The Garden Party is a two-day inner city festival in Leeds, set within the grounds of the Tetley Brewery. Taking place over the august bank holiday weekend the event showcased some of the finest music, food and art. Celebrating its 10th birthday (previously known as the Faversham Garden Party) the organisers teamed up with promoters Canal Mills, Chibuku, Warehouse Project, Now Wave and East Year Own Ears to curate this special edition.
Appealing to a broader spectrum of music fans the line up covered dance, electronica, disco, funk, garage and bass. Live acts included Roisin Murphy, Little Dragon, Todd Terje and Soul II Soul, alongside DJ sets from Bicep, Kerri Chandler, Heidi, Julio Bashmore, Black Coffee, Patrick Topping, Joy Orbison, B-Traits, Redlight, Preditah and the legendary Craig Charles.
There were five stages set across the Tetley site and each a stone’s throw from one another. Brightly covered bales of hay provided areas in which to socialise and soak up the atmosphere at the heat of the site. Food and drink was hosted by Leeds Indie Food Fest and offered punters an exceptionally high standard of delicious street food, craft ales and cocktails. Affordable and tasty local treats were provided by from Chicken Bang Bang, Boozy BBQ, Bánh Mì Booth, Pizza Fella, Rola Wala and the ice-cream from the coolest looking van around Northern BloC. Much to my delight it was a very mixed crowd with a range of ages, proving that the lure of good grub and without the muddy fields seems to be the way that many people want to spend their weekend. Complimenting the food and music bill was colourful temporary art installations and live drawing by local artists throughout the weekend.
Here are some of my highlights from the weekend:
Black Coffee seemed to be the hot tip on every ones lips, so we headed over to The Fact stage to see what all the hype was about. Black Coffee (known as Nathi to his friends) is a multi award winning producer and superstar DJ hailing from Durban. He’s been active on the South African music scene for over a decade now, but it’s only been recently that his meteoric rise has seen him play at some of the top clubs and festivals globally.
His set was laced with tantalising tribal beats and flavoursome house, mixing up a smooth set of expertly blended tunes like Ian Pooley – Compurhythm, Mr.V – Jus Dance, Culoe De Song – Y.O.U.D and ending on the epic Chew Fu’s Purple Rain (Mousse T mix). I don’t usually hang around for a full DJ set but we couldn’t pull ourselves away for the full two hours, it was completely mesmerising and he certainly lived up the hype.
On Sunday afternoon Craig Charles brought his funk soul sound to the Just A Little stage. Such a high profile DJ was always bound to draw a big crowd and once again the tent was packed to the rafters with everyone ready to groove and shake. There were a whole host of familiar classics from rare groove and snippets of funk and soul packed into his energetic set. He doesn’t do dj’ing by halves; the man was completely going for it, working up a sweat and working the crowd like a dream. My feet were aching from bouncing up and down at the side of the stage with the hugest of grins – the good vibes were totally infectious and everyone there was fully in on this blissful groovefest.
Saturday afternoon saw Birmingham’s finest Preditah play to hyped crowd that spilled outside the Metropolis tent. His grimy and bassy set featured his hits Selecta, Circles, Supernaturally as well dropping 90’s and garage-influenced set of songs. We caught up with Jordan & Jamie from Leeds “Preditah was absolutely nuts, especially the first hour. It was so up-tempo and bassy and he really knows how to play the crowd.”
As Sunday evening fell the main stage numbers started to swell and Norwegian disco deity Todd Terje took to the stage. His continuous live instrumental set featured his well-known songs Dolorean Dynamite, Strandbar, Swing Star and Svensk Sås. It was clear that most people in the crowd were eagerly awaiting Inspector Norse, which rightly the crowd went berserk to when he went into the extended intro. My only disappointment was that he had got rid of his amazing beard. Please Todd grow it back or at the very least breakout the sequins.
All in all this was a beautifully crafted metropolitan festival, offering an array of music, feasts and culture, making it a perfect way to spend a bank holiday weekend – well done Garden Party Leeds, you definitely know how to throw a party.