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Saturday

My afternoon begins at the Sleepless stage, a loose arrangement of wooden shacks and speaker stacks,  which has the free, unstructured feeling of a Berlin open air. I joined crate-digger Motor City Drum Ensemble in the midst of spinning choice cuts from his collection of chilled, deep Detroit House records. With sand underfoot, perfect weather, and people wandering up from the lake, combined with the soulful grooves, it was a welcome change of tone from the heavier offerings of the previous evening, particularly when he ended with at least 30 minutes of glorious disco. Transitioning seamlessly into their set of more classic house, Manamana kept the euphoric mood alive, gradually increasing the tempo and tightly controlling the vibe, although they competed for attention with the guy wielding the water-hose. Like the best raves, there was a feeling of unfettered positivity and enjoyment throughout the crowd – people dancing with each other and smiling, feeding off of the communal spirit. An ideal way to ease into the day after recuperating during the morning.

With the sunlight gradually began to fade, it seemed appropriate that Christian Löffler was at hand. As he slowly built things up, layering ambient flourishes onto a base of microhouse and minimal techno, the feeling changed from melancholia to a kind of hopeful optimism that had me in a state of low-key bliss. At the other end of the spectrum, Siriusmo was anthemic and emphatic, mixing strong electro undertones with snatched, glitchy samples and schizoid visuals, the crowd using his tunes as the soundtrack for a high-intensity workout.

Having reaped the rewards of an approach that sees a pop aesthetic strongly inform their ideas of ‘club’ music, rather than the other way around, Disclosure unsurprisingly packed out the tent-covered Gemini stage with fans keen to hear radio staples “White Noise” and “Latch”. Truth be told, though, they went nuts for absolutely everything, and considering that the brothers Lawrence could’ve easily phoned it in and got a similarly rapturous response, it was cool to see that they made an attempt to make their show as performative as possible, via bass guitar, a host of synths, and manual percussion. While they undoubtedly have their critics, particularly in the dance community, it’s hard to deny that their songs are very well-crafted, and in the context of such a reverent crowd, they feel vital. It’s as if a mini-generation has decided that this, a backward-glancing mix of garage and Detroit house coupled an excellent ability to integrate vocals, is the soundtrack that will define their summer, and they’re going to have as much fun as possible with it. And why not?

When I enter the Intro Tent to catch the end of Tricky‘s set, he’s standing amongst at least 50 members of the crowd, moshing along to Motorhead’s Ace of Spades, which is playing over the PA. Not exactly what I expected. After reintroducing the onstage instruments, one by one, the rest of the set is a haze of slinky, suggestive blues rock, with hints of the trip-hop background that he’s most well-known for. In a way, the show feels more about the band – vocal duties are shared with his female backup singer, with Tricky disappearing from stage every now and then, emerging to bring the song home with his whispering, expressionist vocals. Driven by a fantastic rhythm section, organ and bass, the set ends with a second stage invasion and a young man’s risky stage dive that leaves a security guard less than impressed, both of which seem to typify the crowd’s enthusiasm for the surprising, theatrical, and thoroughly entertaining set.

Continued on page 4

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Grahame Farmer

Grahame Farmer’s love affair with electronic music goes back to the mid-90s when he first began to venture into the UK’s beloved rave culture, finding himself interlaced with some of the country’s most seminal club spaces. A trip to dance music’s anointed holy ground of Ibiza in 1997 then cemented his sense of purpose and laid the foundations for what was to come over the next few decades of his marriage to the music industry.

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