Get Loaded In The Park seems like a cynical name for a festival at first.
The main door tips you straight into the queue for the South Bar, prompting the guess that North, East and West can’t be far. They’re not, as it goes, but the people-dodging required to get there is staggering.
The park, you see (otherwise known as Clapham Common) is teeming to the brim with people. Loaded with them, in fact.
The dancefloor delight they inspire as alter ego 2ManyDJs is never far away. Documentary Part Of The Weekend Never Dies is emblazoned on the tent behind the band, a nod to the Soulwax documentary of the same name and perhaps acknowledgement of the hangover and memories we’re all busy making.
The Fingerlickin’ Records tent is never far away either, fortunately, as those pesky punters are all standing in our way again. No worries though, as the troublesome jostling of Clapham loiterers soon becomes the playful nudging of dancing revellers.
The Nextmen waged war on a weak sound system with a frenetic set of house, breaks and drum and bass. To either celebrate or commiserate the non-appearance of Wiley, “due to unforeseen reasons”, Wearing My Rolex was mashed up with Rick James‘ Superfreak to widespread approval.
A scout about the site reveals promoters Lock N Load events (d’ya see what they did there now?) have a firm grasp on their demographic. No hemp jumper stalls, no comedy hats, only one legal high and hallucinogenic sweeties shop. Instead, a bevy of blonde beauties in white offering massages to the continual stream of people. An essential, surely, for the exhausted people-weaver. All male, I note.
Back to the Fingerlickin’ tent for turntablist and purveyor of aural silliness DJ Yoda. Walking into a wall of hip hop beats and scratching, the less discerning listener could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled across a convention of b-boy cool. That would be until Yoda starts mingling the Superman theme tune in with MIA and Huey Lewis and the News‘ Power of Love. It might just save your life.
This is one of those sets where every tune causes an eruption of recognition and glee from the crowd. The ubiquitous semi-naked man scaling a tent pole still gets the biggest cheer though.
The main stage is just limbering up for gypsy punks Gogol Bordello. A lone man tinkers with an accordion until the full troupe traipses on and launch into a soundtrack for a riot at a Romany carnival.
“How do you like that?” demands lead singer and wanderlust king Eugene Htz triumphantly, launching into another song in flagrant disregard for any answer. As the front section bounces joyfully, trying to mewl along with a man singing in his native Ukrainian, we head over in the direction of the XfM tent where Sheffield stalwarts Reverend And The Makers are in full swing.
John ‘Reverend’ McClure doesn’t look particularly godly, but the crowd jumping around to the fast, funked-up indie he oversees seem happy enough to revere him. After a few songs appreciating the full flavour of McClure’s Sheffield accent, we give up on trying to get further in than a few rows and head out, refusing to be like everybody else, as the Makers serenade us with ‘the big hit’(TM), Heavyweight Champion of the World.
It’s back to the Fingerlickin’ tent to swap a stage of musicians for two Plump DJs. Dons of the nu-skool breaks scene, the Plumps have won legions of fans by playing squelchy, glitchy dance music that is actually good fun. The sun is still beaming outside, but the gloom of the tent envelops a crowd that look used to grinning in their neon sunglasses in a nice, dark club.
Dusk starts slowly falling and it’s time to leave the safety of all these tents for the great outdoors, where Iggy and the Stooges have taken up residence on the main stage. As wiry and hairy as ever, whichever breed it is Iggy wants to be on I Wanna Be Your Dog, it’s got to be something feral. Swooping around the stage and screaming like a banshee, this pre-punk icon seems as keen to faze his audience now as way back when he rolled in glass for a handful of disinterested spectators.
All other acts have come to an end. 9pm rolls up while everyone in attendance gathers to watch a screaming sexagenarian flail about a bit. The sun sets, the gates are pushed wide and as Iggy drops his microphone, the park unloads streams of people onto the streets of Clapham.
Get Loaded In The Park 2008 @ Clapham Common, London