Reviewed: Gottwood 2018
Situated on the Carreglywd Estate, nestled away near the coastline of Anglesey, North Wales is the home of Gottwood. Now being in such a picturesque part of the country would normally garner enough attention itself, but teamed up with scorching sunshine, avid music fans; and the world’s best DJs results in a force to be reckoned with.
The opening night was unsurprisingly wild with the crowd nothing short of ecstatic to be starting off the festival season with a bang, and with an array of DJs spanning the music world, there was truly something for everyone. Eagerly awaiting the carnage we spent the first few hours wandering around the site, taking in all of the art installations and the frankly exceptional stages, like the Mother Owl perched aside the main route to the lake from the campsite; however this didn’t last long till the night quickly descended and we were treated to an exceptional performance from Jackmaster and Grain (AKA Artwork) who whipped up such a storm that Mella Dee nearly missed his own set; cue some impromptu artist liaison from myself to get him to his stage slightly late. Thankfully the fort was being held down well by 2 Bad Mice; before the ‘Donny Soldier’ himself graced the decks, raising The Barn’s roof even higher.
Waking up to even more sun on Friday was a pleasant surprise for a UK festival and despite the temperature, people were going in hard during the day. Finding ourselves in the quaint Walled Garden stage it would be easy to imagine you were anywhere but in North Wales. It was at this point which DMX Krew; of Aphex Twin’s Rephlex Records treated us to a live set, an awe-inspiring set of electro/acid breakbeat which topped the set’s I’d seen so far (and did so for the rest of the weekend.)
As the sun set over the site the festival really began to descend into the reputation which had preceded it; the music got darker and louder as we were watching Shed lay down huge tunes such as Pte & Takahacid’s “Ysod” in one of my favourite stages; Trigon, with hay bales sandwiching the crowd in, it was hard to escape the relentless system.
Heading over to one of the largest stages, The Curve we were greeted by Palms Trax playing host to a huge crowd all absolutely loving the summer vibes, and this was to become a focal point of the evening; classic tunes always go down a treat, but there is something special about a whole crowd singing the lyrics to Armand Van Helden’s classic “I Want Your Soul” and this was set to be one of many moments at Gottwood where you couldn’t help but sit back with a big grin on your face.
Stepping back into the Barn we were faced with Manchester’s favourites Rich Reason and Metrodome who had been playing a combination of solo and B2B sets for a few hours; just in time to hear a unique production from Metrodome with the catchy vocal hook “This is my song for Gottwood” providing a humorous yet still excellent production to close.
Dragging yet more sunny vibes into Saturday we started with an early lunchtime set with Axel Boman in the Walled Garden, playing everything you could imagine, even some De La Soul; featuring a dancing Move D and Family. Move D was set to play a number of sets across the whole weekend and in the usual fashion, smashed every single one out of the park, especially an early evening Disco set later on the Saturday. As the evening closed we were treated to one of the best selectors in the game; Hessle Audio’s Ben UFO who took us on a musical journey for a 3-hour megamix across genres with a particular favourite tune being Fold’s “Untitled B2” keeping the crowd moving all the way into Sunday Morning.
Sunday morning started us off with a bit of a slower start than the other days (I blame old age) but the more chilled vibes were definitely catered for in the form of Dave Harvey and Craig Richards both playing Reggae and Dub on one side of the lake on the Lawn; and gracing the Curve was Bradley Zero who played for an exceptional six hours getting everyone in the mood for the big finale.
Inside the Walled Garden (my favourite stage if you can’t tell) Bristol-based duo Banoffee Pies were holding down the evening session were rolling into the evening providing a vibrant party set keeping the tent popping with their Balearic disco numbers; keeping those smiles on faces even longer.
Sunday provided one of the more unique experiences of Gottwood, and this time it wasn’t solely for the music lovers. Nestled quietly in the middle of the site, just off the lake is Nest, a floating restaurant; spot on table service with a view and some banging fried chicken are not necessarily things you associate with festivals but it was yet another well-executed surprise from the Gottwood team.
The final sets were upon us, and we decided to go all out at the Trigon stage for the big finale. Treated to an unrelenting force of dark techno from Binh B2B Nicholas Lutz; it gave me nothing short of the same eery shivers I felt during my first time at a German nightclub. A shiver I still don’t want to shake.
Closing the night was nothing short of a spectacle with Sonja Moonear lulling the crowd with moody acid techno sounds such as a new release from Leo Pol entitled “Dark Outside.” The track itself embodied everything the set spoke for with its mystery, but unfortunately much like all good things it had to come to an end. Not that the crowd wanted that, and we wandered off into the darkness to chants of “WE LOVE SONJA.”
Gottwood does everything you’d expect from a big player in the festival circuit, but it does it with such panache that it creates beautiful magic moments around every corner.
Often occurring in the strangest of places these magic moments are what give Gottwood its character, it’s what makes it truly stick out against the rest; whether it was a whole crowd clubbing together to bump start a giant disco ball which had stopped spinning inside Ricky’s Disco; or the faint drumming you hear coming closer only to bump directly into Djembe Jonty drumming along to the beat it really is full of surprises; and there is a damn fine reason why it’s described by the DJs who have been chosen to play there as “everybody’s favourite party festival.”