Sūpynės Festival returned after a year hiatus for an eleventh time to the majestic Dūburio Ežeras’ woods with an onslaught of art, talks and a variety of niche electronic dance music. The year off seemed to let the Minimal.lt team focus on what made Supynės great in the first place – they reduced the capacity to make it more intimate while, increased focus on quality local talent as well as expanding on some ideas from the past.
The festival boasted four stages – MORE, LESS, HIGH and PLAYGROUND. The MORE stage hosted local newcomers and indie-music types during the day but during the night turned into a house and techno Mecca with artists such as Awanto 3, Brawther, Shed and Neel bombarding the crowd with bass. My favourite has to be Shed who delivered a UK bass tinged set mixed with the finest selections of German quality. The rain and unrelenting techno did make the field into a muddy mess, however, that did not stop the festival goers to keep dancing well into the morning.
The LESS stage played host to the more minimal side of things. Set snuggly among the trees it has to be one of the most beautiful stages I have seen in my life. More eclectic sounds of noir electronics to new wave, drone and experimental filled the woods with highlights being Black Merlin, Dataline, INRA and Patricia Kokett. This stage specifically is why I can wholeheartedly recommend checking the festival out.
The aptly named HIGH stage was only open from six am as a unique after-party place. Incredible sets from one of Lithuania’s greatest export Manfredas and the Smala crew as well as Mountak kept the late (or early) dancers moving up until noon.
PLAYGROUND stage was new to this year – a place intended for interesting talks: everything from glitch art, headliners talking about their approach to creating music to the more interdisciplinary and freeform activities with emphasis on collaborations, discussions and workshops. During the night though, artists such as Octatanz and one of my highlights of the festival – Elektrus Erektus showed off their talent.
For the first time in Lithuanian history, the festival also had a drug awareness tent. With the support of the Lithuanian drugs and tobacco control department (NTAKD) anyone interested in the effects of psychoactive substances had someone to talk to without fear. This is a huge step forward as beforehand most festivals would have a single ambulance to which they would not go even if they had issues due to the absurdly strict laws. Free condoms, tea, water and people who you can talk to were there not to promote drug use but to inform those who choose to do them on how to do so safely.
All in all the festival was a massive success, even though the revellers were drenched in rain and mud all you could see were smiles and all you could hear was incredibly selected music. Cannot recommend it enough!!
From a personal perspective, Primavera turned into a prime example of times when you might enter a festival rattled up for particular artists and perhaps see a few that almost seem dispensable to the acts you’re eager to see. In an interesting twist of fate, these dispensable acts might just be the highlights of the night, or even, some of the most memorable shows you will ever witness. When was the last time you went to a concert and ended up watching a fully grown and talented man fashion his boxers as a g-string and set fire to his leg hair? What about seeing a 69-year-old performing while wearing a strap-on? What script could we have written that would have showcased any of this?
Thursday kicked off in jazzy hip-hop high-tops by BADBADNOTGOOD, and Kate Tempest – who through conveying complex emotions musically was example #1 of unexpectedly entrancing performances. Headlining the evening was Aphex Twin, with a set filled with drawn-out, aloof and prickly transitions that left many describing it for the rest of the weekend as “I’m not too sure what I just watched.” Things were turned down a notch with a theatrical-like show from Tycho, which looking back perfectly resembled vanilla – nice, pleasant, safe. Nothing to get too excited over.
Some sort of effort has kind of happened with Primavera’s stage layout, which results in most alternative/”mainstream” artists performing in the main body of Parc del Forum, with a long, constantly overcrowded bridge connecting this torso to a predominantly electronic music limb. Here, as #2-5 of unforeseen goodness, Fatima Yamaha gave a fittingly lofty and upbeat set, followed by a deliverance of subterranean levels of deep house by German producer/cult figurehead Henrik Schwarz and a truly chilling live set of breakbeat and broken vocal sample wading into moments of old school dubstep from Bicep to an enthusiastic and amicable crowd.
For many, Friday was from the very start not going to live up to the heightened expectations people had set themselves, considering that just the Sunday before, headliner Frank Ocean pulled out his performance as a result, the momentary trend of the festival “Prank Ocean” was born and available on t-shirts, bags and hats.
