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.
North London has a new underground dance music festival with the arrival of Ceremony in Finsbury Park on Saturday, September 13th. Presented by FOUND, they brought Lil Louis, Todd Terry, Louie Vega, Inner City, Kevin Saunderson, Claptone, Route 94, DJ Luck and MC Neat, a Tropical Showcase and more over seven stages. We were there to see FOUND’s new venture in action.
As the fabled Ibiza closing parties approach to mark the end of another summer on the Spanish party island, a double birthday celebration took zap! bang! Magazine’s Mike Barnard and Ann McManus on their first trip to the famous clubbing destination. Here’s their viewpoints from either side of the gender divide as they set their holiday mode to “rave” on a non-stop weekend.
Deep tech house label boss Dennis Ferrer is a mainstay on the underground circuit. His Objektivity label has been running since 2006 and he’s a man still in demand on the biggest stages. A resident at the low gimmick, maximum music exploration of Insane Friday’s at Pacha Ibiza, it’s fitting the music policy at the famous White Isle venue is geared towards a crowd looking for more than just the glitz and glamour many DJ residencies offer on the party island. We were on the White Isle for the party on Friday, September 5th featuring guests Reboot and Hong of Singapore’s Zouk club alongside Ferrer and fellow resident Digweed to check out Ferrer’s set.
The last Bestival I went to was 2008 – which went down in legend as ‘the year of rain’, and ranks among one of the more trying experiences I’ve ever had. So it was with some trepidation (and constant checking of weather reports) I headed back down to the Isle of Wight for Josie and Rob da Bank’s latest. The contrast couldn’t have been greater – a weekend of glorious sunshine, an atmosphere of infectious fun, and some great bands getting into the party spirit showed that Bestival is doing better than ever.
Respected electronic music festival Dimensions brought 7,000 revellers to Pula in Croatia for its third edition from August 27th to 31st. Spread across beach, boat, abandoned fort and amphitheatre venues with headline acts such as Caribou, Moodymann, Warpaint, Roy Ayers, Jon Hopkins, Darkside and Gilles Peterson, it was a feast for the ears and a test of the stamina – especially when an intense storm showed up to break up the glorious weather on the last night. We were there to soak up the music, as well as the rain as it would turn out, in what was one of the finest and best sounding festivals we’ve attended.
London clubbers are treated to a wealth of their favourite acts when South West Four hits Clapham Common every August Bank Holiday. It remains a firm fixture on the city’s festival calendar despite the increasing competition from urban dance events and acts from the trance, EDM, house and techno scenes played on the Saturday when Mike Barnard and Ann McManus were. Here are their views from either side of the gender divide.
South West Four returned to Clapham Common over the August bank holiday weekend with another two days of dance music in the south of London. We were there on Saturday to report on the beats.
The self-proclaimed ‘Island of Freedom’ Sziget Festival turned 21 this year, and we were fortunate to pop over to Budapest (via a 26-hour coach ride) to find out for ourselves what kept the fans of this European City-fest coming back year after year.
Balearic Ibiza vibes were re-created in Hackney Wick when veteran spinner and White Isle original DJ Alfredo made his first London appearance in two years on Saturday, August 16th at Feelings. We got down to the daytime party at Shapes warehouse to hear what Ibiza used to sound like.
Daily boat parties on the clear Adriatic Sea help make festivals in Croatia unique experiences, and Dimensions Festival has 21 to choose from. In the second part of our preview of the respected four-day underground electronic music event in Pula, we take a look at the boat parties organised for 2014 day-by-day. Each is hosted by club nights and labels featuring some of the biggest names at the festival on the most intimate setting of a constantly sailing ship in the middle of the sea.
It’s been three years since zap! bang! Magazine attended a GlobalGathering at Long Marston Airfield in Stratford-Upon-Avon, so we were long overdue a return visit. Mixing in with the 50,000 revellers for the two day rave featuring some of the biggest dance acts on the planet, we were delighted to find that Global had found a way to create more intimate spaces among the huge main tents while generating a fun atmosphere with energy that lasted right through to the early hours of Sunday morning.
50,000 dance music fans headed to GlobalGathering for two days of raving on Long Marston Airfield last weekend; here we present the differing viewpoints from two of them in our first ever He said/She said feature. Mike Barnard and Ann McManus give their (serious, kinda) opinions on the 14th edition of the long-running festival in Stratford-Upon-Avon, this year headlined by Chase & Status, David Guetta, The Prodigy and Alesso.
In just one month the abandoned fort in Pula will be alive to the sounds of underground dance music as the respected Croatian festival Dimensions kicks off. In the first of two previews looking ahead to the festival running from Wednesday, August 27th to Sunday, August 31st we look ahead to the opening concert, daytime beach parties and night time fort activities.
