With nine unique stages providing a carefully curated blend of local heroes and international luminaries, and set within the twisting industrialism of the famed ‘Digbeth Triangle’ - Birmingham’s epicentre and beating heart of dance music culture - MADE festival kicked the day-rave standard up one hell of a notch. This is not just one of the best festivals the Midlands has to offer, but now a contender for one of the topmost dates in the UK calendar - Birmingham is screaming out, and being heard.
One of the stand out features of MADE festival is its eclectic selection of music and performers, unafraid to mix & match genres, and fusing elements of the old and the new; from rising grime heavyweight Jaykae, to the jazz grooves of funky four-piece Delta Autumn, and appearances from Brum-royalty Mike Skinner and 90’s jungle don Goldie. The plentiful spread was even topped by a few freaky collaborations, like High Contrast and his guitar-wielding mate presenting a sensual tinge to some choice liquid bangers.
Throughout the festival production values stayed consistently high and despite all stages and rooms being in such close proximity, sound quality travelled amongst swathes of eager punters with absolutely no compromise. A grateful nod need also go out to the unsung heroes of the day, the security and staff. Tasked with the momentous challenge of ensuring the smooth entry, safety and wellbeing of some 10,000 revellers, its safe to say that responsibility was met with expert planning and the utmost professionalism - smiles and good times were had in abundance.
Each of the stages and spaces delivered a variety of experiences, in the Rainbow complex - the Warehouse, Blackbox, Terrace and Garden - a mix of acid house jams, bassline face melters, rooftop summer rollers and tech house fist pumpers occupied the interweaving spaces, offering those inside a veritable platter of music delights. Breakout sets from Low Steppa and Jay Newman presented the tasty glazed cherry atop an already delectable line-up.
In modest outdoor allotment of The Yard, super duo Gorgon City (Kye "Foamo" Gibbon and Matt "RackNRuin" Robson-Scott) curated a wonky line-up of dreamy synths, mechanical drum samples, piano drivers and underground house & techno anthems, featuring acts like Shadow City, Klose One and 0231 bossman Tom Shorterz.
Further down, housed in an intimate metal-clad unit, the BabMag stage (arranged by the team behind leading print publication on Birmingham lifestyle and culture of the same name) offered a superb crop of exciting talent harboured by the city, spanning genres of jazz, hip hop, psychedelia, bass and grime - Juice Aleem wowed with his lyrical prowess while the Sum Cellar DJs eviscerated all in their path with their heavy bass driven backcatalogue.
The Hospitality Stage once again prevailed as a hotbed for high energy sets and even fiercer enthusiasm from the mass of veteran dnb heads and curious first-time skankers. A gruelling B2B from the influential Hype & Hazard provided the ultimate climax to a stellar day out, eager festival goers embraced torrents of rain to appreciate rolling bangers and an insane demonstration into the forgotten art of scratching.
Cities then collided on the title MADE stage with outstanding performances from Manchester taste-makers Levelz, and Bristolian three piece My Nu Leng feat. Dread. Chase & Status brought perfect closure to the days events, headlining the bill in spectacular fashion; delivering a divergent mix of chart toppers, crowd favourites, dnb classics and euphoric lighter ignitors, all punctuated by a dazzling lightshow and some well-timed pyrotechnics.
Despite the global stars peppered throughout the program, the event’s identity managed to remain distinctly Brummy. With bespoke eats provided by street food kings Digbeth Dining Club, homegrown DJ talent spread across all areas, and exclusive merch from the aforementioned (locally loved) cheeky chappies in Sum Cellar collective, the city's cultural relevance on the national stage was unashamedly brought to the fold.
Other than some slight crowd jarring to get into the indoor enclosures, the entire day ran with satisfying perfection. The efforts at this year's instalment once again topped its predecessors, and it’s no guess to say that attendees will already be salivating at the prospect of what 2018 will bring - but for this year at least, the summer’s already been MADE.