Animaux | UK

Review: MINT Festival

Sep
23

After a short and very very speedy ride via bus (bloody terrifying I might add) I had arrived at Wetherby Racecourse. As I was admiring the views on my brisk walk up to the entrance checkpoints, I was greeted by the all too familiar sound of bass thumping in the distance. MINT festival was well under way.

Picture by Mantas Zalepuga

This year the festival had 6 arenas, down from last year’s 8. This, however, did not mean the festival was at all smaller – for the first time MINT Festival went on for two days. All of the arenas were under massive marquees to prevent any nasty weather spoiling the fun and each and every stage had huge LED screens for visuals. The sound was top-notch in majority of the arenas, with a few exceptions – mainly the GOODGRIEF & Digital Society stage, the hard dance tent, although as I am no purveyor of this genre I might be wrong on this one.

I spent most of my time on Saturday at the MINT Presents stage (Jungle Jam & Detonate on Sunday). Even though it was empty when I arrived (around 1PM), it quickly filled up for George Fitzgerald. Thoroughly enjoyable performance – even if a little underwhelming. The best way to describe his set is that if you have had the pleasure of seeing him once before or even watched any of his Boiler Room sets then you have experienced the same I did at MINT. Again, thoroughly enjoyable, yet not remotely memorable.

Maya Jane Coles took the stage next (and delivered) and as I have had seen her before, I took a wander around the grounds. Other stages at MINT included the very aptly named “Bitch” stage for all of the EDM ‘artists’, the Blasé Boys Club  stage with performances from the likes of Kiwi (thoroughly enjoyed bouncing to his deep house grooves), Waze & Odyssey, Tiga and Duke Dumont. The Knee Deep in Sound (Prism, Circular & Deja Vu on Sunday) stage played host to the likes of Green Velvet, Hot Since 82 and Denney. Last but certainly not least we had the System & Set Twenty One arena (Elrow on Sunday) where one of Animaux’s favourite guests Annie Errez performed alongside Premiesku (LIVE), Apollonia and Luciano among others. As you can see there was a huge variety of stages, artists and music genres which benefited all the punters – everyone had somewhere to go and someone to be very excited about.

I returned to the MINT Presents stage for Martinez Brothers and even though I had high expectations for them I was completely blown away. These two really know how to put on a party and the their two-hour set felt like a very welcome explosion of euphoria. Everyone around me – including the bouncers and guys backstage were grooving with huge grins on their faces. Highlight of MINT and I cannot recommend them enough.

Photo by Mantas Zalepuga.

Mister Sven Väth was up next and I could not imagine anyone more suited to follow the Martinez Brothers’ show. The stage designers, light and visual guys, pyrotechnics and everyone else went all out to make Sven’s set look amazing but therein lies the issue. It looked amazing – lasers, fireballs, amazing visuals and lighting were top-notch however when it came to the actual set.. I was very underwhelmed, the long intro was setting it up to be something it never really became and even though I am a huge fan of minimal techno people wanted a proper belter of a set to close the first day of the festival and that never came. He weaned between bass and minimal techno and eventually it seemed people lost interest and the tent started losing people. Do not get me wrong, the music itself was amazing but with the reputation that Väth comes expectations were a lot higher than what was delivered.

And thus day one concluded and thousands of people tried to go home or Leeds for the afterparties. I say tried as the tiny roundabout next to the festival grounds got slammed by people trying to hail taxis, fighting and other usual post-festival malarkey. This has to be addressed next year as having hundreds of intoxicated people running on a road is bloody dangerous.

Sunday was a lot quieter – it seemed people’s batteries ran out on Saturday. Due to technical difficulties Elrow & Seth Troxler Presents stages were combined into one, however this ended up with quite a few unexpected yet fantastic b2b’s and all of the inflatables! Special mentions of the day go to Zip and Ricardo Villalobos back to back as well as Henrik Schwarz’s performance.

All in all MINT Festival was a truly great experience with a lot of fantastic artists and insane production quality. Recommend.

 

Preview: MINT Festival

Aug
28

Striding into it’s fourth year, MINT Festival returns home to Leeds for an epic two-day camping event at Wetherby Racecourse. Encompassing six arenas of diverse sonic programming, MINT Festival is the perfect close to the summer, taking place over the weekend of the 19th and 20th September.

The festival offers a huge line-up both in the amount of artists performing and the variety of music genres between them. We have the techno and house superstars Sven Väth and  Ricardo Villolobos, Zip, Martinez Brothers, Seth Troxler and others (among which is Animaux’s favourite lady – Annie Errez).

Those who want to experience the heavier side of bass music have Benton and Skepta to look forward to and those who prefer something a bit more commercial Kryder and Sigma will be playing too, among many many others.

This is shaping up to be an incredible weekend no matter what your preference in electronic music might be. Personally, Sven is what sold this for me – cannot wait! 😉

Weekend & Day Tickets are now on-sale at: mintfestival.co.uk/tickets.html

Full line-up over here: mintfestival.co.uk/line-up/

Why you should go to Gottwood Festival

Jun
19

“I definitely got a feeling of an underground vibe at Gottwood. Not only because of the limited tickets; as far as I know it grew naturally year after year. You get a different kind of spirit that way. It draws sensitive people who want to enjoy and experience something that is unusual, in an unusual space”Margaret Dygas.

Late Thursday evening, after rolling over yet another hill in Wales, we finally reached the Gottwood site. We were greeted by what looked like a 90’s rave scene – a seemingly random field, crowded with an assortment of cars, in the middle of nowhere.

