Picture this: It’s the first day of August in London. That usually transpires into dread amidst thoughts of journeys on the furnace-like Central Line and weekends spent hidden under parasols in (great) British beer gardens.
Not this year, though, as August was ushered in amongst patchy and grey cotton-wool skies and unpredictable downpours. It wasn’t all doom and gloom, as we did see infrequent smatterings of intense sunny outbursts and a few days of much-required and well-received parties in the big smoke.
One of which we had the pleasure of spending our Sunday at – within one of the city’s newest and most interesting outdoor event spaces. The Martinez Brothers X Michael Bibi at Bromley-By-Bow’s Three Mills Island lived up to the anticipation and hype, providing ten solid hours of musical storytelling and plenty of hands-up moments to be enjoyed by several thousand attendees.
The venue itself – which plays host to FUSE later this summer – is quietly tucked away in the depths of London’s East End, set back from an archetypal waterway and cobbled footpaths that encapsulate the essence and history of that part of the city. At the end of your short stroll through the picturesque and industrial scenery, you find yourself arriving into a circular arena of festival-level production.
From food stalls to bar areas, sufficient volume of toilets to chill-out areas and photo opp features, the arena had pretty much everything you would expect from most decent-sized festivals – without feeling too cluttered. Then, of course, you’re also gifted with one very loud and well-balanced stage that oozes character and grabs your attention. It was a pretty impressive operational layout from the team behind the event, who rightfully deserve a special mention.
Arriving shortly after the no doubt picture-perfect opening set from Elliot Schooling and Liam Palmer, we walked head-on into the sounds of fabriclondon resident and all-around fan favourite Lindsey Matthews. It’s not hard to see why she has become so well-known and celebrated by event brands up and down the country when you’re greeted with a bed of loosely swung and energetic grooves – filled with soul, sass and attitude.
Next up, as the ground began to loosen and the mud started to assert its dominance – much to little care from anyone, thankfully – LATEMORNING label boss and Solid grooves resident Blackchild (ITA) took to the stage. Fresh off the back of his latest release – Hasta el Cuatro – we were treated to two exquisite hours of jazz-infused percussive-laden rawness, driving an explicitly underground minimal/deep tech agenda. It’s everything you would expect a set to be from such an individual artist on the rise.
As the sun began its descent, the final act was upon us. If their Brooklyn show in July was anything to go by, we were in for a treat – and it certainly lived up to the hype. With the unfortunate absence of Chris, his infectious smiles and laughter and genuine chirpiness, you may have expected the performance to be missing something. That’s where we were pleasantly surprised. If anything, there was no recognisable void as Steve Jr. and Bibi began their musical assault on the crowd. Working through a combination of dancefloor classics, interesting edits and weighty underground rollers – sprinkled with funk, soul and even disco in places – it quickly became a performance that made it difficult to keep a realistic gauge on time as it approached the end.
Was it the imprisonment and lack of nightlife for 16+ months that left everyone not wanting the night to end as large portions of the crowd belted out the chorus to TMB & Louie Vega’s iconic ‘Let It Go’? Who knows. But one thing was harrowingly apparent at the end of the night; people had seriously missed the rave. They had missed drunken waffling with their friends as they shared hugs and danced – some with watery-eyed joy and overwhelming emotion.
It takes more than a bit of mud to stop the Great British public from breaking loose and dancing away the troubles of a seriously challenged world over the last year and a half. Thanks to Bibi, TMB and the rest of the team behind the event for providing London with a perfectly timed slice of exactly what was required.