London festivals have gone from newfangled hipster haunts for mud haters to lynchpin of the summer cultural landscape in under a decade. The daddy – or maybe the sexy cousin – is still Lovebox, but younger pretenders such as South West Four, Field Day and Wireless have joined the dysfunctional festival family, bringing pretty much everything you could hope to see to a park near you in the capital.
So welcome to the fray LED, on the same weekend as South West Four and the Notting Hill Carnival, but without the jerk chicken. In Victoria Park, the same space as Lovebox and Field Day, the London Electronic Dance festival does what it says on the tin.
Split over two days, Friday is orientated towards house and techno, leaving Saturday to cater for the other stuff. Some of the brains behind LED come from promoting club phenomenon Cream; it follows that the seminal house brand gets its own arena for Friday’s festivities. This space is headlined by Axwell and Sebastian Ingrosso, two thirds of Swedish House Mafia. Axwell’s set is an audiovisual spectacle called the Heart Show, featuring a big, apt LED heart.
Canadian techno heavyweight Tiga hosts the techno-tastic Planet Turbo tent. Mask-touting Bloody Beetroots appear in their live band incarnation, Death Crew 77, alongside rising house star and Kernow lad 8-Bit Boy, technocrats Zombie Nation and nu-disco duo Azari & III.
Other bright newish things Afrojack, Kim Fai, Max Vangeli and AN21 are scattered across the bill to keep the summer’s anthems and remixes coming, while blokes ‘n beats outfit Audio Bullys take to the main stage ahead of chart-bothering producer-cum-popstar Calvin Harris and then remix titans Soulwax. The day is crowned with a headline set by David Guetta, riding a wave comprised of Number 1 singles and collaborations with just about everyone.
Saturday brings Radio 1 bass doyenne Annie Mac, plus a tent full of drum and bass stalwarts in the shape of Zinc, Shy FX and Sub Focus. They’re joined by grime collaborative Boy Better Know and the latest UK MC to rub the urban edges off with Lily Allen, Professor Green.
The more eclectic edges of the dance fraternity are catered for by Afrikaans hip hop group Die Antwoord and indie-electro-punks Friendly Fires. And Will Gregory and Alison Goldfrapp grace the main stage with the usual glam-stomp-disco tempered by the ’80s trappings of most recent album Head First.
The anticipation is really reserved for the two most elusive acts on the bill – tank-toting glitch fiend Aphex Twin and lastly, pounding techno pioneers Leftfield, playing London for the first time in 10 years, bringing the still-blistering sounds of their two albums, Leftism and Rhythm And Stealth, to an eager audience.
With the absorption of Clapham’s Get Loaded In The Park into the house-happy South West Four festival, there is definitely a niche for a cross-genre dance festival in London. The format, the venue, the crowd; all are tried and tested. Here’s hoping LED has the success to match.