Thursday, 11 July 2013

Live Review: Gottwood Festival (BidoLito!)


Anglesey, North Wales

20th – 23rd June, 2013 (page 26-27)

Larger festivals, despite their mammoth budgets and capacities of a small country, have disassociated themselves with youth culture to the extent where half the acts are older than your Dad and half the crowd have brought their kids with them. Now it’s easy these days to bash the likes of Glastonbury, and you might argue that there isn’t an issue when it continues to sell out months in advanced. But there is a problem here, in that thousands of young people want to go and get fucked up in a field and listen to their favourite electronic music without having to take out a mortgage for it. I know that sounds crude, but festivals that brand themselves as ‘smaller’ like Festival No. 6, Green Man, End Of The Road, usually justify their size at the expense of being a ‘family festival’, whilst Electronic Music festivals like Creamfields and Waveform are either too full of dickheads who are going to kick your head in once they’ve eaten a plate of two pound pills or are just, well, too shit. Gottwood, with its two and half thousand capacity, on the ball lineup and an astonishingly cheap £95 four-day ticket fills a cavernous gap in the festival season, allowing a bunch of broke idiots like me to have a nice little holiday.

Gottwood’s best attribute, and what they rightly lean on when it comes to branding is their festival site. Situated in the aforementioned hills of Anglesey North Wales, it certainly isn’t the easiest place to get to, but what meets you upon arrival is certainly worth the journey. The campsite is basic, with a burger van, toilets and a large ‘chill-out’ tent providing solace for anyone who’s managed to stop gurning for five minutes. At the edge sits a rare opening in thick woodland, doubling as the entrance to the festival arena. Densely populated trees and a hastily hacked away bush land give the impression that we’re going down the rabbit hole, where vintage clothes stalls, gazebos, drinks huts and a giant swing awkwardly frame a footpath leading you towards the stages. Venture through this area after the sun goes down though, and you really start to understand how special this festival is, as fairy lights and multi-coloured beacons sit stunningly among the top of the trees, reminding us that despite the debauchery on show there is still some beauty left in these woods. Somewhere.
Thursday night acts as a warm-up, with a thinly spread lineup slowly easing us into proceedings. Manchester’s TCTS, from Bondax’s JustUs label, provides an early highlight, with the piano house grooves of 1997 and an excellent remix of Snakehips’ On & On keeping things upbeat for those early revelers. Hessle Audio co-founder BEN UFO and Belfast’s EJECA have been operating at the pinnacle of UK electronic music this year and together spearhead Friday’s offerings, with the former seamlessly blending house, techno and garage, as well as Dem 2’s Destiny (!!) to provide the most focused set so far. Ejeca’s jersey-style deep house falls on grateful melody starved ears, with his own The Way I Feel and Different Rules providing that sort of fist-pumping euphoria that makes you want to dropkick everyone around you. Tunes inevitably overlap as the weekend progresses, with Saturday heavyweights WAZE & ODDYSEY’s Bump n Grind getting a run-out from MARIBOU STATE, which alongside their recent remix of Fatboy Slim’s Praise You provides one of the most joyous, tuneless sing-alongs this side of Rolf Harris. The feet are still moving deep into Sunday, where BICEP generates that sort of weird, analogue-leaning house that made their Stash EP a 2013 highlight. Musically, the weekend keeps up with electronic music’s relentless momentum, ensuring that any of the crowd who has managed to salvage at least a few brain cells will be leaving with a basket of new favourite tunes. With one of the strongest and most consistent lineups of the summer though, its as you would expect.

The hills, the lake, the seclusion, those fucking fairy lights; all create the impression that we are in some sort of twilight zone completely separated from the rest of the world. This isn’t real life, these aren’t real people, and I know it probably sounds like I was high as fuck but I bet if you asked the organisers, an escape from reality was exactly they had in mind. Post Gottwood blues is a phrase synonymous with the two weeks that follow, as daily lives resume and we all strain to remember a time where we were back in some weird little woodland, dancing on hay-bails and screaming R Kelly songs.

Mike Townsend

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