What can I say, but thank you Junction 2!
I’ve been to hundreds of festivals over the years and Junction 2 has been on my bucket list since it started. Still, for some reason or another (Pandemic not included), I just haven’t been able to make it, so when I was offered to come along with some close friends, I jumped at the chance, but the icing on the cake was to see Underworld. For over 20 years, I have wanted to see them live, ever since buying their first album, through too many hazy after parties putting on their Everything Everything DVD up on the projector and wishing I was at their concert, I finally had the chance to see them live….. I’ll get into that more later
Arriving with what could be a mother of hangovers (yes, I stupidly partied the night beforehand) with about 2 hours of sleep and an hour’s trek across London, I made it to the gates. A smooth operation, friendly security and unlike my party days in Australia, not a police officer in sight, it’s almost as if the Police in the UK think of partygoers as adults and not automatically criminals for wanting to listen to Electronic Music and have a great day out. It was refreshing and set the tone for an amazing day. A quick pat down through the gates and I was off to find my friends in one of the 4 stages on offer today. First stop though, a cold alcoholic drink to take the edge off the previous night’s fun and head into the forest. As I slowly walked through the greenery, I started to hear the dull thump of driving jackin Detroit house, the pathway narrowed, and people started filtering past, which reminded me of a scene of The Walking Dead, it was 5 pm after all and the party had been going for a while at this stage. With an incredible DJ booth under the canopy of trees, the Woods stage reminded me of parties we used to throw in the 90’s in a National Park back in Australia. Minimal lighting, incredible sound system and B.KLove rinsing the tunes. It was rammed, it was sweaty, you couldn’t move, yet this was perfect. I quickly found my friends and we headed over to The Quad stage, hosted by Phonica Records, celebrating 20 years (congratulations btw team)
The music was eclectic, a mash of disco, electronica, breaks, house, electro and anything else you could throw at it, it perfectly summed up Phonica’s ethos to music. The crowd loved it, the sun was out and it was quickly filling that I reminded myself that I needed to see and hear more. A quick goodbye to friends and I was off to explore, this is what I came here for, to see the stages and acts I’ve waited so long to see. First up, DJ Seinfeld is on the Grid stage. It’s been a while since I have seen him play and always delivers. A perfect addition to the stage and to ease the crowd into Max Cooper with his eclectic Live set. Although seeing Max on the main stage is fitting, I only wish he was able to play The Ion stage with his AV set up at a later time, but with such a massive lineup of talent, resources and a short window of darkness to really appreciate his AV show, beggars can’t be choosers and I decided now is another time to grab a drink and watch (with some foot tapping, head nodding and avoiding the staggers of punters walking into me) Another quick note for next year, the Quad stage had these brilliant raised platforms either side of the stage to really get up and see onto the stage, perhaps something for The Grid stage next year?
With Max finished, I had to make it to one of the UK’s most amazing stages, it’s what people come to see, the ION stage, under the flyover bridge. If you have never been, it’s impressive, it’s dusty, the sound is amazing and so well organised. I’ll leave it up to you to visit and make your own mind up and experience, but you won’t be disappointed (see pics below) Walking through the dust, streaming through cracks of light, beaming down on the crowd, like some medieval cathedral, the sounds of deep, driving techno was so crystal clear as I inched closer to the stage to watch Ben UFO back to back with Helena Hauff. With each drop, the crowd cheering, raising hands into the air, it reminded me of that opening scene in the club of Blade, reaching to the void above, it was relentless, it was eclectic, it was brilliant! A quick few pictures and put the phone away, I was just captivated by the crowd, the energy and the music.
The time has come, the one act I just couldn’t miss, UNDERWORLD! Now, I’m not usually one to get to the very front of the stage anymore, but if I was to experience the one group I’ve waited 20 years to see, I was not going to waste this chance to truly immerse myself in, I had to get right into it and I’m glad I did. I felt as if I could reach out and touch Karl, I was that close (that sounded kind of creepy) Now this is going to be hard to convey just how much I loved the show, but I’ll give it a shot. I felt like I had reverted back to my mid 20’s in the 90’s all over again, it is hard to describe, but I know I was not alone. I was in a sea of middle-aged ravers all to experience the same feeling. With our salt and pepper beards, we continually nodded to each other, we all felt the same, that kindred feeling, and we all transported ourselves back to the time of our wonder years, it was bliss, a moment I won’t forget and neither will they. A moment that stuck out for me, was what looked like no older than 18, two kids, immersing themselves in new music, being elevated, seeing and hearing new music and artists and being swept up in the moment. I watched them do a quick Shazam of who was playing and Underworld came up on their Spotify, they saved the playlist and hugged. It was a beautiful moment, knowing the next generation will keep the flame alive.
All in all, a brilliant day, extremely well organised, the crowd was amazing, no dramas, no odd vibes, a clean site, reasonably priced drinks for a festival and nothing but smiles (and the odd face contortion) all-day. I can’t wait for 2024 Junction 2, next time I’ll try it without the hangover and go for both days. A big thank you to all the team and the invite.