Reviewed: Moondance Festival
Moondance Festival is a festival like no other and I don’t say this lightly. I’ve been around the festival circuit quite a few seasons now…well…not as many seasons as a majority of the crowd here, who are well into their 30s/40s, but enough times to recognise that this is a one of a kind festival that brings ravers from all generations to one place for 11 hours of pure historic magic.
My partner in crime, Indigo Roxx, had invited me out the night before to the 20th anniversary of Earthdance Festival at Scala. The pair of us going from one mad rave to another is just standard affair. But to me the whole situation seemed very Ying and Yang. From the Earth to the Moon to dance till our legs gave way. Anyways, slightly worse for wear, or better for wear depending on your view, we marched like true rave soldiers with glitter on our faces and arms to Stratford.
We arrived there at around 1pm. There was a long walk from the station to the festival site located in the Northern part of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. We swerved our way through the park for 40 minutes along with all the other soldiers. The army was with us the whole way left, right and centre. Shades on, horns out and whistles at the ready!
As we got closer the 8 tents poked their heads over the horizon and the thumping drums and basslines from the Funktion One sound systems started making themselves known. Upon entering the press area to get our passes the first person I bumped into was the owner of Epidemik @GrantEpidemik. On this day Grant was wearing shades, a Supreme cap, a McKenzie blue shirt with only the top button done up and a white tee underneath. He was also programming one of the tents that day. I stood in awe being perfectly honest. Having been running events for 20 years and well into his 40s I could only imagine some of the things he’s organised, been to, seen and heard.
After a quick chat, we made our way over to the VIP area which was being hosted by House FM.Net. These guys started broadcasting house music all the way back in March 2001. Their aim was to provide a musical outlet for house music, which was being under represented by commercial radio stations at the time. Having been an avid listener for several years it was great to finally meet the crew in person. The area was nicely decorated with colourful bean bags, rave smiley faces and dreamcatchers blowing in the wind. Very fitting aesthetics for the festival and real good for a disco nap which was much needed at this stage. I woke up after a quick power snooze to Lady T smashing out God Made Me Phunky – MD X-Spress aka Mike Dunn.
With the funk firmly set in we decided to start our journey into sound with Todd Terry at the Moondance x United main tent. Walking from the VIP area we noticed that the actual site itself was very small. A quick 5 minutes could get you from one end of the site to the other no problem. Central to all the tents was a face and body painting – glitter – gems – sequins stall which explained all the shiny ravers I kept seeing. We entered the main tent to the sounds of Jumpin’ by Todd Terry. Despite playing one of his most famous joints he didn’t seem to be exuding much energy on stage and this was translating into a slightly lack lustre crowd. We decided to see what was going on backstage and ended up bumping into Livin’ Joy famous for the dance classic Dreamer.
We did a little interview and in her own words she described her experience of the festival as: ‘Re-living the moments, the 1990s’.
To have over 180 acts from the golden era performing 20-30 years later is something truly special which makes this festival one of a kind in my opinion. Sure you can still go to events run by the brands that were being represented at the festival: Moondance, United, Garage Nation, Breakin Science, Epidemik, Jungle Mania, Roast, Promised Land, Analog and Stush. But to have them all in one place, each creating a music program lasting 11 hours, is a recipe for madness and one meal that you shouldn’t miss off your summer festival season schedule.
The organisers bringing all these brands together is Found. I’ve been keeping my eye on these guys since the beginning and they just keep going from strength to strength. Their legendary event series started at Hidden in Vauxhall several years ago which lead them nicely into the Shoreditch street parties, Eastern Electrics Festival and more recently the 51st State Festival. Who knows what they’ll be bringing us ravers next but you should be excited at whatever they’ve got cooking up!
After a lovely chat with Livin’ Joy we made our way over to the Promised Land tent to see Alison Limerick live. Being a big fan of Arista Records I had to see the diva perform Where The Love Lives. It may be the only time I would ever be able to see this so I had to make the most of the opportunity. Standing near the front we could see her grooving and dominating the entire stage from left to right. In stark contrast to Todd earlier in the day the whole tent was heaving to the feel-good piano chord progression and instantly recognisable lyrics floating through the air. Before leaving this tent we got down hard to Strings Of Life – Derrick May and Shakedown – At Night (Kid Creme Remix). How else were we meant to stay true to Promised Land’s logo ‘Respect Your History’. This was my favourite tent out of the ones we raved in that day and I may well go to their NYE event at EGG now!
On a totally different vibe we decided to hit up the Garage Nation tent to see Oxide and Neutrino. My garage phase was between 15-18. All my mates were into it back in the day so being in this tent was a right trip. They pleased the crowd with their famous Bound 4 Da Reload and No Good 4 Me alongside garage classics like Just In Case – Jaheim and Know We – Pay As You Go Cartel. After their set we were in full garage mode so we decided to go see the legendary garage DJ Matt ‘Jam’ Lamont back in the main tent. My personal favourite from his set was a dutty bass heavy remix of Fly Bi – Sparks and Kie. I’m yet to find it…
House done. Garage done. So that we had a full feel of the music playing that day we decided to round things off in the Jungle Mania x Roast tent. Nothing like a bit of jungle, drum and bass and reggae to keep things moving and Congo Natty delivered on point. Everything from Original Nuttah – Shy Fx to Bob Marley – One Love. Before close we managed to catch the end of main tent ‘secret’ act of the day The Freestylers. Things were a bit hazy at this point in the day but what I do remember is that they had great stage presence as a group and the songs were delivered ferociously. A great way to end the journey.
On the way out I noticed posters across the site revealing that Found would be bringing Ceremony and United festivals back at an East London park on Saturday 29th/Sunday 30th April 2017. If they can deliver the same standard of programming as the Moondance Festival they’re onto a winner. I’ll be buying my early bird that’s for sure!