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.
Pendulum, Chase & Status, Tinie Tempah, Underworld and Eric Prydz headlined this year’s new-look GlobalGathering as ravers bonded over two days at Long Marston Airfield in Stratford-Upon-Avon. The annual festival entered its second decade following a triumphant 10th birthday in 2010 and zap! bang! Magazine’s GlobalGathering veteran Laura Smith was there to experience the dance-fan delight.
Balkan-themed music festivals are quite the rarity, as are ambitious small events that seek to expand. Underhill was both of those – and despite an approach that may not have glistened with glossy production it more than made up with a warm and welcoming vibe absent from many modern festivals. While the Balkan stage hosted acts from the UK scene, Bristol and Bournemouth promotions provided the DJs over two further tents in a Wiltshire field with Erol Alkan, Martyn, Alex Metric and Round Table Knights among the leading names performing. It didn’t quite go to plan at times, though the amateur mistakes could easily be avoided if Underhill Festival returns next year.
The sun shone for the first day of the Lovebox music festival in East London as revellers kicked off their weekend early on Friday, July 15th. The Wombats, Example and Metronomy took top billing on the main stage but while there was plenty more to see dotted around the site in Victoria Park, many of the crowd left disappointed after crowd issues meant the stage featuring Flying Lotus and Hudson Mohawke had to be closed early.
Food came top of the festival menu on Clapham Common when Jamie Oliver’s first Big Feastival took over the London greenspace. For three days 15 pop-up restaurants from across the capital served up tasters of their finest dishes while avid cooks learnt from the pros in live demos in The Big Kitchen or picked up ingredients and tips from expert across the site. Two stages of music ensured this family friendly event had a soundtrack to help the food go down and all proceeds went to The Princes Trust and The Jamie Oliver Foundation to help disadvantaged young people. zap! bang! Magazine built up an appetite to visit The Big Feastival and see how Jamie Oliver’s first foray into festival territory was served up.
Manchester’s Parklife festival expanded to two days this year and couldn’t have had two more contrasting days of weather as glorious sunshine greeted revellers on Saturday then the heavens opened on Sunday for a mud bath. It didn’t put anyone off getting along to the sold out event though and partygoers were just as happy splashing around in the mud as they were basking in a sunbeam. zap! bang! Magazine’s Mike Barnard was there to see Parklife in action.
Another year, another attempt to catch as many bands as possible across 30+ venues in three days, when most gigs happen at the same time in the evening. That is The Great Escape, part of what makes it what it is, even if it’s a bit annoying at times. However, this year’s lineup had less absolute must sees for zb! and unlike last year we avoided the big events at The Dome run in conjunction with the main Brighton festival (DJ Shadow, Friendly Fires, Sufjan Stevens), meaning that the few of them could mostly be achieved, as well as investigating others- some tipped but some unknown. Let’s not get carried away that the format allows for the same amount of bands as would an all day festival- but it’s not even £50 a ticket so you can’t complain on that front. Anyway, here’s what we got up to and what we thought of it…
Eastern Electrics returned to the arches of Great Suffolk Street Car Park with mulletover, Bloc and Deviation providing the talent for the May bank holiday revellers. DJ Koze, James Holden and Virgo Four were among the acts providing the techno, house and heavy bass sounds, thought there was some dubious choices of attire on the night.
Closing Club Uncut on opening night at the Pavilion Theatre were Brooklyn art-jam troupe Gang Gang Dance, who delivered an engaging hour-long set fuelled by pounding tribal rhythms, uplifting instrumentation and electronic atmosphere. Led by the varied vocals and charismatic presence of frontwoman Lizzi Bougatsos, the group offered some material from new record Eye Contact but whether newer or older the music focused on a rhythmic base and captivated brcause of it.
Next Thursday through Friday once again sees hordes of international bands, music fans, young hopeful artists and industry insiders descend upon Brighton for a three day festival of gigs and parties spread wide across the city, as well as a convention centre holding talks, seminars and networking events for delegates. The festival has always been about showcasing newer and international talent, which alongside specialised and more cult offerings forms the majority of the line-up, with a selection of bigger names adding a major draw for fans. This year doesn’t buck that trend, though with perhaps less of the latter and this year’s list still includes DJ Shadow, Friendly Fires and Sufjan Stevens (pictured) who perform in shows run in conjunction with the concurrent wider Brighton Festival
Bloc promised their fifth anniversary of weekend festivaling would be a birthday to remember, and they delivered on their promise with one of the most universally-praised dance festivals ever. From start to finish there was hardly a set that disappointed and with the stage set for a finale by Laurent Garnier’s latest project, LBS, his three hours of house and techno was a set that will live long in the memory of all who witnessed it.
