The rave sounds of hard house, garage, jungle and old skool don’t get much of a look in at dance music festivals these days. Even drum and bass is more a token nod than the main event as EDM, house and techno tend to take centre stage. So fans of the once-popular club genres must have rejoiced when United Festival turned up at the end of the summer in Finsbury Park to give Londoners the opportunity to bust out the glow sticks, whistles, white gloves and cyber gear for a day celebrating 25 years of British rave culture.
On Sunday, September 14th we got along to Finsbury Park see United in action. There were indeed a selection of colourful characters, not least the elderly raver giving it his all in the Frantic tent, lapping up the hard house wearing a tie-dye t-shirt and orange trousers covered in stars. Big smiles, fist pumps and an almost endless supply of friends buzzing around – it was definitely a day of rave reunions.
There seems to be an appetite for the return of a real rave festival – here’s to 26 years of glowsticks!
On the main stage Baby D, Kele Le Roc and Angie Brown were rolling back the years with live sets while Fabio & Grooverider celebrated their own 25 years in the game and Ratpack brought the old skool. Our favourite stage was Frantic where sets from Cally Gage and Lucy Fur then Andy Farley pounded the out the hard house like it was the early 2000s with an enthusiastic crowd reacting like a starving wolf’s first meal in weeks. Elsewhere you could hardly move trying to get into the Garage Nation tent with Matt Jam Lamont and Pied Piper on the bill so we got on with the house and club classics in the VIP area.
The only complaint, as often happens at urban festivals, was a lack of volume late on – particularly in the main tent where Danny Byrd was battling to get some bass through the speakers. Luckily the United crowd were in buoyant mood from a day immersed in nostalgia, and, even though the festival was on a Sunday, partying like a Friday night. There seems to be an appetite for the return of a real rave festival – here’s to 26 years of glowsticks!