Global Gathering 2006
Photographer: Sarah Pooley30 July 2006
Long Marston Airfield, Stratford-On-Avon - 28-29 July
Click here for our 'View From The Tents' review, or read below for the ultimate Global Gathering overview...
man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils."
--From The Merchant of Venice (V, i, 83-85)
Although Global Gathering is now celebrating sic years as a summer fixture, this is only its second as a two-day affair. With headline crowd-pleasers like Daft Punk on Friday and Fatboy Slim on Saturday, the festival seems to be going for the jugular this year and, with an expected 45,000 people descending on the beautiful and idyllic town of Stratford-upon Avon, it is sure to be an interestingly messy event – one that surely would have the bard making shapes in his grave.
On entering the site you are overwhelmed by the size of the place. After coming to GG last year the atmosphere this year feels slightly different. It seems more relaxed and spread out (this could just be the affects of the beating sun playing games with my mind but I am instantly impressed). After setting up camp in a sea of tents, literally sharing pegs with the tent next to you, we head into the actual event. The sound coming from the tents is truly deafening, with even the mobile urinals that are dotted around the site reverberating to the bass. The BBC outdoor stage is the first port of call. The ground in front of the stage is covered in sand to give it a beach party feel and the few hundred people that are there (most of the rest are still setting up camp at this point) happily bop away to none other that the grandad of house Mr Pete Tong. This guy has done so much to introduce dance to the masses that to stage something like this without him seems ridiculous. However, looking at some of the people that have turned up, popularity may not always be a good thing. Luckily, the organisers manage to keep the Rockport and Burberry crew caged in by providing a home-from-home in the form of a hastily constructed arcade area.
We head over to the VIP area first to check out the Hed Kandi tent. Once getting past the ever growing number of Rab C Nesbit security guards (I can't imagine there being any bouncers left in Scotland this weekend) I am mightily impressed with the pirate ship that has been beached in the middle of an airfield. With palm trees and hammocks it looks the business, judging from the number of people here however, it looks like there's been a 'walk-the-plank' session, so we swim off and dive into the Essential Selection tent. We we're just in time for the start of Nic Fanciulli. I have always respected this guy and over the last few years he has progressed to 'Superstar DJ' status. It isn't hard to understand why. With a combination of funky, deep dark techno and uplifting beats, he leaves everyone in earshot grinning more inanely than that Welsh twonk from T4. It's a rare thing at dance festivals to stay for the entire set of one DJ, particularly when there's so much going on. Fanciulli was so killer however, that we missed out on seeing the equally legendary Krafty Kuts. Line-up clashes dog all festivals, but GG seems to have gone out of their way to make artists we really love go up against each other in the schedule – reassuring ourselves that it's not personal we set off for the Global Arena tent to see le man Steve Lawler.
Steve delivers an amazing performance every time I see him and his residency at the End is as famous as the club itself (is there a better club?). When we get there the tent is like walking into a church on a Sunday morning, only the dedicated have arrived. However as time progresses, it's obvious that something isn’t right. The atmosphere is poor, the tent quiet. Despite our repeated efforts to scream in strangers ears and dance around like demented kangaroos, there is no escaping it, Lawler's having a flop. This is nothing to do with the music that he plays, but more to do with the fact that Steve is unlucky in his line-up placing – up against other big names early on in the evening. It's difficult trying to dance to such deep f**ked up music when the crowd is so small. We Salute his Steveness, bow in reverence and promise him under our breath that we will be back to pay homage at The End very soon.
Attempting to catch Layo & Bushwacka in the 15 minutes left before Daft Punk proves futile but fun. On the way we stop in the VIP area to use the toilets (those things are amazing, wallpaper and mirrors, I mean, they could make you forget you're at a festival). After leaving here we find out that Daft Punk are delayed and aren’t going on until 12. We have 45 minutes to kill. Back into Layo & Bushwaka who completly tear the place up. Global Arena is up next to try and see Deep Dish. Sprinting across the field faster than Rooney at Ronaldo we dive into the Iranian house mastros for a solid five minutes, before realising we've no time to lose.
The tent is bulging, Daft Punk haven’t played in the U.K. since 1997. The lights go down and they step out like extras from Flash Gordon through the dry ice. Two robotic heads on stage. The lights turn from pure white to multi-coloured and an orgasmic noise thunders through the crowd as the anticipation goes ballistic. The crowd are brilliant, from the guy dressed in a skeleton outfit to the 52 year-old woman dancing on her husbands' shoulders, everyone is whooping like the bunch of mad, pumped up lunatics they are. The music begins. ‘Around the World’ and ‘One More Time’ do absolutely nothing to calm the lunacy, the performance is out of this world, a cross between Star Wars and a seminar in musical excellence, every note dripped with power and meaning, and for a few all too brief minutes, Daft Punk are Global Gathering. Then two massive curtains fall and the lesson was over. As the curtains closes I'm carried on a wave departing the tent, my heart going out to Justice who are on next.
After finding the use of legs again, we end up in the Strongbow House. It's good to see them back as they weren’t at GG last year. The tent itself (or house as they now like to call it) is brilliant, like a Big Brother house with real people inside. Lighting and sound are brilliant and the number of people are just right. We stay for the obligatory free cider and after stopping off for a cup of tea and a Nutella crepe it's to the land of nod that we journey in order to prepare ourselves for round two.