Day-Glo sunglasses at 11am on a cloudy day? Four grown men dressed as Oompa Loompas? Skinny jeans and asymmetric haircuts outside the confines of Dalston? What can this mean?! Why, that it’s time for Get Loaded In The Park, Clapham Common’s annual afternoon rave-up, sister festival to yesterday’s house-fest southwestfour.
For many, their aural introduction to the festivities is Marina And The Diamonds, audible from the XFM tent to those queuing at the entrance. Marina’s huge voice carries songs like 17 and Obsessions easily to the greedy ears of the queue. She is on early in a line-up strong with interesting, individual women performers. One to keep your eye on.
But enough watching! This is a rave after all, and over in the Clash tent Blame is playing drum and bass while Selah MCs and sings soulful vocals to a much fuller crowd.
At the Dim Mak tent, a similar scene is set for Felix Da Housecat, where a grateful mass put their hands in the air and show some appreciation for a man playing a sequence of indeterminate house tunes. Until, that is, the first bit of evidence that ravers are truly easy to please: a house remix of Guns N’ Roses‘ Sweet Child O’ Mine and a rapturous reception for it. Overwhelming joy and rapture (OED definition of ecstasy, geddit?) plus a recognisable guitar lick = winning combination.
Chase & Status are djing back at the Clash tent and are keeping the crowd bouncing with a failsafe mixture of wobbly drum and bass and anthems like General Levy‘s Incredible. Recently they have been appearing in a live band format, moving towards the formula that made today’s XFM headliners Pendulum so successful. But here it is back to basics and doesn’t suffer at all for it.
Through the dustbowl that serves as a reminder of the debauchery that no doubt occurred here yesterday, the main stage becomes visible just in time for Krafty Kuts. In the first of his two sets, Mr. Kuts serves up a host of crowd pleasers from Deekline‘s I Don’t Smoke, Daft Punk‘s Da Funk and a brilliant dubstep remix of Dizzee Rascal‘s Bonkers which feels a bit like an in-joke since every other DJ seems to have played the original at least once.
Two of the Swedish pop masterminds behind uber pop monster Toxic by Britney are here not that you’d guess it, looking at current incarnation Miike Snow. Five men line the stage of the XFM tent adorned in black with white, featureless masks for a set of lilting, subtle piano sprinkled pop music. Songs such as Animal and single Burial from their eponymous album released in June have a haunting quality that sooths the souls of the ravers who have wandered in.
Some soothing is gladly received as a bus parked directly outside the tent is playing Born Slippy at full volume and the tightly packed throng can barely contain their excitement.
Queuing is an integral part of Get Loaded as the site is too small to facilitate free movement. Thus, one queues for the bar, for the toilets, to get in and out of tents, and frequently to get to the front of a queue to join another queue.
Having shuffled through the queue to get back in the Clash tent, it was strange to enter a crowd of eerily still people facing towards Magnetic Man featuring Skream and Benga. But this is the phenomenon of dubstep and many a beard was stroked in appreciation. Much of the appeal lies in the bone-shaking bass lines but the fabric tent seemed to milk away the force of the music.
And so back in the queue for VV Brown at XFM. Her 60s pop pickings, good old fashioned Jonny B Goode-esque rock n’ roll and shimmery ska numbers sound good, provoking some enthusiastic skanking. Last song and single Shark In The Water is disappointingly anaemic. Keep your eye on this one too, just to see if she sticks with the throwback magic and veers away from the generic soul-lite singles.
Under a sky that isn’t angry, it’s just disappointed, Roni Size live vehicle Reprazent are kicking off on the main stage with Brown Paper Bag. In the best drum and bass tradition, there are far more people on stage than seem needed for the job in hand. But they all jump into action as some more classics roll out, and the crowd follow suit with pleasure as Dirty Beats, It’s Jazzy and Snapshot receive a welcome airing.
Rob Da Bank keeps the crowd pleasures coming with a smattering of old school, Prodigy‘s Everybody Is In The Place and the ubiquitous Bonkers although the lyrics are now about playing conkers got from a chestnut tree. He finishes with an ironic 3AM Eternal, since it’s about half seven, and the crowd go mad for feverishly anticipated headliners Orbital.
The spoken intro to The Moebius begins, and a huge wave of affection is flung towards two blokes in glasses with little lights on either side of the frames. They walk on and take their place in a panopticon of keyboards, mainly visible due to the twinkling of their heads. A gorgeous set of melodious, happy dance music accompanies nightfall, with Chime and Satan causing mass breakouts of arms-in-the-air grinning. Shameless raver-baiting follows with a chopped-up remix of Heaven Is A Place On Earth, with snatches of You Give Love A Bad Name thrown in for good measure.
Absorbing, undulating visuals drift and flicker behind the two twinkling men as they bounce back and forth between their equipment. Heart beat monitors, geometric patterns and an emulation of sunrise flood the back of the stage. As a final present, and proof, if needed, that ravers are easy to please, they finish on an epic, ecstatic version of the theme from Dr. Who. A surreally fitting ending as 20,000 dust-bedraggled, wide-eyed space cadets are beamed back to unsuspecting Clapham.
Get Loaded In The Park 2009 @ Clapham Common, London