Creamfields 2011

By R-Katz  //  Festivals  //  No Comments

If you’d told me a week ago that Creamfields 2011 and the Boy Scouts would have one fundamental similarity, I would have probably laughed off this ridiculous suggestion, prescribed a strong anti-psychotic, and carried on about my day. Sitting here today, one week older and wiser, I would understand the core value which linked these two things together; be prepared.

Before I begin, I want to embark on a brief tangent down memory lane. I realised when I sat down to write this round up of the weekend’s events that just over three years ago, I had never attended a single festival. With a grand total now edging ever-so-close to 20 festivals lodged securely under my belt, I would finally consider myself at least moderately clued up on some of the various tricks necessary to ensure you take the maximum enjoyment out of one of these adventures.

This was my third Creamfields and one of only two festivals that I have kept as part of my festival schedule each year since I began. As the date approached I performed my routine check of the online weather reports and was a little worried to see less than favourable conditions forecast for the event. Having been lucky enough to avoid any seriously bad weather at previous festivals, such as the famous Glade and Glastonbury wash-outs of a few years ago, I had a feeling this would be the rainiest and muddiest festival I had attended. However I don’t think I quite appreciated just how messy it was going to be…

The festival had introduced an extra third night at the start of the festival this year, allowing the super keen to set up a day early and spend the evening watching various films on big screens. We decided to just stick with the standard two nights and arrived at 7am on Saturday morning as the campsite was opening. After 48 hours of relentless downpour it wasn’t a difficult decision leaving my trainers in the car and accepting I would be wearing wellies for the next two days. We loaded up the 12-man ‘supertent’ onto a trolley along with all our decanted booze, sausage rolls and other festival essentials, and made our way through the muddy car parks to the entrance. Queuing time was very reasonable considering the campsite was just opening and it wasn’t long until we were inside, scoping out our surroundings for a suitable place to set up for the weekend.

This is the first moment at which, given the gift of hindsight, we could have immediately ruined our entire weekend. We rather cleverly opted for a spot at the very top of the hill, located in the Black Campsite. This is the furthest campsite from the arena but the risks of setting up at the bottom of the hill where the water would all be collecting far outweighed the reward of a short walk to the arena.

Once the tent was all set up, we were able to take refuge inside and swap our soaked clothes for a dry set. The festival spirit didn’t take long to take control once we were dry and settled, so we decided to have a few breakfast beers. The best way to start any festival.

As the day progressed I went in search of a line-up lanyard. I was displeased to discover that these were only being sold inside the arena, which seemed a little ridiculous given the fact that the whole reason I wanted to get my hands on one was to decide what time I should head in to the arena. The 20 minute or so walk cemented my smug relief at having set up at the top of the hill. The lower campsites contained scenes of absolute mayhem and destruction. Tents were half submerged in the mud. Sleeping bags, pillows and shoes that had been accidentally dropped into the unforgiving swamp could be seen abandoned. Not to mention the unfortunate few who had already taken a tumble and were covered head to toe in sludge. Some poor old chap had even dropped his invaluable loo roll.

I wouldn’t be in the least surprised to hear that a large number of (unprepared) people didn’t make it through the first day of the festival. Not bringing wellies, pitching your tent at the bottom of the hill and losing key possessions in the mud are the kind of occurrences that would have made even me consider the option of jumping back into the safety of my car.

The music started in the early afternoon on the Saturday. For the DnB and Dubstep lovers there was serious motivation to get started early, with the likes of Caspa, Joker and Mistajam filling the Radio 1Xtra tent throughout the afternoon and evening. Creamfields has consistently been my top choice for music each year with a mind boggling selection of top DJs filling the various tents from start to finish. I started my evening by meeting some friends for the second half of Magnetic Man which I won’t comment too much on because whilst I enjoy their music I feel that if you’ve seen them once this year, you can expect almost the exact same experience next time around and I have already seen them at least 6 or 7 times this summer.

I had three DJs I was eager to see on the Saturday. In chronological order they were; Fake Blood live, Joris Voorn and Eric Prydz. I have seen numerous Fake Blood DJ sets and enjoyed them all but was super excited to see a live version of Theo Keating aka Fake Blood.

Every now and again a set just ticks all the boxes at a festival and this definitely fell into that category. It was exactly what we needed. A lively, energetic introduction into what would be a solid 7 hours or so on our feet, as the weather meant there was literally nowhere to sit down other than your own tent, and that seemed like a mountain hike away. The playful electro that Fake Blood plays worked well as a live set, spending a lot more time playing with each tune rather than just skimming through a much larger number of tracks. To no one’s surprise but everyone’s delight, the set built up to ‘I Think I Like It’ and ‘Mars’, both of which went down a treat. I fear though that Fake Blood is going to have to produce or remix another massive hit soon as both of those tracks must be nearing their end.

