Glade Festival | June 14th-17th | Houghton Hall, King’s Lynn
Glade is in its eighth year of bringing together the best in underground dance music. Originally a part of the Glastonbury ‘experience’, Glade has become a fully fledged essential in the electronic calender. Production reigns have been taken over by The Secret Garden Party folk to give this nugget the shine and exuberance it deserves.
Thursday nights often serve as a little warmer-upper for the weekend’s proceedings; especially when Glade have gone out of their way to create a ‘Roswell Incident’ in the woods. The Meteor, as it’s known, is an impressive bit of stage decor with a UFO-styled DJ booth and underfoot bass thunder tickling your toes as the glitchcore piles out of the spacecraft. It’s a fine early example of the organisers going the extra mile to truly transport us somewhere else, and it feels unique.
Friday’s pitter-patter of rain never helps but never quite hinders. The Glade populace don’t stop for rain, they dance for it, because of it, in spite of it. And it doesn’t take long for the dancing to clear the skies. Freq Nasty on the Glade stage leads the day with serious vision. His brand of dub electro goes down a treat here, dirty and lowdown. Foreign Beggars present their usually drop-heavy rap with similar viciousness, and the gathered, hyped crowd responds in kind. Krafty Kuts and A Skillz move us forward with their rap vibes pushing into breakbeat and electro.
At festivals you often have to pick your battles. There are fifteen stages to choose from, The Glade stage being the main attraction, and each has a different slant and genre to add to the pot. After an afternoon session at the Origin stage being enveloped in some hypnotic psytrance from Oood, The Dance Off stage with a boxing ring at its centre surrounded with bales of hay becomes a particularly popular hangout place, watching the bold and barmy face-off in tussles which leave us laughing all the way back for co-headliners, Vitalic and Pretty Lights. The light-show alone is mind-boggling, and the mash-up electro vibe has everyone amazed. Vitalic takes the forefront with a more heads down electro vibe, pushing the intensity and causing everyone to dance hard. The night is spent wandering the site, taking in the technicolour madness and ending up like most back at the transfixing Meteor stage ‘til early morn.
With heads in slight disarray, Saturday takes a slow start. The weather seems to be playing ball too, so off to soothe our broken minds with some serious pampering, the sauna, jacuzzi and masseur helping to restore a sense of wellbeing, the perfect antidote to the hedonism. A stint at the Kosmicare tent with its soothing soundtrack and soft mattresses takes us well into the day and feeling a whole lot better for it. Next up for us were the Dub Pistols. In amongst the sea of DJs, it is a welcome sight to see a full band in full swing and as they play the classicGangsters the whole place shares a collective smile. Submotion Orchestra‘s jazz-soul takes the Glade stage that one gorgeous, textured step further.
The Psychedelic Village, incorporating the Origin, Liquid and Inspiral Lounge stages, is quite a trip, taking new age philosophies and making them real in a palpable sense. The sound systems are of the best quality and the effort with the visuals and decor is outstanding. The place had us bouncing and grinning, particularly to the highlight of the day Eats Everything on the outside Pyramid stage, who adjusted his set to the crowd and brought together techno, rave, house, jungle and electro in a funky package. As the night wore one, we focused on pushing harder into d‘n’b at the Overkill stage, Dillinja especially bringing it in his intimidating style. After two decades of smashing it, Dillinja ruled the tent with the overflowing crowd lapping it up. So engrossing was it all that we ended up catching only a snatch of Sven Väth‘s three hour set. A titan in techno, Sven has the crowd in the palm of his hand. Finally we descend the Rabbit Hole, where house music pumped late into the night.
After a couple of days of intensity, the majority of the Sunday was spent relaxing, gathering our thoughts and chatting to the headers who haven’t stopped for three-and-a-bit days. Stanton Warriors’ ninety minutes of breaks, bass and big beat was entertaining, with familiar tunes from the likes of The Prodigy and the Beastie Boys raising the roof of the Glade tent. Headliner Andy C sets the night alight with his impressive visuals and masterfully intense set that was a hands down highlight of the weekend. As the evening wound down, the fireworks and pyramid fire take centre stage and leave us all with a sense of awe and achievement.
Festivals like a Glade are few and far between, even in the flooded marketplace of today. We should pull it to our breast and support such non-corporate events because in a sea of shit festivals brought to us by phone companies, Glade stands heads and shoulders above the competition.
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Words: Philip Allen