evening's talent is Sigma, arguably the breakout drum & bass act of the year. Performing tracks from their soon-to-be-released album Life, Labrinth-collab Higher, which sees girls on shoulders and a building d'n'b edit of Rhianna's Diamonds as well as Lighters with its Chase & Status-like beat, keep the crowd's energy up.
Although, the highlight comes from Ella Henderson's appearance as she belts out Glitterball, faultlessly, along with all the girls – and guys – in the audience, proving herself as one of The X Factor's finest exports.
With flares in hand, it was down to London collective and Sundown first-timers Rudimental to headline. Flanked by live instrumentalists and numerous guest vocalists including Will Heard and Anne Marie who feature heavily on second album We The Generation, the hits everyone knows prove memorable, and the newer as-yet-unheard songs fares nearly as well. With ten members onstage, Right Here, Never Gonna Let You Go and Waiting All Night, the latter dedicated to a passed friend, certify their headlining credentials with ease; the drum & bass + live instruments set up clearly a well honed success.
Photo by Kath Sansom
Following a failed attempt to get into the DJ EZ after-party on Saturday night, everyone was left clueless as to why, until a member of the merchandise team told SFG the following morning that, allegedly, police were called to shut down the warehouse event due to mass over capacity. Catching Zak Abel, whom SFG later caught up to chat with, the young Londoner's performance was a case of great voice, potentially massive songs, minimal crowd – most likely down to his post-lunchtime set time. Running From Myself and the Kaytranada-produced Say Something, from his brilliant new seven-track EP, One Hand on the Future, are given soul-filled, emotive outings and deserve to gather a lot of attention in the very near future; as does his somewhat brave cover of Daniel Bedingfield's Gotta Get Thru This…
"This young girl actually went to school with Zayn Malik. I would love to have her kisses for breakfast" says Melvin (Kiss FM) as he welcomes Melissa Steel. With slick black hair and vibrant trousers, she bounces onstage, along with two impressive backing dancer. The crowd are quick to pick up on all the tracks she's provided vocals to this year; from the reggae vibes of Drunk and Incapable to her top-ten pop breakthrough Kisses for Breakfast. Ending with Kove's D&B hit The Way That We Are and an acepella version of Blonde-collab I Loved You, Melissa's a pop star to keep an eye on; especially with her new single You Love Me (featuring Wretch 32 – who performs next) coming out this week.
Sporting a new, almost unrecognisable head of hair, Wretch 32 tells the story of Blackout with humble intent; "I started out having to in to the shop to get electric", he says, adding that there is a "hope for life for everyone". A heartfelt version of Six Words stays in the audience's heads, as does Don't Go. Trekking over to the RAM Records stage, it's a drum and bass lovers paradise; Culture Shock, DC Breaks, Mind Vortex, Sub Focus and label head honcho Andy C each rattling out energetic heart racing beats throughout the day. Back at the sunny main stage, Maverick Sabre, who it seems has been away for years now, is asking the question, "can you be my Sundown choir?" The reason? An impeccable cover of Chaka Khan's Ain't Nobody, led by his, as ever, individualistic vocal style. Airing his new single Come Fly Away, the soulful lyrics are bound to score him a hit, and just as he reveals to SFG later during an interview that a new album is imminent as well as a UK tour, he's set for a big return.
Headlining on Sunday evening, Tinie Tempah, whom performing at his last festival of the summer ("lets make it the best one" he shouts) ran through his biggest hits; Pass Out, Frisky and Miami 2 "Norwich", the collabs; RIP, Not Letting Go and Tsunami; and new single "which i've not performed anywhere else" Turn Up The Music – which is bound to go to number one with a Katy B feature and a cheeky, infectious house sample of KDA's track, Rumble – it was a crowd-pleasing set for sure, and one that left everyone with smiles on their faces before leaving to go back to school/college/work.
