Junction 2 returned for the third year, with a sell-out show at Boston Manor Park, in the shadows of the M4 motorway. The Waveform Transmitter’s Maximilian Carton and Paddy Hooley were there to soak it all up on your behalf.
The festival is the pride of London promoters LWE, who consistently raise the bar across the city, orchestrating unique events with ground breaking levels of production. This year’s Junction 2 brought over 12,000 revellers together to dance to a plethora of approaches to techno. The diverse line up was split over five stages from a dark and dystopian Warehouse hosting underground legends LSD and Len Faki, to the floral-shirt-filled forest stage; The Woods, hosted by Oasis which showcased the likes of Joy Orbison and Nicolas Lutz.
This year’s proceedings started with a warm, almost southern European climate with temperatures reaching 20 degrees in the capital. The atmosphere was electric as soon as we stepped foot off the Piccadilly Line. The LWE crew upped the number of stewards since previous years on the road to Boston Manor Park, with a helping hand only ten feet away from you at any one time.
As we approached the entrance, although there was a fair amount of queueing, it was clear that the sold-out festival had addressed the major issue of the last two years. It’s no easy feat and compared with other mainstay UK festivals, Junction 2 felt like a walk in the park (pun almost certainly intended).
LWE’s planning and consideration stretched to more than just the entrance; brand involvement from all across the underground scene was present throughout the day, LWE & Junction 2’s keen eye for helping one another and togetherness resonated into all aspects from smiling security to dancing bar staff. It was a wonderful sight, seeing the All Ears involvement; A company that is crusading for the awareness and combating the effects of tinnitus by protecting over one hundred and twenty-five people’s ears with their high-fidelity plugs on the day.
The infamous Drumcode stage set directly under tonnes of concrete highway and oblivious families off on their weekend trip to Wales, never fails to engender an incredible atmosphere. It was a hugely successful event for Adam Beyer’s imprint this year. Having tipped the day festival as soon to be the ‘Awakenings of the UK’, Beyer put together a line-up of his label’s finest artists, whilst making history by performing back to back with Carl Cox for the first time in their long-standing careers.
From the moment you catch a glimpse of the stage and attending dancers divided by enormous pillars of 1960’s brutalism, the hairs raise on the back of your neck, excited by the noise of the crowd and the high-fidelity sound system pumping out big kicks and euphoric builds.
Kicking off things with a crafty warm up slot from Power Plant Records boss La Fleur, The Bridge amalgamated into rising Italian-born superstar, Enrico Sangiuliano’s signature thump. Dropping his 2016 Drumcode hit Ghettoblaster, the place erupted. Jet fuel might not melt steel beams, but we were worried that this bassline in combination with the crowd’s roar could crumble concrete pillars. Transitioning out of his set with a huge embrace, Sanguiliano passed on the baton to the King of techno, Mr Cox and he did not disappoint. Evidently even more hyped up for this year’s instalment, he lifted the energy by proclaiming his love for the place in true Coxy style on the mic.
Our one gripe was the sheer volume of traffic as you were making your way to the stage, it was uncomfortable at times, but we were assured this is something that will be rectified next year, and we don’t doubt it for a second. To get a feel for the rest of the place, a couple of the team headed off to capture more breath-taking scenes in Boston Manor Park, saving ourselves for the legendary b2b that was to follow.
Now facing away from the corporate high-rise buildings of GlaxoSmithKline, The Hex was fully immersed in its own design, simultaneously creating a sphere of both affection and entrancement as the day went on. Our only criticism from this area is that you could feel the true power of the sound system when you were just a few rows deep, any further out and it was hard to fully engage.
Nina Kraviz started her set with what appeared to be a complimentary nod to her recent set on the idyllic Great Wall of China. Stumbling her way through farfetched textures and ambient noise, she quickly picked up the pace and gave the crowd what they’d seemingly been waiting for. Met with rapture, Nina was laying down serious sub-frequency rollers in the form of unreleased Bjarki to all out Dutch stompers from Pilldriver’s ‘Apocalypse Never’. Providing a welcoming alternative to soundtrack the sunset, we then headed off to hear what some of the other artists had to offer.
SideXSide’s stage, The Pavillion was the setting to the self-proclaimed ‘dream-house’ soundscapes of Dixon and Ame. Hypnotic and dreamy, they had the crowd locked in just a few feet from The Warehouse, which was no simple task. Unsurprisingly, the reaction to their b2b was brilliant. Admittedly, we didn’t catch much of this stage in the day as we knew we were heading to Fabric on the night where we could catch Ame at his best. We did witness them playing Patrice Baumel’s hypnotic percussion from ‘The Hatchet’ released on Afterlife, that was enough for us to know the rest of the revellers were in good hands for the rest of the day.
The Warehouse provided a dark alternative to the alfresco feelings projected by the other areas of the festival. The setup had changed this year to place the stage in the middle of the arena which provided more intimacy between dancers and the fast-paced line up. The lighting display built up throughout the day to constantly change perspective and animate the music played by the likes of Dense and Pika and Scuba as SCB, slamming none other than Green Velvet’s ‘Flash’ vocals to whip the crowd into a frenzy before things got heated.
By the time Berghain-based super-collaboration LSD (Luke Slater, Steve Bicknell & Function) took to the decks, the visuals were in full flow. The stage, in association with Relentless Energy, provided unrelenting drums as the trio entranced the crowd with their psychedelic sounds for over three hours, obliging to the festival’s ethos of ‘great sound, high-end production, an obsessive attention to detail, no short sets, no VIP, no plastic tents, like-minded people and a solid electronic music policy.’
Perhaps the least plugged stage of the day, The Woods provided an alternative to the sounds you would hear elsewhere. Lit up with subtle colours and hand-crafted signs, Oasis provided us with some of our favourite moments. LWE’s resident DJ, William Djoko got the party started but Sonja Moonear b2b Nicolas Lutz took the limelight, without doubt being the king and queen of the stage this year. An unknown groove from Nicolas Lutz still has people scratching their head and digging crates all across the internet after a clip from the afternoon has been circulating, showing how much of a selector this duo really is.
Swaying through every genre known to man, Joy Orbison made The Woods feel like you were at Dekmantel, from rare afro cuts to straight jungle dubs, Orbison added that needed hint of eclecticism. Hard House Banton & Stush– ‘We Nah Run (Siren Riddim)’ was a standout moment, funky south London dub plate that was made for such an occasion.
We make our way to The Bridge for the final hour or so of the festival. Up steps Carl Cox to join Adam Beyer, in what is sure to go down in the history books as the most captivating back-to-back we have ever seen. Never mind what is coming out of the speakers, the duo are having so much fun the energy is utterly contagious, both jumping around like it was their first time on the decks. From Bart Skills’ rework of Papa New Guinea– ‘Future Sound Of London’ to Koen Groeneveld & Fierce Ruling Diva’s ‘You Gotta Believe’, their set was filled with life-affirming moments under the bridge. None other than ending on Enrico Sangiuliano’s ‘Symbiosis’ layered with a pitched down Donna Summer vocal from ‘I Feel Love’, an apt end to a masterful showcase from both talents in the prime of their careers. We truly feel honoured and privileged to have witnessed such a performance.
LWE and Junction 2, take a bow. Everything from start to finish was top class. From the revellers, the atmosphere, the music and the organisation. We will be returning!