Images: Charlie Raven
Snaking through the beautiful surroundings of Stratford upon Avon, Friday 26th July saw thousands of festival goers take the same familiar road to Global Gathering. A date that’s marked on every clubber’s calendar, the traffic leading in doubled up a steady rollercoaster of excitement for the ones involved. As well as the ones not, who now had the aggro of sitting amongst us, cursing and tutting behind their wheels.
Arriving at the airfield, groups, bags and tents began unloading from the cars as crowds headed in unison to the main doors. With dry earth underneath and clear blue skies, the weather was glorious which came as a welcomed surprise from the recent thunderstorms. Tents pitched, friends rounded up, it was time to drink, dance and revel in the sunshine.
With the first acts of many kicking off at 5pm, crowds began to disperse between the nine arenas. Rudimental appeared on the main stage at 7pm, uplifting the masses as they screamed and clapped along to ‘Feel the Love’ and ‘Waiting All Night’.
Disclosure were welcomed to the stage next with equal amounts of respect, starting their main stage debut with ‘F For You’ and ‘White Noise’. Playing live percussion, keyboard and a mixture of basslines and samples, the pair commanded the stage comfortably, showing no main stage nerves that belied their age. The boys are stars.
With the sun setting, Chibuku’s red glow of Fake Blood’s appearance was unmistakable. Spangled lazers, rancorous high claps, looping high pitched synths and galloping undertones all combined for the backdrop of the man HMRC know as Theo keating's signature sound.
Erol Alkan took over from his promising lead with an old school feel that should have lasted at least four more hours, before TEED’s swung by next for his dj set, the arena flooded with eagerness and anticipation.
Dropping his remix of ‘F For You’ (above), it was further proof that this is one of the songs for the summer. Changing the tune to something a little heavier, Andy C and MC GQ had the UKF Bass Culture Arena off its hinges with tent rupturing bass until passing it over to headliner DJ Fresh at 2am.
A couple of hours earlier we’d briefly seen Cosmic Gate activate the Godskitchen Fusion Cube, but now fully warmed up, Paul Oakenfold had shifted to the epicentre. We caught him midway through his two hour set, offering a sleek variety of classic trance anthems mixed with more current material.
Over in the Digital arena, Maceo Plex had begun drawing the night to a close, segueing from one pulsing bassline to the next. Spacey samples and the repetition of hand claps filled the floor until the room was almost full, ready for Seth Troxler’s concluding arrival.
Stripping it back, Seth led the pack till the end with a raw and dynamic tech house set. With the music coming to a close at 3am, a fluster of emotive people headed back to their campsites. With beer in their bellies and buzzing in their ears, a good nights sleep was needed ready for the fury that tomorrow would bring.
Saturday morning saw a steady emerge of zombied campers rub their eyes, scratch their heads and walk in the direction of food. With the venders being pretty decent, a good cup of tea and bacon butty sorted the majority out while others hugged smoothies, praying the slice of ginger and green tea extract would turn them into purified gods.
With tech house favourite Jon Rundell warming up the Carl Cox and Friends arena at 12pm, a small but ample crowd had gathered on the grass. Going softly on the slightly tender, hard core fans, he played it just right. Passing the floor over to Yousef, the Circus stalwart upped the tempo assertively, introducing another big summer track, Hot Since 82's superlative rework of Green Velvet ‘Bigger than Prince’ (above) to the mass.
Over in the Paradise arena, Richy Ahmed’s set echoed the dark warping synths and groovy basslines Jamie Jones’ clubnight has become known for, mixing it with his own disco influences and samples. Hazed but happy, we retired from the histrionics to take
With the Saturday ticket holders now added to the mix, the airfield grounds were filling up. Proving to be a popular choice, the Global Freight Depot was full of vitality and sunshine as MK (Marc Kinchen) took over from Mihalis Safras.
Tropical percussion and steady basslines mingled with some well loved house tracks including Michael Jansons collab with Mizbee ‘Addiction’ and Breach’s omnipresent ‘Jack’. With the weather having been on our side all day, things soon changed and 6pm was met with a big massive soggy downpour.
An excited and smug bunch of poncho sellers came bursting onto the scene, fulfilling what they came here to do. At least the rain cheered someone up. Unfazed and rustling like a crowd of carrier bags, people pushed on to their stages with a heavy march of people on their way to the main stage.
As Annie Mac finished her electrifying set, the immense crowd welcomed Nero to the floor. Playing ‘Promises’ and ‘Reaching Out’, mosh pits were formed in some areas but the majority just raved on, singing out the lyrics in the rain.
Heading back to the Cox arena, the main man himself was center stage, fruiting the crowd with some tech house grooves and heavy basslines that thundered throughout the arena.
Offering something a little heavier, Netsky’s DJ set was underway in the Hospitality arena with an energized combination of drum and bass, electro and dubstep. Playing Sub Focus' Alice Gold vocalled ‘Out the Blue’ and his own remix of Rusko’s thunderous ‘Everyday’, he had many tricks up his sleeve, carrying on the success of his main stage debut earlier in the day.
We then trudged over to the Global arena, where Madeon was serving some of his best mash ups, merging upbeat electro tracks with some well-known classics that drove the crowds on till the early hours.
As the Global Gathering hourglass began to filter away, there was one last arena to end the night on. Playing his own remix of 11:11’s ‘Tourist Trap’, Jamie Jones was just about finishing his two hour set in his Paradise themed tent.
Passing the final baton over to Art Department, the atmosphere was laidback and calm with lush vocals and moody undertones, carrying the crowd through till the end. Playing the 90’s classic ‘Fired Up’ from Funky Green Dogs, the shuffling mass began to slow and the reality of the festival ending began to sink in. People made their final journeys back to the campsites, trudging through the muddy bogs that so quickly changed from freshly cut grass.
Lie in’s and sad faces made Sunday morning obvious nobody was ready to go home, but the comfort of great memories, photos and videos cushioned the anguish of packing away tents and driving home.
Global Gathering had successfully delivered another great year to add to their 13th year triumph, offering more worldwide renowned acts and arenas than ever before. Goodbye for now, but we will definitely be back next year.
Tickets are no longer available for this event