Outlandish party-starters Elrow hosted their biggest event in the UK when Elrow Town landed in London on Saturday, August 19th and Sunday, August 20th. Taking over a corner of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, there were three stages of music fuelled by confetti, streamers, over-sized inflatable animals and a huge cast of performers. Mike Barnard got in on the action on the Sunday.
Elrow love had well and truly taken up residence in the Olympic Park this weekend.
The hype around Elrow in clubland globally has been heading for fever pitch over the last 12 months with a residency at Space Ibiza last summer highlighting its popularity. The blend of inflatables, confetti, house music and a carnival atmosphere genereated by cartoon decor with stilt walkers, wacky characters and bizarre creations the perfect antidote for those fed up with dance music taking itself too seriously. Londoners have certainly shown affection for Elrow - from the Studio 338 shows through to a weekender across Village Underground and Tobacco Dock earlier this year, tickets have been snapped up so fast that shows have sold out in less than a than day.
In this respect, bringing their outdoor concept Elrow Town to London for two days was a logical move, paving the way for 25,000 revellers to get their Elrow fix in the open air. On entry on the Sunday at 4pm, the site was already awash with rainbow-coloured paper from the explosions of streamers and confetti that had marked the end of each ‘show’. When I say show, I mean every hour when there was the crazy sight of giant inflatable animals, fish and aliens towering over the main stage crowd while the Elrow performers mingle and the DJs bring the house drops. We caught the end of Seth Troxler playing a solo set after a back-to-back with Jamie Jones but it was Bastian Bux’s play of Armand Van Helden’s ‘My My My’ that would have us break into a proper boogie first.
The huge main stage was home to what looked like tower blocks with dancers on balconies beaming away as the Elrow’s flagship theme of Singermorning matched the happy-go-lucky crowd. One fan had spent the whole afternoon collecting the streamers to form a kind of technicolour coat, almost like a walking embodiment of ElLrow itself. The skies may have been overcast, however the crowd could see only sunshine as evidenced from the excitement broadcast live on video screens from camera crews in amongst the action.
We took a break from the main stage to get involved at the converted vintage ice-cream van Mr Whompy which had a focus on bassline and garage. Hidden amongst the games area, the van attracted a small but dedicated crew who went wild when Hutch dropped an unreleased Four Tet track which has been destroying dancefloors throughout the summer.
We’d find much of our day would be taken up at the second stage which had taken on the El Rowcio theme paying homage to vibrant Spanish fiesta Feria de Abril. Lauren Lane, Route 84 and the 2 Bears kept this stage pumping until the headline performance from Idris Elba sent his fans wild. Appearing behind the decks on crutches, he was a picture of cool as he watched the last spin by the 2 Bears before getting on the mic and demanding to party.
His set came as the rain started lashing down, but being the only stage undercover, this brought even more people to his tent as he rattled through old school Ibiza tunes such as Basement Jaxx’s ‘Rendez Vous’ and Mint Royale’s ‘Sexiest Man In Jamaica’. He was loving it, as was Elrow Town London.
We’d brave the rain for the finale on the main stage where Hot Since 82 was searching for a closing tune, and we thought he’d nailed it with ‘Theme from S’Express’. Then suddenly the lights sprang into action again for Alison Limerick’s ‘Where Love Lives’. Elrow love had well and truly taken up residence in the Olympic Park this weekend.
Photography by Maxime Byttebier.