To say this year’s Gatecrasher Summer Sound System passed without incident would be a wild understatement.
A festival goer died, heavy weather pounded the site on both days forcing the main stage to be cancelled on day two, including a headline set by The Chemical Brothers
Such a prospect seemed a world away en route to the festival site.
The coach slid out of a stifling central London and cruised through to the English countryside in what seemed like no time. Even our approach through narrow country lanes deep in the picturesque surroundings of rural Northants belied no hint of the heavy winds, rank smells and dust swirls that would greet our arrival onsite.
The sun was still shining, so we didn’t think too much of it. The effort to pitch a tent was, however, rendered comedic in the conditions.
By the time we reached the event area Does It Offend You, Yeah? were having their belchy squelchy rave-rock blown round like a glow stick in a tornado on the live stage. So it was more like pips and squeaks, which explained the modest turn out. Most people just wanted to get out of the wind. The weather had claimed its first scalp of the weekend.
The billed Ed Banger stage was now the Monster tent (some energy drink) replete with camouflage markings. To our dismay Uffie had cancelled. Lighting a cigarette took longer than five minutes in the wind so we power walked it to the Electric Stew tent. Radioclit had things in full swing with Divine Gosa (which was aired in many a tent over the weekend) as revelers soaked up the atmosphere ahead of Digitalism.
Jence Moelle and Isi Tfeki had the place swelling for their 8pm set and delivered one of the performances of the day, mixing pulsating live treats from Idealism (Idealistic, Zdarlight, Homezone) with remixes.
Even The Prodigy had a battle on their hands as huge gusts pummelled the early part of their 9.30pm set. They opened with World’s On Fire, one of two new songs aired. Like much latter day Prodigy material it passed, but failed to overwhelm – the same could be said for Mescaline.
The stage set was typically elaborate and post-apocalyptic, festooned by Liam Howlett’s gargantuan controls. Keith Flint was remarkably quiet save for his vocal parts with much of the jostling left to Maxim Reality. As the weather eased so followed the likes of Poison, Voodoo People and Out of Space – dynamite for everybody and headline set signed, sealed and delivered.
With oodles of energy after that, heading straight for three hours of Paul van Dyk would have been wrong so we dropped into the Drum & Bass Arena for Roni Size/Reprazent. The set was indifferent, with classics from New Forms fairing better than others.
The Crasher Arena had the most impressive lighting and visuals of the day in store for Paul van Dyk. Populated with cool blues, purple hues and mingling 3D animations, there was a terrific atmosphere and mood as the Berlin veteran delivered a rousing set, piquing his catalogue of trance and techno.
Things turned a little too euphoric for the third hour so we moved back to the Electric Stew. Normally we shirk twattage but Kissy Sellout went down admirably, working up a frenzy with the likes of Get Busy Tropicana and Ready for the K-Hole.
At this moment the Cement tent was evacuated after a body was discovered midway through Pete Tong’s set. Bryn Edward Llewelyn, 41, from Nether Heyford, Northampton, was pronounced dead at 2am after paramedics were unable to revive him. Thames Valley Police have classed the death as “unexplained” pending a post-mortem.
We were oblivious to these goings-on, taking in a set from Italian noise mob Crookers. Imagine filling the most outrageous, filthy noises (Kid Crudi’s DaynNight, The Chemical Brothers’ Salmon Dance) into a soft drink can and pulling the ring straight after shaking it – that is the Crookers experience and it is a glorious mess.
The Dirty Disco tent is shockingly empty for Vitalic, but it soon becomes apparent. Rather than delivering the storming festival set we normally come to associate with Pascal Arbez, his 3am slot is laborious and drags disappointingly. We stayed to the end, were tossed Bells, My Friend Dario and LA Rock One as scraps and left very disappointed.
Back at the Electric Stew Switch clearly looked like he had a enjoyed a good tipple tonight. His mixing was questionable and he ejected a live playing disk. In a word, it was embarrassing, and not what we would have expected from such a fine producer. Perhaps it was because we were entering the graveyard slot.
Still, at 4am veteran DJ D Ramirez had enough in his tank to deliver an excellent finale of electro house, dropping some 808 State for good measure. It had us dancing til we began to feel blisters at 6am.
Returning to the world outside was not the best of experiences. It was grey, the wind chill biting, the rain unforgiving. I prayed for it to stop as my neck settled on a damp jumper for some much needed sleep.