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Review: 51st State festival, Trent Park London, 8th August

A brand new festival with much-loved old friends.

The Found team have been expanding their party empire; not content with just putting on day time, festival-sized parties catering for the capital's lovers of underground house and techno (Found Festival), or London bass (Born & Bred), this time they've reached over the pond and back to the old school for 51st State festival.

This new one-dayer boasted a transatlantic line-up that promised to celebrate the roots of house music whilst exploring some of the branches that have grown from it. And for many amongst the thousands of revellers that packed out London's scenic Trent Park, this was a chance to relive the old days of a misspent youth dancing to incredible music. Such was the remarkable age range in attendance (definitely not a teens n' students festival) this was a chance for the old guard to show the new how to party. And they did, which created one of the warmest, friendliest festival atmospheres London has seen in a while. The fabulous weather didn't hurt either.

There were however grumbles resulting from very long queues for some on entry (several hours for certain unfortunates), which the organisers apologised for and must fix for next year. But those grumbles soon faded away once revellers got inside and were let loose upon the arenas. With such a compelling line-up on the Main Stage, Spotlight only caught snatches of the other stages, like Joey Negro's fine disco jams in the Groove Odyssey tent preceded by Josh Milan's soulful vocal performance, or Norman Jay bringing the good times with his sunny house to the We Love Soul tent. The draw of the Main Stage also meant regretfully missing Tony Humphries and David Morales, nature of the beast though when the line-ups are this good.

There were surprises too, the Back to 95 tent was massive, packed, and constantly going off. This was no nostalgia trip either as Pied Piper, Norris “Da Boss” Windross and DJ Luck & MC Neat brought with them 21st century, urban sounds along with the occasional call-back to their 90s glory days, which were greeted by raucous cheers from the crowd.

The Main Stage though, was where the real heavyweights strutted their stuff. After swapping set times, DJ Sneak played the early afternoon slot and delivered not so much a set but a manifesto on proper house music, with summery grooves overlaid by vocals that name-checked the legends of the genre, some of whom were performing later. The crowd lapped up records like Clivilles & Cole' s A Deeper Love, basking in the sun towards the back or dancing up at the front.

Todd Terry upped the tempo with a set peppered with classic cuts such as Ann Consuelo's See The Day or Kym Sim's Too Blind To See It (Hurley's House Mix). Derrick Carter followed and made the Main Stage his pulpit, preaching a sermon of tougher, jacking house, David Herrero's The Houser being amongst the highlights. Dennis Ferrer smashed it and possibly stole the show with a storming set of powerful tracks interspersed with lighter touches, his own remix of London Grammar's Sights, a case in point, as was the Anthems House edit of M.A.N.D.Y.'s Body Language.

The reception that Masters At Work received when they lastly took to the decks was a spine-tingling moment, one of several throughout their set of classic house grooves along with them dropping Kerri Chandler's Rain and the cheers that greeted the music starting up again after it cut out mid-set. Whilst Ferrer's set was perhaps the masterclass of the day, Kenny and Louie's was as it should have been, a true celebration of the music that had brought all those people, young and old, to join with them on that day to party once again.

WORDS | Andrew Fulker PHOTOGRAPHY | Khris Cowley


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