As a dance music fan, if you were anywhere other than partying alongside 50,000 other festival goers at Long Marston Airfield for Global Gathering this weekend then you surely were missing out. With over 150 acts, this was as close to a complete dance festival as you were going to get. Fantastic acts and glorious sunshine allowed revelers to truly make the most out of a fantastic weekend.
There were several things that made the festival. Firstly, the music. Big names, performing on multiple stages across different genres of dance music set the basis of a great festival. The atmosphere and the weather both contributed to a fantastic weekend, and Global Gathering was not far away from delivering the perfect music festival.
The atmosphere was incredible. As a dance music festival, I had anticipated a lot of trouble, but everyone was incredibly chilled out. No one that we saw was out to make trouble and there were no fights to mention. There was a serious amount of drug consumption, though if this is not your thing (a group I can certainly say I am part of) it does not have a negative impact on your own experience.
The music was great. We tried to see as many people as possible, though as with every festival there are those people who you wish you had but weren’t quite able to catch (Tinie Tempah).
Our Friday started off at Will Sparks, an Australian DJ who certainly set us up for a fantastic weekend, before we headed over to the main stage to watch Katy B. Having seen her before, I had high expectations and she didn’t let herself down, with an incredible amount of energy and more familiar songs than was expected. The main stage was the only open stage at the festival with others being in tents and so creating an atmosphere was a lot harder, however this was something Katy B did not struggle with whatsoever. Oliver Heldens was one of the big name we were really keen to catch, and on our way to see him we caught the end of Danny Howard’s set. From what we heard of him he was very good. There was an electric feel in the crowd, though this may have been in part down to the anticipation that was building for Heldens, and he didn’t let anyone down. It took until the last 3 songs of his 1 hour set for him to play his own songs, but we heard Gecko (his first ever number 1 in the UK), Koala (his incredible sounding new record which comes out on 4th August – see below) and a yet to be announced song (a teaser has been released on Helden’s own Soundcoud, make of it what you think but it sounds pretty good). At only 19, Heldens already had great stage presence and his entire set was well worked. What followed this for me was the highlight of the entire festival. Chase and Status headlined the main stage and set the crowd alight with a combination of big tunes alongside the expected lasers and large quantities of smoke. They played favourites from No More Idols and More than A Lot, with a special guest appearance from Tempa T, it was not a show that will be forgotten quickly
This wasn’t the end of the fun. At previous festivals, timings meant that a choice had to be made between headliners, but at Global Gathering this was not the case. Having just seen Chase and Status, we went to see Sub Focus before heading over to see David Guetta. Sub Focus was incredible, and there is not much else that can be said about him to be honest. If you ever get the chance to go and see him live, take it. David Guetta, however, was not quite as good. In parts he was incredible though he was unable to maintain this and was very inconsistent. He had peaks and troughs, but was definitely good enough for us to hang around and he played a lot of his well known songs though not quite as we had heard them before. We were however still disappointed as in our mind he was going to be one of the highlights of the festival. He was good, not great.
Saturday didn’t really kick off until 3 in the afternoon, which is one of the very few criticisms that can be leveled at GG. There was little to do during the day. With a ride costing £20 a go, that wasn’t something that had much appeal and with the scorching heat, most of the morning/afternoon was spent cowering in a tent. Big names aren’t necessary but sitting in the sun listening to something relatively chilled would have been a lot nicer than crouching in a very hot tent. Jaguar Skills kicked off proceedings for us at the main stage, though with scorching temperatures and no wind what so ever, a lot of this was spent cowering in the shade. This didn’t detract from Skills, who was as lively as ever with some cracking basslines and an announcement half way through his set ‘This is the Police. This is an illegal rave. Please stay were you are” which certainly caught some of the crowd out. Continuing on the mian stage, the afternoon was filled with Andy C, Madeon and Annie Mac. The crowd for Andy C was massive, though for me he was slightly disappointing. His music was incredible but his MC was nothing other than incredibly irritating, which was a shame as the music was great. The crowd then disappeared for Madeon, who does not have the international recognition of many of the DJs playing the main stage. At age 20 and having been around for a while now (I first saw him at Lovebox over 2 years ago), his music is incredible and has improved considerably, though he does still lack stage presence which was surprising given he has been around for a while. Those that stuck around were treated to a great set; so much so the crowd probably quadrupled in size during the set. Annie Mac followed and she was as incredible and charismatic as always and played for well over an hour, with the crowd chanting for more. Following Annie Mac were Knife Party who struggled to make the same impact that Annie Mac had made, though they were good and played their well known songs ‘Bonfire’, ‘Centipede’ and ‘Internet Friends’.
The Prodigy were headlining the main stage and I had been looking forward to seeing them all weekend. They were however a massive disappointment. They played some classics which were good but their new material did not go down well. It was a strong start to the gig with ‘Omen’ and ‘Voodoo People’ but it went down hill from there. The crowd dwindled, though a major criticism which can be directed at the festival and not necessarily the band is that they were simply not loud enough to have a proper impact. They also had a lot of visuals on stage and without screens, large proportions of the audience could not see what was going on. We abandoned The Prodigy halfway through their set to catch the end of Sigma, who was incredible before watching Duke Dumont and then Eric Prydz. As one of the biggest names playing at the festival and an exceptional back catalogue, this was a set I couldn’t wait to see. Much to my disappointment, this was, for me, one of the worst sets I saw all weekend. 30 minutes of heavy trance was all we could take before we headed over to Alesso. Eric Prydz was supposed to be one of the highlights of my weekend and ended up being one of the lowlights. There were no drops, there was no variation; it was the monotonous tone of bass and I was gutted to walk out of that tent. But, crossing the festival to another tent to watch Alesso was a great. His crowd interaction was the best of all the artists we saw during the weekend and he must have spent half the festival’s budget on lasers, smoke, confetti and fire; he even gave Chase and Status a run for their money in that department and that is saying something. He was the perfect end to a great weekend.
Global Gathering was a great weekend. The music was great, the grounds were set up well, the food was good (though could aways be cheaper) and camping worked well. A few changes here and there would just take the festival up a notch. £4.80 for a beer is a rip off wherever you are in the world, leaving the festival involved sitting in a 3hour queue simply to leave the grounds as it was all single file, These couple of things combined with something on during the day on Saturday and the main stage having a screen would have made the weekend that much better.
Normally when leaving a festival, all I want to do is listen to the artists I had just seen. Not this time; 48 hours of almost constant dance music is enough for this week, but I will be back! I cannot recommend the festival highly enough, and make sure you pencil it into your diary for next year and get those cheap early bird tickets. I shall hopefully be seeing you there.