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The Intro Tent next played host to Django Django, whose earnestly upbeat art rock is defined by soaring harmonies, metronomic drums, twangy guitars and an irresistable sing-a-long quality. It’s that rare kind of music that seems to justify a good ‘ole hoedown, and that’s exactly what happened, the London quartet’s irrepressible sense of fun infecting the audience and resulting in one of the most genuinely positive moments of the festival. With a spring in my step, I bounced over to Gemini to catch the end of Chvrches, the Glaswegian electropop trio whose seemingly-pretentious bandname is apparently an attempt to make them easier to google. Propulsive, moody electronic textures laid the base for a showcase of singer’s piercing and compelling voice, which  anchored the songs and gave them an emotional rawness. Previewing material off their upcoming début, some of their tracks had a Depeche Mode/Cocteau Twins tone, full of ethereal harmonies and soaring synths. This more atmospheric material was aptly balanced by the more straightforward electropop anthems that the crowd was there to see, such as the resounding version of “The Mother We Share” which ended the set.

Next door, at the Main stage, Azealia Banks was uptempo from the get-go, dominating the crowd with her swaggering stage presence, slick delivery and trap-heavy beats, supplied live by DJ Cosmo, who had his own solo interlude complete with scratching, seemingly to solidify his own credentials. While the set felt very rehearsed, that didn’t stop it from being very effective, with wacky visuals working well to complement Azealia’s ‘edgy’ onstage persona, which popped up in and around the songs, most notably when she shouted that “I got in a lot of trouble for this….but you know I don’t give a fuck!” as she introduced her remix of Baauer’s “Harlem Shake”. Despite being drawn from a range of E.Ps and mixtapes, tracks like “Jumanji”, “Fuck Up The Fun” and “1991” combined well, and seemed  readymade for a festival set. When it came time for “212”, though, everything else felt like a warm-up, with the “What you gon’ do when I appear?” refrain provoking probably the most frenzied reaction of the festival, with the whole arena moving as a single, out-of-control mass of energy.

James Holden, on the other hand, was much more soothing, transporting the audience with a spacey vibe kept focused by driving bass. Typifying his experimental approach, his set was made up of meditations on musical themes/movements from his recorded work, rather than direct reconstructions, with drawn out passages exploring subtle changes in tone and texture. As I stood amongst the slowly throbbing crowd, letting the music wash over me, I experienced of the most transcendent moments of the festival for me personally, as gooey as that may sound, forgetting my busted knees and aching calves and riding a wave of pure musical euphoria. Foreshadowing the next day’s headliners, he closed  with an intricate remix of Atoms for Peace’s “Before Your Very Eyes”. Taking a slightly less nuanced approach was Amon Tobin, who presented Two Fingers, his joint project with Joe Chapman, to a  crowd possibly thinned out by SBTRKT’s DJ set nearby. Harsh, heavy, and thick as all hell, this was dubstep to rattle the brain, with relentless, invasive bass that seemed to emanate from one’s very core. With lengthy detours into drum ‘n’ bass territory,  it felt like we’d been transported back to a ’90s rave, and the veterans in the crowd responded in kind, throwing shapes like no tomorrow. A super fun end to the evening.

Continued on page 5

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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