Gottwood review 2017 – ‘the extended set’

By the time I’ve got round writing this everyone’s social feed is more Glasto or Garden than Gottwood, but it’s never too late to reminisce on time spent in those wonderful Welsh woods. 

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I was pleased to document this year’s Gottwood experience on Skiddle, and you can read the review here. However, if that post is the main event then count this post as the ‘encore’, if you will.

Anyone else who has also been to this sacred festival will understand the difficulty faced when squeezing tales of those four days into an attention-span friendly word count. So, internet, prepare for my additional ramblings.

 

They stuck to their word.

I first went to Gottwood around five years ago and have been a regular ever since. In that time, the festival has understandably expanded. While the gradually growing size of the campsite was noticeable in previous years – last year/the years before especially it seemed to double in capacity – this time we spotted the owners had kept their promise of keeping it as it was, with remarkable results.

Part of Gottwood’s charm is how at ease you feel when wandering around the woods, encouraging you to explore and follow your ears. While I long to experience what Glasto could hold, the thought of bleary-eyed wanderings leaving me miles away from familiar faces and/or a tent continues to concern me. At Gottwood, you’re safe in the knowledge that all adventures, stumbles and falls will lead to familiarity within about 30 minutes.

 

Everyone’s outfits and attitudes continue to impress me.

Bravo 🙂 A true release from reality, fuelled by love, colour, glitter and absurdity.

 

Politics were in the air.

Gottwood’s gates opened on election day and while the jury is out for many on how political dance music actually is, there’s no denying that the millennial generation of festivalgoers cared about this election.  A lot.

Nestled deep in a forest, in an ethereal, secluded landscape, communication with the outside world is difficult when at the festival. But thanks to the odd bar of reception and  a chatty crowd, the words ‘hung parliament’ and opinion about it were heard throughout the field.

 

Gottwood should be praised for bringing together the nation’s local crews.

Whether you come from Leeds or London, there exists a particular dance music scene in every UK city, and a night that epitomises it. Gottwood is something of a pilgrimage for party organisers across the UK – the real guys and gals who work endlessly to craft the weekends that we often take for granted. Every year it seamlessly invites these crews to join the big-booking names in the forest, and it works perfectly.

I managed to catch Butterside Up as the Leeds based party took over for the Walled Garden for the Thursday night. Here, Francesco Del Garda kicked things with a groove fiasco off from behind the owl-painted caravan booth – once a stage in its own right in the early Gottwood days. Sonja Moonear followed, getting our feet moving in ways that only she can.

Friday took me to the Trigon, with London’s Half Baked taking care of the daytime while Nottingham’s Wigflex crew took over by night.

Feet firmly planted in the geometric arena, the transition from rolling-yet-raw hypnotic beats to the unmistakable melodic hailstorm that each respective night brought to the stage was perfect. Wigflex residents Metaphi and Hizatron, as well as its ringleader Lukas Wigflex, followed on from the sounds of Sam Bangura, Robin Ordell and Hold Youth, introducing the crowd to the sonic madness of the infamous midlands event. Choosing Extrawelt (live set) and DJ Tennis to headline the stage, it was a match made in flex-fuelled heaven.

Finally, the draw of the legendary Back to Basics was too much to resist for a majority of Saturday evening. It always offers a highlight for me with its bouncy mixture of future classics and acid house masterpieces, packed with attitude and making feet move. Taking over Ricky’s Disco, Dave Beer, Tristan Da Cunha, Ralph Lawson and Denney proved why its currently celebrating its 25th anniversary – with no sign of stopping.

 

Butterside Up, Jaunt, Banoffee Pies, Half Baked, Wigflex, Louche, Magic Door and more – hats off to you.

 

Ricky’s Disco was much easier on the mind than the laser dome

Gottwood isn’t short of visual delights. The first year I went, I was gobsmacked by the dreamy projection dome that made up one of the tents.

But the past year or two, it transformed into a darker, smaller affair, with the ethereal visuals replaced by relentless red lasers cutting through the stage. These lasers providing the only light from within this devilish dome. Some relished in this assault on the senses – it was impressive, certainly, and the perfect environment for particularly warped out sets – but for more delicate folk like me, I’d missed out on quite a few acts thanks to the claustrophobia that resulted.

Maybe they just decided to switch things up again, or perhaps I wasn’t the only person whose fear of the dome proved too much to handle. Either way, its replacement Ricky’s Disco was a fun new stage to explore in 2017.

 

The Moog Clinic was ace.

Ruffy’s Lab, hosted by the underground hero Ruff Dug is packed with fun activities and quality acts – if you’re ever at a loose end of where to go, a visit here will always result in smiles. A Moog Clinic was on offer here on Saturday. Representatives of the techno-toybox powerhouse set up various kit, and invited passers by to have a go.

Throughout the mushed-up marmalade of drum machines, synth notes and all manner of sounds, every now and then those playing the Moog gear would get into each other’s groove and perform jams in genres that could not be defined, much to the enjoyment of onlookers.

I returned on at least two occasions, proving to be a welcome rest from fist pumping, yet still offering tasty beats.

 

need to learn that ‘teacup’ record Margaret Dygas played

This year, my Sunday evening began over the lake and by the Curve Stage, where Subb-ann was leading the way for the Birmingham One Records crew. But over the water Louche, another favourite party posse from Leeds, was seizing the Trigon stage, resulting in regular trips across the bridge numerous times through the night. Bouncing from Josh Tweek to Subb-ann, from Nicolas Lutz and back to XDB, with Red Axes playing live on the lawn in the distance, I settled in the Trigon for a long session of Margaret Dygas.

Zip was due to follow on from her yet the rumours that circulated that day proved to be true, with no sign of the master. Yet Margaret gracefully continued for a superb extended set.

A standout tune was a hypnotic track she played, featuring that Bruce Lee sample! After posting it on the IOM group, it seems I’m not the only one dying to know what it was however, it remains one of those stellar, mystery tracks for now. Maybe it’s better off that way 🙂

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