Mint Festival hasn't been without its changes and challenges over the years. Three years and three venues later however, its success has seen the party grow into a full weekend of camping newly placed at the relatively close Wetherby Racecourse, complete with two days of music spanning techno, house, electro, disco, drum & bass, hip hop and trance. Year on year the line up gets stronger and this one was the best yet.
Jumping at the chance to leave reality behind and soak up the entire Mint Fest experience, we of course opted to camp. Arriving in the darkness on Friday evening to the faint sight of high top tents overlooking the nearby campsite, which was already half full, we quickly set up camp and bustled over to the Red Bull truck.
King Size Recording’s boys Jake Wheatley and Greg Slater were on hand to keep us entertained. Although limitations meant the volume was rather quiet, the music finished pretty early and the advertised Silent Disco was cancelled, the combination of a sweet selection of tech house from King Size and an intimate, up for it crowd meant for a pleasant start to the weekend.
Saturday morning arrived soon after and with it glorious sunshine which went on to last the whole day. The weather couldn’t have been better and with spirits already high such conditions provided the icing on the cake.
The music kicked off nice and early at around 10am. The bass echoed over the campsite and as more people arrived to set up their quarters, the rest of us quickly started to make our way into the arena. Circular residents Finn and Farrow spent the rest of the morning warming up the Knee Deep In Sound tent with prime time beats that had the arena filling up quickly in no time.
The System & Set One Twenty Tent was the one for techno lovers today. Of course Funktion Ones were present and the early afternoon slot taken up by Fuse’s Rich NxT oozed the label’s signature sound of powerfully deep basslines layered with tasty samples of carefully orchestrated percussion. DeWalta followed with deep, rolling flavours building between minimalistic grooves, with an acid laden number towards the back end of his set that was graciously lapped up by the crowd.
Surprisingly, and not in keeping with previous years, despite the excellent showcase on offer at System & Set One Twenty, much of the earlier part of the day was spent in other areas for many, in particular the Bitch arena. This year, many of a changing Mint Festival crowd were seemingly looking for a funkier, classic led, electro sound.
The Mint Presents tent however was also looking quite healthy as The Martinez Brothers slammed through a selection of techno hits like Floorplan's ‘Never Grow Old’ (above) to an appreciative, fist pumping crowd.
Meanwhile back in the System & Set One Twenty tent, Apollonia were locked into their usual one on, one off rotation. Dan Ghenacia, Dyed Soundorom and Shonky mixed ruthlessly through their vast collection of deep, punching techno and house.
Luciano then played the remainder with a barrage of high powered, Latin infused delights that you couldn’t help but shake your hips to for the duration. It was a masterclass performance and playing to a half full tent didn’t phase the Cadenza boss.
Eager to catch Papa Sven Vath as well though, we saw out the last half an hour in the Mint Presents tent to the Cocoon don’s soundtrack of intergalactic techno – spaceships, laser guns and hypnotic synths eased us calmly into the end of day one.
For the happy campers, the party continued and it was over to the Silent Disco for a few, where Jake Wheatley returned with some A class bangers that kept the vibe alive for that bit longer. Those heading back into the city were treated to after parties at Mint Club and Mint Warehouse, the former seeing sets spun from Rich Nxt, Shonky and Dyed Soundorom and DeWalta.
The weather wasn’t as much on our side for day two, however what was lacking in sunshine was made up for in good spirits and great entertainment. Of course, the Elrow tent was busy from the off. The prospect of its unique production, a sea of inflatables and now a merge with the Seth Troxler Presents arena (apparently due to technical issues in the tent it was meant for) was enough to rouse the interest of most.
Dipping in and out of the tent for most of the day, wearing silly hats, crocodiles, wigs and whatever else the Elrow team threw at us, the onslaught of excitement made for the perfect base. Eats EverythingandCajmere sifted through upbeat favourites perfect for the party, like Cajmere’s ‘Percolator’ and Basement Jaxx 'Fly Life (Extra)' whilst the crowd nurtured the inflatable Nemo’s, bananas and whatever else was flying around above.
In System & Fuse, the Fuse residents were laying down more of that much loved sound that is associated with the label, with a little help from Dyed Soundorom who went back to back with Enzo Siragusa for a showdown of more deep, minimal house merged together into a well-received medley.
Paco Osuna then smashed out one of the best sets of the weekend in the Paradise tent with a stomping selection of techno house, highlights being X-Press 2's ‘Musik Xpress’ and a remix of Popof's 'Going Back', whilst the grime lovers among us skanked over at the Jungle Jam & Detonate tent.
Villalobos and Zip took over the System & Fuse tent although disappointingly this wasn't at the forefront of many minds and a very small crowd meant for little atmosphere. It was Tuskegee in the Elrow tent that closed the final day of Mint Festival out in style with a mixture of driving techno, percussive rhythms and deep grooves until the music sadly came to an end.
On reflection, Mint seem to finally have found the perfect venue for their festival. The arena space accommodates for a decent array of tents, the campsite is close and allows for the ultimate festival experience we crave and it’s not too far away from the city centre. The line up boasted plenty of fine artists across a range of genres and hats off to the Mint team, it was a thoroughly enjoyable weekend - we’ll most certainly be going to the next one.