Tag Archives: Festivals

Top 10 Festivals which have kept it underground

Niche subculture and underground music have long been intrinsically linked with free thought and creative expression, culminating in a lifestyle that has typically adopted a left wing bias. The years since the not for profit Free Party movement and the subsequent Criminal Justice Act in 1994 have, however, seen elements of this alternative lifestyle commodified through edgy advertising campaigns, and appropriated through middle class hipster fashion. Of course all this is much to the frustrations of those who fought for anarchy and freedom, those now witnessing the recent boom in music festivals driven by corporate sponsorship cashing in on what was once outlawed when it belonged to a scruffier underclass. Is nothing sacred? Not really, but there are some hidden gems maintaining real festival vibes so read on for your top ten chances to truly escape reality this year…

1: Freerotation, Wales: 10th-13th July.

Members only festival Freerotation dedicates itself to uncompromising programming with all-star residents such as: Move D, Jane Fitz, Tama Sumo, Surgeon, Ben UFO and Juju & Jordash. Since its inception, Freerotation has remained small in size while growing hugely revered in world of electronic music by shunning advertising and financial growth. It also maintains a 50/50 gender split in ticket sales so here you’ll find techno AND women…bliss!

freerotation credit daddysgotsweets

2. Fusion Festival, Germany: 25th-28th June.

Based on a former Russian military airfield in some remote fields in northern Germany, Fusion’s motto is “Four days of holiday communism.” With its strong reputation and anarchic principles, Fusion releases no advance line up and so has little reliance on big name headliners. Instead it features loads of acts from the local party scene, and a schedule of varied underground dance music. A lottery based ticketing system ensures everyone has an equal chance to attend. It could be you!

fusion festival

3. Field Maneuvers, UK: 4th-6th September.

This underground micro festival is sticking with its grassroots agenda in 2015 to showcase the best in the international underground dance scene. With regulars such as: Ryan Elliott, Ben Sims, Elgato, Auntie Flo and Mark Archer, and headliners including Marcellus Pittman and The Black Madonna, Field Maneuvers promises musical variation that will allow you to find the perfect party tent for you no matter your mood. Wander through tents lit up by visual artists such as Joëlle and Oliver Jennings and into magical chill out zones with giant hammocks, making new friends as you go. The capacity is strictly limited to a lucky 500, so buy a ticket ASAP.

field maneuvers credit jonny underhill

Photo. Johnny Underhill

4. Dekmantel Festival, Netherlands: 30th July-2nd August.

Dekmantel Festival - 23 augustus 2013 - Amsterdamse Bos / De Fotomeisjes

Dekmantel Festival – 23 augustus 2013 – Amsterdamse Bos / De Fotomeisjes

Now in its third year, Dekmantel has kept its capacity intimate and remains in its woodland setting for the festival daytimes – but has added a live opening show in a riverside concert hall and an after party venue “The Melkweg,” an old milking factory in the city centre. Dekmantel know how to create a party – between the flawless, filler-less lineup and beautiful surroundings, to the little stand with free deodorant and the clean toilets, you’re pretty much guaranteed a good time.

5. Block 9/Shangri-La (Glastonbury Festival), UK: 24th-28th June.

While not technically festivals in themselves, or even an individual entity, these Glastonbury areas deserve a mention. Consistently providing some of the most adventurous programming and stunning set design in the UK festival scene – if not the world – Block 9 and Shangri-La play a big part in maintaining the anarchic ethos that has always pervaded Glastonbury.

Block 9 glastonbury credit Peter Podworski

6. Gottwood Festival, Wales: 11th-14th June.

Set in a proudly proclaimed “middle of nowhere” North Wales location, Gottwood certainly takes you far from any cityscape you might want to escape. With a variety of classic and cutting edge performers, this year’s highlights include DJ Zip, and Fabric resident/all-round legend Craig Richards going b2b with Ben UFO.

7. Off Sonar, Spain: 17th-21st June.

While Sonar has become more commercial over the years, the Off-Sonar scene has flourished into a varied city-wide musical takeover. The crème-de-la-crème of dance music, including Andy Stott, Ricardo Villalobos, Axel Boman, DJ Harvey, Motor City Drum Ensemble and many more will play this year in Barcelona’s clubs and in the historic El Poble Espanyol – a town built in the heart of the city in 1929 replicating 117 buildings, streets and squares from all around Spain. Culture lit up with lasers, perfect.

8. Secret Island Nation Festival, Sweden: 30th July-2nd August.

“Expect the unexpected and be prepared.” Situated on a beautiful deserted island West of Sweden, Secret Island Nation experiments with alternative ways of expression and co-existence. As one of just 450 attendees, you can camp wherever you want as long as you respect your surroundings and disappear without a trace when you leave. The 2015 lineup comprises international bookings and a Berlin focus, as well as SIN regulars. Grab your passport for authentic techno hippy island vibes.

