Reviewed: Junction 2: Inner City
A long-awaited weekend explosion of full-scale techno events, led from the front by Junction 2: Inner City
The August bank brought back a long-awaited plethora of UK electronic events and festivals. For anyone looking through their social channels over the weekend, you would not have been alone to have almost felt as though things were finally back to normal.
For those lucky enough to secure tickets to the sold out 2-day Junction 2: Inner City event run by LWE at Tobacco Dock, the excitement was palpable. The event was well run, with attendees streaming in early doors on both days to plant their feet firmly in front of world-class sound systems and impressive lighting rigs to await some of the biggest names in techno. Both days offered up enviable lineups across five spaces, with day 1 being live-streamed to the masses via Beatport too.
There was certainly a space and a vibe for the varied crowd the event attracted. From the more intimate performances found in the likes of the ‘Little Gallery’ and ‘The Vault’ to the three largest and unique spaces: ‘The Great Gallery’ main stage that provided an open, high ceiling industrial-feel and certainly shook us out of our 18-month event drought; ‘The Cavern’, newly opened on the ground floor, that offered up a brick-arched ravers’ paradise reminding us of what it feels like to be back side by side with glowing and grinning ravers; to ‘The Terrace’ that provided a light and airy backdrop to some stunning and more melodic moments.
Day 1, gave us the kickstart we all needed, boasting an all-female powerhouse lineup in the Great Gallery that did not disappoint. Cici, Sama’ Abdulhadi, ANNA and closing artist, Amelie Lens, showed that there is certainly no lack of female talent in the techno scene today. The bass remained strong throughout the day, interrupted by conscious breakdowns, a blend of familiar and current chart-topping melodies and the stage continued to shake for 8 ½ glorious hours.
Across the way, Maceo Plex took the crowd on a journey in the Terrance as only Maceo could, his set interspersed with his own productions – one of the highlights of the set being when he dropped his remix of Faithless’ ‘Insomnia’. Meanwhile, downstairs Jon Hopkins built up the crowd with a natural and unforced quality to his tracks.
Sama’ Abdulhadi, an emblematic and figurehead artist from the Palestinian underground scene, was certainly a standout performance from the day, bringing relentless energy through her impeccable track selection during a two-hour set. With this being her first appearance at Tobacco Dock, she weaved effortlessly between 3 channels on Traktor and punctuated every key breakdown and drop with moves envied and emulated by those at the front, feeding off the energy of the crowd. Her passion shone through her set and set the stage perfectly for both ANNA and Amelie Lens who were to come next and to take the night to its conclusion. As usual, Amelie made an appearance backstage early on to support ANNA and to read the energy of the room, meaning that she came in hard and heavy from the off and ready to take people to the sweaty, grinning mess that she left them in.
Day 2 saw many brush off sore heads to return for a second Junction 2: Inner City dose, as well as an influx of fresh faces ready to see what the day had in store for them. It was apparent from the minute that the line-up was announced that attendees would need to perfect the artful skill of navigation and diary management as the line-up crammed in must-see acts in every room.
With Theo Nasa kicking off an impressive set in The Cavern at 2pm, it was already obvious that Sunday was ready to pack a punch. It was also clear for some revellers that they would be unable to drag themselves away to any other room as the heavy-hitter lineup continued. VTSS dropped one of her much-loved tracks, ‘Atlantyda’, while Dax J held the energy and BPM high as he relentlessly manoeuvred through his set, with Nina Kraviz bringing one of her classic techno and trance sets to close.
Over in The Terrace, Laurent Garnier took the crowd on a more melodic 3hr journey, twisting, turning and teasing the crowd, with many proclaiming it to be one of the best sets of the entire event.
In the Great Gallery, KAS:ST were another standout performance, with the two French DJs bringing a range of hypnotic rhythms, beasty drops and tantalising breakdowns. These guys certainly knew how to hold the room dropping bomb after bomb, culminating in excitable roars from the crowd as they closed with one of their latest tracks, ‘Hell on Earth’.
The man behind Drumcode, Adam Beyer, then stepped up to the decks to deliver a lively and crowd-pleasing set. Beyer continued to build up the crowd ready for the close of the night, with Belgian producer-DJ Charlotte de Witte.
As is usual with de Witte’s sets, she effortlessly moved between heavy acid-throttled sounds to enchanting breakdowns, such as the mesmerising ‘Sgadi Li’, before building back to hefty drops that the crowd couldn’t get enough of. The moment that many were waiting for was as de Witte played Beatport’s current global number 1 for the last two weeks, ‘The Age of Love’, her latest re-mix with fiancé Enrico Sangiuliano. In attendance, she beckoned Sangiuliano over for a hug and a kiss in front of the crowd before effortlessly continuing with her set.
As Junction 2: Inner City closed and the crowd made their way out into the night (and most likely on to the J2 after party at Fabric), it was clear that the event had reinvigorated a spirit and a joy that many of us have missed from the lack of large events over the last year and a half. To run an event at this scale with all the additional challenges posed by Covid, all in all the team at LWE, Tobacco Dock and J2 staff did a brilliant job. The weekend was well run and was an excellent way to spend the bank holiday. Now we just need to wait until June 2022, to see the long-awaited return of the outdoor festival in Boston Manor Park.