Getting ravers through festival doors before lunchtime is no easy task - but by offering the first 1,000 a free beer, the Eastern Electrics team are immediately on to a winner.
Having expanded to two days and now boasting eight genre-hopping yet easily navigated stages, the grounds of Morden Park in south London quickly fill up with thousands who are ready to make the most of the next ten hours.
Glitter covered girls waving sparkly fans try to keep cool while guys in shorts, sunglasses and colourful half-open shirts seem unphased by the 30 degree heat - that is until their chests start to resemble a lobster.
Skiddle’s first stop is the Skreamizm stage where Croydon’s Oliver Jones returns to helm the big top tent, curating a massive line-up ready to test the seriously impressive RC1 sound-system.
Jackmaster is up first, and he’s taking no prisoners: starting with percussive yet punishing house and techno, the Glaswegian party-starter veers towards acid and breaks, flicking through his vinyl record collection. Giving the steel-fronted speakers a real workout, it’s a good job they come with a warning sign. As usual, the Scotsman’s every selection is a banger - irrespective of genre.
Later, during De La Swing’s pumping set - one of the day’s standouts - a guy climbs on the stage in front of the DJ decks, going wild amping up the crowd and swinging his shirt overhead; it’s not long before he’s joined by two women - together they make a great hype crew.
The legendary Dennis Ferrer follows with disco and house bangers before Skream’s three-hour set journeying through laser-heavy acid, unrelenting techno and a handful of disco classics thrown in.
The industrial laser-lit Switchyard, meanwhile, proves the perfect space for Ukraine’s Nastia, whose rolling breaks and techno rattle round the hexagon of metal shipping containers. Later, it’s the turn of techno king Alan Fitzpatrick to claim his throne, seamlessly mixing his undeniable anthem, ‘Turn Down The Lights’, into Radio Slave’s ‘Feel The Same’.
Over on the main stage, making a rare UK appearance, Dirtybird head honcho Claude VonStroke brings the US label’s bleepy bass-heavy sounds to a fast-growing crowd - his own ‘Walay (My Bae)' goes down a treat under the scorching sunshine – before everyone’s favourite Geordie, Patrick Topping, delivers his skewed take on chunky tech-house; sending thousands crazy with the massive diva vocal of ‘Be Sharp Say Nowt’.
A new addition to the festival this year is the Substation - with its darkened entrance and Defected-covered exterior, it creates the illusion that were entering an actual club, with sets from Sam Divine, Simon Dunmore and Amine Edge & Dance.
Away from all the house and techno, the shaded Star of EE pub tent caters for garage, grime and hip-hop fans: Tiffany Calver delivers a standout DJ set that veers between Migos bangers and Britain’s best MCs before UK bass trio TQD headline.
Carrying a completely different vibe, the Tropical Tea Party - ‘a hedonist’s holiday drenched in glitter, disco and cocktails’ - attracts an enthusiastic audience of shade-seakers who are happy to take a much-needed break, soundtracked by Prince Fatty & Horseman’s reggae and tropical MC/DJ combination.
Then there’s the FuturEE Stage - a no-frills tent where aspiring selectors DJ from the hood of a Red Bull car: Johnny Bloomfield reads the crowd effortlessly, opting for Krystal Klear’s summer disco anthem ‘Neutron Dance’ to great effect.
The VIP area can’t go unnoticed this year, either. As well as a ball pit and chill out areas, one of London’s most renowned clubbing institutions, Ministry of Sound, hosts its own stage, with intimate sets from Nathan Barato, Mark Jenkyns and Kate Simko. What makes it even cooler, though, is that you can only get to the stage by walking through a magic toilet door in the middle of a row of ordinary-looking portable loos… it’s hidden treasures like these that make Eastern Electrics so impressive - turning something surreal and unusual into a reality.
Thanks to a varied line-up - veering from house and techno heavyweights and underground heroes to garage selectors and grime royalty - as well as innovative stage design, killer sound-systems and the added bonus of perfect weather, this year’s edition of Eastern Electrics will go down as one of the best.