After a year break, the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts returned with aging rockers The Rolling Stones headlining alongside relative newcomers the Arctic Monkeys and Mumford and Sons making a surprise appearance at the top of the Pyramid Stage bill. Notching up its 31st edition, the festival saw 135,000 descend on Worthy Farm in Pilton, Somerset, and proved to be one of the finest yet.
For the 20th anniversary of Sónar Barcelona, there was the promise of a new venue for the three daytime segments, a revised layout for the two nights and huge anticipation for an event that prides itself on innovation. Headline acts such as Kraftwerk, Pet Shop Boys, Paul Kalkbrenner, Diplo, Skrillex and Major Lazer indicated the organisers were prepared to mix the old and new, while the introduction of Sónar+D offered more interactive elements than ever before. From Thursday, June 13th to Sunday, June 16, more than 121,000 visitors from 102 countries visited Sónar for an edition that sets it up well for another 20 years showcasing advanced music and new media art.
Bedrock has become a regular clubbing fixture on Easter Thursdays in London, and this year label boss John Digweed took on a mammoth seven hour set to see in the four day holiday. It also marked a Bedrock debut at Vauxhall’s Area, with support from Tim Green, Tom Middleton, Jimpster and John Barber, but it was Digweed who took centre stage.
Model 500, Juan Atkins, Billy Nasty, South London Ordnance, Joe Hart and Rebel Intelligence played the first Bloc London night on Saturday, March 9th. The latest incarnation of Bloc is as a series of 10 clubnights, and this was the first debut at the stripped-back warehouse space in Hackney Wick which Bloc organisers have taken on as their own.
A three-hour set from Cocoon head honcho Sven Väth was the centrepiece to the label’s London showcase which also featured a six hour marathon back-to-back session from Cassy and Carl Craig. The Cocoon Heroes Into the Magic night marked the start of December and brought with it a lively dose of techno at Great Suffolk Street Warehouse.
The long-running Lost parties have been the first to bring many of the biggest and most prestigious names in techno to London, but on Saturday, November 24th they were bringing some of the best back. Derrick May, Juan Atkins, Mark Ernestus and Tevo Howard all made a rare stop in the UK while Kyle Hall was on an exclusive London appearance. They were divided across the three rooms of Vauxhall’s Area which was packed with techno lovers eager to see their heroes in action.
Legendary Radio One DJ Pete Tong headlined his night at Bristol’s In:Motion, but it was Booka Shade who stole the show. On Friday, November 16th All Gone Pete Tong took over the main room at the city’s skatepark during its flagship clubnight season along with The 2 Bears’ Raff Daddy, Blond:ish and Booka Shade. Crack Magazine, Electroquisite and Revolution put together line-ups for the Tunnel and Cave with Ewan Pearson, Laura Jones, Bowski and Luke Langson among the spinners.
Bestival is a music festival synonymous with fancy dress. So who better to host a Halloween Epic on Saturday 27 October, held in Peckham’s Bussey Building?
Sunday Best’s resident DJs Sombrero Sound System kicked things off in room one, warming up the crowd as nicely as the candles in the jack-o-lanterns that were decorating the warehouse space.
Coma celebrated its first birthday at The Nest in Dalston with Rolando, James Ruskin and a Surface Records showcase that thundered through the basement club. It was a first visit to The Nest, opened in 2010, with its intimate atmosphere and a focus on progressive electronic music.
Soltek relocated from their residencies at London’s CAMP and the Gramaphone to a three-room night at Vauxhall’s Hidden for an end of summer party featuring heavyweight spinners Addison Groove and Dusky. The line-up also including J.Phlip, Ossie and Dexter Kane had clearly caught the interest of the house heads as there was still a queue to get in past 1am, while inside the pumping bass was throbbing through the trio of arches and stirring up the dancefloors.
The South West Four Weekender party vibe continued right through to the early hours of Monday morning with Pete Tong, Sasha, Scuba, Eats Everything, Dyed Soundorom and Eli & Fur behind the decks at The Electric Brixton. The afterparty kicked off before the dust had even settled on the day festival down the road in Clapham, and the atmosphere was just as lively with many revellers doing both along with an injection of fresh-faced ravers.
In Groundhog Day, a weatherman finds himself living the same day over and over again. Similar to SW4 reviews which find themselves regurgitating the same standard form year after year – fantastic hard hitting line-up, let down by a limp sound system (thanks to local licensing restrictions). Yet each year young clubbers are lured back by promises of PA companies and noise consultants. Like returning to an ex, we all know it will end in rank disappointment – somehow the promise to change makes us convince ourselves may all be different this time.
Eastern Electrics made the leap from night time warehouse parties to a daytime festival with a hugely successful debut at Area 12 in Greenwich. Picking the mid-Olympics weekend proved to be a bonus too: London was abuzz with events all over the capital as well as Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah set to compete in what would be dubbed Team GB’s Super Saturday. With so much goodwill, all the Eastern Electrics crowd needed was a soundtrack to their day, and they were well served with Jamie Jones, Julio Bashmore, Nina Kraviz, Damian Lazarus, MK, Crazy P and Azari & III on stage throughout the day.