Photo courtesy of Sundown Festival
For SFG and friends though, it was Nero's live set which smashed it most. From the intense ground rattling opening bass right to the trio bowing at the end, it was easily the best hour of the weekend, possibly the year in terms of this festival season (closely behind seeing Faithless at Balaton Sound). Having wanted to see Nero for countless years now, it was refreshing for the anticipation to be fulfilled. Alana Watson, who would stalk the stage in a lace dress ensemble, appearing and disappearing between songs, provided transfixing, almost haunting vocals, to Guilt, Me and You, Innocence and Satisfy among others, while the guys took charge of the drops and beats – all aided by an insane light show onstage. With a new album imminent, Nero's grip on dance music will soon re-tighten.
Adding to an already stelar assemblage of electronic music heavy weights, MINT Festival are excited announce some further additions to their 2015 line-up.
Sunday the 20th September will see the unstoppable grime MC Skepta come to the Wetherby Racecourse, playing the Detonate + Jungle Jam arena alongside the likes of Sub Focus, Shy FX and Cause & Affect.
Also on the Sunday, MINT Festival welcomes the legendary Zed Bias, an artist who has been pushing the underground bass scene forward for the past two decades. Zed will present his 'Madd Again' LIVE showcase, featuring MC's Trigga and Killa Benz, expect a big, bashy, grimey affair.
Skepta and Zed Bias will join a wide range of electronic artists over the two day event, including Sven Vath, Green Velvet, Ricardo Villalobos, Skream, Maya Jane Coles, Todd Terry, Seth Troxler and many more.
On June 6 and 7, 80,000 people descended on Heaton Park for Parklife 2015, indulging in headline sets from Disclosure on Saturday and Rudimental on Sunday, while Hudson Mohawke, Todd Terje, Jamie XX and the weekend’s highlight, FKA twigs, had Summer Festival Guide darting from stage to stage.
Saturday belongs to Jamie XX. Throughout a perfectly-crafted set, 'Girl', 'Gosh' and 'Sleep Sound', along with the soon-to-be defining track of the summer festival season, 'Loud Places', and older percussive house gem 'Far Nearer' pack the Now Wave tent – one overexcited reveler climbing the tent's rigging, becoming barely visible, to an eruption of cheers as he carefully eases back down.
Earlier, in the Big Top, Everything Everything – dressed in matching red suits – belt through new material, their current single 'Regret' achieving anthemic status.
Disclosure's graduation to main stage headliners comes with a plethora of new material from their imminent second album, 'Caracal', along with a host of upcoming vocal talents. 'White Noise', 'F For you' and 'You & Me' gain as incredible a response as expected, but it's Guy and Howard’s newest creations which stand out, as the Lawrence brothers tease, "Parklife, we've got some surprises for you". Lion Babe's leading lady Jillian Hervey – with the longest legs and wildest hair SFG HAs ever seen – comes first, her R&B-orientated vocals perfectly complimenting the slinky synths of an as-yet-unnamed track as she struts across the stage in arm-length silver gloves and nearly knee-high black boots. London-based future R&B vocalist Nao soon follows, her vocals and onstage presence similar to Aluna Francis, before Kwabs’ soulful tones command the crowd from a raised platform throughout two untitled tracks. The arrival of American jazz legend Gregory Porter for an on-point rendition of current single and collab ‘Holding On’ mesmerises the mainly young crowd with his unparalleled ability to hold a note, fusing two musical worlds seamlessly. After a brief stage leave, ‘Help Me Lose My Mind’ and ‘Latch’ – the latter is dedicated to Sam Smith who’s just recovered from vocal surgery – sees friends on shoulders in a moment of hysteria.
Bidding farewell for the evening, the flocks of thousands head for the shuttle bus appropriately chanting the lyrics to Blur's ‘Parklife’.
As SFG arrive on Sunday, Ella Eyre is playing to a massive crowd to the main stage despite her early afternoon set placement, launching herself across the stage in a leopard print leotard, belting out 'Deeper' and 'If I Go' along her energetic way.
Later, Labrinth arrives – suit and shades on – blasting through his synth-heavy chart hits 'Earthquake', 'Pass Out' and Sigma-collaboration 'Higher', the latter emptying everyone's lungs.
