Arcadia brought their brand new festival to London last weekend, flaunting an evolved production with a new arena and light show. House, drum & bass and electronic music lovers converged in awe, over 2 days, to witness the debut of Arcadia's first festival which had infested Stratford, London for the early May bank holiday weekend
Olympic Park is proving to be a great space for new London festivals lately and having one of Britain's largest pieces of public art, The ArcelorMittal Orbit, as eye candy in the distance, is a subtle reminder that you're partying on one of the coolest cities on earth.
Saturday played host to some incredible talent such as Norman Jay, Dusky, Sven Vath, Eats Everything with Leftfield executing an excellent DJ set that encompassed there leftfield house sound, a style they are renowned for. The crowd was a mix of old and new Arcadia heads vibing together, all commenting on how technically advanced the spider had become since its inception at Glastonbury.
Catching Eats Everything at Arcadia's new conception, 'The Reactor' was one of our highlights on Saturday. Walking into what seemed like a normal festival tented arena, we were pretty gobsmacked at the whole new show Arcadia had created, it was like we were literally transported into a Bladerunner set. The Reactor is visually ridiculous and cleverly put together with the deejay situated in the middle of the arena and surrounded by a circle of laser lights. Eats Everything has always been a firm favourite for the Arcadia heads, and we reckon he baptized Arcadias new baby epically that evening.
The Sunday was some drums and bass in your face action. After spending what seemed like an eternity catching up with lots of old faces (which is always nice and highly amusing), we headed into the action to see one of drum n bass's most bonafide MC legends. MC GQ (Emcee recordings) on hosting duties as Hospitality took over the Spider and caused absolute carnage. Whiney B2B Unglued where up first, both recent graduates from the acclaimed Med School camp from Hospital records, they took the levels up with some upfront DnB, slaughtering the masses underneath with some forward thinking cutting edge beats. Having such a talented and experienced MC such as GQ on vocal services was a great touch, as the Emcee recordings chief kept the crowd simmering to perfection. The last 30mins, the baton was handed over to Hospital veteran and senior surgeon Danny Byrd who always delivers and is always a festival favourite.
The whole spider show is a spectacle in itself, but The Yallor Keeninyara dance that followed was a great moment to allow for a quick breather to take in a unique aboriginal ceremonial dance that played out a story of a tribe dancing around a spider. The exception, in this case, was it happened to be bloody huge fire-breathing and laser firing spider.
Once their native ritual was complete, four familiar looking faces from Hackney took over the controls as Rudimental touched down with a varied and epic deejay set that covered a few different commercially popular drum and bass styles. It was at this point we wandered over to see what else was going on around Arcadia's nomadic festival site and grab an expensive Strong Bow cider.
Nine o'clock soon came, and the masses automatically gravitated to the Spider for the anticipated Metamorphosis Show. The show itself was a revelation of acrobats and dancers, giant bobbling jellyfish creatures from other planets, crawling baby spiders on overhead wiring, accompanied by a pyrotechnic show that synced perfectly as the performers and aerialists kept reproducing out of the spider as it lit up the East London sky with it's roaring flames, whilst warming up the folks below with the intense heat. The whole show combines elements of sculpture, architecture, recycling, pyrotechnics, lighting, circus and music into large-scale performance.
No matter where you might catch Arcadia around the world, the performance they put together is always an exhibit to behold. But I suppose what makes Arcadia so special to us has nothing what-so-ever to do with what I may have witnessed at Olympic Park over these two days. It's wasn't the amazing pyrotechnics, performers or deejays. For us its the ethos of what Acadia is all about. The Spider is built from repurposed military hardware, material that was once used to fight wars, cause damage and wreak havoc, has now been recycled and made into a purpose-built structure that helps congregate like-minded electronic music enthusiasts to dance in unison. We witnessed a monumental spectacle with high octane performances throughout and a spellbinding sensory experience that is simply one of the most unique and enjoyable raving experiences one can have, period. Thank you Arcadia for coming down to see us Londoners and blowing our minds apart, hopefully, we'll see you same time next year, ok?