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Friday
Oct072016

DMC World DJ Championship Finals 2016 Review


The DMC World DJ Championship Finals is an annual event showcasing the most talented DJ's in the game. Although there are no real restrictions to genre, the event has become something of a holy land for fans of hip hop, including myself. In the months leading up to the event I kept a close eye on the announcements and was excited to find that the Invisibl Skratch Piklz (feat. DJ's Q-Bert, Shortkut and D-Styles) would be headlining in 2016!

I recall watching a documentary about scratching and turntablism in my youth and seeing a guy called Q-Bert interviewed. He had a turntable fitted to the middle console of his car so he could scratch records wherever he went. Although a little concerning that he spoke of channelling conversations with aliens when he put the needle to the vinyl, the documentary intrigued me and I've followed turntablism ever since. Q-Bert is a past winner of the DMC World DJ Championship and a true legend of the art, I couldn't wait to see him live with the Piklz. 

But first, I had a whole day of competition, guest performances and workshops!

WORKSHOPS

Having studied the program ahead of time, I arrived at the Forum in Kentish Town around 4pm and joined the workshops taking place upstairs. Popmaster Fabel of the Rock Steady Crew was back for another year, trying his best to turn some young (and not so young) hopefuls into fully fledged B-Boys and B-Girls with the popping and locking workshop. The workshops are definitely an integral part of the day, and watching the crowd get involved I felt that they are an important part of the whole hip hop scene. Handing down knowledge and skills to the next generation so that they can build on it and progress the genre.

My attempt at beatboxing probably didn't do the genre any favours however! Yep, the beatbox workshop was next, hosted by the beatbox collective. It was great to see these guys up close and they intertwined lessons and tips with full-blown performance. After teaching the whole room some basics, individuals from the crowd were invited up to take a mic and try out beatboxing solo. My partner pushed me up as an unwilling volunteer and I was given some simple instructions which helped form a basic beat. The rest of the collective then joined in to make me sound good! Highlight of the day number one.

 

BATTLE FOR SUPREMACY

After a brief stop at the bar and I made our way into the main auditorium for the first 'final' of the day. Erick Jay was one of my favourites from last years competition, so I was happy to see him back competing in the Battle for Supremacy. This competition is a bit like a rap battle for DJ's, with three rounds of 90 seconds for each DJ to outdo the other. Two DJ's compete in each round and the winners progress through semi finals and into the final. 

This years final saw DJ Fummy from Japan up against DJ Erick Jay from Brazil. The battle is as much about song selection and sample selection as it is about skill. The DJ's mime the words being uttered from the samples they choose, and getting the crowd on your side to go 'woah' at the right moment must feel like the battle DJ equivalent of a slam dunk. 

The final was tight, and I couldn't pick a winner after the rounds were complete but fingers were crossed for Erick Jay. The judges raised their score cards, and….

Runner Up - DJ Fummy (Japan)

Battle for Supremacy World Champion - Erick Jay (Brazil)

Being a near full day event, I took a quick break to grab some food from the local Kebab spot, as you do.

THE BEATBOX COLLECTIVE

The Beatbox Collective in full effect
When we returned to the Forum there was a definite heightened buzz from the additional punters who came along just for the main event. But, as I discovered, the DMC World DJ Championships are more than just a DJ competition. The crowd were treated to so much entertainment for their hard earned ticket, and the standard is high!

Having attempted to beatbox with them earlier, I was keen to get a good view of the Beatbox Collective as they brought their full crew together for a showcase performance. We took a seat in the balcony section and watched in awe. These guys are current world beatboxing champs for a reason. Covering everything from hip hop to dub to drum and bass, it was an amazing set. I've still got a long way to go but I'll keep practicing!

WORLD DJ CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL

Nine of the best DJ's from around the globe had made it through to the final. A little different to the supremacy competition earlier, this competition is anything goes, for 6 minutes. DJ's can use laptops, Serato, queued up samples along with stage presence and trick moves to impress the judges. This makes for straight up entertainment for those of us watching on.