Meanwhile, in an equally busy Resident Advisor tent, Jimmy Edgar and Machinedrum – together they're known as J.E.T.S – pump out thumping techno as green inflatable aliens and neon balloons are slung around in the air; Ben UFO's back-to-back set with Pearson Sound continuing the bass-heavy electronic onslaught.
Oliver Dollar's back-to-back with Jesse Rose proves an early evening highlight, opting for Dirtybird's booty-house with Claude VonStroke's 'Make A Cake', assuring an up-tempo energy from the off.
Over at the MK Area 10 stage, Ben Pearce – of 'What I Might Do' fame – drops a housier edit of Take That's 'Relight My Fire', completely unexpectedly.
Later, in the Big Top, James Bay proves himself as having the potential to command the main stage in a year’s time; 'Let It Go' and 'Best Fake Smile's infectious chorus inducing a sense of euphoria.
US-based Sango, sporting a Manchester City sports jacket, opens the Kaytranada stage on Sunday with hip-hop and trap-influenced bubbling synths and bass beats in a tucked away Greek coliseum-like vicinity; even the security guards are bouncing along as they make their way through the crowd amidst a sparse edit of Skepta's ‘That's Not Me’ and a Cashmere Cat-sounding remix of Drake's ‘Through The 6’.
Chet Faker, sporting a topknot for the occasion, packs the Sounds of the Near Future stage with his synth-laden sound. Alone at first, he intricately and passionately delivers electronic instrumentals, before he’s joined by a guitarist and drummer. Encouraging us to "use those muscles" before ‘No Diggity’, a sea of phones are hoisted to record the cover, as everyone’s vocal muscles flex while singing along to ‘Drop The Game’.
Bristol duo Blonde meanwhile pack the Drop The Mustard stage with their summery house anthems ‘Foolish’, ‘All Cried Out' and ‘I Loved You’ as part of a new live show, wheeling out guest vocalists – expect them to be as big as Disclosure this time next year.
Todd Terje, with his live band The Olsens, who alternate between saxophone, flute, bongo drum, guitar and keyboard, build into their funky set with zooming laser synths, though it does take a while for the crowd to warm to the sounds. ‘Delorean Dynamite’ and set closer ‘Inspector Norse’ soon get them moving though, as the funky bass line kicks in; one Terje fan who’s celebrating a birthday screams “this is the best day of my life” while his friend, clearly intoxicated, jokes, “is this Lady GaGa?”
Jungle's well-deserved transition to the main stage sees them play to a massive crowd, the summery weather perfect for their almost 70s sound as the seven-piece perform their biggest hits, ‘Julia’ and ‘The Heat’ just as the sun beams down.
Back in the Sounds of the Near Future tent, Hudson Mohawke walks onstage with a new live set up, bringing out Redinho on keyboards and Two Door Cinema Club’s Ben Thomas on drums. Drawing on material from his new album ‘Lantern’ and his and Lunice’s collaborative project, TNGHT’s biggest hits, intense bass and red strobes match the maximalist electronica of ‘Acrylics’ and ‘Higher Ground’, sending the crowd into mass hysteria.
An hour later, FKA twigs, visible only through a cloud of smoke, leaves thousands in awe, as her hauntingly ethereal performance remains compelling from start to finish. Easily the largest crowd of the day, there’s a ritualistic sense to her set as she flows through her debut album ‘LP1’ and new material from her imminent third EP, ‘Melissa’. With an incredible vocal from the off, twigs, dressed in double denim with her hair to one side, is joined by a three-piece band who delicately tap their synth pads respectively, producing the intense, almost apocalyptic trip-hop beats of ‘Water Me’, ‘Number’ and ‘Papi Pacify’. How she was once only Jessie J's backing dancer is unbelievable for her unique talent as a vocalist, dancer and performer. Effortlessly charismatic, the entire crowd’s eyes are transfixed on her throughout the hour set as she reaches vocal notes you didn't know existed, all whilst popping her body around the stage. Removing the denim jacket to show off her toned body in a stripped white top, her enigmatic presence is made even more likeable when she speaks, sweetly and humbly. "It’s great to be back in England,” she delights, “I just got back a week ago.” Closing with a faultless rendition of ‘Two Weeks’ and then ‘How’s That’, it’s evident that the summer festival season belongs to FKA Twigs.
