Credit: The Garden Party
Boarding a National Express at 9am last Saturday, I wasn’t fazed by the five hours of unwarranted smells and crying children ahead of me. I was heading for two days of frivolity, ear pleasure and no-holds-barred dancing.
Recognising ten years of the popular Leeds night, The Garden Party, the teams behind The Warehouse Project, Crack Magazine, FACT Magazine and others came together to celebrate and throw one killer party.
Housed in the Tetley brewery, the new two day festival, promised to be a right old knees up with a roster chock-full of talent, and being up North, a weekend not too harsh on the wallet.
Over the weekend so many songs blew up in the tents sending everybody into a gyrating frenzy, but these were the stand-out players…
1. “Man Don’t Care” – JME ft Giggs (Played by Preditah)
Entering the grounds of the brewery, my ears pricked up as I heard Skepta’s southern tones blasting out of a little red tent in the corner. Doing the obligatory walking to the dancefloor dance, we made our way over in time for Preditah to start playing grime on grime on grime. His set was laden with bassline gems and guilty pleasure thrashers but the highlight had to be when he dropped JME’s recent release with Giggs, “Man Don’t Care”. Of course you have to get down and dirty to grime and the crowd didn’t let up - the tent got low, gun fingers got high, beer flew through the air.
2. “C’mon baby, give it up” – JohNick (Played by Joy Orbison)
It was a sunny and sticky Saturday afternoon when Joy Orbison took to the FACT Magazine tent, the crowd eager to hear what bangers he had up his sleeve. The roof of the tent was draped with streams of coloured material, almost like Rainbow Rhythms meets cliché marquee wedding. The perfect setting for the London based producer to fire out thumping disco edits, progressive poppy house and those wobbly industrial sounds typical of his and Boddika’s releases. Highlight? JohNick’s early noughties number “C’mon, give it up”. Its soaring vocals and disco strings made it a sure mover and the whole crowd two-stepped in delight. Honestly his set was just the gift that kept on giving, I came away with at least four tracks I wanted to put in this list, but alas I had to keep in mind that variety is the spice of life.
3. “Tyrion” – O’Flynn (Played by Joy Orbison)
Ok so I lied a little, here’s another stomper from Joy O, but the man was outrageous. Fringe firmly stuck to my head by this point, my little brother and I were giving it everything we had. Then the slow building tribal drums of O'Flynn's “Tyrion” started and our limbs were flailing uncontrollably. Percussion heavy bass music with African influence - this is one for the dancefloor. Released earlier this year on Blip discs, it was an instant hit but this was the first time I’ve heard it played out during a set. And I have to admit before then I didn’t think it would work, but my-oh-my was I wrong.
4. “The Warning” – Logic Richard Ahmed remix (Played by Heidi)
Practically my whole day was spent at the FACT stage, not because there wasn’t a shed load of good stuff on the other stages but the DJs just had me glued to the spot. As evening turned to night and the sea of faces surrounding me were either vacant or blissful, Heidi took the reins to close the first day of the festivities. Not letting the crowd rest for a second, her set was high octane and laced with chunky dynamic numbers. The track that stood out for me was Richy Ahmed’s remix of “The Warning”, its rumbling bassline and crisp snare cutting through the tent and gripping each and every party goer.
5. “Never Grow Old (Re-plant)” – Floorplan (Played by Julio Bashmore)
After seeing funk and soul connoisseur Craig Charles, I opted for a change of pace, hustling my squad over to see Julio Bashmore at the Crack Magazine stage. The stage looked vast with just Bashmore on it, but he commandeered the space like a pro, the chunky bass blasting out of the speakers flawlessly filling any void. The crowd whooped and cheered as “Au Seve” dropped, but it wasn't until he threw out Floorplan classic “Never Grow Old (Re-plant)” that everyone truly lost their shit. Yes it's an obvious song, an anthem even, that’s been doing the rounds for a long time but it never fails to hype up an audience. Electronic keys pierced the air and gospel vocals echoed around the tent, then we were into the evening, prepared for the next slice of musical triumph.