Starting the show was DJ Ruse from New Zealand. His set was blistering and he got myself and the rest of the crowd on side scratching up a hip hop version of classic rock song 'War Pigs' by Black Sabbath. You've really got to hand it to these guys, so much has been done before them yet somehow they find a new and interesting way to get your head nodding.

DJ Traps of the USA was another highlight, with a more familiar hip hop classics set.  He got extra points from me when he dropped a perfect look-away beat-juggle. Flawless.

The runner up from 2015, DJ Spell was back. It must be something about New Zealand because he too opted to select some absolute classics and scratch them down to hip hop beats - Led Zepplin and Michael Jackson getting some airtime during his set.

Frenchman Dj Skillz took things in a different direction, using an almost haunted sounding sample to build up a trip hop beat. Reading the growing enthusiasm in the room well, his set sped up to be one of the most party-like so far, culminating in big bass drops that you might expect to hear in a different venue about 6 hours from now, but the crowd were up for it.

Brief disruption to address some technical issues didn't stop local lad Ritchie Ruftone from amping the crowd even further. Producing a mix of funk, dub and hip hop to bring the bar that little bit higher.

DJ Yuto of Japan was up next and his set was just next level! Man, it had everything and the precision was there to match. There was all types of music, technical skill, stage presence and tricks. There was even a scratched together version of the massive swedish house mafia club hit 'One' from a few years back. This guy has to win I think to myself as mini-dancefloors erupt around the room. I'm in awe!

DJ Yuto of Japan

SHOWCASES

As the all important decision is being made by the judges, I was entertained with back to back performances from DJ Fly and DJ Netik, King Kella and the Spitkingdom Soundsystem, and of course, Q-Bert and the Invisibl Skratch Piklz - just as good as I had hoped!

One more trip to the bar was denied when we got told the bar was no closed - no! I was so disappointed the day was drawing to a close. Do we really have to wait another year to do this again?

THE SHOWDOWN

Tony Prince, founder of the competition, loves this event. You can just tell he is immensely proud of what it has become, and no doubt he has been at every single one. It seems fitting then, that he should award multiple-time world champ DJ Q-Bert with a 'Legend' jacket at the pointy end of the proceedings. Once the obligatory photographs are out of the way, Mr Prince returns to the microphone to announce the final results!

Third Place - DJ Traps (USA)

Runner Up - DJ Brace (Canada)

World Champion for 2016 - DJ Yuto (Japan)

Hopes for an encore set were dashed when the big lights came on and we headed for the exit. Another World Finals had ended, but this year I was truly happy with the outcome.

Hats off to the people that make this competition happen, and if you haven't already, make sure you get along to the local heats and finals in your city! Real DJ's are so much more talented than 'look ma, no hands' super-celebs may have you think.

Words by Harry Upton.

Thursday
Sep082016

Festival No. 6, Wales 2016 Review

Taking place in the stunning coastal village of Portmeirion, Wales is Festival No. 6, actually named after a character from the cult 1960's television show The Prisoner, filmed in the same location. My first time attending was in 2016. Uh oh, the sixes are aligning - 666!

While we can't really call mother nature the devil, she did wreak some unexpected havoc over the weekend and those in attendance managed to feel the full force of typical Welsh weather. Have you decoded it yet? It rained, it poured and it almost blew our tent right out of the campground! This years instalment of Festival No. 6 was a very muddy one.

But hey, we were there for the music and with the assistance of some wellington boots and cheap ass ponchos we were prepped and ready to see all that was on offer.

FRIDAY

It was a decent London morning when we picked up the hire car and started the long drive to North West Wales - after a couple of highway side pitstops we found ourselves on narrow yet picturesque roads of the Welsh countryside. For a couple of hours it was bumper to bumper traffic and now rolling hills and the odd sheep grazing next to the roadside. About 6 or so hours after setting off (someone's got to do something about that traffic) we arrived. 

Taking pride of place in what would become the 'Park & Swim' we gathered up almost too much camping equipment for two nights and took the shuttle to the main festival site. Thanks to the magic of a pop-up tent we were set up in no time, however the longer than expected drive did mean I only heard Roots Manuva from a distance.