Regardless of this, the bill promised a rather organic affair of indie and alternative acts, starting with an impromptu show of smoke which somewhere amidst, Mogwai was playing. Mirroring recent albums, things were, once again, a bit vanilla – if anything, they were a perfect beginning for those just arriving and talking to each other while laying on one of the only grassy areas on site.
If anyone were to ask me what Primavera 2017 was like, seeing Mac DeMarco get halfway through “Together” before jumping onto a speaker, giving himself a thong and in the process the cameraman a good old view of his behind whilst carnally lowering himself towards the naked drummer and wincing when he caught himself burning his armpit hair would probably be the first thing that came back to mind. As someone who doesn’t take himself seriously, even as a musician, we, as spectators, were truly given a performance.
The contrast came heavy, then, when on the main stage of the festival, The xx somehow managed to give thousands of people a truly intimate and slightly sombre piece. I was someone who saw the debut album as a lover you never really got over and felt like everything that you experienced afterwards couldn’t compare to. Yet, a compelling interaction between singers Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim throughout playing, not to mention the iridescent personality of the group conveyed something that I’d never noticed before in the recent albums I’d so strongly stayed away from. In the vocal harmony alone lies a duet that is captivating and yet is almost obsolete in music today. It was clear that the trio had considered a wide range of elements for the set and combined a well-ordered set list with glistening visuals and faintly subdued lighting, which together exhibiting patterns of refracted light, left many in absolute awe. It was, in many ways, so precious, that it seems a shame to have to denote serious issues with sound, as was, in fact, to become a recurring theme throughout the weekend.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, sound troubles continued on the Bowers & Wilkins stage, which considering is celebrated for its ingenuity in sound systems, it was almost agonising to listen to legendary force Âme play a live set through a crackling speaker. Despite this, it is impossible to characterise the tandem as anything other than a pure energy drive; it’s instantly clear why the duo has such a powerful reputation between them. This kind of vigour consequently feeds into its audience, which was spaciously formed of techno freaks and house heads.
Friday was signed off with panache by Flying Lotus, who has created himself as a type of cosmic jazz/contemporary electronic music alien. Exalting oomph in both a collision of musical genres and accompanying visuals (of which at one point starred a computerised human tied up on the floor, another feminine body with a face similar to FlyLo’s own twerking over) he unceasingly showed himself to say “no thanks” to conventional style, obscure and haunting one moment, hilarious and mocking the next. Talaboman, the duo outfit that is John Talabot and Axel Boman, moved light-dark/dark-light as the final act of the night when it starts to become morning. Stragglers of all stages transfixed to modern day landmarks of intelligent electronic music, a subjective climax peaking with the sunrise and moving to “The Sun Can’t Compare” in its full and entire glory.
With a tendency to present older names and long-celebrated artists on Saturday, the atmosphere at Primavera is usually significantly different. The atmosphere gets a bit more relaxed, the crowd dies down and things become, or so it seems, a little more for the locals. The groove sets in earlier than previous days – this time in an oriental fusion with Junun, a project of different cultures and nationalities, usually including Jonny Greenwood. As a mixture of traditional Indian instruments and Israeli influences with electronic coding as the backbone of the outfit, Junun is a multi-cultural, polyrhythmic discourse; their performance giving colour and vitality and making it impossible to stay still. Later, diva/musical icon/Jamaican disco goddess Grace Jones created an absolute storm on the main stage, her entrance somewhat improvised after a dramatic and wind-induced curtain fall. Between bearing a force of a stage persona by asking for a “Coke” in an ambiguous manner midway through the set, to unveiling herself wearing a dildo, she showed herself to a society obsessed with youth and as limitless and unapologetically ageless.