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After a quick tent pitch-up we headed down the hill towards the main site. We entered through an imposing gate with the Gottwood logo proudly blazing on top. The thing that immediately struck me was the amount of art that was around – from the little shops selling everything from the usual festival attire, jewellery or henna and massages; to pieces of art, some of which was still being worked on (and continued being worked on throughout the weekend!) It was hard to wrap my head around the care and attention that had gone into preparing this festival site – did I mention an outdoor cinema shaped as a gigantic TV?

While we were ogling the weird sculptures and enjoying the swings, I couldn’t help but notice the bass thumping away in the distance… the Forest stage. A huge arena surrounded by massive hay bales, a few of them tossed in the middle for people to dance on. We were lucky enough to visit this stage just as Artwork started his set – probably the best way to be greeted at any festival. As we danced the night away under the trees, to a fantastic mix of newer and also older house rhythms, the stage gave one last surprise to close the first night off – a large array of CO2 cannons that went off in time to the beat of the music, to cool off the crowd, and to show everyone that the party was just beginning.

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The next day, after a quick recovery coffee (yep, in the middle of a field in Wales, there was actually more than one place to get coffee), we headed towards what was most definitely our icon of Gottwood – the stage by the lake. We were greeted by the Lawn stage – THE place to be during the day due to the absolutely perfect daytime grooves provided by a variety of DJs, selectors and bands (The Mouse Outfit were particularly memorable here). The music gracefully swayed from the usual offenders such as house and disco to hip-hop (live!) and towards the more abstract ambient (Ruf Dug is my new fave), always accompanied with a varied group of enthusiastic dancers in majestic attire, keeping with this years ‘gazzy’ theme.

The Caravan stage was stationed directly opposite the Lawn, which played host to great artists such as Midland, Leon Vynehall and Soul Clap (among others). This seemed to be the place for me at least for the first night, sadly the weekend did not pan out this way. At the very start of Leon Vynehall’s set, a speaker blew and despite the best efforts of the sound engineers, it never really sounded great there. Which was a shame but by no means detrimental to the festival as a whole, this then lead us to explore the rest of the place a bit more and oh, did it deliver.

A brisk walk from the Caravan stage and over a little bridge we went, to be welcomed by a small queue next to a weirdly shaped tent. We did not have a map of the site at this point and as our interest was piqued, we headed in to what we would later discover to be the LZRDM. I have been surprised by many things when entering weirdly shaped tents (some good, some… interesting…) and I can assure you that I was not expecting this. It was a completely pitch-black room, with only a handful of razor-edged lasers cutting the sweaty air. A few strobe lights would flash to show a full room of dancers in complete euphoric awe, same as we were – a truly remarkable experience.

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After a little shimmy to the LZRDM resident’s set, we finally managed to find an exit (not that easy as when it’s pitch black), we headed towards the Trawler stage. Settled on a little hill on the shore directly across the lake from the Lawn, this was a night-time stage which housed (heh…) some of the very best at Gottwood; Margaret Dygas, Zip, WOLF Music and Move D, all graced the stage here with incredible performances left, right and centre with an amazing backdrop just behind (pictured below).

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After getting a little peckish, we headed to the main food area, overlooked by the Mother Owl stage. The food at Gottwood in itself deserves a mention – everything we had the pleasure of trying was fantastic; the quality, quantity and the price was always on point. The variety was huge too – from the usual pizzas and burgers (My Mate’s Barbecue requires a special shout!) to toasties, mac n cheese and a vast selection of different asian cuisines. Aforementioned Mother Owl always sported a smaller, yet seemingly always smiling crowd, which was grooved by the likes of Romare and my favourite there, Luv*Jam. Next year, I hope he gets a later slot time as he absolutely killed it. While having an enormous grin on his face. Oh and I just might start training in hula-hooping!

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The Barn – the bass bunker that hosted the likes of Om Unit, dBridge and 2 Bad Mice, also requires a special mention! I couldn’t shake a feeling of being at Beaver Works (Leeds) while in there with the smell of beer and sweat mixing together while everyone was jumping around to a mix of bass and grime throughout the weekend.

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And last (but definitely not least) – the Walled Garden. This was my favorite stage and it was a short walk from the main food area. After squeezing through the tiny passageway through a wall (thus the name), we entered a large stretch with its own bar and a massive tent which housed the artists and the crowd. Gottwood would not be Gottwood if it wasn’t for the little touches – a few small clouds were dotted around just underneath the tent.

Night after night, I was drawn back to the stage to see tINI, Zenker Brothers (!!) and the highlight of the festival for me Ben UFO b2b Craig Richards – a marathon 6 hour madness. FaltyDL was also scheduled to play. Alas, he did not make an appearance, however Zenker Brothers took over and truly delivered.

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A few other special mentions regarding the artists – a discovery for me, yet someone who I will try to see as much as I can from now on – Hunnee did a phenomenal job mixing absolutely ALL genres AND making it work. Weaving disco straight into 90’s rave and back to slower house grooves, while maintaining his explosive dance moves, was truly a spectacle. A shout to Motor City Drum Ensemble too, who closed the festival and was critical of himself as always. “I’m sorry; I’m feeling a bit shaky” – said in a strong German accent, even though he absolutely smashed it.

Honestly, I was not expecting Gottwood to be such a marvellous experience. I have heard time and time again about it, but only now do I understand. You can see the love, sweat and tears that has gone into building it through the years and how it has grown – the little touches speak for themselves. With no plans to expand as they are happy with the Gottwood family they have created (every festival band is proudly engraved with “You are part of the Gottwood family”), I am thrilled to be a part of it and I urge everyone to join. A truly magical place, in a magical forest filled with magical people. Something that I overheard and wholeheartedly agree with – “Gottwood is a place best friends go to, to make more best friends”. See you there next year, friends.

Don’t forget to check out our gallery for more pictures!