A new party took over Vauxhall’s Fire and Lightbox venues to celebrate Halloween with a headline set from Omar S and a host of jacking music in what was dubbed a mini label festival with a spooky twist. The Random Magic Halloween on Saturday, October 26th was packed with fancy-dressed revellers, including some ghoulish prosthetic efforts, a Michael Jackson Thriller-style and, oddly, a Julia Roberts Pretty Woman, while every effort was made to turn the dancefloors into a creepy environment. But it was the music that impressed the most with Futureboogie Recordings, the Classic Music Company and Horse Meat Disco haunting Fire and the Mirror Arch while JG Wilkes and JD Twitch – aka Optimo – played all night long in the third arch.
The first of three shows for Bloc’s second season at Autumn Street Studios was a vibrant affair with a packed out Hackney Wick venue enjoying a diverse range of electronic music. Regular Bloc spinners Joe Hart and Rubin were joined by live acts Dopperlereffkt, Legowelt and Dave Monolith plus Alex Lover Fever on Saturday, September 28th for an all night session which never let up.
FOUND Street Party revelers were promised an education in house and techno when Kevin Saunderson and Frankie Knuckles played in the heart of London’s financial district, and they left following an uplifting lesson from the pair. It was the second time FOUND had closed off a street near Liverpool Street station for a day of dance music: late summer warmth, a crisp soundsystem and an enthusiastic crowd ensured the party helped many deal with their post-festival-season hangover.
Underground electronic music festival Dimensions held its second year at Fort Punta Christo in Pula, Croatia from Thursday, September 5th to Sunday, September 8th. From the people behind Outlook Festival, it featured headline sets from Model 500, Mount Kimbie, Tony Allen, Gilles Peterson, Theo Parrish, Moodymann and Daphni spread across a beach, boats and an abandoned fort from 12noon to 6am daily. We were there in what would be an impressive four days of music
South West Four celebrated its 10th anniversary over the August bank holiday weekend with another two days of dance music on Clapham Common. Saturday’s revellers braved the rain to see headliner Armin Van Buuren along with arenas hosted by fellow trance star Paul Van Dyk plus SW4 regulars Carl Cox and Mark Knight. On Sunday the sun shone and we were there to take in the music.
This year Guy Gerber kicked off a new Ibiza party: Wisdom of the Glove at Pacha. The weekly Wednesday night has featured Gerber with special guests, plus glove-wearing magicians, shadow puppeteers and fortune tellers paying sacrifice to a centrifugal £150,000 glove. Michael Wright was in Ibiza for the night featuring Guy Gerber, Four Tet, John Talabot, Midland, Shaun Reeves and Bill Patrick on Wednesday, August 22nd to get a feel for the first season of Wisdom of the Glove.
House and techno has been the at the heart of club brand Eastern Electrics from its first warehouse parties in 2008 to a debut weekend camping festival at Knebworth over the weekend (August 2nd – 4th). It has been putting on collaborative nights and extending its reach slowly, building up to an event spread over three days and two nights with more than 140 acts. We were on-site Friday and Sunday to see what the evolution of the their labours produced.
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.