Reviewed: Southport Weekender

Club Review

On Saturday the 10th of June 2017, the people of Southport Weekender hosted their first major festival in North London’s Finsbury Park. This was their first event in two years after ending their 28-year reign of annual parties located in the infamous Butlins holiday resorts.

Upon arriving at the site, security was very friendly and efficient at getting party-goers through the doors swiftly. The festival upheld an incredible atmosphere throughout the day which was greatly assisted by the scorching weather. Eight stages were positioned intimately, hosting an array of the finest Funk, Soul, Disco, House and Techno. With such a strong festival line-up, revellers could expect to see powerful sets from the likes of New York legends Tony Humphries, David Morales and Roger Sanchez – and that’s exactly what was delivered.

The ambience of the Suncebeat dome was married perfectly with sets from Sadar Bahar, T. Williams, and Detroit Swindle to name a few. With so many DJ greats evenly distributed across the many stages throughout the day, there was always ample space for people to throw their biggest shapes on the dancefloor. The easily navigated festival was fuelled by a chilled out, happy atmosphere, with the crowd clearly loving the music, making the whole day incredibly memorable and a great way to start the summer.

The Liverpool stage donned a large disco ball in the centre of the tent, which accompanied Joey Negro’s fantastically funky and energetic set. This enabled the crowd to bounce off one another with smiles from ear to ear, and of course, he played many classics from his remixed with love albums such as Patti LaBelle’s ‘Music Is My Way Of Life’ as well as Patrice Rushen’s ‘Haven’t You Heard’. For a more contrasting atmosphere, The Sounds of Detroit stage played host to an electric live set from AMP Fiddler, followed closely by captivating sets from techno originator Juan Atkins and electronic master Kenny Larkin.

In order to stay refreshed, tokens were exchanged for drinks which were easily accessible and there never seemed to be anyone queueing for longer than ten minutes. However, the tokens were unfortunately non-refundable so I suggest choosing wisely how much you envisage spending on drink. There was also a large variety of food stalls to choose from whenever you wanted a break from the action, or to soak up the alcohol.

As the sun began to fall over Finsbury Park, people made their way to the PowerHouse Arena to catch the incredible Julie McKnight perform live to a jam-packed tent. The crowd burst into song as she performed ‘Home’ which made for a beautiful highlight to the day. As if this wasn’t enough, at the end of her set, she was joined on stage by the legend that is Kerri Chandler. The New Jersey DJ was about to deliver one of the pinnacle sets of the day when he surprised the crowd and dropped Kings of Tomorrow’s ‘Finally’. Of course, Julie stayed and sang, ignited by the crowd’s cheers. Kerri’s set was accompanied by an impressive light production, magnifying the crowd’s energy and passion for the music. The festival came to a dramatic finish with Kerri playing live on the keyboard and sending the fans into a fanatic frenzy with his classic tune ‘Rain’, and if you didn’t think that was enough – he ended with Armand Van Helden’s ‘You Don’t Know Me’.

Throughout the day pundits were discovering the musical talent, and if you were lucky enough to experience the VIP tent, then it was a great surprise. The dome encompassed an impressive array of performances where You were warmly welcomed by a funky disco set from Davide Fiorese who dropped “Love Ballad” by George Benson – with the crowd bursting into dance. Graeme Park finished off the end to a spectacular night with a set filled with classic house and disco. The powerful set included funky house tune “Love Is The Answer” by Africanism and the classic remix of “Free” by Ultra Nate!

Over in the Powerhouse tent “Kings Of House” Tony Humphries delivered a masterpiece set. Spanning his set to feature classics such as “I want your love” by Chic, to dropping new, fresh, underground tunes such as Paul Woolfords remix of sailors and I (Rivers) remix. The atmosphere in the tent was absolutely electric, definitely emphasising its name “power house” with the amount of musical talent within the tent. Not only was the music on point, but the lights were absolutely incredible, setting the scene from a chilled out happy vibe to a more intimate, hard core scene, creating the perfect stage for an almighty B2B from Roger Sanchez and David Morales.

Overall, you could clearly tell this festival had been produced with love and care. Everything from the production to the stages, to the programming, was near on perfect and I hope to be seeing it again next year!

Photo credit – Matt German www.mcgeventphotography.co.uk