In fact, Primavera proceeded to go down a Saturday Night Fever route in which disco proved to be king. Since Primavera is also an international phenomenon in both acts and audience, there is something intangibly special when John Talabot, who hails from Barcelona, comes back to his roots and performs in front of an appreciative and melody-hungry audience. Playing a disco set, Talabot continuously manages to capture this essence of bliss and yet take the whole of humankind on the same journey at the same time. Weval were a stones’ throw away making some similar magic – as a live and downbeat edition. The Dutch duo is a bit like how a priest might describe God – personal yet impersonal; transcendental yet immanent. Moving away slightly from the intricate power they’ve consistently mustered throughout their studio work, Weval led all eyes on an emotional thread and offered an all-encompassing performance that takes electro-pop, dreamy dance and touching vocals to finish in a state of rapture.
Regardless of the hushed-up malfunctioning sound system and the constant clashes of interest in the programme, reputations happen for a reason. Primavera is now recognised in international lands as a leading festival for its line-up, and this year, excluding the heartache of Prank Ocean, was no exception. An almost predictable outcome of this is a melting pot that allows attraction of like-minded people from a plethora of countries. Where other festivals might offer better food, boutiques and camping, few festivals can compete with the feeling of leaving in the early morning sun to head to the beach and walk back to base in the magical city with borderline mythological architecture and infinite springs of culture that is Barcelona.
Very very excited (and nervous!) to announce that our next instalment will take place at the historic York’s FIRE STATION! This has been a dream since we saw the For Sale sign above the door for the fire engines. After gruelling negotiations with York’s council and the police, we were finally able to format an event that would make everyone happy.
We are investing heavily into the sound and light aspects of this, in order to truly transform the venue into something you will remember for a while – how many parties at a fire station have you been to? Add on great DJs, art pieces as well as visuals, a cheap bar and a place for those that want to chill and sit, a dance floor for those who don’t and you’ve got yourself an Animaux: Au Feu!
We are running the night in partnership with Blank Canvas, a Skippko.org project to find new and interesting venues in derelict buildings so that artists can practice, have workshops and galleries. Their motto is ‘To advance the education of the public in creative and visual arts and crafts and the techniques and practice thereof’ which we cannot support enough, thus are dedicating all of the profits towards their development. To accomplish this, we are collecting a tiny fee on the door (you are encouraged to donate more!) as well as a few donation boxes across the venue. We wouldn’t be able to do this without their support, so please give back – support the local art!
Cannot wait until you see what we have in store (or FIRE STATION)!
Rising up on the edge of the woods, this colossal Mayan-esque temple looks like an immovable relic from an ancient past. On closer inspection, however, there are signs that this is a place of very different rituals. Surrounded by a vast amphitheatre of a hill, a formidable array of speakers bulge from the time hardened masonry, vivid lasers pierce the sky while eruptions of flame turn this venerable shrine into a living, breathing roots leviathan. Carrying on his father’s infamous legacy, Damian Marley flies in, continuing to spread the message with his celebrated roots / hiphop blend. Joining him in a line up as gargantuan as the stage, are the internationally renowned Fat Freddy’s Drop, their jazz-filled dub reggae is more than capable of causing a groove frenzy within the Trenchtown walls and begs for a venue like The Lions Den.
Bang High Palace - The Nine-story Behemoth
Erected last year by Comrade Jose, as an imposing symbol of power, this nine-story phosphorescent landmark looms high over the rest of Boomtown. Its formidable spire pierces the skyline as bursts of seismic activity and fire give this whole structure life. It’s bellowing electronic drum & bass voice echoes for miles while the ground palpitates to the rhythm of its beating heart. The palace was erected as a monument to the new totalitarian alliance between the brainwashed ‘Comrade Jose’ (formally Mayor Burrita José) and ‘The Sheriff’, and it worked. Right up until the end of the four days, when a speech by ‘Comrade José’ was hijacked by a masked figure heralding the beginning of a new uprising and a new revolution, the tantalising cliffhanger for the this year’s chapter in the Boomtown legend. Whispers hear mention of this year’s revolutionary prophets, Dj Hype, Dj Hazzard, Mefjus, Critical Music and Full Cycle are just some of the names that hint at a biblical alliance of bass the likes of which are rarely seen on such an epic scale.
