You may have noticed from this blog that my summer season is always super crazy! From end of April til early September I had somewhere to be every weekend, most of them festivals. I had one weekend day free, the 18th of August, and I had it booked in my calendar as a chilled sofa & Netflix day… until Elrow Town was announced. Fatboy Slim playing in the Olympic Park? Sold! Gone was my only chill day of the summer and in it’s place came the colourful, crazy madness that is Elrow!
I’d never been to a proper Elrow party before, but I’d heard the stories of LOTS of inflatables, streamers, circus performers and confetti! I couldn’t wait to join the madness so I was eagerly awaiting this Sunday in August…
Thom, Laurie, Iain and I convened at Stratford station about 2pm and then followed the crowd heading to the site in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It was about a 15 minute well signposted walk to the festival, and we were lucky in that it was a gorgeous sunny day! After a short queue and security including metal detectors (put my mind at ease!) we were in! They had a token bar system which was mildly annoying but unlike WeAreFstvl, the queues for both tokens and the bars themselves were minimal all day, and we picked up our tokens when we first arrived to save hassle later.
Being sensible, I decided to line my stomach before we properly got dancing, and beelined straight for Jama Havana for a Cuban sandwich… I’d seen these guys on Instagram as was delighted when I saw they were at Elrow! It was perfection; pork carnitas, salami, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard.
First on the agenda was the 2 Bears in The Cave big top tent. This tent had a jungle theme, with a huge neon lizard face above the stage/DJ area. It was our first slice of Elrow and it was just like everyone had talked about. Within a few minutes of being there, characters came out on stilts and walked through the crowd, hundreds of inflatables were thrown out into the audience including blow up bananas, snakes, ice lollies and of course, beach balls. And only a few minutes after that, the cannon shot streamers up high and they cascaded down. It was absolute madness! Combined with the 2 Bears signature dancefloor house it was the perfect introduction to Elrow.
We popped out to do a lap of the site and get our bearings. The first place we walked past was the Absolut Pink Cathedral – a big inflatable church playing disco tunes! I wondered why there was a huge queue, until I noticed that inside the church was a roller rink… They had a free roller disco! As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs I am RUBBISH on roller skates/ice rinks else I would have definitely given this a go.
After a stop at the bar we picked up our friends Gema, Cat & Katy who had just arrived, then went back to The Cave for Shy FX. We were all very excited for this one as he’d been a favourite set of ours from Boomtown Fair just the week before! It was a boiling hot day and got pretty rammed in the tent but the atmosphere was buzzing and we managed to find some space by persevering and moving further in. Shy FX played his signature bouncy, bass-heavy beats and had us all shouting the words with our hands in the air. During the set, some giraffes on stilts came out into the crowd. Giraffes are my favourite animals so this was perfect for me!
After Shy FX we moved to the main stage for the first time. I was truly in awe of it’s design, beautiful, unusual, epic and so quintessentially Elrow that it was perfect: styled as a huge psychedelic set of cogs and hexagons in neon colours with the DJ booth up high. Idris Elba was next to grace the stage, and started his set with an interesting mix of the James Bond theme (hint much, Idris?) and continued it with fast paced crowd pleasers; giving us plenty to bounce to! You can watch/listen to his full set back here:
We stayed at the main stage for the rest of the festival. There were some awesome large puppets and stilt walkers that kept walking through the crowd, including a giant wasp/bug on huge wheels, and a doctor on stilts who gave me some ‘medicine’ which turned out to be jelly sweets in medicine-like packaging! Even the tiny details were thought of!
After Idris Elba was Claptone, and though we were all still having a good time, I must say the music for this hour was so so. Nothing to remark. I was hoping for more from the DJ only one step down from the headliner Fatboy Slim, especially after such an awesome set from Idris! We entertained ourselves by chatting to strangers around us. We were fuelled by numerous hours of drinking vodka so this part came easy!
At 8pm the sun was coming down and Norman Cook aka Fatboy Slim took to the decks. I’ve seen FBS many times and he’s mostly been amazing, apart from one disappointing time at Glastonbury a few years ago. I had hoped for a hits-filled setlist and it was packed enough to satisfy me! He opened with Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat and the place went wild. By this point it was full dark and the beauty of the main stage was unveiled! It was gorgeous in the daytime but when night fell they turned on the projection mapping and the cog came to life, literally!
For almost 2 hours we jumped and stomped to the epic Fatboy Slim. It was an incredible end to a wonderful sunny day in East London. He finished with Right Here, Right Now, and that had us dancing all the way to the tube station. I have to say the location of this festival is great, about a 15 minute walk to Stratford station. We’d had such an epic day and it makes it all the better when you can get home easily afterwards.
Sunshine, beats and surprises!
Thanks Elrow Town London!
See you in 2019!