Reviewed: Eastern Electrics 2017
Eastern Electrics is one of the very few UK festivals that brings it every year and this year is no different as they welcome Carl Cox to grace their headline slot this year.
When the 6th edition of the festival was announced it had me gagging for it arrvie with a really impressive list of artists including Âme, Butch, Hot Since 82, Steve Lawler and Defected’s myriad of stars. Add to the mega line-up they announced a brand new location in Morden Park from its previous usual suburban site of Hatfield House; it was sure to be up against other London house & techno rooted events.
Early in July, Eastern Electric’s short trailer sparked a jolt in my fibre as I saw the serene grassy ground of Morden Park be transformed into their trademarked raving warzone. This year’s programme was to be spread out across 7 arenas each with its own definitive atmosphere encompassing every corner of the underground scene.
We wanted to avoid the mass of glittery punters by arriving early at the site and in doing so we were treated to the starlet opening set of Alexis Raphael. The East London DJ really turned up every minute of the opening for Eastern Electric’s main stage with an energetic, feel-good flow of house records; grasping a packed crowd swinging at the very start. Following on from Alexis, we were absolutely enthralled and mesmerised by Lauren Lo Sung at the Knee Deep In Sound arena, her ability to fabricate a euphoric yet rolling atmosphere that you would expect to find under some Ibizan after-hours basement; was impressive! Thanks to Shazam for identifying her latest release: “Tresor”, the record’s subtle but idyllic Ibizan groove was one of our personal favourites. A layer of amplified dubs towards the ending definitely was a smart strategy to conclude her set and let Yousef continue the bosh & bash.
We left for a quick wristband top-up and the park was now filled with ravenous ravers. Thrasher tees and Vans sliders were spotted along with eclectic neon fashionistas and certainly some dazzling carnival outfits, all reflected a visual image of which I identify as quintessentially British.
Moments after, we nestled under the Defected tent through a flash of torrential rain; the label giant has shown no sign of a snooze, they brought a staple cast of stars including the always popular Sam Divine, Sonny Fodera, Sandy Rivera and Franky Rizardo to host The Club Tent this year. When we arrived it was Emanuel Satie’s turn to put on a show, his signature of blending spoken script into lushing house records really shone through, the crowd peaked when Drumcode “Babylon Fallin” was deduced to a soulful version, resonating a special moment before Rivera funking up the beats with various infamous Defected records like Misty’s “Soul Clap” and “Is It True” by Riva Starr, accordingly, the mood was boosted immensely. The rain luckily halted and we hustled back to Switchyard.
The containers surrounding the stage hosted by Knee Deep In Sound would probably be our most frequent area of the day, the atmosphere was dramatically curated to transpiring a deserted vibe from Mad Max; it’s where your brain would be etched with flashbacks weeks later on. Guti (Live) set was a meeting of anticipation with experimental slash jungle slash d&b slash …, the drop of “Dirty Games” – Eric Entrena summed it up entirely. Shortly after, the bpm was now ranging between 130-140, Serve Dervant unleashed some satisfying dark and relentless beats, bearing the crowd to a frenzied tromping, it was so loud yet so silent at the same time. Not until the next liner-up, Italian duo, Mind Against’s ethereal sound lingering in, did we regain our subconscious through the beaming sun and witnessed a classic peachy sunset that was aptly timed with an alluring record by Hans Zimmer “Time” (Tale of Us Edit), we were barely contained.
Thoroughly quenched, we paused for replenishment in the VIP and were pleasured by probably the most beautiful Thai Laab Gai (chicken salad) ever, and there was music too! Afterwards, it was finally time to check out Skreamizm, which started out as a South London club night, launched by the dubstep main boy: Skream, his vision dedicated to bringing “back to basics” of dark rooms, big sound systems and great music… Butch was gracing the decks and he was certainly setting the afternoon pace with a collection tracks that you weren’t going to hear anywhere else across the site, the playlist was rather knee jerking, groovy tech-house that one cannot simply be still, one of the records heard was rather emotional: “Tin” by Daphni.
The alarm struck 8:00 pm and signaled the Eastern Electrics tribe into rushing towards the main stage…we were all there to observe Mr. Carl Cox concluding the night. The set he banged out was one of pure techno, thumping bass vectoring hectic layers of industrial clangs, brushing off any expectation from the get-go. The man remained above all else, he showcased masterful techniques that exceeded no bounds of genres. We weaved our way closer to the front, the soundwave was now entrapped and warping all our senses: it was the only way to witness a Carl Cox set. His compilation remained unnervingly sinister yet infused with rather twisting funky hi-hats, it wasn’t until canons of fire glared up our vision that we realized it was dark. Behind me, the sea of revellers’ energy stayed abode. It really comes down to the fact that DJ-ing stems from the inspiration of music, I’d doubt any DJ that says I don’t like this or that kind of music, it would limit your horizon and the ability to deliver a set that is unexpected and branded as unique.
One fact: Eastern Electrics has always been able to deliver solid programmes year after year! Particularly, for their first outing to Morden Park, they encompassed suitably despite some production mishaps. Nevertheless, Eastern Electrics is a legacy in the making, people acknowledged and therefore attended a crowd of unwavering heat, and I cannot wait to see what they have coming up next year!