9. Wilde Möhre Festival, Germany: 7th-9th August.

100km South of Berlin Wilde Möhre, or Wild Carrot Festival, aims to move away from conventional club culture and immerse its guests in art, workshops and nature alongside the musical program. Henna, hypnosis, vinyasa yoga, fermentation and upcycling workshops await you in the village, catering for every new age whim. Take a stroll through the surrounding forests and 2km in the right direction will lead you to a lake you can swim in.

10. Audio Farm Festival, Wales: 11th-14th September.

Daylight hours at Audio Farm bring an eclectic schedule of acoustic, funk, folk, soul, reggae and psychedelic sounds, along with an open-air house and disco party hosted by some of the best from the underground. Night takes a more electronic focus with house, techno and bass orientated beats playing over three rooms. Holistic treatments, yoga and talks and discussions are also at your disposal here in the Welsh countryside.

Words by Iona Thomas.


Can U Dance – BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix

Selector superduo Can U Dance swung by Glastonbury on their European tour last week, and blasted out an hour of music to get you PUMPED:

Put out there as an Essential Mix, it’s Oneman and Jackmaster at their very best, racing through tunes from INXS to The Streets and clearly enjoying their new project. In fairness, who wouldn’t? It’s basically an opportunity for them to play wall-to-wall bangers at festivals all summer.


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Eastern Electrics 2014

Now we knoEasternelectricsw festival fever is fast-rising in Blighty so we thought it was high time we had a closer inspection at one of our musical highlights of this year’s calendar, Eastern Electrics.

Back in March we were intrigued to hear the London promoters behind EE announce that they were shortening the event that’s taking place in the glorious surroundings of Hatfield House, some 22 minutes from Kings Cross from last year’s three-day affair to a one-dayer, due to take place on Saturday 2nd August.

Sticking with the same number of stages, they’re looking to up the ante on production and deliver the best edition since their beginnings in 2007. With a massive Coronet takeover for the after-party, a short dash out to Hertfordshire and back to see some of the fine talent they’ve got on board this year may be just the ticket.

Talking of which, they’re selling fast. 70% of the lot have already gone, so head over here to bag yours and make sure you’ve got that first weekend of August firmly sorted.

line up

Musical highlights include Daniel Avery, Mano Le Tough, James Priestley and Kerri Chandler. What’s more Rinse, Red Bull Studios and Mulletover are hosting stages, the famous Igloo Vision dome IS returning and they’ve also constructed one stage purely from shipping containers. We’ll be publishing our very own Eastern Electrics playlist next week, but for now here’s a taster of some the talent that you’ll be shuffling your feet to.



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Beacons Festival 2013

There are those who say that there are too many festivals in the UK these days. Certainly the last few years have seen the births (and, in some cases, the deaths) of many a ’boutique’ summer shindig and, as Adam Buxton tells us, the experience is unrecognisable from what it once was. But our problem with festivals isn’t the quinoa salads, childcare facilities and wacky fancy dress.

It’s the rampant commercialism that means paying through the nose for watery Red Stripes and inaccurate programmes, and being treated like David Miranda whenever you have the temerity to move from one area to another. Beacons promised to be different – with its reluctant booking feesencouragement of public transport, and talk of local ale houses. And indeed it was: the setting was spectacular, the staff were accommodating, and the atmosphere was a lot more relaxed than many of its competitors.

And then there was the music. T Williams is one of our favourite live acts at the moment and he delivered again here, kicking the weekend off in style with a barnstorming Friday night set on the Red Bull Music Academy stage (well, truck). Resident Advisor’s tent played host to crowd-pleasing sets from John Talabot and Dauwd, and the main stage was treated to intense performances from Gold Panda and SBTRKT.

There were even guitars on show, with Local Natives impressive in the headline slot and Dutch Uncles proving a captivating spectacle (mostly due to frontman Duncan Wallis’s unbelievable shapes – for more on them, head here). And culture too, in various guises – including a screening of the amazing ‘Made of Stone’, with a Shane Meadows Q&A and everything.

Rodigan & Iration Steppers rounded off the weekend with a reggae-themed Sunday, sending the crowds on their way and warming them up for Notting Hill Carnival the next weekend. A top weekend, then, and props to the organisers for doing things a bit differently. Roll on Beacons 2014.

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Kiwi – The Guanaco Haka EP

Here’s a groovy number to shake you up for the weekend. It’s called ‘The Guanaco Haka’ and it’s by Kiwi.

South London-based Alex Warren, aka Kiwi has been doing the rounds for a while now. He’s had a string of releases on labels such as Kitsuné and Needwant and he’s settled in nicely at The Nest in Dalston as resident DJ. It seems over the last few however, he’s really coming into his own. We raved about his excellent disco-fuelled Llama EP released on Deep Shit and he’s onto yet another total winner with upcoming EP ‘The Guanaco Haka’, this time released on Days Of Being Wild.

