Live Review: Gottwood Festival

To stand out, a boutique electronic festival in the UK has to keep a certain level of intimacy, provide something unique, be housed in idyllic surroundings and (most importantly) offer sets from cutting-edge DJs. Over four days, chapter four of Gottwood managed to achieve all of these, making this year a runaway success.

Nestled deep in the Carreglwyd Forest, the weekend’s experience started early on the Thursday – travelling to the Isle of Anglesey off the north west coast of Wales. Its setting was picturesque: the landscape beautiful; trees endless; beach only minutes away.

After a relatively quiet opening half-night of music at the Boxford Caravan and The Barn stages, the music really got under way on the Friday and Saturday night, with three other stages joining the fun. Playing from the kind of caravan you might have gone to Wales in as a little nipper (if you’re from the North that is), Ben UFO showcased the weekend’s first noteworthy performance. The skilled mixer offered a set that combined house, garage and techno in the easy-appealing manner people have come to expect from his sets.

The dreaded timetable clashes disrupted his set for those who caught the last hour of Crazy P Soundsystem’s selection. This meant a run to the Walled Garden, housing no less that eight projectors, positioned in an octagon, spewing an incredible morphing face (think Thom Yorke’s in the House of Cards video) and other trippy visuals onto the roof. Closing the night, at the same stage, was a b2b Futureboogie All Stars line-up of house-infused disco, which perfectly matched the lagging energies of the crowd.

The Brighton boys that we caught up with earlier this month, electronic outfit Let The Machines Do The Work, hit the High & Dry Lake to showcase their analogue sound of dynamic dance-floor house and techno. In a successful first festival appearance, the four-piece dropped a sweet selection, including those off their debut single release One Love / Brighter Day. The night went out with tracks like the Breach’s Jack (Mak & Pasteman Remix) from Eton Messy, and a selection from Maribou State. The cut-off was at 4am, but the partying could’ve continued long after.

With some leaving early (and fuel running low for the rest), Sunday was a much quieter afternoon – the highlight being some of Gottwood’s smaller attractions, such as being slumped over the kind of colossal-sized sofa you might find down Alice’s rabbit hole. But, come night, Bicep managed to regenerated the crowd, pumping smooth basslines through the impressive soundsystem of The Barn Stage. After dropping their own tunes and a hybrid of Eastern chants with old Chicago beats, their two hour set was rounded off with a bit of playful disco and house. The Wolf Music took over to close proceedings for the weekend, following on as Bicep had finished for a fitting festival finisher. On social media the next day, there was a unanimous feeling among DJs and festival-goers that this was a weekend to remember, so we’re clearly not the only ones hoping for a repeat next year.

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