Sector 6 - Chapter 8’s All New Industrial District
As rumours of revolution bubble over throughout the alleys and dark corners of the town, unexplained rumblings can be heard from Boomtown’s new nuclear power station, sitting in the centre of the recently completed Sector 6. Guttural roars and deeply resonating gurgles can be heard in the quiet of night. Many have heard whispers of heavy garage and grime, others say dubstep, but all say they’ve felt the tremors of palpitating bass. The facts remain to be seen, but propaganda has been circulating, suggesting potential sightings of UK garage emissaries So Solid Crew and DJ Barely Legal within the Sector. Bass representatives Gotsome and Deadbeat UK are also thought to have been spotted in the shadows. Whether the rumours of revolution hold any substance, we will have to wait and see, but one thing is for sure, Sector 6 will not go quietly.
Into the Forest - The Woodland Raves
The woods and forests skirting the edges of Boomtown are an ever-present intrigue lurking on the periphery of the madness within. They loom on the fringes like mysterious dark boundaries, occasionally bursting with a diffuse green and blue light which pulsates from underneath the canopy, tempting the residents with a hypnotic tribal rhythm. Here, in these dense and secluded woods, the explorer is always rewarded, woodland parties and forest raves are a growing culture for Boomtown’s more rural residents. Celebrating all things psychedelic with a bit of everything thrown in, three such gatherings have made their name in previous years; Psychedelic Forest, Tribe of Frog and The Rave Yard all gaining reputations as some of the most magical places to lose yourself under a canopy of green.
Vamos - Boomtown’s Newest House And Techno Venue
Vamos is a brand spanking new venue to hit the loudly exotic streets and bouncing favelas of Boomtown’s carnival district Barrio Loco. Bringing together an intoxicating mixture of fresh blood and experience this fledgeling venue is set to be an exuberant hive of house and techno, and looking at some of the names ready to christen this bad boy it’s one that really can’t be ignored. House legend Derrick Carter, rightly renowned as one of the best DJs in the world sets up alongside; Drumcode’s Alan Fitzpatrick, electro trailblazers Simian Mobile Disco and joining what is already a scorching collection of talent, the highly revered eclectic spinner Jackmaster. Considering this will be its first year at Boomtown, it’s pretty clear that this is a stage that won’t be pulling any punches.
Whistlers Green Mastercrafted Relaxation
Boomtown is a hell of a festival, famed for its detailed approach to immersion and its untameable energy, but there is also a side to it that and be as calming and tranquil as a lilo on an infinity pool, on a cloud, with a brew, and cake. Whistlers Green offers the weary, hungover or curious a vast variety of chilled out activities, workshops and experiences. You can try your hand at jewellery making, blacksmithing, and even chainsaw carving. And for those a who don’t want to get so hands on, you can get your morning yoga in, go for a skate, get a massage, or just chill by the fire. There are also two stages nestled within the tranquillity of Whistlers Green, both providing the perfect soundtrack to this secluded oasis. New to the green this year is the Windmill Stage, a mecca for Reggae, Folk, Funk and Soul, with Radio 6 funk and soul maestro Craig Charles stepping up as well as global electronic innovators Banco De Gaia. Floating Lotus is back as well, showcasing some of the finest singer-songwriter and folk performances around, including The Rubber Wellies and Rhain.
Farr festival, now in its eighth year, has grown considerably since its beginnings as a small party for friends. With a very affordable ticket price and many big names on the bill, a visit to Bygrave Woods this year was a must. I headed down with 5000 other dance music fans to check it out.
Thursday evening was a fairly quiet affair, with only three smaller stages open and music finishing at eleven. Nebraska played an enjoyable live set followed by Detroit Swindle who treated us to ‘Edit Channel XXX’ by JV, the early finish was a little disappointing but understandable for a Thursday.
Image Credit: Michael Njunge for Here & Now
Friday gave us a chance to check out the site in its entirety. Upon entering the arena you find food stalls and attractions (no sign of the dodgems that were advertised on social media) in a field just outside the woods. The woods are where Farr really comes to life. Five stages are dotted around the woodland and real attention has been put into the ramshackle decorations, it really is a wonderful setting for a festival.
