Writer Mark Roberts / Photographer Jessica Whitty
MADE Festival started out in 2014 and in its eight-year run it’s gone from strength to strength. This year MADE moved from Digbeth to Wolverhampton’s Dunstall Park increasing its capacity from 10 000 to 20 000 people.
After a bit of a mare trying to find the artist entrance, photographer Jess and I get swept through security (who temporarily confiscate my glass fragrance bottle until the end of the day) and we’re off to the MADE stage to see some of the BIMM Showcase.
I hear from people throughout the day that the queue for MADE hasn’t been amazing, a few people mention there were people climbing over each other, and the queue taking over an hour and a half to get through. Luckily, we don’t experience any of this.
On the MADE Stage, featuring a cool bull wearing sunglasses, and breathing steam out of its colourful nostrils on top, we find Amadeus TMM – a grime artist from Wolverhampton.
“A Baptist, no one can match this,” he cries with a relaxed confidence, “if you can’t handle the heat, get out of the kitchen.”
Amadeus is killing it – the audience doesn’t feel nearly large enough for this talent. Jiggs is brought on stage and the duo perform ‘Formation’ a song about solidarity with your chosen group. The culmination of both acts hits me with force like a jab to the face. If I’ve convinced you to check out Amadeus, he’s playing the Commonwealth Games on 4 August, although he can’t tell me where or what time as of yet.
I move on and walk around the festival a little bit, dropping into a couple of DJ sets, one by Jack Gardner on the Levels stage, and Jay Hatton on the Weird and Wonderful stage, who are both excellent at what they do, especially Hatton’s garage mixes of Rihanna.
After a while, I find myself back at the MADE stage for Bad Boy Chiller Crew (BBCC) from Bradford.
The set opens up with a news report about their top ten hits and their future super stardom. Every single phone is out in the audience, the stage is packed and from the moment BBCC starts and you can see why.
Their energy is electrifying. The group spit bars with power and efficiency as the garage beats layered underneath provide a grooving backdrop. I look around and there are more Rick and Morty based clothing items than you’d find at Comic Con.
No one gave me the bucket hat memo, but to be fair I should have realised.
The shouts of “oggy oggy oggy” from the stage get the only appropriate rebuttal of “oi oi oi”. It’s the first, but definitely not the last time we will hear this ancient British ritual today.
The bars continue to flow and roll like a dog playing in a puddle (in the best way). BBCC tells the crowd: “Fucking give it to me” and they do, jumping is the new dancing.
After grabbing some food – a toastie and chips is £11 (and yes, I do feel robbed) I head over to MADE stage again where Girl Grind UK are just finishing their set. The sound moves from grime to garage, their confidence oozing out into the crowd. “That’s my shit” the stage exclaims, it is indeed their shit.
I am sad I miss most of this set, it’s a serious vibe for the two songs I’m there.
Reepa of Wolves is straight on next.
Reepa is winning the award for henchest man at the festival, remind me not to get in a fight with him. The bass runs, brooding underneath the track with his bars cutting through like a knife to the heart. Reepa’s hook of “run with the pack, run from the pack” drills into my head, it’s going to be there for a while.
Reepa brings out Trill Troy who is from Birmingham calling him a “saucy motherfucker” and the show goes up a level. I turn around and another Wolves artist NeONE the Wonderer is standing behind me, enjoying the show. We trade hellos and smiles and continue to be blown away.
“Man! I feel like Don Corleone, I don’t need anyone,” Reepa proclaims, there’s a constant duality in his lyrics between responsibility to your community, and responsibility to yourself. The crowd is small but easily the best crowd of the weekend. A mosh pit opens up and for the people in it, it might be the best gig of their life – it’s definitely the highlight of my day.
Next up I go to Weird Science and hit up Kings Of The Rollers who pack a set of dirty DnB bangers.
‘Mr Happy’ by DJ Hazard and D*Minds makes its first but not last appearance of the day in this set. The dystopian sonics protrude through the bass, the sound of a giant metallic insect taking flight over incessant beats.
The MC bounces from foot to foot like a rave Muhammad Ali, coaxing the crowd to join his energy and the packed-out tent do. It’s one hell of a show.
At this point Jess and I decide we need some different fun. We jump on the fairground rides where we giggle and scream; filled now with adrenaline we head over to Afta Dark and catch Jaguar whose blend of filthy danceable beats with pop tunes like ‘Fergalicious’ and ‘Pump Up The Jam’ has everyone moving across the dance floor.
The set is tight and enjoyable when 12 members of the security team rush over the barriers for an unknown reason?!
I throw my notebook in my bag and vibe for a little while. After a few more acts we head over to the headliner AJ Tracey on the MADE stage once more.
AJ Tracey’s set begins with a solemn piano juxtaposing the trap style beats underneath and hi-hats scattering across the stage. He goes on to remind the audience, through his rhymes, about conquering the London grime scene. The bull is back breathing smoke to the beat.
‘Reasonable’ starts up, Tracey punctuates the beats with his trademark flow, “I’ll never pick sides, it’s a free for all,” he calls. Complete calm is Tracey’s state, at ease with his position. Tracey calls for a mosh pit, but it doesn’t arrive from what I can see and I understand why.
Tracey’s tempo is slow, lacking the adrenaline fuelled beats from earlier acts. His ease sometimes leaves a seeming lack of energy to the performance, but the crowd is still hyped, screaming with all their might.
As AJ Tracey ends, I feel sad to be leaving MADE, for me this festival is only just realising its potential – all it needs now is some camping and a full weekend line up. It’s a big ask, but the West Midlands needs it and who better to make it happen than MADE.
MADE Festival 2022 – Jessica Whitty
Click here for more music from Amadeus TMM
Click here for more music from Jiggs
For more music from Jack Gardner go to: www.soundcloud.com/jackwgardner
For more music from Jay Hatton go to: www.soundcloud.com/jayhatton
For more music from Bad Boy Chiller Crew go to: www.bad-boy-chiller-crew.com/
For more music from Girl Grind UK go to: https://www.girlgrinduk.co.uk
Click here for more music from Reepa of Wolves
Click here for more music from Trill Troy
For more music from NeONE The Wonderer go to: www.neonethewonderer.bandcamp.com
For more music from Kings Of The Rollers go to: www.kingsoftherollers.bandcamp.com
Click here for more music from Jaguar
For more music from AJ Tracey go to: www.ajtracey.co.uk
For more on MADE Festival visit www.made-festival.co.uk