On August 4th Kmag headed down to Area 21, Greenwich to party with 10,000 others at the inaugural Eastern Electrics Festival. After 5 years in the game, the EE crew were ready to put on their most ambitious event yet. Safe to say the build up had attracted a lot of hype, with all tickets sold out and a line-up boasting the hottest names across the House, Techno and Bass scene; much was to be expected.
Getting in to the festival was pretty quick and the queues were not too hulking to be problematic. On arrival, the sites aesthetics were instantly underwhelming. A dried up field and some left behind fairground rides coupled with a collection of white marquees. The classic 'don't judge a book by its cover' saying told true however. Upon finding my way over to the Black Atlantic Tent, I was instantly hit by a wall of heat and sound. It turns out those white marquees are pretty good at containing sonics as well as instantly transporting you from London sub 20 C temperatures to climates a little more akin to the Bahamas.
More importantly was that Detroit legend Mark Kinchen aka MK, was tearing into a set that had the entire crowd vibing. Records spun included his rework of Storm Queen's 'Look Right Through', a pitched down version of Mosca's 'Bax' and his Dark Blue Dub of Lana Del Rey's 'Blue Jeans', which sounded weighty when blasted through the Black Atlantic sound system. Proving to be a highlight of the festival, MK rounded his set off with the perfect 'Burnin'. An absolute banger of a track, and a classic at that. No doubts which after party I was ending up at.
Following on from MK in the Black Atlantic tent, was another legend, the mighty Kerri Chandler. Kerri is another House artist who, like MK, has acquired a whole new generation of fans under the latest resurgence of dance music. The tent was rammed with old and new skool heads alike, as Kerri got stuck in with some proper grooves exemplified by the sun drenched house of Ross Evana's 'Remake Me Whole'.
After two quality sets to kick off my Eastern Electrics experience, I headed to the bar. This was a painfully slow process throughout the first half of the festival, which lasted half an hour or more. Despite what they say, the Brit's don't like to queue. They just make a game out of it, which plays out as how many people you can shoulder out the way till you get to the bar. Tip for next year, introduce a Real Ale tent.
After stocking up on beers and a Cumberland hot dog from the tasty selection of food stalls, for which things seemed to run far smoother than there beverage selling counterparts, I had a proper walk around the site to see what was kicking off. A lot of people were getting very excited about Nick Curly in the Krankbrother inflatable dome. Then over at Main Stage Azari & III were doing their full live set. Again that inner-city festival hurdle for outside stages not being able to play music loud enough had me sunk a little to begin with. The rhythm section seemed to be the only thing carrying; thankfully Azari & III seemed to pick up a head of steam as the set progressed. With a heavy dose of charisma, some outrageous outfits and a stash of wonky bangers, they pulled an entertaining performance together.
Next up was Joy Orbison, who kicked things off with a housey set that gradually got harder and meandered down a darker route. By this point of the festival, more or less everyone was hitting full tilt and getting stuck in without inhibition, particularly the one lad who seemed to be climbing onto the speaker stacks wherever possible. There were others raving on chairs as gradually the mass of people turned the Black Atlantic stage into a swamp of bass heads going for it. Joy O's set laid down the carpet for Boddika to step up to the plates and take the crowd under the influence with a relentless salvo of hard hitting techno rollers. Judging by the overflow from the tent and reactions I overheard, this was, for a lot of the people, the pinnacle of their festival; the sweatiest and seediest of times.
Meanwhile over at the Main Stage, things were getting wonky once more. Hot Creations head-honcho Jamie Jones was entertaining a field of house heads, not to mention all the spray tanned raver’s of the big fish little fish cardboard box variety, as they flooded the Instagram servers with pictures of them striking a pose in very carefully planned festival outfits. The stage was full of VIPs having a bop and a boogie, on the ground however, it was quite hard to get properly into Jamie's set, as that kind of Deep House doesn't tend to carry so well across an open space.
So I switched things up and caught Pot-Pan closing out the Krankbrother tent. The highlight of which was the teasing in of Claptone's 'Cream', a record with one of those drop’s that just smashes it every time. I ended Eastern Electrics festival whizzing around on a carousel swing, the world spinning a little, the moon a giant in the distance, setting between the London skyline, whilst on the other side, the lights of the Canary Wharf and the Millennium Dome overlooked Area 12.
As much as everyone loves a festival, they are hard to get perfect, especially first time of asking. With the masses of preparation, legal obligations, tens of thousands of people and British weather to contend with... the likelihood is that something will go pear shaped. This was my fifth city festival of the summer and although it wasn't the most visually engaging, or varied in terms of attractions, over all, Eastern Electrics was great fun and got some key ingredients spot on.
The line-up left party-goers spoilt for choice. MK smashed it, The Black Atlantic and Krankbrother tents were top notch, the sound in the tents was much better than most festivals and to add to the mood; Team GB cleared up at the Olympics and the weather held out. Overcrowding and getting a beer was a pain, but on the whole, big ups to the Eastern Electrics crew and all involved, looking forward to next time.
Words: James Paterson
Photography: Marc Sethi
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