Next up was Joris Voorn. This was the set I had been most looking forward to after seeing him play the previous week at Space, Ibiza. His set on the White Isle had been without question my highlight of 2011 so far, so it was fair to say I had high expectations. It was a very different pace from the preceding two hours. It followed on perfectly however, allowing us to almost take it down a notch without it being any less enjoyable. The set was completely different from the one at Space, with an overlap of only a couple of tunes. I am always impressed to see a DJ display versatility, knowing that I can see the same DJ over and over again in different places and experience something new each time. All I can add is that Joris is one of my DJs to watch over the next year. He just seems to be getting better and better and after this summer I would have trouble not listing him in my top 3 DJs in the world. A bold shout, I know.

Time for Eric Prydz. Thankfully we didn’t have to move tents as the rain had restarted. The only issue was that seeing Joris and Prydz meant missing Chemical Brothers on the main stage, which wasn’t an easy decision, especially after hearing from friends how good the Chemical Brothers were in the end.

I have seen a couple of Prydz’s live shows over the last year and been blown away by both the music and visuals that accompany it. As a DJ set though I wasn’t as impressed this time as I was a few years ago when he used to play his resident night at Matter in London. I felt that given the freedom to play anything at all he used to play some really unusual and new stuff which I loved. This time it was mostly his own tunes, minus the incredible 3D visuals and the element of it being a live set.

By the end of Prydz I was pretty tired and I couldn’t remember what sitting down felt like so I decided to call it a night. The scenes on the way back were far worse than anything I had seen in the afternoon. Tents had been completely destroyed or submerged and suddenly the long trek back up the hill didn’t seem so bad after all.

The Sunday at Creamfields is always a slightly surreal experience. With the music starting early and ending at the obscenely premature time of 11pm, there is no real option upon wakening other than to get on it straight away. Having woken up feeling a bit grimy we decided to make light of the situation and have the most civilised warm up to the final day as possible. Several hours of G&Ts (with freshly sliced limes of course) and a quick read through the Financial Times, then we were on our way back into the arena for the last time.

I was gutted to have just missed Carte Blanche. I will blame a few too many pre drinks at the tent for my poor time keeping. I will add at this point that I am well aware of the impressive Trance line up that Creamfields always has to offer and this year was no exception. Personally I am not a Trance enthusiast but did try a bit of Gareth Emery whilst I waited for Laidback Luke to start. I found myself surrounded by aliens (no offence to Trance fans), the vibe was so different. From the way people were dressed to the way they danced, it was a bit too overwhelming for me so I scurried away to the nearest exit and headed back towards the safe, familiar, comforting sounds of Laidback Luke.

Laidback Luke was playing in a tent entitled ‘Superheroes You and Me’. I am not entirely sure the origin of this name but the superhero theme was a brilliant one. Laidback Luke was wearing an impressive custom superhero outfit with his logo (the two backwards ‘L’s) on the chest. He was injecting life back into a weary crowd who may have been struggling to find the energy and motivation after the bad weather and very little sleep, were it not for the exciting, fast-paced tunes blasting out of the speakers. With plenty of tunes for us to sing along to, this set can only be described as fun, and there’s nothing wrong with a bit of fun when it comes to raving. The culmination of this fun occurred when several hundred massive foam hands were thrown out into the crowd for people to wear. It was almost an excitement overload.

Opting for Swedish House Mafia to round off the weekend instead of Sven Väth, we were unpleasantly surprised by just how packed the tent started to get. We were squashed into a back corner and they hadn’t even started playing yet. A couple of the group decided to push into the middle and stick it out, I decided to cut my loss and go see Sven where I knew there would be much more room to express myself on the dancefloor.

The lasers alone were enough to make this set enjoyable. I have rarely seen anything like it. The first half of the set I really enjoyed, culminating in “Hungry For the Power”, which I am still not quite sick of yet after an entire summer of hearing it played. After that point things took a turn for the deeper and darker breed of techno. Sometimes I would have loved this but I was getting tired and I think part of me secretly wanted to be jumping up and down, singing along to Swedish House Mafia playing “One” and “Save The World”. I managed to get some footage of the lasers, check it out from about 50 seconds into the video:

There is a stigma attached to Creamfields, partly due to its location, that there is a rough crowd and it isn’t for the faint hearted. I would have to wholeheartedly disagree with this. The crowd is much the same as you’d find at Global Gathering or similar festivals. Sure, there are a few more Scouse accents floating around, but I genuinely found it to be, in the most part, a very friendly and fun bunch of ravers. For some reason our group seems to have one of our best weekends of the summer each year there, and to be able to say that despite the weather really speaks volumes. Just make sure you are prepared for any adverse weather conditions.

After the 5 hour drive back down to London all that was left for me to do was shower off all the mud and order a fresh set of wellies ready for Bestival, which will be my final adventure of the summer and I’m hoping the perfect send off to one hell of a season.

See you on the dancefloor.

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