We're not sure but we THINK Dave Jenkins had a pretty good time at Finsbury Park...
When it comes to legendary gigs, Finsbury Park is a greedy old sod - over the years, it’s seen way more than its fair share of historic shows.
A stone’s throw from the Astoria where Hendrix first set fire to his guitar in 1967, the north London site has magnetised a whole gamut of greats over the decades: from Kiss to Bob Dylan, The Sex Pistols to New Order, Pulp to Pearl Jam. It was the venue for Rage Against The Machine’s anti X-Factor No 1 celebration show and reunion tours for The Stone Roses and Madness, and has been home to many long-running festivals over the last 20 years such as Wireless, Fleadh, Rise... and, last weekend, Hospitality In The Park, one of the most exciting bass music gatherings London has seen since Raindance set up shop on Jenkins Lane.
Real talk. What they hinted at with their successful debut big outdoor all-dayer last year has now been realised and vastly compounded. From lay-out to line-up, Hospitality (the events arm of 21-year-old London D&B label Hospital Records) had clearly invested attention to detail into every aspect of the event. Better sound, minimal queues, a sheltered funk and disco canopy with enough tables and dancing space to both feast and get freaky, little soundclashes between tents, decent food stalls... and a widescreen line-up to make any discerning bass music fan’s jaw drop.
With every low-end base covered, there wasn’t a token subgenre representative in sight as the event celebrated the full bass spectrum. Entire arenas were dedicated to every flavour on bass music’s currently piquant menu, all hosted by some of the most respected names in their fields. Mala’s Deep Medi Music joined the dots between dubstep, grime and jungle with an obscene range of skillsmen, Belgium’s romper-stomping bassline crew Invaderz ensured the very best of jump-up was represented at full throttle, Fabriclive tethered the tendrils between house and jump-up with an impeccable roll-call of musical misfits while Czech D&B megafest Let It Roll played host to the titans of tech. That’s before we even begin to consider the festival’s in-house arenas: the one-in/one-out Med School tent and the main Hospitality arena, an XXXL big top that was home to the label’s biggest guns and friends.
From Bukem to Black Sun Empire, Caspa to Clipz, Maduk to Mala, Roni Size to Remarc, LSB to London Elektricity’s Big Band, Kings Of The Rollers to Keeno, the whole day was a Class A ‘spoilt for choice’ scenario, the only drawback being a lingering feeling that even if you cloned yourself five times over, you’d still risk missing out on a great performance somewhere else. But this was drowned out by a sensation much stronger - a sensation perhaps best described as ‘vibes, mate’.
Every single person in attendance seemed to be fully charged on positivity, making it one of the friendliest London festivals I’ve ever experienced. The DJs were on similarly buzzy A-games: while some festival shows are watered down with big tunes, to account for the fact that some of the crowd haven’t heard of them, at Hospitality In The Park the DJs knew they had a crowd of clued-up fans in front of them who knew their beats and had chosen to see them play over some very stiff competition in neighbouring tents.
DJs who were happy to dig deep and felt that this wasn’t ‘just another festival gig’, and a 12,000-strong crowd who cheered the DJs' most obscure selections and felt like they were there for the music, not just to be squeezed for money like many other festivals (especially London daytime ones); these essential elements created a perfect storm and an en masse feeling that we were in on something special. As such, the entire festival was a non-stop series of special sets and musical moments, whichever arena you found yourself in.
This particular reviewer had his mind-melted by Caspa’s ghetto-bouncing swagger, Mat Zo’s jittering tech-funk MRSA set, Nu:Tone’s scorching exploration of soulful and dark contrasts, Krakota’s turntable-melting Hospital history set, Break’s funk-frazzled roller rampage, Clipz’ incredible comeback throwdown and Mala’s faultless spiritual end-of-night elevation sensation (among many other highlights). But elsewhere, 11,999 other ravers were enjoying their own unique combination of special moments throughout the day, all under no illusion that this was another one of Finsbury Park’s truly legendary gigs. Long may they continue!
Words: Dave Jenkins Pics: Decoy Media
Tags: Hospitality In The Park, Finsbury Park, Hospital Records, Mala, Deep Medi, Invaderz, Fabriclive, LEt It Roll, Bukem, Black Sun Empire, Caspa, Clipz, Maduk,Roni Size, Remarc, LSB, London Elektricity, Kings Of The Rollers, Keeno, Mat Zo, Nu:Tone, Krakota, Break, bass music