Essex isn’t the typical location which global-touring DJs and electronic music figureheads Carl Cox, Seth Troxler and Steve Angello are used to playing. Though arguably more familiar with Vegas, Ibiza and European crowds, Upminster-based We Are FSTVL attracts the biggest names in house, techno and on Sunday, EDM.
Now in its third year, We Are FSTVL brings in 30,000 music lovers over its weekend. Think of it as the electronic music equivalent of V Festival. Cleverly targeted at the Essex party-going population, for an extra £40, a VIP ticket allows access to the VIP area – a regular festival feature offering that little bit more; there’s a separate VIP stage (Mark Knight’s Toolroom Records and MK’s Area10 host it respectively), hot tubs, hair salon, glitter and face paint stations and remarkably cleaner toilets, as well as higher viewing platforms back on the main site.
As one of the year’s first proper festivals, Saturday unsurprisingly sold-out in advance, while last remaining Sunday tickets were available on the door. Despite a windy start with grey clouds looming above, the weather stayed dry and summery; rare for a UK festival in late May.
Whilst the generously-sized main stage hosted the likes of Gorgon City and Solomun under sunny skies, Summer Festival Guide found itself at the Used & Abused stage for a great deal of the weekend. Creatively, the industrial design of an aircraft hanger made it seem as though we’d been teleported to an underground club in Europe; fitting for the dark and deep techno acts it showcased. A gargantuan three-hour set from Loco Dice made it near impossible to leave, while Drumcode Records founder Adam Beyer later delivered a set of intense, unrelenting techno. Most notable, its impeccable sound quality, remaining consistent throughout the weekend.
Elsewhere on Saturday’s bill, house sets from Simon Dunmore and Oliver Dollar on the Defected Records stage, and Redlight and Waze & Odyssey in the What Hannah Wants tent, ensured both were permanently filled. Meanwhile, globally-renowned DJ’s Seth Troxler and Carl Cox closed out the opening night on the main stage, respectively, each proving memorable highlights.
Seth’s acidic, techno-heavy set, complete with hypnotic swirling red and black visuals, saw the sun go down, before house music legend Carl Cox took the helm. Opening strongly with Deetron’s piano-house builder ‘Photon’, a sea of mobile phones lit up the night sky. The first person to majorly interact with the crowd, Cox encourages, “Carl Cox is in the house. Who’s ready?” as laser lights scour the audience and confetti explodes from cannons.
The only downside with We Are FSTVL though, is the non-camping policy, meaning that thousands of people need to be transported from the site back to wherever they may be staying. According to social media comments, people were reportedly left for hours on the roadside as shuttle buses and taxis struggled to cope with the number of attendees, though by Sunday this was far less of an issue.
As Sunday morning falls, so does the rain; but luckily only on SFG’s commute to the site. Once on-site, the ground is mostly dry as the sun steadily rears its head. The day’s first highlight comes from Dirtybird boss Claude VonStroke who, rare that he comes to the UK, delivers a crowd-pleasing set on the Paradise stage, dropping his own ‘Make A Cake’, ‘Barrump’ and Jesse Rose-collaboration ‘Bare Mountain’, proving Dirtybird as one of the finest electronic labels around; their forward-thinking, unique sound a clear hit with the Essex punters. Later, another Dirtybird affiliate, J Phlip, goes back-to-back with Huxley over in the VIP village, each dropping bass-heavy productions to a growing crowd.
Back at SFG’s favourite stage, the aircraft hanger, now hosted by Cocoon, Ten Walls and Sven Vath each deliver building techno sets; Sven’s hard-hitting sound complimented by female dancers spread across the stage.
