Tag Archives: dance music

Review: We Are FSTVL – A Perfect Start To The Festival Season

fatSmaller festivals can be a shock to the system if you are more used to the huge crowds moving en masse towards the main stages, but so often they can be a welcome break and a chance to see your favourite artists in an intimate setting.

A newcomer to the festival scene, We Are FSTVL hooked me in with a massive line-up and promises of finally being able to see the likes of Knife Party, Annie Mac, Duke Dumont and the one and only Fatboy Slim hitting up the main stage. Plus the early start to the festival season and the chance to ease myself in with a non-camping event was too much to resist! After months of build up, excitement and pouring over the pictures from last year’s event, finally it arrived and unfortunately so did the rain clouds. Blackened skies and pounding bass awaited us at the festival site, which was amazingly easy to get to and was particularly well-organised, but we refused to don wellies in the hope the weather would hold. (We were glad we stuck to our guns by the end!)fest 23Despite being quite surprised by how small the festival site was, we soon appreciated the close quarters as we navigated the stages and bars with ease, something that proved very useful later when trying to run to the bar or the loos during a set. Walking on site, you couldn’t help but be drawn over by the huge main stage and I was overwhelmed with the excitement of the thought of seeing Fatboy Slim on there the following night. I loved the decoration of the stages and across the festival site, it really added to the holiday atmosphere and everyone was certainly in the party mood as they posed for pictures among the flowers. Perhaps the weather put people off slightly, but the festival never felt overly busy as you walked around and was definitely quieter on the first day, but this was great for those who were there and fancied dancing to Disclosure by the main stage. Knife Party finished off a brilliant first day with a banging set that had us all jumping in the mud – as best as we could with our shoes stuck – and their light show and flames were incredible. We were a little disappointed that pretty much the whole festival seemed to shut down straight after their set and their set had just left us wanting to dance long into the night.fest 1The second day was much busier and the sunshine had clearly brought everyone out in a good mood and ready to dance – the line-up was fantastic and the bars were busy. On a back to basics not – I was very impressed with the state of the portaloos which were the cleanest I have seen at a festival – probably helped by no camping. But was rather let down to be charged £5 for a tiny 330ml can of beer – I understand the bars are there to make money, but this seemed a bit much. Especially when there were no water points to even fill up a bottle of water. Something else that I found, and heard many others complain about, was the extreme police presence on the second day – the previous day had seen minimal police and plenty of well-mannered and friendly security who were happy to help you find your way around. The second day, everytime I turned around, the police were hauling someone off to be searched or sprinting into the crowd by the stages to tackle someone. Perhaps completely justified, but it did change the atmosphere of the festival slightly with everyone waiting to see who would be dragged off next.

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My favourite part of the stages, and the festival, had to be the platforms which had been set back from the main stage and provided the perfect view across the crowd and the stage. I spent a lot of time up on these, and one particular highlight had to be Annie Mac’s sunset set as the final rays of the second day were cast across the crowd and she told us all to turn and look at the view.

fest 4Later on, for Fatboy Slim’s set, these provided an incredible view over the crowds as they danced furiously to hits like Renegade Master, Praise You and Eat Sleep Rave Repeat. I’m not sure I can do the set justice with words, but the incredible light show, lasers, fire and confetti that streamed out of the stage just blew everyones’ mind. For those who, like myself, might have seen him play on the Eat Sleep Rave Repeat tour in a dark and dingy club – this was beyond anything I could have imagined and the clubs did not do him justice. He certainly knows how to put on a show.

A shame I wasn’t there to compare this year’s expansion to last year’s but I’ve heard from many people that they were very impressed – looking forward to seeing We Are FSTVL develop in the future! A perfect start to the festival season! Full review is available to read here.

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Basement Jaxx blew it out of the park with plenty of bass and soul

Now you would have thought that two gigs in a row was a bad idea, but I have a habit of signing myself up for these things – I just can’t bear to miss anything that good! My boyfriend bought me Basement Jaxx tickets for my birthday and it has been a long summer waiting for the day to arrive. Then the FatBoy Slim tickets went on sale and we just had to go to that as well! Luckily they were on consecutive nights so it saved us the train fares on separate journeys, but it did mean two expensive nights out in London, plus accommodation and travel. On this night we stayed in the London Balham Travelodge, which I would recommend to anyone who is going to a Brixton Academy gig, it is right next to the tube station and so easy to get between them, close enough for a taxi if it finishes late but amazing access to the tube as well to save costs.

