Thursday, October 01, 2015

At The Races

Originally posted on Ticket Arena:

Nothing signals the onset of autumn like darker evenings, adverse weather conditions and the end of the festival season. Fortunately for anyone stuck in the city that belongs in a field, Mint Festival came galloping back to Leeds on September 19th as a two-day camping event at Wetherby Racecourse. Now in its fourth year, the festival continues to showcase the best in emerging and established musical talent. Returning to Leeds after last year’s relocation to Lincolnshire Showground, Mint Festival continues to expand and this year’s event boasted an impressive eight arenas and promised amazing visuals and production. I frequently travel to Leeds from London, attending events at Mint Club and Mint Warehouse and I have always been impressed with the bookings and organisation. I missed out on last year's event in Lincolnshire, but have some great memories from Lotherton Hall and was excited to be heading back to Leeds to experience the new venue.

On the approach to the festival, the campsite was visible and there were many people that had taken the option to pitch a tent for the weekend. I decided against camping, instead opting to attend the after parties in the City Centre of Leeds. The main entrance to the festival was located only a short distance from both the campsite, and the drop off point, plus there was minimal queue time which meant we were soon inside the arena. The sun was shining, the ground was good to firm and we were ready for a weekend at the races.

Heading straight into the Knee Deep in Sound arena, hosted by Hot Since 82, Denney was warming up the crowd with acid-tinged synths and 303 basslines. After purchasing some drinks tokens and exploring the facilities, I was ready to experience more music and my group made our way to the System and Set One Twenty arena. When we arrived, Premiesku were on the stage performing a live set. I really enjoyed their track selection and have grown an appreciation for Romanian influenced techno with its deep basslines and hypnotic atmosphere. There were some familiar faces in the crowd and everyone was enjoying the music. French trio Apollonia, featuring Shonky, Dan Ghenacia and Dyed Soundorom, were the next artists on the agenda. The threesome are popular in Leeds and always entertain the crowd with their one-record-each concept. 

Although the festival was nowhere near a sell out, many of the arenas were busy, with the Bitch stage being at capacity for most of the day. I spent the remaining few hours between stages watching Luciano and Hot Since 82. Both artists incorporating steady builds, drops and breakdowns, accompanied with crisp visuals and production. Before leaving for the after party at Mint Warehouse, I caught up with Mint Club resident Ethan Marin who was keeping the dancefloor moving whilst closing the No Way Back tent. Anticipating a long wait to navigate back to the City Centre of Leeds, I was impressed that I was promptly on my way and there were no delays leaving the site, a considerable improvement on previous years. Circular resident Finn and Tom Haigh were playing in the main room when I arrived at Mint Warehouse, with Gas House Kids upstairs in the Loft. The music in both rooms continued the vibe from the festival and the up for it crowd partied through until the early hours.

I headed back to the festival early the following morning, I was there to watch Gas House Kids warming up the Paradise stage and to support Jack Bettinson and Jordan Day in the Hard Times tent. The production crew in the Elrow arena must have worked through the night to transform the stage into their Rowshow 'Sambodromo Do Brasil' theme. The Brazilian Jungle decoration, complete with a snake, was born one Sunday morning in Barcelona. Having experienced Elrow in Barcelona and more recently the Rowshow in London, I was anticipating another carnival atmosphere. Due to last minute technical issue with one of the tents, organisers had combined the Elrow and Seth Troxler Presents stages which eased the program congestion, helped further with the slight short fall of attendees on the second day and made for some exciting back to back collaborations.

The afternoon was slow to start but that soon changed once the crowds started returning to the festival site. The Sunday line-up was incredible, which meant that it was impossible to see everyone on the schedule. The production in the Elrow arena was fantastic, with DJs and performers recreating the rhythm and spectacle of a Brazilian carnival. Skream’s remix of the Chemical Brothers “Sometimes I Feel So Deserted” and Eats Everything’s “Dancing Again” generating a huge response from the crowd. System presented London’s infamous Sunday party, Fuse in another tent and the label’s refreshing sound accompanied with veterans Ricardo Villalobos and Zip provided an education in minimal techno. At the same time, Paco Osuna was expressing his precision and creativity on the Paradise stage. At this point, I headed to Elrow to watch Tuskegee close out the arena before heading on to the after party at Mint Club. At the venue, Dyed Soundorom and Enzo Siragusa treated the crowd to the best set of the whole weekend. Roll on next year.