Boutique festival Farr basked in a rare weekend of sunshine as the niche two-day event had a third year to be proud of at the end of July. Deliberately kept small and on the down-low, there was no lacking in atmosphere as the party in Bygrave Wood, Hertfordshire raged from Friday through to the early hours of Sunday morning with house, disco, drum and bass and live acts taking to the five stages.
Every year what seems to be a large faction of the global music industry descends on Barcelona in June to enjoy the three-day Sonar festival. Whether at Sonar itself or many of the Off-Sonar parties, the city becomes a 24 hour party playground. Sonar itself has reached its 19th year by booking forward-thinking electronica bands and DJs alongside some of the superstars past and present to build a loyal following. We take a look back over the festival with a report on each of the Sonar events, kicking off with Sonar By Day on the Thursday.
Lovebox was meant to be a total washout – 70mph winds and torrential rain – festival goers were in for a weekend of trench foot and dysentery. Hundreds, possibly thousands would perish, or so the met office would have liked to have said. Anticipating a flood of truly biblical proportions I even went and purchased some wellies (Primark, naturally), but thankfully they weren’t needed in the end. The weatherman and his scheming cronies were wrong and this rather brilliant little festival had the sunny backdrop it so deserved for its 10-year anniversary.
No amount of rain could dampen the atmosphere for new Bristol festival Love Saves the Day as 8,000 revellers filled Castle Park for the day. There had been mixed forecasts, and the night before had been torrential rain, but the sun was shining from the morning so there were high spirits felt. Tickets sold out months ago and demand had been high to get hold of any spares with Jamie Jones, Roots Manuva, Mr Scruff, Joker, Joy Orbison, Pearson Sound, Zoom T and Maya Jane Coles set to perform. As a zap! bang! Magazine crew of three wandered towards the main gate, we made a pact to focus on the music and good times to see where the day would take us.
mulletover brushed the January blues away with their first party of 2012 in East London. The packed-out warehouse space in Netil House was like an oven by midnight as revelers vied for space on the dancefloor in the dark, cavernous room. So often the home to London’s top underground offerings, mulletover continued the buzz of its New Year’s Eve party with Bloc to keep an energetic crowd dancing until the early hours.
Eager clubbers keen to start working off their Christmas bellies got an early opportunity to hit the dancefloor on Boxing Day as Electric Brixton hosted a showcase for Luciano’s Cadenza Records. Arkitekt & LWE took over the newest club in London for the night – still looking fresh it was packed with minimal house and techno fans as the bass boomed through the speakers and sets from Reboot, Robert Dietz and Mirko Loko b2b Cesar Merveille kept the crowds moving until the early hours.
Eric Prydz took the lead for the second day of the inaugeral Together Winter Music Festival at Alexandra Palace. He was the main attraction with his final EPIC (Eric Prydz Live in Convert) show of the year as more than 30 live acts and DJs performed at the historic London venue on Saturday, November 26th. With thousands flocking to see their favourites, there was a lively atmosphere as the all-nighter kept music fans dancing across four arenas.
The Bloc team linked up with Bristol’s In:Motion series of clubnights for a night of dubstep, techno, acid and house across three rooms at the city’s skate park. With lauded artists across such a varied spectrum of music it was a reminder of the impressive array of acts Bloc has become famous for booking but we will have to wait until July next year to see the festival back in action after moving from its March date of five years.
Adam Beyer’s Drumcode label celebrated 15 years with a Halloween birthday party at London’s Great Suffolk Street Warehouse on Saturday, October 29th. Sets from the label’s roster including Joesph Capriati, Paul Ritch, Alan Fitzpatrick, Patrick Siech and Beyer himself were given a visual boost with the final appearance of Beyer’s Maze show before it goes on a global tour next year.
50,000 revellers descended on the Isle of Wight’s lush Robin Hill Country Park for the biggest-ever Bestival with an impressive line-up of acts old and new ranging from Bjork, The Cure and Brian Wilson right through to the emerging talents of Ghost Poet, Nero and Lone. A few adjustments to the site layout, a big investment in sound quality and a variety of spaces to lose yourself in ensured a wealth of fun while the dire weather predicted held off for a surprisingly dry event that brought a smile to all.
Now a firm fixture on the August Bank Holiday weekend, the two-day dance festival is has become a final summer party for the London-based Ibiza lovers as well as the more casual raver. Attracting many of the biggest names and promotions from the clubbing world, there was no doubting the intentions of the organisers to wow the crowds, it was just a little disappointing that the issues of restrictive sound levels prevent all the stars of the show shining as brightly as they should.
The Big Chill has had a transformation of sorts since being bought by Festival Republic in 2009. Last year the site was re-arranged and the atmosphere changed dramatically as a younger crowd appeared at the Eastnor Castle site eager to enjoy an increased dance music presence. While families were still out in force, the kids area seemed tacked on and there was a sense the artist element of Spencer Tunick’s painted naked festival bodies was added for media interest rather than serious aficionados. This year Creative Director and co-founder Katrina Larkin had no hand in the creation of the event as she resigned last November, leaving the Big Chill in the hands of Melvin Benn’s Festival Republic. The result was a Big Chill in transition and, while beautiful to look at, lacked the atmosphere and unique artistic qualities that had made it so unique.