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We Are FSTVL – Saturday

We Are FSTVL survived its first year and came back for a sophomore effort with a bang; this time it had doubled in size by packing out 2 full days with house music’s biggest names. It was back on the airfield in Essex, just outside of Upminster, which is accessible from London within 30 minutes by tube and train. I had heard pockets of complaints about how allegedly far out it was, but for someone who has regularly experienced disappointment at inner London festivals with their noise restrictions ruining the vibes, I was hopeful that this was the reasoning behind the location and was happy to travel further afield if it meant we could actually hear the music as the artists intended. There were free shuttle buses from Upminster Station, which worked really smoothly on the way in and despite becoming a little trickier on the way out with some buses leaving half empty it appears WeAre took the suggestions of last years festival goers onboard and and I’m glad to say made huge improvements on that front.

With the festival being located in the middle of beautiful Essex, we were able to easily estimate that there would be at least 4 beautiful people per sq metre, so with that knowledge in mind we planned our outfits way in advance, right down to what lipstick colour would match the flowers on my denim hotpants. Then just when we tottered along to the train station, bum cheeks poking out, the heavens unleashed a months worth of rain upon us… Gutted. To our relief we arrived to see that most of the We Are FSTVL goers were not scared of the rain; they were all looking as fabulous as expected, fake baked, pearly whites gleaning and in their denim short shorts, and that was just Joey Essex and his boys (yes they were there!).

There were 9 tents on the Saturday, WeAre FSTVL main stage, headlined by Richie Hawtin, WeAre ELC TRNC, Paradise, Defected in the House, Hospitality, Secretsundaze, Desperados WHSE and the exclusive VIP tents, MK area 10 and Paravana Project all packed out with massive names. We started in the VIP area, checking out the extras that enticed people to part with more cash. There were real flushing toilets, complete with mirrors to pukka up your lipgloss, a hot tub area where people were finding warmth from the drizzle, loads of extra bars and DJs mooching around having there pictures taken with the crowds (Not sure if that was planned, but we know we enjoyed pushing our way through the young girls to get our picture with MK, awkward!) I enjoyed the VIP set up and thought it was a great addition to the day without the typical pretentiousness a VIP area brings. The main area had a great lay out too, there were fun flower installations everywhere and a main stage viewing platform for people to dance on. All the tents were a good distance away from each other, making it easy to hop from one to the other without noise interference. Thankfully the WeAre ELC TRNC stage was tucked around the back and away from me, we accidently stumbled around there and I was blinded by the sea of neon, so had to take a little sit down break. They all looked like they were having the time of their lives though, raving away to Eddie Halliwell so who am I to judge?


There were lots of Food stands dotted around festival, but I absolutely loved that there was a Nandos! When I think of Essex Boys, I think of afternoon trips to gym and then a “Cheeky” Nandos with the lads! The queue was huge everytime I walked past, so other people loved it too, but probably for other reasons than finding its presence amusing!

The main stage was huge, pretty and complete with confetti cannons, we planned to stick around to see The Martinez Brothers and Hot Since 82 but the weather was not on our side. A few minutes of Hot Since 82 caused a stampede towards the tents with the rain remaining pretty bad most of the day!

We took refuge in VIP and watched Pleasure State perform live, opening with “Ghost in the System” with Anabel Englund looking as gorgeous as ever, her vocals on point and as usual she made me want to be her. Lee Foss did a rap… I hope it was a joke as I found it quite funny. If not… Awkward.

It was the Defected tent that seemed the busiest throughout the day, and during the brief moments of sunshine, it had people pouring out the outside, dancing, smiling, having a great time. There was a huge lightboard behind the decks that had the DJ’s names floating around on them, and a massive DJ entourage on stage, the tent packed out with both the younger and older crowds, with the younger defected fans were doing their cool new age shuffle dance (Yup, I don’t get it, but I do think it looks pretty cool). Sam Divine packed out the tent and as she played Cloud 9 – Don’t you want me baby (Dusky remix), the sun played peek-a-boo with us at this point, so with a cider in hand – there was that great festival atmosphere that we live through our winters for.

The highlight of my day was Amine Edge & Dance on the MK area 10 stage. They closed the day with a huge 2 hour set. Amine Edge & Dance bring an old school party vibe to their sets, swigging don perigon from the bottle behind the decks, whilst their mates, en mass,  party on stage with them. The love child of the garage and house scene, they  bring both aspects with them each and every time. They play a lot of their own remixes, a favourite with the crowd always being their version of Frank Ocean’s Lost, but my questionable dancing came into full swing when they dropped their remix of Bakermat’s One Day! Chooooon!

At 11pm we could see Fireworks from the main stage and it signified the end to what had been a great day!

We Are Festival on Saturday attracted a fun crowd that were up for a huge party. The rain didn’t stop them, and everywhere I looked people were having a great time. Shuttle buses and bar queues were still a bit of an issue but massive improvements on last year and it didn’t really affect the day I had. They were able to bring the vibes of a much bigger festival, like for example Bestival, to a much smaller location, closer to London by packing out the line up with huge names, thoughtful planning of the production and a great social media build up that actually delivered (Bad Social media being my pet peeve, I think a lot of other music event brands could learn from WeAre). All my expectations were exceeded, and I was really looking forward to round 2 on the Sunday! Over to you Ms. Warren!

Sunday’s Review can be found on page 2

Words: Lauren RowePhotos: Paul Underhill

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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