Review: Global Gathering 2012 @ Long Marston Airfield, Stratford – July 27th & 28th

Words by Chris Webb

ED’S NOTE: Seven days ago, our intrepid reporter returned from Global Gathering 2012. After enduring the Long Marston tailbacks, extreme festival fatigue, fallen camera laden comrades, and a fool hardy approach to on site catering – Chris Webb is safely back in Birmingham. This is his story (queue the bugles)…

On July 27th, Global Gathering returned to Long Marston for its 12th year. EDM festival goers arrived in their droves, travelling from all over the UK for a enormous line up of DJs and live acts – held across seven arenas and Global’s spectacular Main Stage.

The camping this year, as with previously years, felt vastly overcrowded. The drinks were over priced and the rest facilities were struggling with the amount of users and queues, formed everywhere and in all directions.

Yet Global’s friendly festival ravers continue to forgive; helped by headliners such as Armin Van Buren, Chase & Status, Tinie Tempah, Skrillex and Friendly Fires simply rocking the crowds from the drop of their first beat .

Promoters hosting Arenas over the course of the weekend included UKF Bass Culture, Detriot’s VisionQuest, the Global club mum – Godskitchen and London Elektricity’s Hospitality; all with years of experience at delivering high quality shows.

And despite being greatly enhanced by clear blue skies and glorious sunshine (Ed – how much does God cost these days?), I expect a Force 10 Hurricane couldn’t have stopped the general enjoyment; especially in the chill out areas that were rescuing people from packed out arenas (Ed – from a man with the relevant Air Force and chill out experience).

Early on Friday evening I caught Radio 1’s favourite masked ninja, Jaguar Skills, in the UKF Arena. Simply put, this man has few equals on the scene right about now. His mixing and cutting have become legendary in a short space of time. Inevitably, he had the enormous crowd going wild from the start.

With the outside temperature quickly dropping, a superman change of clothing was required before watching Tinie Tempah headline the Main Stage. This was the first time I’ve caught the little big man in action, and it was pretty obvious the crowd adored him; with a great deal of heart and soul put into his performance.

The last act I saw was Armin Van Buuren, closing his own arena (A State of Trance) with a 2 hour set. What can be said? The Dutch DJ/producer delivers every time he appears, and in my humble opinion was the highlight of the weekend.

Saturday saw festival kings Chase & Status close the Main Stage; brought back by popular demand for the headline slot. Having seen C&T a few times before I knew what to expect, but unfortunately found a somewhat lacklustre performance.

Poor sound levels and no stage effort from the band contributed to a very mediocre show; and despite the crowd’s hype they seemed a little lost from the start.

But for me, the Saturday’s highlight were Camo & Krooked in the Hospitality Arena. One of my favourite drum & bass outfits at present, these boys were recently awarded ‘Best Producer’ at the 2011 Drum and Bass Arena Awards; and along with Mr Netsky are the jewels in the Hospital Records crown.

Camo & Krooked played a 90min live showcase, carefully blending new material with previous anthems. The intensity of the tent is difficult to put in to words, with heavy breakdowns and mind blowing drops taking a devoted crowd in every direction.

An hour and half passed before I knew it, dancing every minute with thousands of likeminded ravers. I just hope next year Global organisers give Hosptality a bigger tent; their loyal fans could of filled it 3 times over that evening.

So, amidst a fever from a festival burger, I only have few gripes for the Global promoters. Whilst the layout of the festival internally is quite excellent, and works very well at moving the sheer volume of people comfortably around the site, outside the fence people queued for hours just trying to exit the airbase.

This has always been a problem with events at Long Marston, but with over a decade of experience the powers that Global be need to figure out something. After a long weekend, tailbacks through a rural location are the last thing anybody wants.

But Global Gathering is arguably one of the best UK EDM festivals still going today – possibly alongside Creamfields.

A well programmed show and layout, with a friendly atmosphere that makes the weekend a ludicrous amount of fun. And if I can get past the traffic I certainly be back again next year.

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