Having got our bearings we headed over to the Hidden Palace for a varied set of chilled house such as Pepe Bradock’s ‘Deep Burnt’ along with some funkier stuff from Funkineven. Towards the end of his set he took to the the mic saying, “This is one of the best festivals I’ve played this year so far.” The crowd seemed to agree.
Image Credit: Michael Njunge for Here & Now
Having left to go to the bar I was told the stage was at capacity, this seemed odd to me as I had just been in there and there was plenty of room. After standing around for ten minutes, I found that the place was practically empty. I’m all for safety but this seemed to be overkill and was slightly ruining the atmosphere at the Hidden Palace.
The festival really got going with the brilliant decision for Joy Orbison, Ben UFO and Midland to play a 6-hour back-to-back set at the terrace. It was a great combination of styles and although I had intended to spend more time at other stages I just kept getting drawn back to them. I did drag myself away to see Move D, however, about an hour in, a power cut brought his set to an abrupt halt.
Upon returning to the terrace for the last few hours of the three-way b2b we did notice a serious lowering of volume levels. Fortunately tracks such as Four Tet’s Kool FM edit of ‘God Made Me Phunky’, Boddikas ‘Mercy VIP’ and Bizzare inc.’s 1992 hit ‘I’m Gonna Get You’ kept energy levels high. Hunee closed out the evening at The Shack, playing one of the wide-ranging sets he has become well known for, dropping Kiki Gyan ‘Disco Dancer’ a personal favourite of mine. With a great light show bouncing off the tree canopy above The Shack has a lovely feel to it and Hunee’s selection made for a quality conclusion to day one.
Image Credit: Michael Njunge for Here & Now
On Saturday having enjoyed sets from Maurice Fulton and Young Marco I would have loved to catch Gilles Peterson but due to the hidden palace being at capacity I was unable to. At ten we headed to The Shack for an excellent performance from Palms Trax dropping ‘Music Sounds Better With You’, which went down a storm. He then mixed that into ‘Women Beat Their Men’ by Submission it was a great transition and a standout moment of the weekend.
I was completely blown away by Helena Hauff who played two hours of relentless hard-hitting acid techno that went to show why she has become such a sought after booking these days. Again as the night wore on volume levels at all the stages were a real problem, I had to get really close to the speakers in order to avoid music bleeding in from other stages. As some of the stages are quite close together it may make more sense to reduce the number of stages and keep them further apart to avoid this.
For the final hours, I moved between Optimo and Mike Dunn and finally settling on John Talabot for the closing moments. Towards the end of his set he dropped Midland’s ‘Final Credits’ this was the fourth time I had heard that track over the course of the weekend. Finally bringing the festival to a close with ‘Everybody Dance’ was a nice touch and went down well with those of us still dancing.
Image Credit: Michael Njunge for Here & Now
Farr festival is great value with an intimate feel, however, more food stalls in the campsite would help sooth morning hunger and volume levels can be a little frustrating. These problems aside, the small number of attendees, delightful setting and well-curated line-up mean Farr is certainly one to keep on your radar.
Believe it or not, mid-summer has come and gone and August is looming, which can mean only one thing… the return of Boomtown. This year we’ve put together our very own guide to one of the most immersive and vibrant festivals on the UK calendar. Check it.
The photovoltaic cell, a sloping sculpture visible all year round from Barcelona’s man-made beach creation, pinpoints Parc del Forum, the concrete home of Primavera Sound Festival. There’s no camping, no glimmers, no gimmicks. Turn off your mind, flip a 180º on your sleep cycle and let the only worry of your days be choosing who to see from one the most fruitful line-ups of 2016.
After a month of Prima’s preparation across the city in daily events, Thursday was the first day in full festival swing. Electronic songwriter Jessy Lanza showed her skills on the decks with a seriously funked up sun-soaked afternoon set in the Bowers & Wilkins tent. B&W was a mental trek away from most of the festival, but with speakers coming from all angles, the stage was a humble abode to the best audio layout of the entire venue.
