Two of us headed to different festivals this weekend, although neither quite hit home for us. Tommy B headed to Lovebox where an over hyped bill were lost to an apathetic crowd and I failed to find anything above middle of the road at Glade. Still, hopefully these write ups are a call to demand more rather than just the grumblings of two disaffected music lovers. Read on and find out...
I had already decided that no matter what I did for this weekend, I wasn’t going to Glade. The idea of a muddy K fest where marshmallow teenagers rock dead eyed to repetitive beats just didn’t appeal.
Still, Glade is somehow where I ended up, and to be fair things had changed. The crowd were somewhat older than before, although maybe it was the same crowd that had stuck with it all these years. The site itself has been relocated to Winchester, a damn good move, as despite a fair amount of rain on Saturday, the site never got anywhere near to the quagmire Glade became a couple of years back, infact most of the mud had pretty much dried up by Sunday.
The music too appeared to have been given a boost. Hudson Mohawke, Drop The Lime, Rusko, Tomb Crew and Mumdance were all in attendance and perhaps if I had managed to catch one of these it may have saved my experience. I was also assured that some of the Techno such as Carl Craig and Dave Clarke Was superb… but somehow I managed to miss them too.
It didn’t start off like that. On the Friday I had written down a list of DJs I wanted to catch that day, starting with A Skillz in the early afternoon. We were already in fairly good spirits thanks to the pair of cockney wideboys who had somehow blagged their way into being emcees and proceeded to tell the crowd numerous times that they were 'the fucking bollocks'. The music was pretty standard Breakbeat though so it was a relief when A Skillz came out and proceeded to drop some funked up flavours that got us all bubbling, then we bubbled some more, then we got bored. It’s not that A Skillz isn’t a good DJ, he is, but we had to wander just how many times he had dropped that same set of cut up classics, surely he must be bored of it by now. We certainly were.
But boredom seemed to be the order of the weekend for us. Every tent we went in either had a big bag of same old same old, or simply droned on with no real fire to it. I hear Rusko dropped some killer tunes, including a great DJ Cable mash up which we’ve included below. The first Dubstep DJ we saw though was Pinch, possibly the most bored looking DJ there. Maybe it was just seriousness, he was certainly playing serious (or was it boring?) tunes, but we’re at a festival rather pissed up and so needed something with a bit more meat on it. My girlfriend became quite vocal in her disapproval so we left pretty sharpish. Not that the crowd could have raised more than a serious grumble between them. I also managed to miss Baobinga and ID’s first reunion in 8 months as I left the Boomtown tent just before, meant to return straight away but made it back just after they’d finished, rather inexcusable really when you consider the manageable size of the festival. So you see, even though I can rant about how shit the music was, and the fact that there was far too much bloody Psy-Trance for my liking, it might just be bad luck, and the fact that I made really bad decisions like agreeing to join a load of friends to watch Underworld whilst Drop The Lime were on, then losing them all and only making it out of the crowd after I’d already wanted to stab myself in the ear for the offensiveness of that inoffensive fluffy drivel.
Not that I had a bad time either really, but that pretty much meant giving up on the festival and relocating to the backstage area with a bunch of new experimental drugs such as Megatron and Run DMC (okay maybe these were just our names for them) and just sitting it out with good friends, good randoms and good tunes on the iPod.
(YSI) DJ Cable Vs Tempa T Vs Rusko - Mr Muscle's Hype / alt link
(YSI) Baobinga & I.D. - Jump Up & Buck (DJ Manaia Mash - Baobinga Edit) / alt link
(YSI) Drop The Lime - Tabac Theme / alt link
Although the Glade line-up was packed to the brim with some of the best up and coming electronic producers, I was subjected to a much more accessible and 'music friendly' festival: Lovebox. While nothing had really appealed to me from the line up, which seemed mainly to consist of a variety of acts lombarded together to suit all tastes, the combination of an 80's loving 21 turning girlfriend and the prospect of seeing Duran Duran in the flesh were two forces I was unable to keep apart.
I headed to Victoria Park with an open mind and keen to see a number of eclectic acts. For ages i've been dying to see the Hot 8 Brass Band, and as soon as we stepped onsite the heavy trombone and horn blaring melodies could be heard from miles away. If you haven't heard their rendition of Sexual Healing I suggest you have a quick detour now to check it out. This put me in the right direction for what I hoped would be a great day of live music.
We headed to the main stage to watch a very tired yet impressive Mr Hudson. I'd heard mixed reactions about his performances, but his new songs blended well with his old stuff from his days with the library, even if hanging out with Mr West a little too much may have inflated his ego a little. A tired and past it Kano came out as a 'surprise guest', much to the disappointment of a crowd who seemed little into getting into the full swing of things.
DJ wise i managed to catch a little of the Horse Meat Disco guys at the Relentless arena, who seemed to be trying to fight a pretty poor soundsystem and again a crowd who never really had it in their heart to dance. Even when DJ Sneak came out, one of the sets id been waiting for the whole day, I could only manage about 10 minutes before I had given up trying to get into the swing of things.
One reccuring theme of outdoor festivals this year has been poor soundsystem's, and none was more obvious with N*E*R*D's arrival on the main stage. Playing a variety of hits from all three of their albums, Pharrell and friends seemed to be desperately trying to get the Lovebox crowd to get into such classics as Run to the Sun and new cuts such as Sooner or Later. However, it took a triple header of Lapdance, Rockstar and She Wants to Move, complete with a total stage invasion, to get anyone to really start to enjoy themselves. It was all a bit of a wierd experience to the carnage I had seen at Glastonbury.
However, the amount of corporate advertising thrown in your face, from the Pimms bus parked right next to the fringe stage to the Relentless, Rizla and Gaymers areas all leaving their corporate imprints on the festival goer, it was no surprise to the lack of enthusiasm of the crowd to fully immerse themselves in the experience. It almost seemed people were more interested in getting freebies from certain stalls, i.e. a Warehouse poncho, or had turned up solely to see the headliners Duran Duran, than a general sense of people wanting a unique musical experience.
Don't get me wrong. The downpours changed the mood of the site and, ashamed to say, Duran Duran were bloody brilliant, pulling out a bag of hits and an awesome array of songs which have been used by some of the greatest producers, samplers, rappers and DJs the world has ever known (N.O.T.O.R.I.O.U.S). It just seemed a letdown for a Groove Armada fan and a festival lover to see such a marketed boutique event be so openly sold off to the highest corporate bidder. I recognise the importance of sponsorship in keeping festivals financed, but surely it is an interesting question to ask fellow chromesters.... Does external advertising damage the ethos behind festivals? In the VIP Gin / Vodka bars or charging double the ticket price in the prospect of posh loos? Im not sure, but I know i've had more fun watching local djs spin amazing tunes with everyone openly involved than massive djs and bands with disinterested crowds.
(YSI) Kid Cudi - Day N Nite(DJ Sneak Bang Acido Mix) / alt link
(YSI) Pharell Vs A Tribe Called Quest - Can I Kick It Like That / alt link
(YSI) Hot 8 Brass Band - Get Up (Diesler Remix) / alt link
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SOME OF OUR OLD SKOOL MIXES
Chrome Kids - Pyjama Ban
Welsh Electronic Mix recorded for BBC 1Xtra (Jan 2010)
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Mix recorded for Knowledge Magazine (Nov 2009)
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Welsh Hip-hop Mix Recorded for Rob Da Bank & Friends on BBC Radio 1 - Nov 2008