6. “Feeling” – Lump (Played by Futureboogie)
I for one am a sucker for jazz and disco and Futureboogie boss Steve Nickolls was sure to select some movers and shakers. They've got some incredible releases under their belt so their set was guaranteed to supply the goods. So I journeyed back to the smallest of the stages, the Just A Little tent for some ideal afternoon sounds. Revellers cried Whitney Houston lyrics as Genius of Time track “Houston We Have A Problem” was thrown out on the dancefloor, but the standout player in the set was Lump’s soothing track “Feeling”. The bouncy piano melody overlaid with dreamy floaty vocals was an ideal selection for some afternoon tango-ing.
7. “Pontape” – Renato Cohen (Played by Bicep)
Taking to the stage for the penultimate set of the day were Northern Irish duo Bicep and boy were we in for a treat. It was a chunky and powerful two hours and the boys expertly piloted their way through rumbling techno and meaty house numbers. But it was Brazilian producer Renato Cohen’s track “Pontape” that thundered through the tent, rocketing the tent into delirium. Like the constant build of a revving engine, each drop came with a thwack marking it as the most memorable track of the two hour slot. The tent was brimming with bodies and rightly so, these guys put on a show - the perfect appetizer before King Kerri.
8. “Blue Monday” – New Order (Played by Kerri Chandler)
With the second day coming to an end and the sky a pink canvas, everybody was quickly securing their spots at their desired stages, preparing themselves for one final bout of dancing. We knew where we were headed, no doubt about that one. The boss, the daddy – Kerri Chandler was stepping up to the plate for a two hour masterclass. Seamlessly mixing energetic thumping house with deep and soulful tracks, he also paid homage to Sunday afternoon’s maestro Todd Terje. He dropped seminal track “Inspector Norse” to a sea of smiling faces, including Todd himself who was seen humbled by the tribute. But the truly special moment came when the familiar electronic sounds of “Blue Monday” washed over the tent, giving the crowd a whole new lease of life. When a British classic is played, a British audience goes wild. Hats off to Kerri, an artist who has genuinely perfected his craft – what a way to end the weekend.
9. “Lockdown Party” – The Mole (DJ Sprinkles Crossfaderama) (Played by Crazy P)
I knew I had to check out an after party and there may have only been the four but the line-ups were solid. Taking place in the city centre, there were two parties at Wire and two at Hifi, with Black Coffee, Julio Bashmore and others taking the helm. Opting for the Sunday night at Hifi, headed up by Crazy P and Romare, we made our way to Leeds city centre raring for a few more hours to throw shapes. Having missed Crazy P during the day, I was eager to hear their musical minds at work. A set full of body movers and disco groovers had us locked in for the entire set, but there was one track that had me entranced - DJ Sprinkles Crossfaderama of “The Lockdown Party”. Queue me floating around the dancefloor for 11 minutes blissfully unaware of my surroundings.
10. “Hit It n Quit It” – Jamie 326 Cratebug (Played by Romare)
With an insanely skilled live show in the afternoon, Romare played a second spiced up club set bringing the night time vibes. The early 3pm slot he had during the day left the tent half empty, which should have deservedly been packed to the rafters. But the nocturnal slot was a sure winner, firing out tracks that were sure to get bums off seats and bodies twirling. Romare teased us with the world’s longest build-up of The Bucketheads “The Bomb”, eager faces waiting for the ever-nearing drop and finally, bang, we were put out of our misery, able to revel in 90’s dance ecstasy. But the highlight, a track heard at least three times during the weekend – the trundling disco fireball “Hit It n Quit It” from Jamie 326 & Cratebug. This is deep down funk at its best and the vocals cut through the club claiming everybody in their path.
Fingers and toes crossed that this little festival makes a big comeback next year. Its musical offerings were huge and its vibe was warm, friendly and full of happy faces. 2016 - I’ll be there with bells on.
Credit: The Garden Party