The well-anticipated BEAK>, made up of Portishead’s Geoff Barrow and Billy Fuller (Robert Plant), took to and tore up Primavera’s own stage, their darker, slightly bitter sound merging with Barrow’s own Bristolian-infused warming character. Later into the night, in the same grassy spot, my mind was metaphorically and unexpectedly blown by experimental noises of Suuns. Violent, raw, unapologizing and totally captivating, Suuns melted all transient limits of their 2013 album Images du Futur and whizzed music with cleverly thought-out light and visual effects and made nothing short of art to their audience’s every sense. Sam Shepherd, otherwise known as Floating Points, drifted through a jazz-drenched set that similarly combined light and an ageless sound, grounding a handful of us into the grass in a serene state of mind.
CREDIT: Adela Loconte/WireImage
Thursday wound up on the Heineken stage with LCD Soundsystem, playing a set of songs that will be cool for as long as the colour black is. James Murphy is, as always, effortless and unruffled without saying a lot except his thanks. The only thing that could have been more of the definitive mic-drop than the band’s selection of “Dance Yrself Clean” and “All My Friends” as an encore, would be an actual mic drop.
Friday’s line-up was the one that right until 9pm that night, people scoured the internet for and queued outside, just in case of the slightly unlikely chance anyone decided at the last minute that they didn’t want to go after all. From the H&M stage Beirut played a smooth set of wind and Balkan percussion in a sweet harmony to Zach Condon’s distinct vocals, personal favourites from their 2007 album The Flying Club Cup seizing the hour. Between the magic here and the setup of future magic on the Heineken stage directly opposite, this was probably the closest Primavera will ever be to the feeling of giddiness you get on Christmas Eve.
I’d be lying if there wasn’t one band every man and his dog wanted to see on Friday. Though perhaps reluctant to be accepted as the headlining act of a festival, Radiohead have inevitably through incidental popularity become just that. Not to mention that, where the audience might sometimes divert their attention from the performance, the entire crowd maintained silence throughout, right from the off, opening with ‘Burn The Witch’ and moving into ‘Daydreaming’ – where a portion of the crowd turns and hisses at the sound of an iMessage jingle. At times, Thom Yorke sings with such unrefined grace that the body reacts to the sound of his relief. In the composed simplicity of ‘Nude’, his vocal range reaches its height at the line “you’ll go to hell for what your dirty mind is thinking,” leaving the audience with goosebumps and without breath. Where other artists have used the screens bordering the stage to increase the visibility for the audience, the set is shown through obscure angles and filters, flitting through the band with cinematic sharpness. Considering all the ways Radiohead might have curated their set, spanning from the sombre, sumptuous and sometimes bleak album A Moon-Shaped Pool recently released there was something ‘final’ about their performance. Some festivalgoers even gambled that this might be the final chapter altogether, somewhat enforced with choosing ‘Creep’ as the last song, “I don’t belong here” left to hang in the air.
CREDIT: Xavi Torrent/Getty
Friday slowly unravelled into Saturday with Beach House showing a darker side than the floaty-hippie sounds we know and love them for on their studio albums. Victoria Legrand moved something witch-like under a synthetic set of stars, her voice occasionally but beautifully breaking. At the darkest point of night, Evian Christ thrashed out one of the most twisted fusions of grime, R&B, hip-hop and tech beats from the Pitchfork stage to a brilliant crowd of friendly faces in snapbacks and golden shorts. Daybreak began to the last of implausibly happy jingles from DJ Koze, teasing the last of Primavera’s crowd with a conclusive sound of summer.
CREDIT: Chris Graham
Closing Primavera Sound comes along Brian Wilson with a ten-piece band, making perfectly apt renditions of Beach Boys classics. Through the cheer and figurative sunshine songs like ‘Fun, Fun, Fun’ and ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’ make, there is something a little sad in Wilson’s performance on a personal level, that coincidentally matches the bittersweet tones of the festival’s finale soon upon us. Marching to the same stage later in the evening with band in tow, the ethereal PJ Harvey is nothing short of spellbinding. A true lady who has been making music longer than I’ve been alive, she delved into a playful, darker performance, bringing new life to old classics, mastered by slight theatrics and clear chemistry between the band and herself. Moving from the sinister tinge of uncertainty in ‘Let England Shake, Harvey becomes pure power in ‘To Bring You My Love’ – menacing, unchartered, unavoidable. Into the alien, Sigur Ros huddle closely together and open with debut Óveður, revealing themselves as evolving and progressing, revamping signature songs and delivering them with some incredibly impressive light work on stage. The neighbouring screens become heat-sensitive patterns, spouting geometric lines of Birgsson singing a strong falsetto. The only nag comes not from the trio’s deliverance, but the constant noise of the audience.