Like his previous release, the EP is incredibly infectious and plays host to a wide scope of sounds. It’s slow-building, hypnotic and most importantly, sounds well fresh. ‘Chiroptera’ is a fine example:

If you’re based in blighty and have got a space to fill in the diary over the weekend of 30/8, we highly recommend you get on down to the electronic music summer party that is Field Maneuvers. Yes you guessed it, Kiwi is playing. Along with some other fine-ass talent like Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs and Drums Of Death. Get involved.

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Ryan Hemsworth – Still Awake

We have a well-documented (by us) affection for Canadian beatsmith Ryan Hemsworth, so imagine our delight when he chucked out a FREE EP for our delectation:

It’s seven tracks of relatively poppy electronica with the occasional splash of stunted hip hop percussion to remind us of his roots. Lovely work listening.

Annoyingly the only UK slots for his upcoming One Man Boy Band tour are as part of the Brixton Academy smash-it-up-a-thon The Playground Festival, and supporting Toro Y Moi at Koko, neither of which offers enough time to gaze adoringly at the big guy, we feel.

We’ll probably go to both anyway.

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Hudson Mohawke – Pleasure

We apologise in advance for the intense feeling of missing out when you’ve read this post.

Following a limited run vinyl release back in 2011, ‘Pleasure’ is a Janet Jackson-flecked piece of joy from Numbers man Hudson Mohawke. Please, please listen to it before kicking off your Bank Holiday weekender:

The imprint that put out this goodtimes tune was the specially created label, Pleasure Principle. This has now morphed into the all-star surfing holiday festival in Newquay that kicks off next month, and ‘Pleasure’ is a teaser for that. The three days are jam-packed with essential listening, not least HD regulars from Joy Orbison, TNGHT and Rustie. To assuage the FOMOs, get a ticket here or try your luck with FACT’s ticket giveaway here.

In case it wasn’t clear, we wish we were going.

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Local Natives – Breakers

Feast your ears on the new single from Local Natives, ‘Breakers’. True to form, it’s armed with their staple-sounding intricate guitar-work, soaring harmonies and hands down emotion.

In early 2013 they’re releasing ‘Hummingbird’, the follow up to ‘Gorilla Manor’. If you haven’t heard their timeless 2009 debut, you need to. Having toured with Arcade Fire and The National in the interim, and judging by the sound of the new single above, it looks set to be similarly huge. Expect big choruses, relentless drumming and charming vocals. If, like us you were too slow to get tickets to their show in the capital in December, you can catch them at the ATP UK festival at Butlins in December. Ingeniously, it’s curated by The National, and besides getting to stay in a Butlins lodge, you’ll also be able to see other indie wizards such as The Antlers, Wild Beasts and Youth Lagoon perform.

Here’s a little reminder as to why ‘Hummingbird’ is one of the most hotly-anticipated albums of 2013, they’ve got some boots to fill:

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Green Man Festival 2012

Thanks to a cursory internet search and the fact that it hasn’t finished yet, we’re going to call this the very first review of Green Man Festival 2012! World Exclusive! Despite a slightly attenuated trip to the Brecon Beacons, Human Drizzle had a storming weekend (in all senses. It rained, a lot) at what is undoubtedly a family festival with a darker edge for the young ‘uns later on.

Highlights included Junior Boys, who got the crowd moving on Friday with a hit-filled set. In The Morning never fails to lift the spirits.

Headlining the Saturday night were the upwardly-mobile Metronomy who looked (matching chino/white shirt combos) and sounded sharp as. A festival-wide singalong to The Look confirmed their popularity. It wasn’t the time or the place for the melancholy of their recent contribution to the LateNightTales series. Is now?

Unfortunately the R&S Records showcase on the Saturday night was a bit of damp squib. HD faves Vondelpark played a beautifully bashful opening set but then trouble set in. Lone misjudged the mood (we wish he’d played like this) and ‘big name’ James Blake had sound issues, fast losing enthusiasm for being there. His only concession to it being a dance-music stage was finishing with his excellent CMYK, only to have it faded out by the subsequent DJs before we got our groove on. This is how it should have sounded:

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Land Of Kings

Unbelievably, and with blessed relief, festival season is nearly upon us. First up on our radar on May 4th/5th is the Dalston-based Land Of Kings, sprawled over the ever-growing number of nightspots in and around London’s fashionable Kingsland Road. Building on the somewhat rough and ready success of last year, they’ve already announced some tasty looking acts: Slow Club, Elphino, NZCA/Lines, Maruice Fulton and Speech Debelle, to name a few.

Almost as exciting (almost) is the Art/interactive programme, with projects from Hackney Film Festival, Classic Album Sundays, Hammer & Tongues, Literary Deathmatch, Dalston Darlings Women’s Institute and Punch Drunk’s sister company, Gideon Reeling. Given the organisers’ knack of seeking out spaces off the usual clubbing track (see 4 Aces), all this feels like a good way to shake off the festival cobwebs.

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