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Live Report: Waterworks 2022 | Live

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When it comes to great pubs, great football teams, and great underground electronic music, Londoners tend to forget how sweet they are to choose. For all the talk about how Lisbon, Marseille, Berlin and Miami are where things are going downhill now; None of these cities matches London in the variety and quality of the collections on offer, week after week, week out. The Waterworks Festival, which for many London lifters now is the final entry in a long season of daily outdoor festivals before returning to clubland, aims to highlight this spectacle.

The festival emerged two years ago from a fruitful partnership between London-based Percolati (who are known for their work behind them). expensive And the body movements) and Team Love in Bristol (which runs the Croatian Festival Love International and the Bristol . Festival). Love saves the day); Both are among the most respected full-time independent merchandising companies on the scene. Percolate co-founder Simon Denby enlisted the help of Sandy Marris, a former agent and current artist director who had a lot of experience and relationships with the types of artists Waterworks was particularly interested in highlighting.

Live Report: Water Plants 2022
© Photo by Rob Jones for Khroma Collective (www.instagram.com/khromacollective)

Marris explains, “We’ve known each other for years, but got together over two private lunches as soon as Simon heard I was stopping my agency business. We were really trying to think of how to do something different and special for London.” The team wasn’t really trying to celebrate the next field day, but instead drew inspiration from smaller city festivals in Europe like a festival in The Hague called nostalgia It manages to assemble major production quality into a small urban garden space while highlighting the most local and smaller artists.

With this partnership in place, this left the critical task of finding a functional outdoor space within the relative confines of the capital. Although London is known for its vast expanses of green space (and many of its parks are commonly used for music events, ranging from Sam Fender’s Last Picnic in Finsbury Park for the strong All points east in Victoria Park At the end of August), finding the right untapped location that was large enough for Waterworks’ needs while meeting legitimate sound quality requirements (which tend to be crucial to the mix of electronic music the crew aims to deliver) proved to be a long-term challenge. “That was our demand – basically, if you’re going to have a festival like this and you can’t get a good sound, why even bother,” Maris explains.

After an East London location fell due to neighborhood complaints about sound and disturbance, organizers landed at the festival’s current home, in Gunnersbury Park, a leafy area of ​​west London that ironically isn’t particularly well known for its nightlife. Key to Waterworks’ ability to put together high-quality sound systems, there was the choice to sacrifice a legitimate main stage (and true blue headliners) in favor of several smaller, similarly sized stages with greater parity across the group in terms of size and draw for gamblers.

As Denby explains, this decision stems from a simple numbers game – “If you have one huge theater with a big headline and a big sound, you are more likely to receive complaints from locals because that stage has to be shown to many others. Solo gamblers at once. , and so the sound spreads further. With big businesses as well, you can often have requirements from a large business or its management that you want to be a certain degree higher than the act that preceded it.” By breaking things down into smaller pieces, and dividing the crowd more evenly, each stage needs less presentation but is more enjoyable for the actual gamblers standing next to it.

Live Report: Water Plants 2022
© Photo by Gemma Parker | Khroma Group (www.instagram.com/khromacollective)

This attention to detail attracted thousands of naysayers to last year’s first edition of the event, which sold tickets like hot cakes as people shouted for a good party after the pandemic-related lockdowns and the hype that had built up around the new untapped event. This year, sales have been a bit slower, in line with a lot of ongoing challenges in the industry, especially as expenses increase and attendees have less money in their pockets to spend at checkout.

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Another wrench in the works this year was the unexpected death of the Queen and the ensuing ten days of national mourning. Many, many cultural and sporting events across London have been forced to cancel their proceedings, such as the Hackney Carnival and Mercury AwardsWaterworks organizers made the difficult decision to go ahead despite some outside objections because a cancellation just days before the intended date of the event (with a building already underway and dozens of artists booked) would have meant a complete loss of wages for hundreds of industry workers and during the cost-of-living crisis, which It doesn’t seem like a viable option.

With the cautious green light, and backed by a bright, clear morning, several attendees showed up early for this year’s edition, which kicked off the proceedings with great DJs like the residents behind one of London’s best queer parties, Big Dyke Energy, as well as party starter groups Major local talents include Hyperdub’s Shannen SP, Radio 1 host Ahadadream and NTS resident Shy One. Little has changed in terms of stage design and festival feel; Marris explains that this year’s edition has seen some specific improvements to things like artist monitoring and stage adjustments that may not have been immediately apparent to bring back attendance but will allow artists to perform at their best.

Live Report: Water Plants 2022
© Photo by Jake Davis | Khroma Group (www.instagram.com/khromacollective)

You can accuse plays at Waterworks, although not clearly described as such, such as attracting a certain cross-section in terms of fan music – Cedar might be for minimal vinyl fetish, Fabric types at 8AM, hosting The Ghost and Craig in Berlin Richards . The Water Tower is good for the accessibility to the rave that comes from everyone (this year featuring Moxie, Bradley Zero, and SCP’s vets Optimo); Hi-Hat might be for people who love their music quickly and hard (Yazzus, SPFDJ, Batu); Siren, co-hosted by Resident Advisor, is dedicated to drum, bass and sound systems culture, and this year, of course, hosted Digital Mystikz.

Those who go through the lines may be seen as being limited, but Waterworks cleverly pushes these artists in such a way that the layers of their art genres aren’t as distinct as they might be – for example, this year Orbit has hosted many different music styles but championed gay DJs. Through those who represent the strength, diversity and importance of the London queer scene in the rest of the club’s culture. Caliber, a drum and bass producer, happens to be a good friend of Craig Richards, and followed up on the deadly electrophoresis of the Fabrik resident on the Cedar Theater this year. The festival also features several different types of speaker and audio system manufacturers between stages to better present subtle differences in the style and feel of the music.

However, a few of the newer voices on the block felt a bit underrepresented given their current popularity, such as The last explosion in South Africa Ambiano, but it’s a small wrench considering the quality and quantity of the rest of the bookings; From the screaming rhythms of the first lady of drum and bass (DJ Storm) to the intoxicating emotional home of live group Schatrax and the mysterious wormhole ecstasy of Spekki Webbu and Jane Fitz.

By giving themselves the vast and not so easy task of ‘Celebrating London’s electronic music culture’, you must admire the efforts the Waterworks have put together; Despite all the constant venue challenges, high expenses, and a nearly once-in-a-century royal event. Concluding proceedings in this year’s lobbying stage, South London Ben UFO Projection killer melody From North London Halogens. This kind of modern drum and bass sizzling where every frequency from bottom to top was definitely a concern in the studio for maximum effect and would have been completely lost on a lower stage at a different festival. In direct sight of the capital’s buildings and outdoors, the cheering local crowd can enjoy every inch of it – something definitely worth celebrating.

words: luis turicenta
Photography: Sienna Lauren Gray/Khroma Collection

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