Eastern Electrics @ Knebworth Park 02-04.08.13

With festival season now at full tilt Bearded saddled up once more and ventured to Knebworth Park for Eastern Electrics first foray into hosting a full scale festival.

Aug 2nd, 2013 at Knebworth Park / By Matthew Bayfield
Eastern Electrics @ Knebworth Park 02-04.08.13 The scaling up of festivals has long been a thorn in the side of many promoters. Going from one well curated day to an entire weekend has seen many events stumble greedily into the classic pitfalls of uneven line-ups, unsuitable venues and bar queues so crowded they resemble production stills from Gone With The Wind. This August saw Eastern Electrics take the plunge however, relocating to Knebworth Park, previously host to such masters of excess and ruin as Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones, and with around one hundred and forty acts over six stages they certainly weren’t doing things by halves.

Of the three days the Friday (running a marathon 2pm ‘til 6am) was certainly the most impressive line-up, the main stage alone boasting the consecutive crowd pleasers of Huxley, Bicep, Deetron and Maya Jane Coles (whom The Beard hasn’t seen put on a poor performance once across 2013 thus far) before it was barely tea time. The Black Atlantic stage however was where the real treasure was to be found with two of the finest sets of the festival n the form of Theo Parrish and Hessle Audio’s Ben UFO. Admittedly it’s a bit of a standard gripe for a festival with a line-up as big as this but taking into consideration that two other stages on the day boasted full takeovers from San Francisco’s Dirtybird and Bristol’s Futureboogie labels respectively it was impossible to avoid overlap. This problem was eased somewhat by a simple site layout that remained easy to navigate even when shitfaced.

Saturday was a late start for The Beard as we elected to sit in the camping area drinking Brian Blessed’s body weight in gin and eating a cold tinned curry from a can, gamely donated to us by our conscientious Mancunian neighbours.

We did finally stumble down to the Switchyard arena, however, the stage design of which resembling something like if Jim Henson’s Creature Shop were asked to set dress season two of The Wire (rusty shipping containers, wooden pallets, giant inflatable caterpillars, robot dancers on stilts, hanging fried eggs and an inordinate amount of people milling about on drugs.) At one point during Heidi’s blistering set we got all Robert Shaw and helped some people wrestle an inflatable shark to the ground. It truly was like Disneyland for adults with excess serotonin levels and heavy pupil dilation.

Another triumph in design was undoubtedly the Igloovision tent; an enclosed space which boasted an array of animated visuals and projections akin to a Gaspar Noe film and also held another highlight in Roman Flugel’s first of two appearances over the weekend.

Sunday, running from 2pm until 10pm, saw a much leaner crowd then the previous days, but this proved to be no negative as it made getting to the (moderately extortionate) bars easier. Although not quite reaching the peaks of the previous days in terms of line-up (particularly Friday) there was still plenty on offer, with the likes of Richy Ahmed, Kyle Hall, and (an albeit slightly disappointing) Kerri Chandler in the mix. Regrettably we had to skip the legendary Masters At Work closing out the festival on the main stage as over at the Star Of EE Pub tent (which as the name suggests featured its very own alcohol dispensary) Skream was hosting a very special two hour disco set with help from Sgt Pokes on mic duties. The vibe was pure joy throughout (a stark contrast to the frequently po-faced nature of much of the electronic music spectrum) and it was refreshing to see a decent bit of light hearted mischief in the packed and sweaty tent, including some particularly entertaining emceeing from both Pokes and Skream and was, for us at least, the standout set of the weekend.

In summary Eastern Electrics was an absolute riot from start to finish, with as much time dedicated to the venue and overall atmosphere itself as the frankly peerless line-up. If there were any real criticisms to be had it would only be in the costs of drinks within the arena (even a merciless 3rd world oil baron would probably agree £4.80 for crap cider is exploitative) and the rude, impatient nature of the security staff, who one can only assume were just angry they weren’t allowed to join the party. For a first year as a full scale festival EE went off without any major issues and with any luck the promoters will have ample years to fine tune the details.