As the arena gates at Global Gathering open a cheer ripples through the waiting crowd, a mass of bobble-hatted, neon bedecked revellers ready to rave, despite the dull grey Friday weather. Though 5pm may seem like a late start to the average festival goer, these crazy kids are notably hyped up for the late partying ahead of them.
The arena is fairly compact, making it easy for everyone to get around to the different acts going on, and there are groups legging it about trying to see a bit of everything. Beardyman (8/10) wowed the crowd with his mastery of the replay, turning his own voice into a sample and creating music made of layer upon layer of himself, while Jaguar Skills (9/10) (replacing Professor Green who is in bed with tonsillitis – aww) in his Ninja get-up and a wild look in his eye, amped up the beats to get the crowd jumping. Modestep’s (8/10) short set was well received as they blew up the Wax:On arena and Steve Angello (6/10) of Swedish House Mafia, brought out the big gunswith stage pyro, red and blue flame throwers and ticker-tape explosions alongsidesome pretty spectacular remixes of Adele’s ‘Rolling In The Deep’ with Soft Cell’s ‘Tainted Love‘, but the set is too long and people are thinning out in favour of food and rest before the headliner.
The site boasts more than a few death defying circus rides, including the deadly looking crane bungee jump which positioned it’s screw-loose jumpers about two metres away from the giant blow up safety mat, making for hold-your-breath entertainment in between acts or while you’re having a burger. As a jumper goes screaming off the platform, the main stage flashes into life for Pendulum (8/10) who appear to have brought their own stage upon a stage and proceed to blow the eardrums of the crowd with favourites ‘Blood Sugar‘ and the crowd sing-a-long to ‘Propane Nightmares‘.
Over in the Global tent, Sasha’s (7/10) electronic mayhem with space invader visuals is getting the crowd going ready for the incredible Underworld (9/10) to grab the heavyweight belt of the night with the crowd bathed in a warm sun-like yellow light for the soft parts of anthem ‘Born Slippy‘, and frenetic strobe for the rest of it. Immediately following Underworld, the stage at the opposite end of the tent lights up for Eric Prydz’s (7/10) ‘Epic Show’ which is packed with floating 3D graphics, light boxes, lasers and every kind of gadget you can think of, but this is Eric at his mellowest and the ambient nature sees only two thirds of the tent full at two in the morning.
Saturday’s sunshine is clearly welcome as the flesh is certainly on show today. Daisy dukes and neon painted chests everywhere, with Global goers frolicking in the fields as if it’s the first sunny day we’ve had this summer… wait, it pretty much is. Marco V (7/10) plays an early afternoon set in the Gods kitchen tent which is going off like a club night as if the daytime never existed, and Dirty South (6/10), curiously dressed in a Guns N Roses t-shirt takes to the main stage bringing out beats to dance to.
For a change of pace, soulful voiced Labrinth (9/10) brings on a more RnB feel to the proceedings, playing guitar, keyboard and still managing to dance around the stage and even the most hard-line house fan seemed to appreciate the talent. Axwell (8/10) wearing his headphones like a Geordie La Forge visor and sampling REM’s ‘Losing My Religion‘, brought out the heavy beats as the sun went down and Tinie Tempah (8/10) plus special guests Yasmin, Labrinth and others gave a pretty epic performance,but it is Chase & Status’ (10/10) Metropolis Arena show that steals the Saturday limelight. The tent is full to the brim with sweaty bodies awaiting the drum and bass duo, and outside security guards have erected fences to keep people from surging forwards as a crowd builds up behind these as well. The boys put on an incredible act, showcasing hit after hit with the frenzied crowd singing along to ‘Pieces‘, ‘Blind Faith‘ and shoulder to shoulder jumping to Smash TV. Carl Cox (7/10) is playing to anotherfull tent, but the atmosphere just doesn’t stack up to the Chase & Status lot.
The line up this year has come under scrutiny for not being top heavy in the big name acts, but there is more than enough to satisfy even the most hardcore of fans in any of the electronic genres. The hospitality arena tonight alone plays host to the likes of Dirtyphonics, Camo+Krooked, Netsky and Danny Byrd – and that’s not even the main arena. Though the organisation of the festival itself wasn’t exactly brilliant and an extremely heavy handed security (resulting in one strange occurrence of a searched bag at both ends of a walkway) were on guard all weekend, it has been exactly the weekend it set out to be. One huge rave-a-thon bringing new talent to the fore and providing a showcase for acts that you might only get to see in London otherwise. Stratford this weekend has played host to a behemoth in the dance world and spirits are high as the night winds to a close, but murmurings in the leaving parties suggest that they could definitely have done with an extra day to play with.