The English Bank Holiday. Traditionally a time of anti-climax, where the weather closes in and the best laid plans go south. However for music fans the August bank holiday offers several options, with one of the most attractive the fast growing Metro Weekender, comprising southwestfour, Get Loaded In The Park and Cardiff Calling.
This year, as last, two cities will be partying – London and Cardiff. Clapham Common will dance itself crazy on the Saturday before the bands head in the following day, while Coopers Field will be playing host to bands on day one, then going hell for leather to completely flatten the grass on day two.
London’s Saturday party boasts no fewer than four arenas, with the big headliners tending towards trance but with some meaty house beats to be found further down the bill. The only live act of the day are the Shapeshifters, returning to try out new material while no doubt crowd pleasing with their brand of disco fuelled house. They’re part of a strong main stage line-up that includes brains of the operation Pete Tong, breaks from the energetic Plump DJs, and fulsome house from the ever-reliable Roger Sanchez.
Sasha and John Digweed will also play the festival, though on different stages. Sasha will be supporting Paul van Dyk, who with a new artist album imminent remains the doyen of trance. Digweed, however, will be headlining his own Bedrock International stage, the culmination of a strong bill that covers the trancier end of house, and the mighty Sander Kleinenberg, Jimmy Van M, Hernan Cattaneo and Eric Prydz.
Elsewhere the Gallery will cater for faster trance music with Judge Jules, Marco V and Ferry Corsten the big draws, while an Ibiza Underground stage will be headlined by the ever-inventive Steve Lawler.
A more than solid line-up of DJs, then, with the main stage virtually replicated in Cardiff on the MySpace/DJ Mag stage. Cardiff’s second of three stages will be the Timeflies/Fire It Up arena, where Marco V, Sander Van Doorn and Tall Paul will be supporting a new prince of sunshine trance, Eddie Halliwell, whose last two Ibiza compilations have given notice of intent.
Drum and bass gets its own arena at Cardiff though, and it’s almost a ‘who’s who’ of the genre. Goldie, LTJ Bukem, Andy C, Fabio and Grooverider – all present and correct, with High Contrast also worth catching earlier on.
So what of the bands? London has a distinctly urban feel to its Sunday, branded as indie-dance’ but in reality a whole lot more than that. Get Loaded In The Park will look at grime, rhyme and a whole lot more in the course of its day in the sun (come on now, let’s be optimistic!) The Streets make their only UK festival appearance, headlining the main stage. An eclectic supporting line-up is headed by Dirty Pretty Things, while there’s a chance to hear the Go Team and new material from their second album. Keep an eye out too for the Nextmen, energetic rappers found some way down the bill.
The grime is found on the XFM stage, though again this should be interpreted loosely. Dizzee Rascal and MIA will supply cutting edge verse and beats as the headline acts, with !Forward Russia and Bonde Do Role just two of the highlights on their bill. Elsewhere the Mitchell Brothers headline a seven strong beats tent list, while the Futurism stage taps into the electro success stories of the year – step forward Mstrkrft, Digitalism and DJ Yoda.
One of Cardiff’s biggest boasts is a homecoming of sorts, that of the Super Furry Animals. They will support The Streets on the main stage of Cardiff Calling, where Dizzee Rascal and the in vogue Kate Nash will also appear.
Elsewhere the XFM stage plays host to up and coming acts and will be well worth monitoring for the progress of We Are Trees and Jump The Underground. Bonde Do Role appear on the MySpace stage, this time headlined by the Rumble Strips.
Whichever capital city you find yourself in at the weekend, a party awaits! With after-parties to extend the evening in London, including the launch party for the Paul van Dyk album, it should be an uplifting Bank Holiday weekend, contrary to the tendencies of the British weather.