After a heavy and long night out at FatBoy Slim that had seen us partying until around 5am at a second club that had a pool in it, we had spent the day wandering around the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland eating moose and venison burgers, drinking hot mulled cider and wine. It had been a long day with very little sleep, but nothing was going to dampen our spirits. After one night spent raving to the soundtrack to my nineties childhood, I was eager to start dancing to the amazing hits of Basement Jaxx and relive my love of Bingo Bango, Good Luck and Romeo!

The group started with a powerful introduction by the incredibly soulful singers – all fabulous women with huge, multicoloured hairdos and elaborate outfits. It was clear that a lot of thought had been put into every aspect of the staging, with one of the singers being bathed in the spotlight on the balcony above the waiting crowd, before hurriedly making it to the main stage for the rest of the song. From the very beginning, the group had the entire crowd dancing and singing along at the top of their lungs to every word. It was as though Mardi Gras had exploded on to the stage, but with added soul, attitude and bass. Despite the huge range in ages, from the youngsters coming out with their mates, or even their mums, to the older groups of women and middle-aged couples who made up the crowd – everyone was bonded by their love of the music from whichever era.

The gig was explosive, and amazingly even managed to outdo the Major Lazer one I saw there last month. The showmanship was spectacular and just kept surprising the audience, from an incredible body-popping dancer who writhed her way across the stage, to dancers in morph suits with lights all over the front, to a huge robot that came on stage and did the robot dance with a bunch of gorillas! It was chaos, but well organised and perfectly put together. My favourite moments had to be when the group had a slightly more chilled number followed by the huge Good Luck and Bingo Bango – both huge, loud and explosive songs that had me screeching out the lyrics. My boyfriend and I were dancing like maniacs and I couldn’t keep my feet still – it was amazing. A moment that gave me chills, and still does now, was when a stunning ballet dancer reminiscent of Black Swan took to the stage and delicately danced her way around the stage while one of the singers began to sing the lyrics to Raindrops. Amazingly, I had managed to forget that these guys sang that song, despite loving it so completely when it was released. But hearing it sung so beautifully, so delicately and yet so powerfully was incredible. She stripped the song bare and, in contrast to the huge bangers they had just been playing, seemed so stunning in comparison.

I was also impressed by the performance of one of their latest releases, Back to the Wild, which to be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of when I had heard it previously at home or on the radio, but which had a huge impact live and although not as catchy as their older stuff, it certainly made everyone dance and sing along, including myself. Finally, my absolute highlight of the night was, without a shadow of a doubt, hearing the start of Where’s Your Head At. It was one of those moments, like when the Project X theme tune comes on in a club when everyone is smashed, when everyone turns round to each other with their mouths agape and then loses the plot seconds later. It is one of those songs that, ever since seeing it performed live on TV, I have always wanted to see live at a gig and I am so glad it has happened. The atmosphere was beyond anything I have ever experienced – it was electric and sizzling.

It sounds silly, but I’m getting chills just thinking about how amazing this gig was. I am so lucky to have experienced two of my top acts in two nights and I will never forget this weekend – I just hope that I am lucky enough to see them again in the years to come. The nineties were my favourite decade for music because so many of my favourite vintage acts were at their height at this time, but I’m glad to see now that electronic dance music is making it into the top 10 – it is about time we escaped talentless, boring pop music – I can’t deal with any more cutesy love songs by kiddies too young to have experienced their first kiss! Give me hard, dirty, filthy base music in a dark club or a huge venue and I’m happy.

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Mind blown by the Renegade Master!

After years of waiting, months of planning and weeks of listening to his songs as I drive to work each morning, I finally had the opportunity to see the man himself – FatBoy Slim DJ live at a top London club on the very first night of his brand new tour. Just typing the words gives me goosebumps all over again because not only was it an incredible gig, but it was one that I had been waiting a lifetime to go to. As a huge dance music lover, I have had my top ten list of DJs that I simply have to see play live in my lifetime (I’m sure we all have that same list for whatever music you might prefer), and FatBoy Slim was top of my list.

For anyone who grew up in the nineties and loved music, fair enough I may have only been about five when some of his tracks came out, we still grew up listening to his tunes on the radio, hearing them played at school discos, on Top of the Pops, mum and dad singing along… The list goes on. Whether we were aware of it or not, unless you lived under a bridge, FatBoy Slim, like the Chemical Brothers and Oasis were a huge part of nineties culture and therefore our lives. I always think that the music of the time plays a part in shaping the future lives of individuals and I think listening to this type of music as a youngster (yes I loved the Spice Girls as well!) is part of the reason I love live DJs so much now – this makes me worry for the generation growing up listening to the rubbish churned out by the likes of One Direction and Miley Cyrus.

