Junction 2 Festival at Boston Manor Park in London was the second LWE (London Warehouse Events) event I have attended in as many months and once again they proved why they are leaders in event management. From the sign posting leading to the site, the overall planning all the way through to the security teams who coped ever so well with the massive swarm towards the bridge to the Drumcode stage for Carl Cox and Adam Beyer. Sardines in a tin didn’t come close to explaining how busy it was. For a lot of people, it was very uncomforting unfortunately, but for a world b2b exclusive of these techno titans coming together it had to be expected.
The sun was shining brightly on London and we were truly blessed with the weather other than a slight rain shower towards the end of the day. I arrived early doors to take in the vibe of the opening DJs with Watergate resident La Fleur over at Drumcode warming up beautifully. Very understated in presence but with maximum impact. She was playing deep, enticing, hypnotic and picking it up to a more driving pace to hand over to Enrico Sangliuliano to whom I can say is a beast. I’m very much a fan of his tracks and seeing him DJ I have just as much respect. He has a very Drumcode style of course and although he gave it a lift following La Fleur it was still melodic and not too hard. You could also see the delight in his face handing over to Carl Cox at the end of his set. In fact, La Fleur and Enrico both played perfect to their set times and to add briefly, they were both very humble.
What I loved about the site at Boston Manor Park is there was so much to discover as you walked around. The secluded wooded area was a nice touch for all those where the main stages were getting a bit too much and served as an inviting little retreat to chill and pull yourself together if needed. The music was bumping and grooving, nothing too in your face from the likes of Alex Niggemann and Joy Orbison of which they were the two I briefly caught. It was quite a joy to end up strolling into if you didn’t know it was there. Bars were generously located around the site with hardly any queues, the VIP bars also allowed you to pay with debit card or contactless. I heard stories people were having issues with queues for drink tokens – I must have been lucky.
This was my first time at Junction 2 and the only reports that I’d been told of in previous years which had let it down slightly was the sound levels. Particularly the bridge. However, this year I’m happy to report no problems on the Drumcode stage. It was punchy, clear and in my opinion perfect. The sound levels were a let-down in other areas though. The Hex stage for Sonus was lacking a serious kick which is a shame when you consider the stacked line-up, the sound just didn’t hit you like it did at Drumcode. And the same again for the sidexside tent. Dixon & Âme were for the most part the better music of the day but you had to be right in there amongst it near the front for the system to have any effect on you.
Nina Kraviz graced the Sonus stage to close after Tale Of Us, Maya Jane Coles, Mind Against and Dana Ruh who had a very well timed fly over by the Red Arrows to mark the Queen’s birthday during her set. Had the sound levels not been an issue I would have loved to stay longer than I did but unfortunately with the open air Hex stage the sound wasn’t contained and other areas had the better atmosphere. I’m not taking anything away from the performances on the day however, after reading a statement from LWE addressing some feedback, it was highlighted due to issues the previous year with sound carrying more than expected and in a residential area it caused difficulties in getting a licence granted for this year. From an event organisers perspective and in credit to LWE its better to be safe than sorry in potentially jeopardising next year’s license.
All was most definitely not lost though. There is still one stage I have not yet mentioned because it deserves its own spotlight in my opinion. For atmosphere, sound quality and a line-up packing a punch the warehouse tent was pumping all day. It was almost like they had created a pop-up Berghain. And yes, sometimes you did have to queue to get in but never turned away. From the moment you walked down the short corridor into the tent you could feel the intensity, the basslines levelled you, the kick drums kicked you in the face, it was what Sonus and sidexside was missing and it’s no surprise why this atmosphere was relentless all day. At 2pm when I first entered to Dense & Pika it was already like 2am. It was hi hat galore, driving and winding, chunky and raw and was the perfect sweat box for it. A special mention to Len Faki who closed the warehouse following Scuba and LSD. It was a very messy place to be for some, the feet weren’t doing what the brain was saying for a few culprits. A perfect way to end the day.
Now back over to Drumcode for the stars of the day – Carl Cox and Adam Beyer. There were scenes of carnage as everyone was trying to head over to Drumcode with reports of up to 20 mins queue times to start making way down the track under the bridge as Carl Cox begun his set. Luckily for press passes I could bypass the mayhem and get stage access which normally I wouldn’t be too bothered about. I much prefer to review from a clubber perspective in amongst the action. For pure comfort reasons – stage access it was and ended up next to Carl’s cousin who gave us the tour to the backstage bar. La Fleur was still mingling, Bradley Gunn Raver was dancing and Adam Beyer sporting his trademark sunglasses was lapping up the beats Coxy was so dirtily laying down. In fact, one of the dirtiest sets I’ve heard him play and certainly felt like he upped his game to be more in line with Beyer’s sound.
Unfortunately for the majority of Adam Beyer’s set I was away exploring other areas but was to return for ‘The tale of two beasts’ for the final show of the day. Both Carl and Adam went to work on their own respective labels releases. Both INTEC Digital and Drumcode didn’t necessarily go head to head, but combined, flowed and worked together. Starting with Luca Agnelli’s remix of Danny Tenaglia ft. Celeda ‘Music Is The Answer’ and ending with Enrico Sangiuliano ‘Symbiosis’ and packed full of goodness inbetween including tracks such as the forthcoming release from Adam Beyer & Bart Skils ‘Your Mind’ and Boxia ‘Rezerection’ to Elio Riso, Loco & Jam, Cirez D, Riva Starr & Green Velvet to name a few. History was made in this moment and I’m more than certain it will not be the last time Carl and Adam will be going b2b again. Maybe Gashouder? Hold that thought!
LWE really did pull off an extremely successful event. One of, if not the best daytime festivals I have been to in the UK. Boston Manor Park is the perfect setting with easy access and stunning grounds. The unique bypass of the M4 motorway junction sets a perfect main stage location. Suggestions of a second set of screens half way back under the bridge could potentially be a good shout to keep people more involved in the visual aspects if they could not make it closer down to the front. I’m sure LWE will address these suggestions as they always look towards improvement and pride their self on experience. And that’s exactly what they did. They created an experience London festivals need.
Junction 2 Festival 2018 After movie