Making our way into the main arena around 9pm, food was pretty high on the agenda so a quick stop by Yaku Mama was first - pork belly and brown rice, chicken tacos, sweet potato and chorizo chips - that was us sorted! With minimal pre-planning we actually didn't know who was coming on next, let alone where all the stages were, so a few bars were visited as we familiarised ourselves with the site. As we wandered we found cool themed bars such as the Real Ale tent and the Kiwi Camp (Old Mout Cider), definitely some effort had gone into the decor of this place! 

We caught the tail end of the Torch Light Parade and got swallowed up in a jelly fish art installation before arriving at the Village Hall. My Stimulate Your Soul radar must have been working as the act who had just taken to the stage was none-other than the Queen of Brazilian Dancehall Lei Di Dai. A short but energetic set. 

Torch Light Parade - Image courtesy of Festival No. 6

All of our wandering so far had been in the 'open field' part of the festival, however I knew from the little pre-search I had done that there were stages in the town itself, by the water and even in the woods. We tried to make our way into these areas but left our run a little late and were directed away. All was not lost when the tent we decided to enter instead contained a large video screen and hip hop video DJ Yoda on the decks. The tent was hot and sweaty, a complete contrast to the forecast for the rest of the weekend.

SATURDAY

This morning it hit me, I'm officially too old for 'general' festival camping - my body was tired and sore which was not helped by the multiple parties taking place throughout the campgrounds overnight. Hopefully the kids next to us went a bit too hard too early and can't back it up again tonight.

Just as the weatherman promised, the rain had already set in and mud was starting to replace the green grass of the festival site and campground. After a much needed bacon roll and coffee stop we decided to check out the Castell (Castle) and use some of the Wi-Fi to obtain the festival app with timetable. At the Castle we met some fellow festival goers who were raving about how cool the woods are! There is even a floating bar. Unfortunately when we went to visit, the woods had been closed due to poor weather. This, sadly was the story for a few of the stages throughout the day. 

The town itself is beautiful, an amazing setting for the event, with colourful houses, gardens and fountains set into a cliff face. We spent a lot of Saturday around the Central Piazza stage. It is a unique stage in a unique setting, with large pillars that artists can hide behind or burst in front of, and kind of a reverse amphitheatre for the crowd with everyone looking up the hill at the stage. It works well though and you had a pretty good vantage point wherever you stood. 

The Mudflappers are a swing dance troupe who specialise in getting the crowd dancing. They quickly won over the township of Portmeirion, getting us all to copy their dance moves to classics like Rappers Delight. 

Next up was the immensely talented Bellatrix. The female beat boxing champion and double bassist showed off her skills in an impressive one-woman show. Using multiple mics and a loop machine to build tracks, she was mesmerising in this incredible venue and definitely an artist to watch for the future.

Bellatrix performing at Festival No. 6, Portmeirion, Wales

An unlikely highlight for me came just after sunset on the Central Piazza stage, with the 60-strong Brythoniaid Male Voice Choir. Something about the lighting, the rain, the historic setting and the power of 60-voices. I haven't seen anything like it before!

Now came a moment that I had actually planned for, the Voices of the Revolution on the Village Hall stage. This all-female line up of musicians and MC's from Ghana, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Colombia, Bangladesh, Rwanda, Venezuela, Egypt and the UK promised to be something special. The small stage was absolutely full with talent and the women on stage loved the vibe they were creating. It was a big jam on stage as the artists collaborated on a range of musical styles from afrobeat to dancehall to hip hop and everything in between.

At the end of the session, the host of the stage very proudly announced the young Zimbabwean MC A.W.A (African Women Arise) would be performing a full set. The 23-year-old had broken through in a predominantly male MC scene in her home country and was thrilled to be performing in the UK. Making the most of the other talent surrounding her, A.W.A invited different guests up for each song, and although only one track contained English lyrics, the rhythm and rhyme delivery captured those present for her set. After 30 minutes she left the stage triumphant.

A.W.A. performing at Festival No.6, Portmeirion, Wales

After such a varied day of music from artists I wouldn't expect, the main act of the evening - Hot Chip were just a tick in a box and after an exhausting day trekking through the mud it was a relief to return to a dry-ish tent. 

