If you happened to have been arriving at Heathrow on Saturday, June 9 and making your first trip in to London, not much would have seemed out of the ordinary. Granted, it was sunny – a rare occurrence even for June – but your drive along the M4 would have been mundane and uninteresting. Underneath the motorway bridge, however, was a different story…
For their third year running, esteemed event organisers LWE transformed Boston Manor Park, which lies peaceful for 364 days of the year, into an industrial techno playground. The booming bass and menacing kick drums sliced through the usually tranquil atmosphere as we walked from the nearby Tube station under the second junction of the M4 which dominated the skyline.
After a very quick queue and security check, we were in and ready to explore the site. Most impressive was how the organisers and various hosts were able to cultivate a completely different atmosphere from stage-to-stage. Crossing a river at the far end of the site brought revellers to the festival’s undeniable centre-piece, The Bridge, hosted by Sweden’s Drumcode label.
Dust was kicked and spiralled into the air, creating a lingering, gritty haze which added to the industrial aesthetic established by the huge, sweeping concrete of the motorway above. Here, La Fleur injected an early dose of energy into the scattered crowd of early arrivals, preparing them physically and mentally for what was to come.
For the bravest techno-heads, The Warehouse provided a bleak, pitch-black retreat from the Saturday sunlight, rewarding those committed enough to brave the oppressive heat and lack of light with an absolute shelling of hard-hitters from the likes of Dense and Pika and Len Faki.
Elsewhere, Sonus Festival’s glittery Hex Stage lay at the beating, breathing nucleus of the site, with standout performances from Maya Jane Coles and Mind Against, whose selection of Jimi Jules “Ostkreuz” was powerful enough to suppress the increasing desire for the gourmet burgers and Pad Thai on offer at the surrounding food vendors.
A quick stumble through the trees led crowds to The Woods stage, a playful forest clearing with exotic birds sprinkled throughout the branches for beady-eyed partiers to spot.
Any complaints of a lack of musical diversity on offer throughout the day were alleviated here, with more groovy cuts and old-school throwbacks such as Airgoose “Outernational Wah” offered by Nicolas Lutz and Sonja Moonear, a selection which was received with open arms by the appreciative, knowledgeable London audience.
This green, natural stage was also aptly hosted by Oasis Festival, and presented a welcome juxtaposition to the overpass’s pervasive reminder of the site’s urban location.
Although the clouds rolled in and threatened to burst open during the late afternoon, there was no stopping the ecstatic crowd from revelling in the squelchy acid techno served up by Nina Kravitz.
Those that did flee for drier areas during the occasional spit of rain were far from hard done-by; the shelter offered by The Pavilion stage also housed the absolute masterclass display from Innervisions bosses Dixon and Âme; had the rest of the day’s line-up not been so enticing, it would have been incredibly easy to have stayed here for their entire 6-hour set.
However, there were other spectacles to see and reluctantly we had to leave the Pavilion. As the sun began to set, most of the crowd headed for the main event, an exclusive back-to-back at The Bridge from techno titans Carl Cox and Adam Beyer. The dust haze was churned into a sand-storm, as Beyer raptured the crowd with a mix of Enrico Sangiuliano’s “Symbiosis” and Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love”.
Drumcode’s stunning stage lighting dazzled as Cox greeted the crowd with a signature “oh yes oh yes”, before putting them through their paces with Bart Skils’s “Losing Your Mind (Tool Mix)”. The only distraction was the unavoidable overcrowding and pushing as most of the attendees flooded to see this world-first, but LWE’s brilliant organisation helped lessen the crush. The set was exactly as advertised; a relentless bombardment of techno to bring the day to a spectacular climax.
The ease with which we left the festival and headed for the Tube was testament to how well-managed the event was. Security was friendly, those that partied too hard were well looked-after, the crowd was mostly respectful and the site was easy to navigate. We made our way home with dust-covered ankles, ears still ringing, appreciative and satisfied with our day partying in the summer sun.
Words by Elliot Tawney