At the complete other end of the electronic music spectrum, the main stage welcomes Radio 1 DJ Danny Howard before Oliver Heldens takes over, delivering an unexpectedly stand-out set. Mixing his own ‘deep house’ tracks ‘Gecko’, ‘This’ and ‘You Know’ with tracks from EDM’s biggest names the young producer’s clearly having a great time as he bopps around and shuffles in front of the DJ decks. It’s like watching a child in a sweet shop. “Let me see your hands Essex”, he shouts excitedly, before closing with an EDM remix of Ellie Goulding’s Love Me Like You Do. Unpretentious and heaps of fun, Heldens’ set is a great warm-up for the bombastic sounds of Knife Party.
Older fan –favourites ‘Bonfire’ and ‘Internet Friends’ mix well with a newer track which we are told is “for the UK family”; it sounds somewhat influenced by Major Laser. 15 minutes late, Steve Angello’s set begins with dramatic orchestral sounds and visuals as the former Swedish House Mafia member reveals that he’s travelled all the way from Sweden. Appearing like a silhouette throughout the show because of the strobe lights, he works the crowd with Robin S’ ‘Show Me Love’ and later, new single ‘Children of the Wild’ impresses.
Over in the Paradise tent, the sound parallels as Jamie Jones lays down chunky tech-house rollers by the dozen, whilst Mele’ closes out the Hospitality stage, leaving Shadow Child and DJ S.K.T to continue the party for VIP ticket-holders only in the Area 10 tent.
As We Are FSTVL comes to a close nearing 1am, luckily there’s a London-located after-party being taking the festivities through until 6am Monday!
We Are FSTVL continues to thrive as one of the UK’s best medium-sized festivals, offering a diverse range of electronic music over a usually sunny weekend. Here’s to 2016!
Buried in the Lincolnshire countryside, 5,000 party-goers descend upon the idyllic woodland setting of Lost Village festival. Taking place over the May bank-holiday weekend in an “ancient abandoned village”, the festival’s motto is to “join the tribe”. Set up by Moda’s Jaymo & Andy George – who later play a sparkling set on Saturday afternoon – the location is perfect for the acts performing; eclectic electronica from Die Vogel and Four Tet, crowd-pleasing sets from Ben Pearce and Annie Mac, and heavier techno-based sounds from Tale of Us, Jasper James and Gardens of God.
Aside from one shower, the usually temperamental English weather holds up, offering sun throughout the whole weekend – Summer Festival Guide even returns home with a tan! Transport-wise, there is a free shuttle bus; impressive for a first-time festival. SFG meets people who have travelled up from the Midlands, London, and one electronic music lover who has travelled four hours from Brighton.
Set behind a lakeside family campsite, it’s like a whole other realm. Attracting a multitude of types of people; when setting up camp, one middle-aged man sporting a Blasé Boys Club t-shirt is drinking with those who could be his children. Everyone who SFG meets is friendly and really here for the music.
Reasonably priced Vodka and cokes begin to flow throughout Grandmaster Flash’s charismatic old-school set, declaring the festival open on Friday evening at Basecamp. Though licensing requires music to finish at midnight each night, back in camp there’s no sign of sleeping until the early hours.
[Special mention to Diamond Dogs, who provided the best post-drinking cure with their Chilli Cheese Dogs and Tater Tots]
It’s Saturday morning, the sun is shining through the campsite and anticipation is high to see Lost Village’s main stages; the Abandoned Chapel, Forgotten Cabin and The Ruins, each with impeccable sound-systems and impressive set-design. At midday, Citizenn opens the Cabin with a groove-laden house set before Jackmaster’s housemate Jasper James – a personal highlight – delivers hard-hitting tech-house, and as one Villager suggests, “its 3 in the morning vibes at 1 in the afternoon”, another gushing, “I feel like I’m in Berghain!”
