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Wednesday
Aug012012

Global Gathering 2012

Following my first year at Global Gathering in 2011, it was without doubt the first festival down on my list for 2012, and with the first signs of a long overdue UK summer peeping through on Friday morning, it was once again set to be the best weekend of the year. The journey was a bit of a nightmare, as it was last year, with the shuttle buses being the most frustrating part, but before we knew it we had landed on site and the sun was beating down on thousands of festival goers. Some of the biggest names in International Dance music were on the line-up and ready to destroy numerous diverse sounding stages at the iconic Long Marston Airfield site in Stratford upon Avon.

Upon arriving at the Airfield we had a swift entry and the staff were pleasant, which allowed for a stress free start to the weekend. We then set up camp, applied the sun cream and then decided to split up into two small groups, as we have differing musical tastes, and wanted to make sure we had the full Global experience. At around 4pm we moved into the VIP woods, which was as brilliant as last year - chilled out, good people, no queues for drinks and some of the best music of the weekend ('Burning' by MK being a big highlight). The first act in the main arena were Bristol-based duo and Glitch-Hop pioneers Koan Sound, who didn't disappoint, with the duo delivering their own unique blend of heavy new age post-Dub sounds to a crowd all too ready for a weekend of madness. For the next act, we stayed put in the UKF Bass Culture Tent as Radio 1 favourite Jaguar skills was welcomed to the stage to perform a Drum & Bass infused set, that somehow managed to include tracks from The Verve, Dead Prez and The Prodigy. Although he may not be to everyone's taste, Jag has an incredible stage presence, and to his credit, won the crowd over by the end with his unique mash-up style setting the place alight. As the sun began to set, headline act and Dutch-House superstar Afrojack took to the main stage to perform - initially underwhelmed by the main stage, with the sound system struggling in comparison to those in the tents, Afrojack was able to effectively make use of the space granted to him in this arena as he drew the biggest crowd we witnessed at the festival. His set itself consisted of an energised array of Progressive House tunes, which while providing the crowd with plenty of 'hands in the air' moments, for us did have a slightly repetitive feel to it, making the decision to leave early an easy one.

After finding the sunset more interesting than most of the acts on Friday, newcomer Nicky Romero was one of the standout acts on a smaller, and the only other outside stage - he played an hour long big beat Electro-House set that drew a crowd far bigger than the stage was intended for. Spinning favourites such as 'Toulouse' and 'Generation 303', as well as a few exclusives, including one very exciting collaboration with Calvin Harris. Romero done, next up was a trip back to the UKF tent to witness Australian Dubstep heavyweights Knife Party perform an aggressive hour long set in which hits such as 'Internet Friends' and 'Bonfire' saw the tent practically explode. Knife Party were then followed by Feed Me, which made it clear that UKF had thought through their line up timings meticulously as they prepared to welcome headline act Skrillex at 1am. When the Grammy award winning American Dubstep producer finally reached the stage, the roar of the crowd was deafening and with good reason too - the first man of Dubstep played out a set as impressive as we have come to expect from him, combined with one of the best co-ordinated light shows you could wish to see. Even though we are predominatly House fans here at The House Of Coxhead, we left the tent to catch a small glimpse of Armin Van Buuren in The State of Trance tent before bed, but couldn't help but feel in awe by the sheer energy Skrillex has brought to the decks - a great end to the first day.

As the sun rose on Saturday morning, we all felt a little worse for wear and could see countless heads popping out of tents trying to catch some fresh air, with both a sense of anticipation and complete dread of the day to come. We weren't playing around on Saturday though, with the line-up streets of the Friday, so we kicked things off by going to see George Fitzgerald open the Ec-lectricity stage with one of the best sets of the weekend - this was closely followed by Rockwell, who played one of the most diverse sets of the weekend, which included Liqud D&B, House, Bass, Dubstep and much more! Rudimental's live set was abruptly moved forward an hour (because of Maceo Plex being hard work), but that didn't stop them bringing the place down, with 'Feel The Love' sending everyone onto cloud 9. We then spent some time Global tent watching Eats Everything, Heidi & Maya Jane Coles - all three are favourites of ours, but the sound system let them down, which made it a little less special than it could have been - 'Jagged Edge' was very special, though.

With the evening now drawing nearer, we decided to go and witness something ever so slightly different in the shape of Israeli Dubstep producer Borgore. Borgore performed with complete licence to shock in the form of two on stage pole dancers, which produced an enigmatic, if not slightly disturbing set that kept the crowd in the palm of his hand. Sufficiently entertained, and confused, we then made our way to the Hospitality tent for 5 and a half hours of pure unadulterated Drum & Bass. With sets from Hospitality founder London Elektricty, Danny Byrd, Netsky and Camo & Krooked, the expectations were high coming in, but we were once again not found wanting. All four acts delivered some of the best few hours of music we've heard at a festival, pushing the boundaries of what live electronic music is capable of being - the memory of Netsky playing 'Come Alive' on his keyboard guitar and singing 'Anticipate' into a voice synthesiser is still giving us shivers now. However, saying that, the highlight of the whole weekend was the closing act on the outdoor Ec-lectricity stage, who go by the name of Guy & Howard, better known by most as Disclosure. Over the past 12 months Disclosure's rise to fame has been quite incredible, but fully deserved - their unique style of House, crossover Garage, has captured the hearts of many, and it works beautifully live. They blessed a small, but truly appreciative crowd, with the biggest tracks from their flawless discography, along with a few 90s classics, and an exclusive spin of a brand new Artful Dodger remix, which is the most amazing reworks we've heard for quite some time now. The way they ended their set with the 'Running' remix and Guy on cowbells made sure that we were all walking back to the campsite happier than ever before.

Although there were a few issues with the shuttle buses, the sound systems in some of the tents were weak and the main stage acts weren't the best, Global Gathering 2012 was an unforgettable weekend for all involved. The line-up on Friday, apart from the UKF tent, was underwhelming, but the line-up on Saturday made up for it, and is without doubt one of the best day line-ups you will ever see at a festival. Most UK Festivals have struggled to blow people away with the artists they have managed to draft in this year, with Creamfields having Calvin Harris on two days running, but if you're a fan of Dance/Electronic music, then Global is everything you could ever wish for. Great weather, great people and great music. Hopefully see you there next year...

R.I.P. To the young man who passed away on Saturday.

Words by Thomas Coxhead & Henry Whittingdale.

Pictures from Global Gathering Facebook.

Edited by Thomas Coxhead.

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