Reviewed: MADE Festival 2019
In the Summer of 2014, we were introduced to what is now known as Birmingham’s biggest festival. MADE Festival came in with a bang, opening its doors to all the eager and smiling faces, leading them to stage after stage of some of the industry’s biggest and best names. Weird Science didn’t hold back when they began the incredible showcase of musicians, artists and creatives. Flash-forward to the present in sunny Perry Park, MADE Festival 2019 still serves a monumental amount of energy and talent. With the likes of Chase & Status, Andy C and Annie Mac on the menu, it is hard not to engross yourself in the treats and tracks that the festival delivers. Opening its gates to 13,500 people and greeting the eager faces with bass driven sound systems, MADE Festival 2019 held out its hand to us like a French Maître D’ singing ‘Be Our Guest’ and the invitation is irresistible.
After the huge line up of 2018, which brought you Dizzee Rascal, DJ EZ and Andy C, MADE Festival 2019 was determined to uphold the insane levels of energy and talent, and it did not disappoint. The swarm of party-goers in the gloomy weather only represented the dedication and passion that the guests had, no rain or storm will stop them shouting ‘boom baow put him to bed’ with Ocean Wisdom, or stomping through the mud to make sure they catch the undeniably euphoric burst of spirit that comes with the South Stage.
The energy of the crowd matched the energy of the acts, as both bounced off each other and fed off the static air that was between them. Kings of the Shadows delivered their signature growlers and didn’t hold back. Expectations were high with the whole family there, and they were certainly met with the tidal wave of sound as the familiarity of a helicopter sample comes through the speakers, and the three dnb DJs Serum, Voltage and Bladerunner along with MCs Inja, Trigga and Bassman collectively guide you through bootlegs and rollers, with a little bit of sugar and spice as they dabble into naughtier and darker side of the genre.
There was an undeniable amount of enthusiasm coming from the South Stage, you could physically see the happiness pouring out of the tent in the form of sweaty fog made by the bouncing heads and bodies that moved in unison. For some reason, it felt alluring to discover what was on the other side of the somewhat endearing sweat smoke. Eli Brown lead us on a musical journey of tech-house, with little sprinkles of acid and something old and familiar, reminding me of old Playboy 1996 era and Detroit techno. The atmosphere of the tent matched that of his delicious new single ‘BS48’, with vocals that shine and soar above the pumping bass line. It was an eclectic mix of enigmatic, hypnotic and enticing sounds, and the performance undoubtedly bewitched any passer by.
Once out of the spell and ready to follow the familiar sounds of the North Stage, I gladly stumbled across Harriot Jaxxon blasting the finest sounds of drum and bass. Her set, as always, brought a new spout of intensity and passion to the field, an excellent example of female power in the industry, and her flawless set represented her flair and talent. It kicked off the drums side of MADE Festival 2019 for me in true style, darker and deeper sounds flooded out of the tent and the laser decorated set held my attention like a child in a toy store for the entire hour. The vibe that she was offering the audience was received with pleasure and didn’t hesitate to uphold those levels for the entirety of the set. A difficult slot to fill after following on from the likes of Problem Central and S.P.Y; who as promised showed off his finest and fittest dub plates.
Ocean Wisdom’s performance brought a unique and captivating atmosphere; true to his name he is a force of nature who is almost impossible to miss. A magnetic mix of memorable lyrics and heavy bass, his music drew in a crowd within minutes. The familiar lyrics of ‘Revvin’ hung in the air and the shouts of the crowd joining in ‘why you try to rev’ only added to the brilliantly ferocious personality of the set. The grey skies weren’t clouding over any colour for him, as the dynamic movement of genre throughout the performance illustrated his fierce talent. From the hip-hop and grime influenced tracks it soon shifted over to breakbeat and drum and bass as he debuted ‘Don’ his new single, which demonstrates his creative versatility, and abilities to create a ‘sonic nirvana’.
24H Garage Girls burst onto the stage with a beautiful explosion of female empowerment and infectious electric energy. As soon as you enter the tent, smiles turning around to greet you and dancers on the stage draw you in like a mystical creature, with giant smoke machines setting the aesthetic and the dancers encouraging you to move with them. The familiar lyrics of ‘You and Me’ echoed in the air as the DJ presented us with a bouncy remix and you couldn’t help yourself but sing along to the likes of Jorja Smith ‘On My Mind’ and tracks that made you reminisce about the old Kisstory days. The devotion to the performance and the excitement of the girls on stage was contagious, I could feel the spirit of it all being poured upon us as an audience and I couldn’t help but sing along.
Leading us into the surprisingly warm but rainy evening, Andy C took to the stage, and brought with him most of the crowd. It felt imperative to see his set, although knowingly missing Mall Grab and eventually Annie Mac which was a difficult decision to make, but gladly I followed my intuition as he soon dropped the new remix of ‘Original Nuttah’ by Chase & Status which blew the crowd away, causing the audience to boom with excitement. The ground almost shook underneath us as the stomping enthusiasm from the fellow drum and bass heads surrounding us, setting an incredible tone for the rest of the set. Andy C reminded us as always why he’s known as one of the best, and didn’t let the title down. The eagerness of the audience made it difficult for any hip shaker or foot hopper to stop themselves from loosing control, and what a brilliant site it was.
As a generally extremely happy festival, new friends being made left, right and centre, Birmingham acted as a perfect host and offered nothing but elation and exhilaration from start to finish. The security were helpful and the audience were non-stop go getters with enough enthusiasm for us all, which was a perfect add on to the spacious and well kept site.
The food was affordable and the workers were all friendly, a nice addition to a busy event, although the drinks token system does lend itself to the more expensive side – a small price to pay nevertheless for a well-rounded festival.
I found myself leaving the festival humming a few lines of songs that were stuck in my head, a mixture of old and new tracks which influxed my brain with inspiration and a feeling of satisfaction. The crowd, although younger than other festivals, were friendly and warm, and without any doubt there was a mutual agreement of ‘just have fun’ without the rowdy generic ego’s which can accompany certain genres of music.
MADE Festival 2019 represented Birmingham in an extremely positive light, and the line up repeatedly consists of talent filled individuals with a shared love for music. I look forward to seeing where the festival progresses and what it grows into.
Keep up to date with all things MADE Festival 2020 here