SUNDAY

Taking into consideration the lengthy drive home, the fact Monday in the office was looming and a brief dry spell this morning we decided to pack up camp and begin the journey home. Carefully balancing all of our equipment on the now-very-difficult walk through the mud we eventually made it onto a bus and back to the park and ride. As we had feared, the car park had also turned to mud so it was up to a local in a land rover to save the day and pull us through to proper road surfaces before we started the drive back to London.

On the way we couldn't resist stopping at a pub in Bala for a traditional Sunday roast. Although we hadn't yet showered and were caked in mud, this little slice of civilisation was a fitting end to a challenging but unique festival weekend.

Written by Harry Upton.

Monday
Aug222016

L-Fresh The Lion and Sampa The Great @ Darwin Festival 2016

When two powerhouse Aussie hip hop artists’ a dropped on a bill together, I instantly knew that the night was going to be a killer. 

The Darwin Festival has been getting bigger and bigger, encouraging and showcasing local talent. A festival that clearly believes in supporting its own musicians which is why I was so excited to be a part of it.  

The festival itself is spread out throughout the whole city, it’s where Darwin really comes to light. People around are happy and cheerful, the decor and stunning lights definitely create a beautiful atmosphere. As I walked throughout he gates of the Lighthouse, I was so eager to see what Darwin thought of hip hop. 


The crowd was eagerly awaiting for the Sampa the Great, whilst known to many Sydney-siders it was clear that Darwin was not familiar with this little pocket rocket. With her energy and flawless raps, it didn’t take long for the crowd to get up on their feet and start nodding their heads to the great. It’s been a minute since I’ve seen Sampa perform, but she has definitely kicked up her game with her lyrical skills and stage performance. Her style demands attention, and the crowd is more then willing to give it to her. It wasn’t long until the crowd started getting involved and for the Queens to stand up and support her. 

When Sampa steps off the stage it is clear that the crowd were there for L-Fresh The Lion. His hype-woman Mirrah jumps on stage and quickly gets us in the mood. Her bouncing energy and happiness shines through and it isn’t long until L-Fresh himself pops out. 

L-Fresh comes out rapping and taking over the stage like he owns it. He’s just like reading a book, each song he plays is like reading a chapter in a book. Both revealing, entertaining and making you want more. His heritage and multiculturalism is what brings out the best in L-Fresh, watching the crowd follow his moves and statements with such understanding and respect. Uniting his fans and family together. 

Darwin Festival really stood up, it’s a city that is so culturally diverse and understanding it’s not long until people from all over Australia will be coming to the town to just see the festival come to life. 

Tuesday
Aug092016

NY's A+A drop debut album LivingRooms.

(New York, NY) R&B pop duo, A+A, release their debut project, LivingRooms.

R&B Pop duo A+A’s latest album provides cohesive synths alongside uplifting pop hooks, the perfect album for neo-soul and hip hop lovers alike. The vocals of front-man Andrew Diaz emit an epic fusion of Frank Ocean with just a pinch of Miguel’s Wildheart approach.


Diaz and Anward Sawyer (A+A) have been belting out  tunes together since the two met in a recording studio Sawyer used to own. It’s evident these boys inhale music, the duo’s latest drop offers up more variety than a discount store in Collingwood. As I listened over an evening brew, I feared greeting the usual one-dimensional pop record; though not long after the opening track“Believe in Good Girls”, a song which delivers an overly healthy dose of bass and synth, the boys take listeners by surprise with a down to earth folk ballad entitled “Manhattan”. 

 

Highlight: There goes my heart.
Lowlight: Voicemail Intro - Livingrooms
 

 

[Click Here] For A+A's Soundcloud.

Written by Bree Stewart.

Wednesday
Jul272016

Nozstock: The Hidden Valley 2016 Festival Review

Crowd at Orchard Stage for Jurassic 5 - Photo credit: Clare Leach

American Pickers is a guilty pleasure of mine, the TV show of two American guys driving the back roads and looking for vintage gold. Perhaps I have watched it a bit too often but in many ways, my first trip to Nozstock: The Hidden Valley seemed to share some similarities to the show. Before you judge me, hear me out.

