Sunday, 5 June 2016


Last weekend I went down to London for We Are FSTVL, a 2-day dance-music extravaganza.

Generally speaking, when you plan to go to a festival it's wise to buy a ticket at the earliest opportunity. This is as opposed to somehow convincing yourself that you've bought a ticket, meaning a big wake-up call at the last minute and that you have to wait to find out if there are any on the door.The former is the cheapest method, the latter the dearest. The beginning of We Are FSTVL was, for me, a nerve-jangler.

I traveled down with a mate I met through Meetup group Manchester Party People, and we met up with another who we'd met through the same group. He introduced us to loads of other party-goers, a sound crowd. We all stayed in a Via hostel in Limehouse, a good 20 miles away but with good transport links, a lot better than in Manchester. It's a clean and modern facility with fair pricing and plenty of power sockets next to each bed.

We then got the tube to Upminster and from there got on a coach to Damyns Hall Aerodrome. This guy tried to sell me a pre-printed ticket, but I didn't risk it.

To my eye-watering relief, tickets were available at the venue's kiosks. I paid just under a hundred on the door each day to get in (earlybird weekend tickets were less than that). So that was a huge weight off my mind (but also off my bank account. Oh well).

The festival requires you to buy a sheet of tokens for drinks, which I didn't think was respectful to ticket-holders. We've already paid a fee to get in. We've come with cash and some of us only want to drink small amounts. Asking us to buy a whole sheet of tokens means we're already paying more than we're getting value for. Also, day 1's tokens are invalid on day 2. I guess also it stops the staff from skimming, as they're unspendable anywhere else. Is it not easier, though, for the organisers to accept cash and trust their employees, like Parklife does?

Back to the music. Check out my mate's Facebook video of Claptones' remix of Gregory Porter's Liquid Spirit being played on the main stage (and me dancing like a tit).

After this, Naughties throwback Craig David took over performed his classics like Rewind and 7 Days. I'm a fair bit older than my group (as you can tell from the apparent lack of hair) and was about 18 when most of his music came out so I was in my element. He also played some new and unreleased tunes.

Away from the main stage we saw great DJing in the numerous tents.

Here's Hannah Wants in the Area 10 tent...

...and Frankie Rizardo in the Defected tent.

The highlight for me was seeing MK play his set, again in Area 10's tent, which included a PA from Becky Hill singing Piece of Me. MK uses a lot of piano riffs, and piano house has always been something that has struck a chord with me, if you'll allow a pun. Devastatingly, my battery had gone by this time and I'd typically forgotten to dig out the external battery from my bag before we set off. Here's someone else's video. I've not managed to find Becky Hill's PA.

Later that night I saw Fatboy Slim give an entertaining rave set, featuring a number of giant balloons being bounced about through the crowd, and surrealist video displays featuring Yul Bremner. It's the second time I've seen him and not filmed anything. I've found this:

Here are a few official Facebook Albums from We Are FSTVL:

Just as I was getting off the coach in Manchester I noticed the USB ports for charging phones fixed into the back of every seat. For fuck's sake.

I would advise walking boots for a festival like this. Don't wear wellies like I did: you'll absolutely destroy your feet. Most people were in trainers, and as the weather was great (so much so I got burned even with factor 20 on) it wasn't too muddy.

Whatever type of house music you like- vocal, tech, deep etc- you'll hear little bits of it scattered through various sets in the different tents on the site. Great weekend. I really want to go again next year and be more organised, enjoy it more and offer a more substantial blog post on my return. 





The 'Do Not Sleep' Tent, a branded night from Ibiza

Biblical queues for coaches after the festival

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