Ben Jolley visited Damyns Hall Aerodrome for the massive bank holiday event.
Last updated: 29th May 2019. Originally published: 28th May 2019
Image: We Are FSTVL
Now in its seventh year, We Are FSTVL has grown to become one of the country’s biggest dance music festivals. And, having increased the size of the festival site - making room for a dozen main stages of varying design and scale, as well as upping the capacity (90,000 glitter-covered ravers of all ages) there was something for everyone at this year’s Bank Holiday weekender.
Widely documented issues with long queues on the Saturday of the festival did threaten to mar what is a brilliant event, but while these problems did no doubt cause great discomfort for a lot of attendees, once all festival goers were safely into the event, the music on offer was a stellar reminder of We Are FSTVL's brilliance.
By covering virtually all genres of electronic music with 300 artists booked - from headline names to newer favourites - it was hard not to be impressed by the range of music on offer. The most impressive area of the weekend, Aerodrome, was brought together by the minds behind Glitterbox and Defected.
Building an all-embracing atmosphere with colourful LGBT flags flying around a dome lit up by dozens of shining mini disco balls, as well as a handful of sparkling sequin-covered dancers who showcased their sassiest moves, the Ibiza favourites curated a dream line-up of funky disco and house.
Honey Dijon got everyone moving early on Sunday afternoon with her jazz-infused house - including an empowering edit of Cardi B’s ‘Backstreet Freestyle’, while Purple Disco Machine’s joyous selections matched Saturday’s mid-20-degree weather brilliantly - constantly teasing his own anthems ‘Dished’ and ‘Body Funk’.
D-Vine Sounds label boss Sam Divine meanwhile kept the groovers going with infectious selections like Nautica’s singalong ‘Love Question’, before career-spanning sets from Basement Jaxx and Groove Armada, who pulled out all the classics as confetti cannons shot overhead.
Over at Terminal One it was a totally different atmosphere, with the massive aircraft hanger - which boasted an incredible sound-system and a kaleidoscopic strobe lighting rig - providing the perfect setting for a rare back-to-back-to-back from The Martinez Brothers, Jamie Jones and Marco Carola on Saturday and Nina Kraviz’s acidic rave-y techno the following day.
In contrast, the We Are Bass area - an outdoor stage built within a hexagon of shipping containers - saw high energy sets from the biggest names in d’n’b, including Chase & Status and Sigma, as well as a nostalgic throwback to 90s pop classics and his biggest hits thanks to Craig David’s TS5 show.
Another new - and partly shaded - stage for 2019, The Maze was the place for pumping house lovers to unite as big names Lee Foss, CamelPhat, MK and Solardo all brought their upbeat selections to a sun-baked crowd. Then there was the We Are Garage tent, which hosted intimate performances from Lisa Maffia, Artful Dodger and Shola Ama.
And it wasn’t just about the music either, as the VIP area boasted its own sandy beach, offering ravers a chance to relax on deckchairs or have a game of volleyball under the glorious sunshine while listening to the Mambo Brothers, Toolroom upcomer Maxinne and even ‘Ibiza’s favourite saxophone player’ Lovely Laura whose infectious performance became an unexpected highlight of the weekend...
Thanks to its impressively varied genre-hopping line-up, a myriad of different stages and only a few drops of rain, We Are FSTVL 2019 provided a great start to the summer festival season.