Carnival collective Fiesta Bombarda are well known for their vibrant presence on the dance music circuit as well as the variety of music they offer to their following, ranging from afro-beats to samba drum ensembles, and on the 10th June they brought their flamboyant concept to the back streets of Cardiff for a full day of old skool jungle and breakbeat, headed by some of the finest artists in the genre.
Situated in the heart of student town on the outskirts of the city centre, The Flora seemed the most unlikely venue to host such an extravagant show, due to its reputation as a predominantly ‘locals’ pub, even after its recent refurbishment. With most of the students now leaving the area for summer break it was going to be interesting to see how the area would respond to such an event.
Arriving just after the doors had opened, there was already a buzz about the place, with a lot of people arriving early to take advantage of what was on offer. The garden area, although very intimate, had been transformed into a mini festival complete with an impressive Void sound system, fake grass and gazebos to protect the crowd from the heat of the sun (and later on the outbursts of typically British summer rain). The BBQ served an incredible selection of food (the falafel was particularly good) with the combination of a cool summertime Pimms on tap, all very reasonably priced, just added to the experience, creating a typically British garden party theme but with an alternative twist.
As well as these tiny but important details, the line up on the outdoor stage offered music to cater to everyone’s different tastes. Helping kick proceedings off was musical shapeshifter and head of the Hot Cakes collective Deekline, renowned for his impressive sets and innovative mixing style. His performance encapsulated the essence of summer, with lots of reggae infused melodies combined with subtle but complex drum patterns underneath. Dropping in one of his own collaborative remixes with fellow jungle superstar Ed Solo ‘Top Rankin’ had everyone on their feet dancing and reminiscing over the genres early days where rave culture first became popular.
Following the breakbeat king were supporting acts Shanti Squire and Jurassik, who continued to keep everyone moving as the outside area filled to the brim. Across both sets were the signature sounds of ragga and jungle, getting progressively heavier as time went by. Local producer Shanti Squire infused a variety of different sounds and genres into his set, including both Irish and Indian musical patterns that may be slightly unconventional, but tied in really well with the jungle elements of the set.
London artist and Hot Cakes favourite Jurassik moved away slightly from the theme of breakbeat and jungle by including a variety of different genres alongside his signature sound, with nostalgic piano riffs associated with 90’s acid house and more contemporary house tracks making a late entrance into the performance, with Route 94’s remix of MK’s ‘Always’ sending the audience into a hyped up jumping frenzy. The selection of tracks in this set beautifully tied together the most impressive components of dance music and culture, appealing to every age group and genre preference present.
The garden area of The Flora was beyond packed for the final outdoor performance of the evening from one of the original junglists Ed Solo. Renowned for ducking and diving through old skool sounds, experimenting with a multitude of genres throughout his long and successful career, the producer had the crowd eating out the palm of his hand with his enthusiastic personality and versatile high energy set that epitomised the jungle genre at its finest. Even with everyone sandwiched into the tiny space there was still room to jump around and fully embrace the talent that was before us.
As a remix of the infamous ‘No Diggity’ swept through the summer air all you could see were arms reaching for the sky, hanging on to every note coming through the crystal clear sound system, immersing completely in the electric atmosphere that promoters, artists and venue staff have worked hard to create. It seemed the whole of Cathays, and patrons old and new, had descended into The Flora for this particular performance, and Ed Solo put on a show that failed to disappoint.
Following what had been an incredible day of fantastic music, good quality food and drink, and high spirits, the audience were invited inside the venue for the finale, which moved slightly away from the jungle and breakbeat genres into more modern house and garage infused performances, in association with Cardiff-based promoters Shelter who had done an amazing job at representing the city’s reviving music scene. DJ’s Woo, 1Time and Bandit did a fantastic job of entertaining a slowly dwindling crowd after a long day of dancing, and continued to keep the energy and atmosphere flowing into the early hours.
Everything about the Hot Cakes BBQ screamed community spirit as they created a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere combined with incredibly talented and enthusiastic DJs and an array of food and drink delicacies. Cardiff’s music scene has always been thriving, but it has seen a rapid revival over the past few years and it is because of promoters like Fiesta Bombarda and local venues like The Flora working together to create such amazing events for everyone to enjoy. Long may this continue.