Time for a guest post!
My wonderful friend Matt Strong went to Hospitality in the Park this year and made me super jealous. So I asked him to write me a review for Where’s My Tent! Matt loves his drum & bass, and has been part of the scene for years. He’s a photographer and videographer, and recently he created live visuals for Krust at the New Forms 20th Anniversary Celebration at Oval Space. Impressive, huh?
Matt’s most recent project, IDST; If Destroyed Still True, is a crowdfunded exhibition project supporting UK mental health charities. Matt wants to lower the stigma attached to mental illness by exhibiting his own photographic & film work, collated since the mid 90s, which expresses his own experience with battling a mental health illness. The IDST exhibition will be launching soon in London, the dates and locations are as follows:
Wednesday 10th January 2018 – Saturday 13th January 2018
Then moving to
Tuesday 30th January 2018 – Friday 27th April 2018
And now, over to Matt!
It seems like ages ago when I booked my pre release ticket for this years Hospitality in the Park UK festival, held in North London’s Finsbury Park. Back then no line up had been announced, and I booked a ticket with my friend George purely on instinct alone. We were lucky enough to go to the 2016 event which was Hospitality’s first ever, and it was amazing, so we knew we were in for a similar treat this year, billed as the last festival of the summer.
That’s the thing about Hospital Records, a label born over 20 years ago, it’s roster is the who’s who of our homegrown scene of Drum & Bass, and links with so many other record labels and promoters that you know you are in good hands.
Eventually the line up was revealed for this year’s HITP. Firstly they teased with the 8 stages; who they partnered with for each stage… FabricLive, Let it Roll, Deep Medi vs Roots of Jungle, Invaderz, The Incubator, Main Squeeze, and Hospital’s own Med School & Hospitality which would be the main stage.
Then the names came rolling in. Roni Size, The London Elektricity Big Band, Calibre, LTJ Bukem, Etherwood, Alix Perez, Technimatic, LSB… so many names that stood out for me on the bill but too many to name here, split across the site, and it was proving to be a jaw dropping, pedal to the metal rave. We had some serious planning to do, to try and make sure we saw everyone we wanted to on the day.
Hospitality is professional enough to not rest on their laurels, and after last years successful event, they promised to sort out what could have been improved from the first event. I think the organisers would agree with me that the hot topic last year was the sound. Due to being a residential area, the restrictions on the sound were very apparent, so it was interesting to see what they would do about that that this year. There was even a promotional film released from Fabriclive, months before the September big day, that explained about how they would overcome this, in partnership with Pioneer Audio, to deliver a big, deep, crisp sound, that so many DnB fans expect and want. The excitement building up to the 23rd September was very real.
Eventually the day came, and on a bright Saturday morning I was on my way to meet my mate George, at Finsbury Park for Hospitality in the Park 2017.
We were in the queue for the opening at 11am as we wanted to maximise our time at the festival. There was a delay getting in, as per last year too, but it didn’t spoil things too much except for the first few sets played to an non existing crowd, which we could hear from the queue. With the likes of Hospital’s very own Hugh Hardie, Makoto, and S.P.Y. opening the Hospitality stage for the early raving crew, the day started off big. Finally we got in with no issues, with professional and polite security handling the rowdy early crowd really well.
George and I started by exploring the site, ducking in and out of everything to orient ourselves, and on first impressions it seemed a little smaller than last year, but with a high standard of production, presumably to fit in all the new stages. We found the impressive line up of quality street food for later refuelling, with bars in every corner, a covered chill out area, a small fairground and various other festival favourites. We got ready to see our first set of the day – the Brazilian, S.P.Y. on the main stage (Hospitality). On the way we passed the Hospital Records merch stall, which had a crowd buying things all day. I don’t know any other label that has such a following as Hospital; with every other raver wearing something with the famous H logo on their chest, including me and George. We even bumped in Hospital’s head honcho Tony Coleman, aka London Elektricity, and got to shake his hand and wish him a great day. He had huge smiles, almost like he knew it would be already.
S.P.Y. didn’t disappoint, and the site was beginning to fill up slowly but surely. The atmosphere was fun, lively but very safe throughout the day. There is nothing quite like a Drum & Bass crowd; no posers, just people here to have a dance while listening to the very best our scene has to offer.
We had made our plan for the day, mapping out who we wanted to see, but with big set clashes all day, we had to often miss ends of sets, or the beginnings of another. This wasn’t the end of the world, but it proved to be quite tricky sometimes.
We mainly spent our day in Hospitality tent and the warehouse decor of Med School. Across those two stages we got everything we wanted out of the line up, tickling our bass tastebuds. The Med School warehouse had the best vibe and sound of the event for us, and because at most times of the day it had a huge queue to get in we were left thinking why didn’t they make this stage bigger? – still, a fantastic atmosphere in there, with highlights for us being LTJ Bukem (we shook his hand too), Technimatic, and Calibre B2B with Dbridge with a special Marcus Intalex tribute. We could have stayed in there all day and even now we wish we could have.
We didn’t really explore the harder edge of Drum & Bass on the Invaderz and Let it Roll stages, but everytime we passed them they were packed to capacity for the jump up raver, if that’s more your thing.
Lunchtime rolled round, and we opted for the best chicken burger we have ever tasted, and chilled for a while in an outdoor covered seating area, with some hip hop and disco providing the sounds while we ate. Even here the crowd were all smiles and by now the park was in full swing. It gave us some time to get some energy back for the second half of the day, with some huge highlights to come.
The sound across the site still wasn’t quite perfect, with speakers sometimes cutting out, the MC’s mic being too overpowering or simply the volume a little too low. Yes it was deep and crisp, but at times George and I could easily have a conversation without raising our voices too much, and you could hear other conversations around you. Maybe I am just used to club’s sound systems. It does seem to be a problem throughout UK festivals with most having incredibly strict noise restrictions, and as Finsbury Park is a very residential area of London it’s easy to see why they couldn’t go as loud as I’d have liked.
Roni Size’s headline set in the Hospitality’s tent was always going to be a show stopper. He performed his seminal New Form’s album, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Mercury Prize winning album. It was an amazing set, with a every track perfectly blended into each other, and it was hard to believe that the sounds pounding from the speakers were made over 20 years ago. In a few words it was fresh and inspiring, goosebumps-inducing.
So much happened across the day, with George and I feeling pretty exhausted by the time Metrik was whipping up a storm for the final set, too much to mention in this little review, but I want to finish this piece with the biggest highlight of our day; The London Elektricity Big Band, live and proud on the Hospitality Stage.
All the reviews from last year’s Hospitality in the Park mentioned The London Elektricity Big Band, boasting so much fun and not to be missed. We obviously made a B line (no pun intended 😉 ) to go see them this year for their headline gig on the main stage. Hosted by Dynamite MC, a legend in the game, and Tony Coleman on lead bass, with live drummer, brass, keys and 2 lead female vocalists, the stage was packed, a total of 19 people performing at one time. The set was an hour and half long, and we were smiling all the way through. It was so much fun to hear London Elektricity’s music played liked that; it was a flawless performance and the crowd lapped it up, the tent was packed, many had chosen to see a live band over another DJ set and that takes some doing at a drum & bass event with an incredible choice of DJ headliners. The tunes from the big band were played with the high energy you expect from DnB, with an old school vibe coming from the brass. The vocalists too were on point, and I advise you not to pass up seeing this next time at Hospitality.
Roll on next year, HITP you have only just begun and I can’t wait to see what you have in store for 2018. Much love Hospitality, big respect!
Now you’ve read this, don’t forget to check out Matt’s blog for updates about IDST!