The main issue with last year's Glade Festival was solved: This year, the festival organisers had silenced any whinging over its volume-restricted location by moving to the remote venue of Matterley Bowl. The concaved field allows for excessive noise levels for an extensive period. This, as you'd expect, prematurely excited revelers, as Glade boasted about its "Louder, Later, Longer" policy. Indeed, a party is always better when you don't have to worry about waking the neighbours, especially when that party's got an achingly good Funktion 1 sound system installed in every tent.
As per Glade's usual music programme year-on-year, many day acts were relatively uncharted and unknown (even electronic enthusiasts would turn a blank stare at some of the line-up names) while the in-demand acts were long-time practitioners and innovators in the industry—Juan Atkins, for instance. But as the long-awaited arena gates opened midday Friday, so too did the rain clouds. Festival aren't designed for rain and a bowl-shaped venue most of all will suffer, but, in a glass half-full way, intermittent showers helped in implementing a "scrap the itinerary" approach as on each downpour we ran for cover in the nearest tent, unbeknown to us what we would be hit with and from whom. We meandered between the dark dubstep of Ollie 303 in The Brakedown tent, the eclectic mix of electronic genres of Afghan Headspin and the brilliant tech-y psy-trance of Peter Didjital on the Origin Stage—an outside stage that come rain or shine was accompanied by a throng dancing in its quagmire of a dance floor.
Photo credit: Andrew Newdigate
The Glade Stage was wholly dedicated to live acts. Filthy Dukes knocked out insatiable electro with the vocalised attitude "Fuck the rain, this is a party" and Booka Shade in the evening treated us to a beating, percussive performance of their most-loved electro tunes. (Many of which had us turning to the next person to us with equally wide-set grins.) Latest single, "Charlotte," rocked the hardest and with this it really felt like Glade was in motion. It was Saturday, though, that beatbox dynamo Beardyman took the stage with The Bays and captivated the main arena with an astounding set that arced from slow ambient-edged downtempo into progressive house grooves which modestly used Beardyman's natural range and artificial echoes to implement him as a versatile instrument, not a soloist.
Even though torrential rain continued on an on/off basis, it wasn't the biggest disappointment of the festival. That mantle would go to Squarepusher. Distorted, bumbling bass guitar with a fellow crash-happy drummer whittled his complex productions down into a teenager's garage band mess. Such was a show that largely divided Glade that evening. Diehard fans gawped in awe whilst many muttered in disgust, and some even walked off. We were in the latter category that turned on the Glade stage. And instead of staying around to watch Venetian Snares brutalising ears in the Overkill tent with an idiosyncratically fast-paced, snare heavy set, we sought our enthusiasm back in the bass-heavy Club tent.
Photo credit: Alex Canazei
Adultnapper was banging out a funked-up set, adverse to his haunting productions, before Mr. C stepped it up even more into deep techno groove territory. Carl Craig, Juan Atkins and Adam Beyer went back-to-back-to-back to fill the cavernous Vapor tent with clinically, layered techno loops that had the Glade tech-heads roaring, but never beating the noisy ear-splitting, twisted ascensions. The freedom of the location enabled us to stomp to the early hours and witness the morning daylight of Glade's last day.
Underworld crowned off the festival with a godly performance at the Glade Stage. Opener "Dark & Long (Dark Train)" went off in its euphoric synth stabs and set off Karl Hyde poeticising on top, and huge inflatable white balls realised from the tent roof as the infamous "Born Slippy" dropped – an uplifting set that boiled the vibe for one big blowout. And where techno dominated the previous night, we were gifted with a host of drum and bass acts to finish off Glade (Marky B and Andy C) that had a packed tent two-stepping to big aggressive bass lines and lyricising MC's.
Photo credit: richtb
Let it be said, with the risk of sounding like a preaching festival promoter, Glade is not just a dance festival. It is so much more. What you find at Glade is stages that promote a smorgasbord of fresh acts, no sign of any corporate advertising anywhere (as Freeland pointed out), performance acts at the fire-breathing Arcadia set and massive contemporary installation-style art, all in a "hippie meets electro" festival atmosphere. This is England's equivalent to Burning Man, weather included.