Britain’s climate is a cruel mistress. No business feels its bitter sense of irony more than the business of outdoor music events. Festivals and day parties can be planned with the highest of hopes as April’s ticket punters dream of an August filled with hazy days of sunburnt two-stepping. At the same time however, we are all crossing our fingers. The UK’s weather is a game of chance and the dice is loaded. Its sting was all too present in the Uber journey to an obscure ‘island’ in East London as July’s month long heatwave yielded to the all too familiar grey. However, Mother Nature forgot two things: how hardy us Brits are to a spot of rain and how great a Percolate party is, regardless of precipitation. It rained and rained but spirits never dampened, brollies raised high in elation.
With five years of experience under their belt, Percolate’s first foray into festival-sized shenanigans was far from a fumble. The organisers shunned unnecessary bells and whistles, focussing on what really we all really came for, good DJs playing on good sound systems; something that London outdoor events fail to deliver more often than they should due to sound restrictions. No such problems here. The sound quality on the towering main stage was brilliantly powerful and warm, so much so that even from our spot some distance back, we still felt very much in the middle of the action.
It was a similar success story for the DJ programming. The roster avoided the same old ticket-shifting superstars in favour of some of the finest selectors across all flavours of house and techno, from the clinically precise techno of Objekt to the acid party starters Paranoid London. For us, it was all about the inimitable DJ Koze. Rarely seen in London, we snapped the opportunity to catch him at the helm of a big system. His headline set was all we had hoped for, eclectic and unusual, layering wonky cuts like ‘Atom TM – Ich Bin Maine Maschine’ over heaving house and techno basslines. A quick intermission trip to the smaller second stage for Sonja Moonear was another highlight, energising the crowd for the final hour with splinter-sharp electro.
As the day drew to a close, Koze played us out with an encore spin of his now anthemic edit of Låpsley – Operator, much to a soggy crowd’s delight. As its disco chords filled the night sky, we took a moment to reflect; Percolate’s next big step was a triumph in expanding their intimate family knees-up vibes to the big open air platform. Here’s hoping there’s a 2018 return for the party in the perfectly round park.
Words by David March.
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Photos credit: Michael Njunge and Gemma Bell for Here & Now