Departing London on a certified scorcher of a day in late July, we bundled ourselves, a tent and some festival supplies into a borrowed Ford Focus and hit the road. Our chosen soundtrack for this road trip was a triple CD entitled 'RnB Throw Backs!' Wow, we must have oozed cool as we made our way through the outer suburbs, windows down and Ja Rule at top volume. 

After getting through the famous London traffic, we soon found ourselves in lush English countryside and made our way onto small and windy roads, past quaint villages and farms. There may have been something wrong with the navigator, as our 3 hour journey to Bromyard turned into just over 5. Either way, the drive was just a precursor to the main event and we were relieved to enter the festival site around 6:30pm.

Now this is where my parallel analogy between Nozstock and American Pickers come's into play. The festival site is beautiful, and I feel like I have found an untouched festival treasure on this farm. There is a realness about this place that many of today's festivals have lost in the search for commercial gain. It's not too big, and it's easy to get around. Where you might expect a huge Red Bull tent there is an arts n crafts area and instead of Smirnoff branded bars everywhere, there are hand-built permanent structures and hand-painted signs. I imagine festival founder Noz to be like one of the collectors you meet during the show, treating this as his collection and carefully selecting items to add to his collection over the years. Nozstock started as a small gathering for farmer Noz and his music loving friends. It has grown organically and is now a full family affair, with his children taking on some of the responsibilities of managing the event. 

Care has been taken in the creation of everything you see on the site and that same level of care is expected by the visitors. As we pitch our tent, crack the first beers and watch the sunset while listening to the buzz of the festival from a-far, I instantly think I am going to like this place.
 

Friday Night

First on the agenda for this evening is Slamboree, who have already started their set on the Orchard Stage. This is our first real look at the main stage in action and with it's natural amphitheater hill there are plenty of great vantage points. Slamboree is a 15-strong dance music outfit, mixing musicians and visual artists to make for a unique live offering. Their high energy circus-style performance sounds like Scissor Sisters throwing a dance party with Rage Against the Machine and is a perfect introduction to the weekend.

The CoppiceAlthough the site is small, there is plenty to see, so we decided to follow the advice of some fellow festival goers and visit the Coppice, Bull Pen and Cubicle stages. Coppice is a particularly stunning stage, just down the hill from the main arena. Located within an ultraviolet glade, the Coppice houses psy-trance DJ's and some incredible theming and lights. The trees above are lit with lasers, projections and disco balls and the people beneath are just as colourful. We spend half an hour or so taking it all in before continuing our journey to the Bull Pen.

The Bull Pen and Cubicle are actually working areas of the farm for the majority of the year. What usually houses chickens, now houses some UK garage, drum and bass and grime. Again, the production on these stages is amazing. The DJ in the Bull Pen pokes his head out of the window of an eye, while the lighting rig in the Cubicle gives Daft Punks pyramid a run for it's money.

A little too early and a little too weary to fully immerse ourselves in the rave going on at these smaller stages, we returned to the main arena via the bar where local beers are available on tap and there is quite an extensive list of cocktails, all at reasonable prices. 

Beers-in-toe, it's off to the Garden Stage next for UK Jungle and drum and bass pioneer Goldie. What was that I said about too early to rave? Must have just been me, as soon as Goldie and his hype-MC take to the stage, the place erupts! I didn't get to experience the birth of jungle and drum n bass first time around, but the excitement is still there 25 years on! And although jungle is not my first choice of music, you can't help but enjoy this set, with a cheeky golden smile from behind the decks.

One of the beauties of Nozstock is the proximity of each stage. We leave the Garden Stage at 11.30 and it is literally a 30 second walk to Orchard Stage to catch headliners for the night Gentlemans Dub Club. These guys are pure fun! The definition of a festival act, the 9 members of the band fill the large stage and get the crowd grooving with brass filled dub and reggae. Jonathon Scratchley is a captivating front man and guides the punters through singalong choruses. Highlights of the set include 'Highgrade' and 'Music is the Girl I Love'. 