Later, Erol Alkan delivers an acidic electro set like a true professional, looking suave in a leather jacket, before Denmark’s Kolsch plays what everyone wants to hear; Huxley’s ‘I Want You’ and Adesse Versions’ ‘Pride’ make much-appreciated appearances as well as his own euphoric piano-led ‘Cassiopeia’. Over at The Ruins, Lost Village’s mud-filled main stage, Dusky’s ‘Yoohoo’ is blasting through the industrial-sized speakers to the packed crowd as one partyer holds up an LED lit ‘TUNE’ sign. Back at the Cabin, Four Tet closes the first night in magical, enchanted fashion; his Martyn-collaboration ‘Glassbeadgames’ becoming a highlight as the vibrant strobes light up the darkness.
Come Sunday morning, Ejeca’s defying the traditional day of rest, delivering tech-house at the Abandoned Chapel, as one guy dressed like Fryar Tuck with a massive tribal stick urges the crowd on. Theo Kottis, Moda Black’s newest signing, continues on a similar vibe at the Cabin as glittered faces – old and young – tribal hennas and selfie sticks are visible at every turn, watching the darkly uplifting set; Guy Gerber’s remix of Art Department’s ‘Catch You By Surprise’ really goes off.
Tourist attracts a massive crowd to the ruins, performing with synth pads and keyboards; Pretend, Trust In You and I Can’t Keep Up translate effortlessly in Lost Village’s mud-covered main stage The Ruins. With a massive ‘U’ behind him, the co-writer to Sam Smith’s ‘Stay With Me’ introduces Anywhere, a new track from his debut album, appropriately titled ‘U’.
“How great is this festival?” asks William Phillips aka Tourist. It’s a statement which becomes heavily echoed over the course of the first ever Lost Village. Considering this is its debut year, Lost Village has the potential to rival the likes of Secret Garden Party in the not so distant future.
Later, after stumbling across a fake marriage – Lost Village has a plethora of spooky actors waiting at every turn – Tale Of Us deliver an intense techno set as the Forgotten Cabin’s strobes light up one of the weekend’s biggest audiences.
Jackmaster, sporting a ‘We Love Detroit’ t-shirt, follows, playing a typically eclectic set of house, techno and everything in between. Meanwhile, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs aka Orlando Higginbottom seems on a completely different trip in The Ruins; dropping drum & bass and jungle tracks, it’s a refreshing break from the weekend’s house/techno sound, before Annie Mac closes out the first ever Lost Village with on-point house tracks.
Over the course of the weekend, SFG have brushed shoulders – and taken selfies with – Annie Mac, Richy Ahmed and Tourist. It’s not often that such big names are within arms length walking through the woodland setting.
Post-festival, Lost Village’s founders Jaymo & Andy George have commented: “We never in our wildest dreams expected it to go this well! The crowd were 10/10, every stage was constantly busy, all the artists who played have said amazingly positive things and all those little elements we planned came together just how we hoped. The feedback we’ve been getting since has been unreal… we can’t wait to start planning the next one now.”
2016s Lost Village couldn’t roll around any quicker!
BBC Radio 1’s dance music maestro Danny Howard has been added to what is already an incredible line up at this year’s We Are FSTVL. The UK tastemaker will bring his own brand of high energy big room house music to Upminster’s ‘Field Of Dreams’ – joining Sunday’s main stage gathering of Steve Angello, Knife Party, Steve Aoki, Amine Edge & DANCE, Heidi, Oliver Heldens and more – plus future talents Philip George, CamelPhat and As I Am also announced.
Currently touring on behalf of his very first brand, Nothing Else Matters, and influencing the listening habits of thousands of fans worldwide across his shows for BBC Radio 1, BPM and Sirius XM, Danny Howard is a bona fide UK dance music lynchpin. Juggling a residency at Pacha, a regular column in DJ Mag and the promotion of his already #1 BBC Radio 1 Dance Anthems compilation, Howard has somehow found time in recent years to produce tracks such as ‘Spire’, ‘MUG’ and ‘Apex’ on Spinnin’ Records, as well as collaborating with the legendary Paul Oakenfold. His production talents show no signs of stopping this year, with his remix of Dr Kucho! & Gregor Salto’s ‘Can’t Stop Playing (Makes Me High)’ being released imminently on Ministry Of Sound.
