Jodrell Bank Observatory, Cheshire
Bluedot, now in its third year, positions itself at the intersection of science and music against the beautiful backdrop of Jodrell Bank Observatory.
Brimming with exhibitions, talks and a line-up that includes The Chemical Brothers, The Orb, Gilles Peterson, Hookworms and Roni Size, the award-winning festival certainly stands out among the festival landscape.
In recent memory, the presence of orchestras at festivals has usually meant classical reimaginings of dance music classics. Bluedot did it differently: The Hallé Orchestra presented a live concert which soundtracked imagery from the BBC’s much-loved Blue Planet documentary. It proved a perfect Thursday night ease-in – the beautiful sunset foregrounded by the Lovell telescope.
On a less meditative tip, Helena Hauff’s pulsating electro and ear-blistering techno was an apt choice given the cosmic surroundings of Jodrell Bank. Tracks from her forthcoming Qualm LP, including Hyper-Intelligent Genetically Enriched Cyborg, delivered otherworldly acid and breaks hewn from another galaxy. Elsewhere, veteran promoters Bugged Out! took over the Mission Control Stage on Friday, with Joy O melding world music with jacking beats and techno alongside jellyfish visuals warped and piercing red lasers.
However, it was George Fitzgerald’s live show that was a clear highlight of the weekend for many. The British producer’s set seemed to chime across the generations of Bluedot’s attendees, his own baby daughter included – she watched from the side of the stage. Obenewa Aboah’s soulful vocals on Roll Back and classic Full Circle added a fresh dimension to the familiarity of his releases, underpinned by a small studio’s worth of keys and live drums.
On the main stage, Future Islands’ brooding and often humorous set proved why they remain festival favourites while Little Dragon stirred the Martian-dressed, glitter-coated crowds even as temperatures hit 30 degrees. Debuting their new live show for the first time on UK soil, The Chemical Brothers presented a high-impact, classics-heavy set. Do It Again and Block Rockin’ Beats almost reduced the mammoth stage set-up to rubble along with the minds of the thousands of festival-goers.
Once again, Bluedot 2018 proved a master in its field – capturing a unique sense of inquisitiveness through thought-provoking talks and crowd-pleasing music. They’ve already announced next year’s event, a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the moon landings. Count us in.