Anyway, back to the gig. I headed to XOYO for the first time with a bunch of boy mates from home and my boyfriend – all of us ridiculously excited for the night ahead. My boyfriend and I already had tickets for the Basement Jaxx gig at Brixton O2 Academy the following night so had decided to make a weekend of it. We were staying in the Restup Hostel (a five minute walk from the Elephant and Castle tube station) the first night, which was perfect – close to the club and cheap – helpful since we would barely be in the room! Heading into the club, we made for the bar for a quick whisky to warm us up and then went on into the main room. The venue was great – dark, smoky and underground – just the way I like them. It was the perfect basement, gritty setting for the gig and the room was already busy as the house DJs warmed up the crowd. We headed through the crowd and found a good spot where we soon cut loose and started dancing as we waited for the man himself.

He exploded into his set with Renegade Master and everyone went wild – it was amazing to know that everyone there was as excited as we were to experience not only a gig, but the opening night of the Eat Sleep Rave Repeat tour. Everyone was dancing like their life depended on it, not just with their friends but with everyone around them. A few songs in, he dropped Free Mandela which was an incredibly powerful moment as we had heard on our way into the club of the great man’s death. The whole crowd punched the air and sang along – it was incredible and just shows you the power of music to unite people and express extreme emotion – something that I’m sure many would judge as lacking in a DJ set. I could sit here and list every amazing song that he played but there would be no point. It is important to say that he played a great set spanning his whole career from the earliest songs right through to his latest release of Eat Sleep Rave Repeat – and that one certainly got the crowd bouncing. FatBoy Slim also made sure to play loads of other amazing tunes that have basically been the soundtrack to my summer, with hints of Disclosure and others.

I was so utterly impressed by his set, which proved that as a DJ he truly is as relevant as ever, despite those who commented to me when I bought the tickets that isn’t he really old now? Well after seeing both FatBoy Slim and Sven Vath DJ, I can safely say that age is just a number and great music is not only a talent but one that lasts. The fact that I have now seen him live once has simply proved to me that I must see him again – perhaps next time in a festival setting to see how his set compares. I would fully advise any dance music lovers out there to take any opportunity they might get to see the godfather of dance rip up the DJ set, purely so they can see where it all began. This is definitely one of my top three gigs of the year and I had the most amazing time. I was so glad I could share it with so many of my friends and it will stay in my memory forever. If you look in the picture above, I am the fifth person along from FatBoy’s knee! Woop!

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Ahhhhh Ready For The Weekend!

This song had been floating around in my head for over a week now and I think it is going to be my anthem for the weekend. Icona Pop are a bombastic Swedish duo with electro house, pop and punk influences. They smashed into the UK charts with I Love It which instantly stuck in my head and still gets me singing along – and remind me of a TATU-esque band (cheeky and cute, but with mountains of attitude).

The two singers, Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo, who grew up in Stockholm, like to create music that they describe as “you can both laugh and cry with at the same time” according to an interview for a Swedish magazine. Although not my favourite artists, they are certainly one of the most catchy around at the moment and their music, although current and fresh, also seems to hark back to a 90’s ‘girls night out’ kind of vibe. It’s cheeky, flirty. loud and brash – the perfect type of music for getting ready for a night out with the girls.

It’s going to be playing very loudly in my head, and my car, this weekend as I head to Essex for a big night out and a university reunion.

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The best is yet to come – forgetting my post-festival blues

After a busy summer of travelling around the country, and further afield, to some really amazing festivals – much of which was spent either looking forward to the next event or enjoying the moment at one. I was left feeling pretty bereft when it hit me that there were no more as the season drew to a close. My excitement over my promotion to editor of This Festival Feeling helped to ease my post-festival blues for a short time as the thought of next summer’s festivals sent a thrill down my spine.

But now that too has eased and one must think ahead to the wintery months ahead in which I plan to continue dancing and raving with the same good friends I spent my summer with. It’s funny, during the day I’m the sort of girl that loves vintage clothes, acoustic music and a good book. But at night, I’m the girl who lives in her denim shorts and bum bag, and dances until the sun rises in trainers.

Right now, it is just two weeks until I do just that in Norwich, when I will be seeing one of my favourite DJs, Sub Focus, playing at the University of East Anglia. I downloaded his new album just yesterday and have yet to listen to it, but I think it will definitely spice up my workout and drive to work this week. Here is the video for one of my favourite songs by him, it’s just one that always gets me dancing and singing along.

He headlined the dance stage at Glastonbury this year, and I was gutted he wasn’t at Hideout Festival. I have seen him before at UEA and it was an amazing night, I’m sure it will be even more so this time because we are taking along some amazing friends, and joining in a Zombie Fun Run during the day! There are still tickets available here if anyone else is interested! I’ll be sure to post a review of the night afterwards.