CREDIT: Chris Graham
German techno project Moderat moved us into the early hours of the morning. Having seen Moderat at Pitch festival (Amsterdam) in 2014, the group has transitioned from performing for a moderate-sized crowd in a small old industrial factory to a major act and highlight for many people at Primavera. Their performance mirrors the ambitions of the album III (2016), and is geared more to an audience who really digs the album. Back in Middle Earth on the Bowers & Wilkins stage, we found Dorisburg exploring old and new sounds of tangy minimal techno in a live set to a smaller but more interactive crowd. All finished in an expenditure with the growling force of Ty Segall and The Muggers, who’ve gone through the growing pains of angry drag in the past and into restless dynamics that ate up the last of our energy. Segall’s sign off made a physical ending to the Primavera Sound adventure and sent us into a two-day recovery from the previous three days. Until next year, Prima.
On the 14th July, Farr Festival makes a greatly anticipated return to Bygrave Woods in Hertfordshire. The festival has always prided itself on being located just 40 minutes from London, and its handy location has proved popular with the fans it has amassed over its 7 years in the running. Although by no means a landmark UK festival, Farr has popped up on the radar of electronic music fans from across the country and really made a name for itself. The line-up for 2016 is stellar and makes Farr an unmissable festival this summer.
The likes of John Talabot, Palms Trax and Jungle all appear in the woods this July. Palms Trax’s recent appearance in York was one of the best bookings of the year for this historic city and so seeing the German producer play again at Farr would be an experience not to be wasted. Hunee also appears at Farr after his brief but memorable stint in Fibbers this year. Festival organisers have cannily booked pop outfit Jungle to give a light touch to the otherwise more underground scene of Farr’s line up.
Dekmantel Festival is back to the Dutch capital with its fourth installment and it is a doozy – they promise over 150 artists spread out their day and night programs as well as the opening concerts. Have a quick gander at the very stylish video they cooked up:
Dekmantel are heavily expanding on their opening concert idea and offering not one (like last year) but nine (!!) concerts spread out across Amsterdam’s beautiful city-centre locations. All venues are linked with free ferry services and promise an additional free cultural program. These range from James Holden’s dreamy techno ventures with a live band to Alessandro Cortini’s (Nine Inch Nails) live electronica experimentations. You can check the full opening concert line-up over at Dekmantel’s website.
August fifth marks the first official day of the festival in the stunning natural surroundings of the Amsterdamse Bos park and it is hard to describe the amount of musical talent spread out throughout the weekend. Just the first day sees the likes of Jeff Mills, Ben UFO, Surgeon and Moodymann among many other very talented folk. And this theme continues throughout the weekend – I can hardly imagine what it will be like deciding if I should see Dixon or Aux 88, Roman Flügel or Daniel Avery on Saturday and picking between Palms Trax or Motor City Drum Ensemble on a Sunday afternoon just seems cruel. To top it all off at Amsterdamse Bos, the organisers promise: “We aim high with everything we do, but the festival terrain is an exception. We want to give our visitors an open view on the landscape, and thus the decorum will incorporate no skyscraping elements of any kind.” You can check the full day-by-day line-up here.
The night programme returns to the Melkweg – which is one of Holland’s most well-known and iconic music venues. The large building is a former milking factory, and has been in full effect since the abandoned factory got discovered in 1970. It’s a perfect spot for an adventurous club night, offering you a chance to wander and get lost somewhere between the four separate areas, including the majestic Rabozaal, and the coiling hallways that lead you there. Some of the names throughout the weekend include The Orb, Tama Sumo, Optimo and Jackmaster (full night line-up here) and yet again, Dekmantel showcase their prowess in offering a huge collection of talent with focus on great music as opposed to specific genres or styles.
