Live Music + Gig Reviews

Gatecrasher Summer Sound System @ Turweston Aerodrome, Northampton: Day X

25 May 2008

I remember scoffing at people entering the campsite with wellies over their shoulders yesterday. I’ve done Glastonbury. It’s May. The weather will be fine. Who needs wellies?

The sucker punch smacked me just as the bleariness from last night cleared. Outside my tent it rained unkindly. There were puddles, tents were flattened or flying through the air. I looked at the path and it was a mud trap. I looked down at my relatively new,
not-so-waterproof, black canvas trainers with freshly dry socks. I winced and pulled up my hood and succumbed to my need for caffeine. The walk was perilous as I clocked last night’s casualties. Christ they looked worse than me. The scene resembled a cross between a raver’s abattoir and a refugee camp built by the Tories – there are few worse feelings I’ve had in my life.

Although the event area opened shortly after 1pm, there was little to do until 3pm. It was still drizzling and Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip was not an enticing prospect in these conditions.

Skream & Benga’s two hour set of dub step was a surprising way to shake off the night before and work up an appetite for the day ahead. A scant tent saw many more arrive as one of the best raw experimental performances of the weekend unfolded, proving why Skream & Benga are still flying the flag for the genre.

Part way through their show news of the live stage difficulties began to surface as one of our party was told the stage was still closed. We returned for Crystal Castles and saw no change, with rain covers erected and little activity. Backstage we were told it was flooded and the organisers were trying to reschedule the bill, with Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip and Crystal Castles moved to the Myspace bus. There were only four bands due to play, so this didn’t seem a serious problem at the time.

Back at a crammed Metropolis tent, Dizzee Rascal’s MCs spend a good ten minutes working the crowd before his arrival. The sound was a little muddied, but he put on a star performance.

7.30pm on Sunday is usually time for Songs of Praise or some home improvement programme. Thank the maker its time for Boys Noize at the Turbo Presents stage. Though there are a few too many day glo rave kids up front inhaling poppers for our liking, the tent is at full capacity as Alex Ridha flattens the place with one of the day’s most energetic performances. Its a storming choice of cuts from Oi Oi Oi, his Bugged Out Compilation, and the recently released remix version of Oi Oi Oi (which had the likes of Apparat, Surkin and Para One queuing up).

At 9pm the live stage remained soulless as it became evident that The Chemical Brothers and Hot Chip were forced to cancel, Pendulum were eventually rescheduled for the Metropolis tent. The organisers cited “adverse weather conditions over the course of the day and subsequent water build up on the main stage.”

Depending on which side of the fence you rested on, really determined how to react to the above. I’ve seen all of those billed and there was a plentiful choice remaining on offer. Day ticket holders and hardcore fans were less impressed and you only need to scan the Gatecrasher and dance community forums to see their anger.

Soulwax had their DJ hats on for the first 30 minutes of their set before launching into a scintillating live show with the likes of E-Talking and Get Innocuous cascading around the arena, plus a full live take on Justice’s Phantom (who incidentally were on next door in the Turbo tent). Drifting back to the Turbo tent Erol Alkan turned in a reliable showing as the early hours began to set in.

One of the biggest crowds were drawn to the Home Taping tent for Simian Mobile Disco’s 2am slot. The stage was rigged to the rafters with complex light arrangements and James Ford and Jas Shaw were barely visible beneath it all.

The set drew from the more deeper techno-orientated roots of the Clock EP, with Simple and the title track going through longer live reworks, as did some of the more well known material from Attack Decay Sustain Release. It was surprisingly lethargic however, with the pair not comfortably adapting to the scale of the stage they had been blessed with, lacking the spontaneity and intensity more commonly associated with their shows.

You have to look at least three times to believe its Tiga, but yes under the cap, track top and scarf it is him, and the spate of electro house blaring in the Turbo tent confirmed this too.

The mood was still strong as the festival entered its twilight. A triple whammy of It’s Not Over Yet (Brodinski version), his trippy collaboration with Zombie Zombie, Lower State of Consciousness, and Aphex Twin’s enduring Windowlicker, ensured Tiga left with the tent in his back pocket.

If you’re going to play the 4am set in the dying hours of a weekend like this, you’ve got to have something up your sleeve to see it through – Brodinski had the perfect hand hidden up his sleek leather jacket.

Instead of the body jerking floor fillers we’d heard all weekend (and for which Brodinski has made a name for himself) he slipped into a very deep, dark techno-edged first hour, ghosting in a fug of low damp light and smoke, dividing segments with samples of the whooshes and cyclone effects which mimicked those of Bad Runner (which he happily resisted from playing).

It was a strange atmosphere. Most of those around me were wrapping their nostrils around a bottle of something or the other, too inebriated to realise who or what Brodinski was about. My body was utterly drained from the weekend, but Brodinski seemed to massage any limbering ounces of energy left and take you under his wing as he worked through an, at times, breathless run of electronica.

Like the morning before, it was a cold, barren, grey scene (no rain at least). Soulwax’s banner “Part of Weekend Never Dies” got me thinking about how things had unfolded, and how this festival would be remembered.

There was a death onsite, a spate of robberies, arrests for drug dealing and flagrantly rampant drug use – to the point where people looked like they were doing it for the sake of doing it, slumped or flaked out in every direction you looked, and of course, the chaos with the live stage bands.

On the flip side, there had been so much to see and experience and I was thoroughly grateful I was here. As DJ Yoda said over at the Metropolis tent too, “Fuck the weather.”

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