Gatecrasher - "less a festival and more an outdoor club" - that was how one of the promoters described the Gatecrasher Summer Sound System and the crowd certainly complied with his sentiment. There wasn't a dog on a string or a can of Special Brew in sight - just loads of spikey haired, fluoro-ed up, dummy sucking 'Crasher kids. The atmosphere however was excellent - there was a real carnival feel, helped by the baking hot sunshine which held all day, the onsite fairground and England's victory.
Five tents and only one of them wasn't playing some form of house music - this was an event squarely aimed at the discerning house fan. Trance, progressive house, hard house and American/Chicago house were all catered for. The one exception was the Metalheadz tent which offered hip-hop and breakbeat by day and jungle by night. For most of the afternoon only the enormous Gatecrasher tent was full: most of the punters were enjoying the sunshine to the pumping, commercial sound of Judge Jules and Co.- courtesy of the Radio One outdoor stage.
I spent most of my time in the Metalheadz and Progressive tents but paid a visit to all the others - albeit an extremely brief one in the case of the hard house tent. I checked out Craig Richards in the afternoon in the Progressive tent, a bit disappointing with not much of the breakier sounds that appeared on the recent Tyrant mix album, and he wasn't helped by a small crowd. When I stepped out to watch the start of the football (showing on two large screens) and Nick Warren came on, it improved to a funkier sound. I took a wander and looked into the constant hands in the air, mashed up mayhem of the Gatecrasher arena, which was a bit too full on for the early evening. The football finished to wild applause and the crowds turned their attention back to getting out of it and dancing like loons. Making my way to the Metalheadz tent I caught the end of James Lavelle 'mixing' (in the loosest sense) some good but obvious breakbeats with all the skill of a four year old. Coldcut then showed how it should be done with their live resampling/scratching laptop and turntable wizardry, playing cut up versions of some of their classic tracks alongside assorted beats, old and new. Outside the site was now lit with one of the best laser displays I've ever seen, and I spent a few minutes sprawled on the grass watching then.
After midnight the jungle kicked off, and the tent filled up. The jungle was unusually varied: Goldie played an old school sounding drum-led set, Grooverider kept it dark but less hard and Fabio finished off with some funkier, more chilled grooves. I slipped out of the jungle to check out part of Sasha and Digweed's marathon 3 ½ hour set - lots of epic breakdowns and some hard and minimal beats. The sun was now well and truly up, and the everpresent background four-four beat finally stopped. Those still buzzing danced to the sounds of their car stereos. For those who had come by train (like us) the mission to get home began: a 1 mile walk, a ten mile cab ride, an hour and a half waiting for the train and an hour and a half on the train back to London. With an event this size, extra early trains or other transport should have been provided - I heard that the coaches were all screwed up as well - not good. Encouraging people to drive when they're hammered is pretty irresponsible.
Overall I had a wicked time - although after the mudbath of Homelands any sunny event was bound to be fun - with the only low point being the wait in the rising heat for the train (the morning walk was actually pretty pleasant). The lack of musical diversity was a shame, but then this was an event aimed at people who know what they like - house music. If you're a Gatecrasher fan and didn't make it then you missed a wicked day and night.
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