Anybody who knows me personally will know that I am bloody hard to please when it comes to events and festivals. I’m a chin-stroker. A beard twiddler. An over-thinking journalist who likes smaller intimate clubs with good sound systems. Too often I’ve gone to festivals and been disappointed by average sound systems, tech-house, rubbish British weather and messy portaloos. But on Saturday evening at around 10 PM I walked out of the gates of Boston Manor Park, turned to my mate and said: “how good was that?”
It takes a lot more than good DJ sets to make a good festival. You need good sound and experienced promoters who know how to make use of a space. You also need creative minds who are passionate about what they do. Junction 2 has all of that. The size of the festival was on point. Each stage was perfectly laid out. The sound was incredible throughout. Even the toilets were well looked after, kind of. Junction 2 felt like a dream that went far too quickly.
The biggest win for L.W.E and the other promoters involved in the festival is the location. Each stage felt like its own little world. Never did you feel like the outside world was nearby, which is ironic, as at the main stage the outside world is literally carrying on right above you.
The colossal main stage (header image), hosted by Drumcode, is technically an outdoor stage covered by the M4 motorway that snakes above your head. Most festival stages around the world are soulless big top tents. This is quite the opposite. It’s raw, industrial edge gives it an illegal rave feel – a feeling that you can’t physically create underneath the roof of a colourful big top.
The Hydra stage, located to the left of the entrance was underneath a tent but had an elevated staging area around the DJ that created a Boiler Room kind of feel. The nearby London Warehouse tent was hidden away from all to see until you stepped foot behind the curtain. Once you got past the queues (capped by the promoters) and stepped inside you were greeted by a basement like dance floor that went back a lot further than I expected. Down the hill and far away was the impressive open-air Sonus stage. The promoters clearly took a gamble with this one. Had it rained all day, this stage would have been a wash-out and you would have definitely felt the crush on all the other stages.
Finally, there was the Into The Woods stage. Tucked away in the middle of nowhere, this stage had an illegal forest rave feel to it. Finding the stage was an adventure on its own. As soon as you stepped out of the woods and onto the dance floor you were surrounded by a wash of green and greeted by a younger crowd who clearly followed the sound of bass coming from the treehouse stage early on.
Musically, Junction 2 is defined as a techno festival but there was plenty of variety on offer. Ben Klock and Adam Beyer were the stand-out performers on the main stage, the latter particularly impressing. If the long and the predictable buildups of Tale Of Us (zzz!) weren’t your thing, you could find plenty of versatility on offer elsewhere. In The Hydra tent Willow finished her set off with some raunchy vocals, DJ Koze (my highlight of the day) switched between genres with ease and Andrew Weatherall showed why he’s such a G with a refreshing selection of acid tracks. Why don’t more DJs play acid house?
Inside the warehouse, the bpm was much quicker. Alan Fitzpatrick, Rødhåd and Planet Assault Systems took no prisoners. At the open-air Sonus stage, DJ Tennis set the tone early on for Recondite, Maceo Plex and Joseph Capriati. On the Into The Woods stage, Praslea and Kolo and Dyze put together a warm blend of minimal waves much to the delight of the crowd. Kolo and Dyze stand-out moment came mid-set when ‘Sublee’s – Adastra’ oozed out of the speakers from the wooden treehouse.
As well as the music delivering, the crowd did too. Throughout the day the atmosphere was friendly. There was quite a big age range between the hardcore techno fans in the Warehouse and the younger minimal fans at Into The Woods but this only created a feel good atmosphere throughout. Everybody was there for the music and not to steal your iPhone.
As you walked between stages, punters were sat down chatting within their friendship groups enjoying the sun and chatting to strangers nearby. As you explored the nooks and crannies between stages rarely did you find individuals misbehaving, lost or abusing the staff or their surroundings.
It may sound lame but it’s the little things that make a massive difference to your experience at a festival. A feel good atmosphere can quickly spread around a festival site and that’s exactly what happened under the bridge at Junction 2.
Photography by Sarah Ginn, Shotaway and Vision Seven.