EPM celebrated 10 years of providing services to electronic music with a night of top techno at Fabric on Saturday, Feburary 26th. Taking over room two for the night, they gave revellers an eclectic mix of techno including a two-house DJ/live set from the Detroit Grand Pubahs.
The fearsome Buraka Som Sistema took over London’s XOYO for a special one-off DJ/MC set later month to take a break from recording session for their new album, due out after the summer. There were plenty of hits from their debut album Black Diamond along with their own electro favourites helped along by their live MCs.
Better late than never – here’s our Zap Bang! editors’ runs down of the records of note for them in 2010…
As the countdown hit zero and the clocks struck midnight, the Rebel Ravers at eastern electrics could not have been happier – Jamie Jones was ushering in 2011 with a set the crowd fully embraced. Girls cheered and waved their arms up on shoulders and all around groups were welcoming in the new year by sharing their love. The Crosstown Rebel had truly got the celebrations started.
Shy FX kicked off a new monthly residency for his Digital Sounboy label at Shoreditch’s newest nightspot XOYO on Friday, November 19th. MJ Cole, Hatcha, Breakage, Toodla T & Redlight and Get Cape Wear Cape Fly were among the support as the bass-heavy sounds reverberated through the excitable crowd.
Following the recent successes of her first UK tour as well as the much lauded release of debut Stridulum II Backwoods Wisonsin’s finest export Zola Jesus, will release a double A-sided single, “Poor Animal” / “I Can’t Stand”, through Souterrain Transmissions on November 1st. On the same day there’ll also be a stand-alone show at new London haunt XOYO (with Xiu Xiu/Former Ghosts).
This year Rob da Bank invited Bestival goers into Robin Hill Country Park on the Isle of Wight to live out their fantasies in one of the biggest fancy dress parties on the planet. The three days of music, comedy, cabaret and art was attended by a biggest-ever crowd of around 48,000 revellers, and they let their imaginations run away with them while enjoying a selection of the finest acts – old and new.
You’ve got to hand it to the London day ravers – sometimes said to be lightweights looking for an easy ride, this South West Four crowd proved their hardcore status when a near apocalyptic rain shower exploded over Clapham Common on Sunday, August 29th just when the dance event was getting going.
London’s busy August bank holiday weekend got even busier this year with the arrival of the London Electronic Dance Festival organised by clubbing brand Cream and bringing together some of the finest acts over two days in the East End’s Victoria Park. Although hampered by a reduced line-up rumoured to have been affected by poor ticket sales, the performances of acts including The Bloody Beetroots Death Crew 77, Tiga and electronica legend Aphex Twin ensured it was a debut which would be welcomed back next year.
The Big Chill Festival’s first collaboration with production giant Festival Republic brought stability to the brand, though there was a distinct lack of the normally vibrant atmosphere at Eastnor Castle this year. A re-arranged site and changes to the stages seemed to surprise many, but while is a little work to be done to make it the perfect marriage, this year’s festival had more than enough highlights and unique additions to be a fun-packed three days.
Ten years on since Godskitchen first invited ravers to enjoy a festival of dance music in Stratford-Upon-Avon, GlobalGathering has evolved from a one-night event for 25,000 music fans to a two-day camping event with major live acts complementing the DJs spinning the sounds of now. To mark the 10th anniversary edition, organisers Godskitchen wanted to celebrate the first decade of the event with the best weekend UK clubbers had experienced. Thanks to better-than-ever production and a fun-loving crowd, GlobalGathering X was an enjoyable romp.
Eric Prydz is putting the house back into warehouse parties with a Pryda night in London’s premier underground nightspot. Ewer Street Car Park is set to host three arches of music on Saturday (July 31st) featuring Pryda label owner and international DJ star Eric Prydz taking centre stage and backed up by a selection of top talent for an all-nighter chock full of summer vibes to welcome in August.