Tokyo World 2015

From tiny acorns, mighty raves grow.

Bristol’s Tokyo World has mutated from a homegrown party for like-minded mates to a 15,000 capacity event featuring a fire-breathing volcano, and it’s now capable of attracting techno royalty like Jeff Mills and Derrick Carter alongside the more established bass-orientated acts that have always dominated the festival’s line-ups. 

And on a sun-drenched Saturday in September, the transition from local attraction to full blown festival was complete. The unseasonably good weather clearly helped to get the punters through the door early, and the DJs in a raucous mood: by 5pm the bulging crowd on the Mutiny drum ‘n’ bass stage was looking encouragingly like a 5am gathering, as the dub veteran David Rodigan did his best to out-do Ed Solo with jungle classics (and some serious dance-moves) on the stage next door. As the sun dropped behind the Shapes stage, Midland shifted from nu-disco nuggets to stylish mid-pace house, and DMZ legends Mala and Coki rolled out rumbling, heads-down bass weight at the Tokyo Hifi shack. 

On a weekend in which every dubstep DJ and his dog were in town for the 10th birthday celebrations of Bristol hero Pinch’s Tectonic label, the DMZ sets were a welcome reminder of dubstep’s short-lived but transformational time in the sun – and why that deep, meditative groove can still be so strange and seductive. Jeff Mills cut a slightly forlorn figure back on the Shapes stage, but brought a welcome dose of sleek motorik techno to the festival’s closing session. Booking Roots Manuva as the main stage headliner was a shrewd move: his forthcoming album contains some of his strongest material in years. If the set’s slower moments couldn’t quite hold the crowd’s rapidly diminishing attention span, then the longstanding rapper’s tunes weren’t to blame: Tokyo World was really all about the DJs, and the crowd came ready for dancing the night (and day) away.