In 2017, I didn’t go to any festivals at all. Not one. For someone who had been attending festivals for 6 years in a row and going to at least two a year, I felt I had a hole in my heart. A large gaping hole where I missed my body being covered in glitter, outrageous costumes, chatting to complete strangers and dancing under the stars till the early hours. It needed to be filled.
Thankfully in 2018, I felt I had my freedom back, and with that I could be who I am and immerse myself into different music festivals, different venues and different genres. And what a summer it has been!
I started off my summer attending Arcadia Festival, a celebration for the infamous drum and bass stage which has been running for 20 years. The stage is always created out of recycled spare materials, and this giant spider has taken the festival scene by a storm, transforming tame stages to an interactive experience where DJ’s and music artists clamber onto spiders’ legs and play tunes in the centre and above an audience, creating a 360-surround sound experience. Sound can sometimes be temperamental (such as seeing LTJ Bukem at Boomtown), but here at Arcadia, the festival made sure that they their sound was on point. With performances from Serial Killaz, Chimpo, Ed Solo, Preditah, Calyx and Teebee, Noisia, Loadstar and Rudimental, the diverse range of artists highlighted the variety of styles of Drum and Bass for a wider audience. Bursts of flames shot out the spider unexpectedly throughout the day and towards the end of the night, performers crawled onto the spider as if transfixed by its power and acrobatics and funky dance moves were artistically performed balancing on the spider’s legs, an interesting touch.
As the month of May continued so did my month of festivals, next up was Peckham Gala. Taking over the huge park in Peckham, I donned my most sparkly top and embraced the genres of house and disco. Small enough to know where your next favourite act is but big enough to lose yourself, Peckham Gala was a real gem of a festival. The crowd there (despite all looking the same, cue Hawaiian shirts and crop top wearing ladies) all festival goers were friendly, recommending artists I had never heard of and complimenting each other’s fashion tastes. A first visit for me, but it most definitely won’t be my last. Headliners included; Mr.Scruff (who was unbelievably insane, playing for 4 hours and combining a number of various genres in his sets which complimented each other and brought the audience to eutrophic heights), Crazy P (who I once had the pleasure of interviewing many years ago), Greg Wilson, Norman Jay, Horse Meat Disco and my new favourite artist, Honey Dijon, with a set of fantastic sassy half naked dancers to match.
The next festival I attended was one which I worked at, Southport Weekender. A collection of iconic house DJ’s and soul artists with a vast number of dedicated contributions to the music industry and years of experience under their belts, meant it was a fantastic festival. Filming for Winkball meant I could explore behind the scenes of this vast festival, running around various tents and making my way backstage for exclusive interviews and perfect viewpoints. Although the back-stage access was advantageous, filming at a festival can be draining, not only on your energy but also on your overall experience of the festival. Rather than having the time to wander on your accord and stumble across legendary artists or pull serious shapes on the dancefloor, you continuously think of where you need to be next, what you should be filming next and organising interviews wherever you head, which dampens the free experience of a festival. I had the pleasure of interviewing the Baltimore based DJ, DJ Spen, Ronniel Herel, Mike Vitti and Gordon Mac from the radio station I once co-hosted on, Mi-Soul Radio, and Alex from an experimental jazz Berlin based band, Jazzanova. Performances stemmed from Sister Sledge and Kathy Sledge, Joey Negro, Jazzy Jeff, David Morales, Soul II Soul, Leroy Burgess, Karizma, Louie Vega and Jazzie B (just to name a few). Although the festival lacked in interactive performances which Arcadia had, it did bring the sheer talent of artists, the pure love of the music fans that attended the festival and a real sense of community together at this festival.
In July, I attended Citadel, a one-day festival in Gunnersby park, surprisingly on a Sunday, (an awful day for many who have work the next day). This festival is aimed at families as well as young people, which meant that there was an abundance of activities from dance classes to sack races, something to amuse and entertain all. The line-up was a blur of indie and soul artists; with Churches, Leon Bridges, Honne and Dermot Kennedy warming up the crowds before Tame Impala ended the evening with stunning smoke machines set amongst the dipping sun and their melodic sounds continuing into the night, much later then their original set was supposed to finish. Tame Impala were everything you wanted from a headliner: polite, ecstatic to be there and grateful for their fans, a real pleasure to see. Citadel was a calm festival compared to the others, I didn’t need to rush around and see major acts nor head off for interviews in a hurry, all I did was sit and enjoy the music, which was refreshing.
Although Citadel may have been the last festival of my summer, it isn’t the last festival of the year for me as I head to Hospitality (another Drum n Bass festival) in September and who knows? I might just film at some more in the meantime.