Rec Rocks returned to the Peak District this year, and The Waveform Transmitter’s Andy Weights was on hand to take in the splendour of their electronic tent, Battlestar Eclectica.
Let me set the scene, at the top of an incline the dance tent is lit up with sharp, focused beams of multi coloured lights, swishing and merging like an artist’s palette. The Battlestar Eclectica tent is vibrating like a futuristic church of sound, the sermons had already been well underway before I arrived.
The likes of Ricky Midnight, disco dick and Jango laid down the early evening vibes, a perfect way to absorb into the new surroundings. Benny Maths threw the revellers from style to style, successfully mixing electronic genres like a magician dealing arbitrary playing cards, before fellow Hold it Down DJ Andy Ollerhead took to the decks, turning quality, feel good disco, house and techno tunes like DJ Haus -Tell Me and a Seiji mix of Sandra St Victor – FMAOcity; tracks that really got the pulses of the carousers racing, a ‘that’s how to do it’ couple of hours included a b2b session from the Hold it Down Crew.
Next up was sneakBeats, who melted the canvas walls, with techno tracks like Desecrate Trevino and Silent Space by Tale of Us twisting us through the midnight ether, in what was a rare, privileged performance by a wicked DJ. It’s always around this time that the shoulders start to jerk harder and legs begin to move on their own. Herbie Green blew up the tent with a killer set that included tracks such as Green Velvet – Flash, Steve Rachmad – Tir Na Nog, and Vitalic – La Rock.
At times it was like a hundred dentists drilling in my head all at once, there is a point within techno where my synapses freeze and I am hypnotised, my body is free from thought and I am released. As I walked away from the first night, shattered but happy like a pig in shit, a friend put their arm around my shoulder and began to tell me of their debauched experiences, I thought to myself “what a pleasure to be here and I can’t wait for tomorrow”.
The moment I stepped out of my tent on Saturday morning I was met with the idyllic hills that surrounded the festival site, the murmurs of last night’s performances floated on the wind as the smiles and nods reinforced the feel-good, friendly nature of this kind of event.
New friends spoke candidly about the misadventures and highlights of their night. As new arrivals set up tents and acquainted themselves with the terrain a deep sound of Woky and the beats of DJ Curdle and DJ Zool began to creep over the hill, drawing us in like the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Unlike that dark tale, this journey took me past the art and craft area where the Smashed hits, broken records stall (which involved smashing records and creating intricate pictures from the shattered grooves) stood alongside, clothes stalls, food and drink vendors and a welly painting tent.
Areas designated for children activities looked busy. On another of my many jaunts I was also introduced to the BogFM team. BogFM install speakers in the portable loos and toilets, a nifty idea that provides streamed radio to unsuspecting toilet goers. (Unfortunately, the speakers were vandalised and some were stolen- a real shame.)
The pathways were drenched with colourful and vibrant art that offered positive directions and messages of good will. The large canvas bell tents or glamping area looked cosy and well put together. A fire-throwing, bubble-spitting, 20ft robot watched over the activity field which saw a hilarious paint fight and with hydraulically moving, transformer-like limbs I’m sure at one point I saw the robot jacking!
Walking past the carousels and trampolines I arrived at the Battlestar eclectica tent ready for day two’s sonic assault, the stage was illuminated by a massive moon with fantastic drapes of colour, lanterns hanging from the rafters as art features and cushions positioned for when the legs tired. I took advantage of one the cushions and caught the Stilton warriors who were mid b2b shuffling between techno and a D&B set that lead nicely into Long-e and Tubz from M62 records, who delivered their garage, bassline and D&B to perfection, really warming up the crowd and pushing the fierce frequencies of the Sound system to new heights.
As the balloons were brought out and blown up, kicked around and laughed about Tony Loco brought a mixed bag of styles beginning with house and techno moving through D&B, jungle and Juke, paving the way for DJ Alex R who when, as the sun had gone, got the job done and raised the crowd to the next level playing a range of bassline, jungle, hardtek and drum and bass, picking out tracks like Culprate and Zenji – Ghost machine, Congo Natty – Get ready, alongside Vandal – Fyah Burn and Drumsound & Bassline Smith – Outlaw Renegade.
All of this lead us nicely to a jungle schooling set by Minnie Molloi. From the offset she took us on a nostalgic, intelligent journey through old-school jungle, spinning Kemistry(doc scott mix 95) and Helicopter 97 – Deep Blue. I have always had a strong attraction to the use of vinyl and seeing her throw down Dr S Gachet – Remember the Roller, had me garnering a new musical appreciation for Jungle and an opportunity to learn about the family tree that has created the infectious, dangerbass genre.
Miss Kendal kept the jungle and D&B vibe going with an accomplished hour of crowd favourites before Barry West, known through Eat Your Greens, took controls and flew us closer to the urban, Jungle, garage ball of energy then we had experienced earlier. Again, as the dark of night became witness to the steamy persons entering its fold, the smiles and effuse proved to the starlit sky that there are bright happenings here on the ground too and you just have to look to find them. Like a troglodyte with a fire in a cave, from a distance you may avoid the unknown flicker of light, or you may go to discover what it is and when you get there it’s like-minded people dancing round a fire, inviting and reassuring you into a future you did not know existed yet.
Sunday morning mist clung to the tent, it lifted to reveal a festival crowd recovering from the consumption of live music and mind mashing. I’m going to be honest here, I regrettably missed Sundays Battlestar eclectica line-up and in turn cannot speak for any of the talent with Afrobeat, reggae, soul, 80s and everything in-between on offer. As in the true fashion of festival fever, I got so excited and giddy I left most my brain scattered around the site and had to retrace my steps in order to reassemble my thoughts. A novice’s mistake. I also didn’t want to miss my lift home.
Now in its third year, Rec Rock has grown from a simple wedding in a barn to a small, successful family friendly festival with the right ethos and a wonderful team pushing it forward. Aiming from the heart with all profits going to local charities Rec Rock 2017 was a resounding success and I’d say was enjoyed by everybody who went, even the young lady who broke her ankle (hope you have a speedy recovery).
It was ace from beginning to end! Thank you to the array of talent that we witnessed at the Battlestar Eclectica tent, The barn, Tim Peaks tent and the Tipi unique. Fantastic people surrounded by a utopian location. Thanks to Tony, Claire, Wendy, Rachel, Steve, Pete, Anna, J, Becky, Alex, Neil, Rich, Andy, Amber, and the whole Rec Rock crew, plus the swathes of names I’m unable to mention (our time will come.) Lots of new music, friends and memories.