Gentlemans Dub Club

We bid the main stage goodnight and decide to venture back to the tent via The Garden of Eden. This area houses more small stages and as we wander through we are waved into a white tent by several people in white lab coats. Momentarily distracted by 'DJ Indian Man' who is playing inside, we are instructed to take a seat in a wheelchair, place a mask over our face and put headphones on. At this stage of the evening, we are completely happy to comply and follow the steps as directed. Finally, we are asked to look into large tubes which contain a small screen at the end and mirrors along the length of the tube. The result is an interactive kaleidoscope art installation - very cool.

After sharing a shot of Sambuca with the obviously qualified doctors we finish the night at The Cabinet of Lost Secrets. A venue that really makes you work hard to find it. Inside is another small bar and stage. Joining about 8 others we groove to the music before finally making our way to the tent for some much deserved rest. 

Saturday

Art and Entertainment at Every Turn - Photo Credit: Liam FurneauxYears of attending festivals has made me quite a good camper and the blow up mattress and earplugs ensured a relatively good night sleep. One thing that is inevitable though, is the sun turning your tent into a hothouse. So we woke when the heat became too much to bare at about 8.30am. 

Opting for a baby wipe shower, closely followed by a bacon sandwich, we got ready for a big day of music! The sun drenched the farm site and as we walked through, coffees in hand, I noticed a bit more of the theming. Nozstock's tagline is ‘Wonders of The Ancient World’ and there is Egyptian, Greek and Babylon inspired art throughout the site. 

First act of the day is Desert Boots at the Garden Stage, who ease us into the day with some soulful funk. We also catch one-man music making machine Gold Thing at the Bandstand, who has us in awe as he effortlessly loops keys, guitar and drums to build chilled out beats from scratch.

Feeling a bit more warmed up and ready for the day, it's time for the first beers so we duck back to our campsite and pick up the drinks that are still (just) nicely chilled in the esky. And just in time too, blues rock trio Smokin' Durrys take to the main stage and make sure everyone is awake with their driving drums and guitar. It's another beautiful summers day and as we arrive back in the arena some artists stroll through with large puppets of cranes, owls and what I think is a Camel. We take a seat on one of the abandoned couches, enjoy the sunshine and stick around for some folk, blues and soul from Foreign Affairs. 

For some reason, we were drawn to the name Normanton Street so they were next on the list. I'd never seen them before, so wasn't too sure what to expect but as we arrived at the Garden Stage I was excited to find out. The four piece, hailing from Brighton, were superb in the early afternoon sun. They grooved like a funk band, delivered verses like a hip hop group, had powerful soulful vocals like a pop superstar and even found a way of harmonising the female vocals with the rap. This music is good for your soul and you could tell they were having a great time playing it too. From our vantage spot under a shady tree, the dance floor slowly filled as they moved through their set. Key tracks that I will be revisiting were ‘Angelene' and 'Take Time' which could well be a future festival anthem. I'm so glad we chose to watch their set as it turned out to be a personal highlight of the weekend! 

We took a break from music to explore more of the Arts n Crafts area and the Comedy tent, grabbed some more food and drinks, then returned to the Garden Stage for Anchorsong. I first discovered his music a couple of months ago at an Mo Kolours gig. He is an incredibly talented producer, with a distinctive sunshine twang to his keys and African-inspired rhythm, he uses a sampler and keyboard to recreate his tracks live. The sounds he makes bring a smile to your face and you can't help but like this guy, when he introduces himself as "I'm Anchorsong from Japan, if you like my music let me know, okay?" and people flock to the floor to show their appreciation. 'Flamingos' is a set highlight.

Fancy dressers - Photo credit: Gareth Dalley

Shortly after some Thai Food, it is time for Hot 8 Brass Band on the Orchard Stage. If you haven't already, make sure you go see these guys live. They bring great energy to their performance and I feel like it's one big house party happening on stage and we've all been invited. Brass filled covers of songs like 'Sexual Healing' and 'Ghost Town' should be enough to convince you.