It is clear that Dekmantel are continuing their strive towards building the greatest city festival in Europe. It oozes quality – from locations to the talent, everything has been meticulously planned in order to create an atmosphere like none other and if you are one of the lucky ones that managed to grab a ticket, I salute you as we are in for a ride.
Although both Dixon and Kristian Beyer (one-half of Âme) are very well known for their individual work, it’s hard to talk about either of them without mentioning Innervisions. Now in it’s eleventh year the label has grown to become one of the most talked about and innovative institutions in the industry. Since breaking away from Sonar Kollektiv Dixon, Beyer and Frank Wiedmann, the other half of Âme, have slowly, and not so quietly established the label as a beacon of quality in a saturated digital world. Their simple approach to their work, placing quality above all, has clearly paid off, with Dixon topping the resident advisor DJ chart three years running, and Âme (Beyer) in the top twenty in the last four, they have developed a solid pedigree. So when I discovered the Warehouse Project was bringing them to Manchester, I needed about as much persuasion to get tickets as a dog eyeing up an unattended burger stand.
More recently Innervisions have become known for their ‘Lost in a moment’ parties, a concept which has hosted some of the most unique, and perfectly crafted events on the industry calendar. ‘Lost In A Moment’ is all about finding that sweet spot where everything at a party clicks; location, sound system, music and lighting. Now I know it can’t really be said that The Albert Hall is not different compared to many other venues out there, it’s a four-story gothic chapel after all, but it is in danger of seeming run of the mill to a collective who are used to holding parties on their own island (Osea Island). Nevertheless, the atmosphere is gripping as we enter the main hall. The floor and upper tier are filling up with an excited looking rabble while the Innervisions pair gear up for what is sure to be a night of palpable emotion and energy. The stage is framed by the huge, century-old organ towering high above them, which seems to be pumping out the music with an almost demoniacal efficiency.
As we enter its Dixon who is in control, moulding the mood, his famous brand of melodic, brooding music, softly washing over everyone. With impeccable subtlety, the gentle harmonious tracks coerce our attention away from the bar to the stage. A slick lighting set up pulsates into view, greeting those arriving with lush vibrant orange and blue rays. His his first stint comes to an end and the headphones are casually passed to Kristian, the crowds movement starts to synchronize with the beat, the room submitting to their spinning wizardry. Kristian steps in, providing a new sense of urgency to the starting pace set by Dixon, his masterfully picked techno starts to reverberate round the room to a chorus of whoops and hollers. The crisp punching kicks are layered over and under with haunting dark distortion that gradually increases over the next 45 minutes, building in intensity. We’re 3 hours in and already it’s pretty clear, the German masters have no intention of slowing down, quite happy to leave a good many people around me in a state of hypnotised anticipation.
As the next few hours flowed over us, Beyer and Dixon casually rotate every 45 minutes or so, always with a few words of intent into the others ear. The energy still continues to build, Beyer coming in with the injections of heavier, driving techno, fueling the throng of bouncing heads oscillating up and down, with military precision. Dixon moves in again, black cargo pants tucked into heavy black boots, it looks for a second like an army is drilling in front of its stern unflappable leader. He uses Beyer’s change of pace to weave in his felicitous beats, no doubt bespokely edited to fit exactly where he wants them. He cements the atmosphere with a newly flourished vehemence as track after track of pounding techno permeates everything in the ex-methodist church shelter.
Unable to pinpoint exactly where the time has just gone the night draws towards its ultimatum. In the last hour and a half, we are emotionally dragged between hair-raising hand in the air build ups riddled with feverish anticipation, and colossal mind mincing drops that smack a look of ecstatic perplexion onto everyone’s faces. All except Dixon whose steely demeanour is replaced with a sly, cheeky grin. Gradually the house lights begin to brighten, the organ is bathed in a diffuse deep orange light, the inky shades of night artificially turned to dawn. Dixon, sympathetically switches the pace to an ethereal chorus, chiming around a lingering bassline which slowly fades out, leaving the room to revel in the contented afterglow of what has been, simply a special night.