Global Gathering 2010: Rated!
Long Marston Airfield, Stratford Upon Avon - 30-31 July
Photographer: Jim Stewart04 August 2010
Overall – 6/10
Global Gathering 2010 brings together some of the world’s hottest DJs and electronic music acts with some 50,000 clubbers, ravers and fans for a messy weekend of beats, strobes and all sorts of highs, set on an off-duty airfield in the birthplace of one Will Shakespeare.
This is the tenth annual festival, and the celebration comes through in many aspects of the event, if not only for the outstanding line-up including Dizzee Rascal, Carl Cox, Chase & Status, Faithless and many other top names.
The immediate feeling on walking into the arena is that every effort has been made to make this a special year for the festival: big stages and even bigger sound systems, hundreds of colourful flags flying, and the impressive abstract structures of recycled material that come with hiring a top USA design team to create elements of the festival environment.
While Sir Shakespeare may be turning in his grave, this micro-Glastonbury for the dance music masses ticks all the boxes and provides the kind of relentless non-stop weekend that they may or may not remember come Monday.
Getting there and back – 8/10
While the site - an airfield temporarily closed for business in order to make room for one of the loudest festivals of the summer – is suitably remote, efforts have been made to ensure the event is well-connected and fairly easy to reach. The town centre is a ten-minute drive away, and the full car park next to the camping area is proof that while coach services and trains with shuttle buses to and from the festival are a viable option, many have opted to take one of the nearby main roads. A carefully planned AA route with plenty of clear signage directs drivers around the town centre to avoid weekend, and three well-staffed site entrances also assist in easing the flow of traffic and the car park is efficiently stewarded.
The site - 6/10
The distance between each of the eight stages to the next is so short that when watching one set, the music from the next tent can be heard. With so many popular acts, perhaps it would have been better to open the arena gates earlier and have fewer stages with more sets throughout the day.
There’s rarely a queue at the bar, thanks to the beer vendors wandering the crowd offering pints at £4, but all the beer has to go somewhere and there aren’t nearly enough toilets in either the festival arena or campsite, leaving the drunken lads – and lasses, occasionally – to find alternative places to relieve themselves.
Atmosphere – 5/10
It’s hard to know what to expect from a festival for a music scene whose followers have a reputation for being a bit rowdy. But it’s quickly clear that sleep is not on the agenda for many people here, while passing out may be an option as the first night unfolds into the early hours. The police and their sniffer dogs are out in force at the entrance and add to this an air of unfriendliness that’s hard to explain throughout the festival and it becomes more of a struggle to see past the various other oversights.
The atmosphere here is at its best in the few hours when the sun really comes out on Saturday or at night when the music is in full swing, but neither are enough to detract from the less positive points.
Music – 7/10
It takes some doing to throw what is essentially a massive club night in the middle of a field, but the Global Arena achieves this perfectly. As we enter the night though, the Main Stage gets the majority of the attention with Paul Oakenfold and Faithless taking over on Friday with Bloody Beetroots and Dizzee Rascal taking to the stage on Saturday. Set to a backdrop of bungee jumpers and extreme thrill rides, a line-up of world-class DJs and electronic music artists supply a soundtrack which is hard to fault.
Steve Aoki –10/10
Easily providing one of the best sets of the weekend, it’s hard to shake the feeling that somebody in charge has put Steve Aoki on a little too early. The tent is a little over half-filled as he takes the stage, but those who are here are in for something special. With the occasional rock star pose, Aoki’s performance is more than just a DJ set, and appropriately the best moment is the inclusion of his Bloody Beetroots re-work of the Refused classic ‘New Noise’.
Rebekah – 8/10
Rebekah’s set keeps the energy rising for the scattered crowd, and the focus on techno and lesser-known beats offers a welcome break from the mainstream approach of the other arenas. If nothing else, this early-evening Friday slot perfectly sums up the anticipation for the rest of the weekend.
Chuckie – 9/10
Chuckie sets the tone for the rest of this stormer of a set by opening with the ever-familiar intro to Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You;. This launches in to a rollercoaster mash-up of blistering house and electro beats with anthems from a variety of genres. Scratch Perverts are a tough act to follow, but with his inspired and crowd-pleasing approach to mixing, Chuckie held on to their audience and even drew more in.
Dizzee Rascal – 10/10
Tonight, Dizzee plays frontman to a band who seem to be capable of anything the man asks of them, adding a full rock festival sound to the tunes his fans know and love so well. Opening with a rocked-up version of ‘Jus’ a Rascal’ and rolling through his biggest hits and the best songs of his four albums, Dizzee Rascal uses tonight to prove his worth as the main event, pulling out all the stops and proving that he has fully earned his headline status.