It wouldn't be a festival without an edgy-arts tent and at Nozstock, this crown goes to The Bantam of The Opera. Featuring a variety of cabaret style acts across the weekend, our one venture into the venue came this evening and it sure was a memorable one. The performer on stage got naked and proceeded to light a firework placed precariously in their butt, all to the backing track of 'No Business like Show Business'. Art is anything you can get away with.

After this brief interlude, it was straight back to the music and we just had enough time to pop down to The Coppice for a dose of techno, and a run through the maze of fire before returning to the Orchard Stage for the moment we had all been waiting for.

Jurassic 5 are one of my all time favourite groups and I couldn't wait to see them live for the third time. We arrived at the stage nice and early and took up a prime location just in front of the sound tent. The hill was full of people but everyone was pretty respectful of personal space and we ended up with quite a good amount of dancing room. The stage was set with the now infamous over-sized J5 turntable in the centre, DJ Cut Chemist set up on the left and DJ Nu-Mark set up on the right. Keeping us waiting just a little bit after the scheduled start time of 11:15pm, I notice the crew on stage shining a torch at the FOH operator to signal.. it is time.

The two DJs take to the stage and the crowd gets loud. One by one Soup (aka Daakir), Mark 7, Chali 2na and Akil the MC join the party and the place goes crazy! They get straight to it, doing a medley of tracks spanning their three albums. The energy is great, the delivery is spot on and this fan, for one, is ecstatic. The four MC's work so well together, backing up others lyrics to bring that familiar punch, adding in impromptu dances and actions to match, and throwing to each other from verse to verse as they cross the stage. There are several fans like me in the crowd, doing our best to join in on the lyrics, but there is many more probably witnessing true hip hop for the first time! The whirlwind of tunes lasts about 20 minutes before the group break it down and allow their master DJs to show us all what they can do.

After battling from their booths, DJ Nu-Mark steps it up a notch, walking out from behind the decks with a portable drum pad hanging around his neck. He plays a few bars to get our attention before creating a beat right there on the spot. Not to be outdone, Cut Chemist steps up with a portable turntable, fashioned into a guitar. He plays it as such, scratching his way through guitar sounds until a recognisable tune 'Deep Purple - Smoke on the Water' surfaces. Nu-Mark swaps his drum pad for a vest of vinyls containing different samples and the two join forces to create the song. Cut then swaps his vinyl turntable guitar for a CDJ guitar and they bring out the anthem 'Dead Prez - (Bigger than) Hip Hop' utilising the over-sized turntable on stage for the lyrics. 

The DJ’s return to their positions behind the decks and J5 are back with tracks such as 'Concrete Schoolyard', 'Quality Control', 'High Fidelity' and 'Red Hot' in a hit-laden set. The group even throw in some choreographed moves for good measure, including Chali 2na instructing the crowd to ride their invisible motor cycles during 'A Day at the Races'. The encore was of course one of the highlights of the set, ending on the huge tune 'What's Golden' and after a solid 90 or so minutes it was all over. Happy but exhausted we called it a night.

Jurassic 5

Sunday

An overcast morning allowed for a little more of a sleep in and we miraculously rose without a headache! Still buzzing from J5's performance, we started to pack down our belongings ready for an early getaway today. Commitments back in London meant we couldn't stay another night.

After packing the car, it was another coffee and bacon run before heading to the main stage for another healthy dose of good music for the soul. Adam Scriven, a solo act from Darwin delivered a beautiful set of blues, folk rock and roots utilising harmonicas, acoustic and slide guitar, stomp box, tambourine and of course a didgeridoo. 

Our final act of the festival was Little Brother Eli, a bluesy garage rock outfit hailing from Oxfordshire. Again, something drew us to watch this band. I was quite surprised to find an audio tech I have worked with a number of times taking his place on stage. Turns out he is the slide guitarist for the band! They were a lot of fun, and their single 'This Girl' is going to take them places.

Quite fittingly, as we resigned to the fact that this would be our last moment at Nozstock, the rain began to fall. Thankfully all that was left to do was return to the already packed car and drive back to London. 

Review by Harry Upton.