Boutique dance festival Farr braved an electrical storm and the threat of heavy showers to blossom into a sun-seekers dream in its fifth year of fun in Bygrave Woods with an expanded three nights of music. From Thursday, July 17th to Saturday, July 19th house music took centre stage with drum & bass, reggae and bands providing the soundtrack to a growing Hertfordshire festival in a unique setting we hope it never leaves.
Trying to make sense of the Glastonbury line-up this year? Good luck!
Glastonbury is a vast festival of more than 100 stages with 1,000s of performances. Just walking across the site will take hours, especially given all the distractions along the way, so making sense of what to see and do will often result in last minute panic as you realise your favourite band is playing in a tiny tent miles away or some kind of drunken stupor has lead you to sleep through the Saturday night headliner of choice.
To your rescue is a few zap! bang! Magazine picks for each day, based on the full line-up handily posted on the official Glastonbury website. It’s a bit dance-orientated, admittedly, so excuse my taste if you delve in.
While Sónar will hit eight cities next year, the 21st edition of the original, Sónar Barcelona, in June attracted 109,000 electronic music fans from 99 countries along with another 3,500 professionals at Sónar+D, the festival’s congress area. With record attendance figures of 52,000 attending Sónar by Day, it was an impressive turnout for what would be one of the most impressive editions of the festival ever held. Mike Barnard was there to live it all.
Love Saves the Day returned to Bristol’s Castle Park over the late May Bank Holiday weekend with nearly 100 acts from the electronic and bass music scene. Put together by half of team behind the city’s In:Motion club series plus the brains of Glastonbury’s WOW stage and See No Evil, this year’s two-day festival was headlined by SBTRKT, Annie Mac, Eats Everything and Jamie XX. It proved to be another fine showcase of the city’s exuberant music culture.
The first Metropolitan Arts & Dance Event in Birmingham, aka M*A*D*E, kicked off over the May Bank Holiday Weekend with Chase & Status, Annie Mac and and Steve Lawler getting behind the decks. Spread across indoor and outdoor areas in Digbeth including the Rainbow Venues, with the backing of the GlobalGathering Group, it also included the regional heat of the British Street Food Awards. We were there on Saturday, May 3rd for UKF Live in the daytime open air arena and Spectrum in The Textiles Factory by night to see what M*A*D*E 2014 had to offer.
Muscular electro was promised at Bloc at Easter, and the Autumn Street Studios system was fully flexed as Boddika and DJ Stingray took centre stage. They were joined by Hodge, Rubin and World Unknown’s Joe Hart on Saturday, April 20th for a dramatic blast of sound from the underground.
Rune Reilly Kölsch has been producing dance music since 1995, but while some may be fans of his productions as Rune, his 2013 album 1977 released under his Kölsch moniker has brought him to new levels of admiration. The 13-track LP on Kompact won Kölsch praise for his melodic electronic anthems which sparked a European tour at the end of last year. The Dane followed this up by kicking off BBC Radio 1’s Essential Mix Future Stars 2014, and was back in the UK on Thursday, April 10th for a live set at Vauxhall’s Fire.
The ambient techno of Donato Dozzy and Neel in their Voices from the Lake incarnation took on an even more engrossing style at London’s Find me in the Dark as their live show proved the main attraction. For two and a half hours their deep 4/4 throbbed through room two, a warm but increasingly intense experience that was a complexly-layered treat for the ears. Meanwhile in room one, there was techno for a good stomp with Skudge, L.I.E.S. breakout artist Terekke and Papers blasting out the tunes.
Almost year after opening the doors to their Hackney Wick club Autumn Street Studios, Bloc celebrated with an all-night set from Detroit techno original Carl Craig on Saturday, March 3rd. For the last 12 months the Bloc crew have been restoring faith in their abilities to curate underground dance parties with respected artists who always seek to develop their music further. Omar S, Clark, Juan Atkins, Green Velvet, Dopplereffekt and Marshall Jefferson have graced the warehouse space, but this was the first time a sole figure had taken over selection duties for an entire Bloc night, and it was a real treat for the Bloc faithful.
The London club scene got a taste of Berlin flavours when Junk Department presented a Watergate showcase. On Saturday, March 8th Visionquest’s Lee Curtiss, Tiefschwarz and Metro were joined by residents Marco Resmann and Ruede Hagelstein for Watergate Worldwide Affairs at Shoreditch’s Factory 7.
Brazilian flair came to East London when Kubile hosted One Night in Rio soundtracked by Miguel Campbell’s label Outcross Records. On Friday, February 28th iCan Studios in Hackney Wick became a underground house warehouse party with a flamboyant side thanks to the production gloss from the Kubicle ladies.