Preview: Glade Festival 2009

01 June 2009

Those who were frustrated by the post-midnight sound levels at Glade last year can breathe a sigh of relief – as this year’s premier festival for electronic dance promises to be “Louder, Later, Longer”.

For the first time in its six year run, the festival has changed venues to the Matterley Bowl, near Winchester and, thanks to a vastly increased distance from local residents the volume can be cranked right up, DJs can play later into the morning, and for the first time the festival will finish at midnight on Sunday instead of 8 pm. It’ll be a welcome change for regulars who know the crushing disappointment of having the music turned off before darkness has fallen.
Billing itself as the best underground electronic music in the world, Glade spans over 10 different stages, including the famous Glade Stage which will serve as an ‘outdoor temple’ for the finest live acts, including old hands Femi Kuti and Squarepusher and young upstarts Booka Shade and Freeland. The Vapor Stage, hosted by UK underground dance promoters BLOC sees techno names like Adam Beyer and Carl Craig, while the Boomtown Stage sees breakcore legends Overkill cater for those who like their beats “f**ked up and wonked out”.

The Avalon Village is a festival within a festival dedicated to all things psychedelic. The best Psytrance in the UK will be brought to you from the Origin Stage, a seething outdoor dance floor powered by a crisp, clear Funktion One system. Fancy a rest? Why not lounge about in the InSpiral Chillout, an area characterised by its ambient music, trippy artwork, healing area and magical market.

Despite being voted Best UK Dance Festival 2008, Glade has continually proved itself to be more than just your common-or-garden rave in a field. The eclectic and wonderfully decorated bars are good spots to both rest your dancing feet and stomp to music you wouldn’t find elsewhere at the festival, and Glade is keen to promote its community credentials – giving a boutique feel to the otherwise pretty hedonistic surroundings.

The all new Interstella Circus and Cabaret Bar, for example, hosts a troop of dark and delicious delights – from saucy burlesque to the lawless gypsies of the traveling circus. In between performances from the weird, the wonderful, and the heavily tattooed, DJs promise Funk, Ska and ‘Big top Boogaloo’ (yep, us neither) while The Come and Play interactive space includes a pinball arcade, giant Jenga and a decks area which will be open (gulp) to all budding DJs during the day who remember to pack their records.

If all this seems a little active for the morning after, it might be worth following Alice down into the imaginatively decorated cocktail bar The Rabbit Hole. Another must for clubbers, it encourages any musicians, poets, singers and dancers to take to the stage – with the only proviso that they have to report to the White Rabbit who’ll be “drinking creme de menthe stage right”.

Glade – not a festival to hold back on decorations – promises to be more of a feast for the eyes than ever before. A fiery tower of Babylon will provide the festival with an artistic centre piece, producing nightly displays of spectacular pyrotechnics. This, coupled with the weird and wonderful nightlife and the veritable army of cheerful clubbers will make it a hard dance festival to top this summer.

Five not to miss:

1. Underworld
Miss at your peril – their only festival appearance of the summer. Rick Smith and Karl Hyde have led the way in grandscale dance music pretty much since it began, perfecting a sweat-inducing mix of cut-and-paste lyrics, pounding techno, drum and bass, dub and euphoric trance.

2. Freeland
DJ Adam Freeland’s live band is set to be a highlight of the weekend – judging by his set at Secret Garden Party last year, which was so popular the dance floor literally sank into the lake under the weight of so many feet stomping to his party-starting breakbeat.

3. Marky
If non-stop crowd pleasing drum and bass is what you’re after this weekend, don’t on any case miss this Brazilian innovator who lights up the Vapor Stage on Sunday.

4. Squarepusher
Chelmsford’s finest brings Amen breaks (that’s a drum loop for the indie-minded) by the bucket load; expect to spend half the time sneaking glances at your neighbor to work out which beat you’re supposed to be dancing to, and the other half grinning from ear to ear.

5. Plump DJs
It’ll be hands-in-the-air stuff from the nuskool breaks stalwarts, who celebrate their 10th year together with a set coupling dirty beats and upbeat synths and vocals.

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