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April 5, 2011 / rocksandgravel

Review – LED Festival Aug 2010

Apparently the organisers of LED didn’t think there was enough going on in London on Bank Holiday weekend, so they’ve decided to throw a massive dance festival on Friday and Saturday over in east London. If you thought every electronic dance act you could possibly reel off a list was on the bill for SW4, well you’d be wrong. Keeping the southerners south and saving them a slog all the way up to Creamfields, a showcase of all the acts in the entire world of dance music descended upon London this weekend.

They’ve kept everything shtum for this brand new festival, which makes it all the more intriguing. Headlining Friday’s main stage is the man that is invading the commercial world and counting his millions, (Guetta); Calvin Harris and Audio Bullys, who are making their way back onto the radar; and then an arena hosted by Tiga’s own Planet Turbo. Everyone seems to be most excited about Saturday; the Annie Mac Presents arena is probably the second most talked about aspect, after Leftfield, whose live sets are something you need to witness for yourself to know what the fuss is about. It’s all very exciting indeed.

It’s late Friday afternoon, and as we (finally) approach Vicky Park, so far east it’s almost off the London map, I can hear shrieking as I approach the ticket gate. To my relief, it is the fairground rides throwing drunken people around. Probably not the best place to stand gazing in disbelief that anyone would want to put themself through that. With the set up of the festival yet to be announced even on the day, it is hard to decide who to see and when. I knew the programme was wrong, as it said Tiga would be on at half 6, however, according to the man himself (his twitter account) he was on at 8. Not a huge problem as it is a small festival, but it does put my twitter habits into perspective.

Even though the festival is, erm, cosy sized, it is difficult to keep track of who is where and when, and I have blistered feet from my boots. Anyway, let’s go and explore a bit before catching any acts, (via the bar for a tin of cider). Whilst my friends are dead set on catching Calvin Harris, the music snob in me insists no, sorry. Somehow I drag them over to the Planet Turbo tent, which is moderately busy, and there are two guys on stage cool as anything, having a fag and taking it in turns to spin a few tracks and push a few buttons. Their laid back stance infiltrates the air and people seem chilled out, and are kind of just shuffling their feet and making shy movements. They give us a wave and head off. I’m baffled. Who were they?!

Someone suggests heading back to the main stage. “I’m not moving!” “But?” “No!” I want to see Tiga, end of. Ok maybe we’ll get another drink. From the bar just there though. So here we are at the front, a rather slight guy comes on in a haze of smoke to a massive cheer. On come the bassy, banging beats I came here for, the intimacy of the tent encloses the bass so it can be felt. He changes pace throughout, one minute throwing on something dark and dirty, the next, something more upbeat like ‘What you need’. Behind him the tantalising display switches from battenbergs to an assortment of other kitschy objects which contrast with the heavy beats rumbling around the arena. “Everytime I look into your eyes I see the future”. My friends are trying to inform me that they’re off to catch someone else (I’m not really listening). True to form, Proxy’s ‘Raven’ rounds off the set. He extends the opening chord to wind everyone up. They know what’s coming. Some crouch down in anticipation (which seems to be the done thing when the opening drone comes into force) and of course we’re all going crazy when it comes into full force. Away he turns – the hour is up. Sigh.

I’m heading back to the main stage, trying to walk in a straight line. Guetta’s on, with an impressive light show to look at, all green and flashing. Can’t really see him, but of course he’s knocking out chart bangers, some his own, a bit of Jason Derulo, a bit of a sing-along for the crowd. Oh go on then, a guilty pleasure if you insist.

Back in the Turbo tent, there’s been a bizarre turn of events. Lots of screaming again but this time it’s a bunch of burly men on stage, with masks on, who, in technical talk, are going absolutely apeshit mental. Even the keyboard/synths guy is banging away as if he’s on a drum kit. One of them peels back his mask slightly to have a smoke and drink his beer more easily. Bloody Beetroots Death Crew 77 apparently. Great name, the thrash electro influence not generally my cup of tea; but it gets to you in a way that makes people want to head bang and air guitar. No one is, of course, and I would, except I have the whole night ahead of me and it would make me sick.

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