Also billed on Sunday’s main stage is 21 year old newcomer Philip George – the man behind the huge record ‘Wish You Were Mine’ which peaked at number 2 in the UK chart. On the rise duo CamelPhat are also set to feature on Sunday’s Paravana stage, as well as As I Am who rounds off the latest additions.
Keep an eye out for further news on We Are FSTVL’s 2015 after party at Studio 338 which will be revealed shortly – with plenty more surprises in store before proceedings kick off on Saturday 30th May 2015.
Line Up Saturday 30th May Main Stage: Carl Cox, Gorgon City, Hot Since 82, Monki, Nic Fanciulli, Second City, Seth Troxler, Solomun Used and Abused: Loco Dice, Adam Beyer, Enzo Siragusa, Recondite (Live), Tale of Us, Yaya What Hannah Wants: Hannah Wants, Redlight, Cyril Hahn, Friend Within, GotSome, Kidnap Kid, My Nu Leng, Oneman, T Williams, Waze & Odyssey Defected In The House: Masters At Work, Andrea Oliva, Oliver Dollar, Cristoph, Noir, Sam Divine, Simon Dunmore, Sonny Fodera Toolroom Live: Mark Knight, Dennis Ferrer, Tensnake, Dosem, Purple Disco Machine, Shiba Shan, Tube & Berger, Wankelmut, Weiss, Mark Storie, Pete Griffiths Clockwork Orange: Tall Paul, Brandon Block & Alex P, Trevor Fung, Andy Manston, Tristan Ingram, Danny Clockwork & Keith Mac, 2 Good Souls, Tony Grimley Sunday 31st May Main Stage: Steve Angello, Knife Party, Steve Aoki, Amine Edge & DANCE, Heidi, Oliver Heldens, Danny Howard, One Bit, Route 94, The Martinez Brothers, Philip George
Cocoon: Sven Vath, Dixon, Ame, Ilario Alicante, Popof, Ricardo Villalobos, Ten Walls
After the unprecedented success of their 2015 edition – which is set to welcome Disclosure, Rudimental, Ben Howard, Nas, George Ezra, Fatboy Slim, Grace Jones, Wu-Tang Clan, Caribou, Metronomy, Mark Ronson and Jessie Ware – standard weekend tickets for Parklife Festival have now completely sold out with only limited Sunday tickets and VIP options now available.
Uniquely combining an incredible selection of chart-topping live acts, DJs and home grown talents, the festival also boasts an exclusive VIP village that offers revellers an array of luxury benefits including a dedicated fast entrance, viewing platforms, chill out and seating areas, exclusive merchandise and a complimentary programme for all VIP ticket holders – as well as a delectable street food village curated by highly revered Manchester promoters Friday Food Fight that also offers street cocktail bars, a craft ale bar from local brewers and a frozen margarita shack.
As one of the cities best-loved culinary events, the award-winning street food crew will bring their unique combination of street food, DJs and atmosphere to the Parklife VIP village for those looking for a truly indulgent festival experience.
Chris Legh, owner of Friday Food Fight explains:
"We've known the guys at Parklife for a couple of years and loved going to the festival, so you can imagine how excited we were when they asked us to get involved. We will be bringing some of the best of FRIDAY FOOD FIGHTS restaurant's and street food heroes to Heaton Park on the 6th & 7th June. Expect everything from Lobster Rolls, to the freshest Viet Street Food, can’t wait!"
With a variety of prized vendors such as Viet Shack – winners at the Manchester Food & Drink Awards – Almost Famous and London’s Burger & Lobster all contributing, the VIP village will also feature a series of special DJ sets from the artist playing across the festival in order to make it a truly unmissable festival experience.
As ticket levels continue to drop, be sure to act fast to secure your spot at Parklife Festival 2015.