Clouds and grey skies over Leeds could not shake the moods of festival goers attending The Garden Party last weekend. With its stellar line-up, reasonable ticket price and central Leeds location at the old Tetley factory, it seems as though the festival met the expectations, if not bettered them, of those looking for a way to celebrate The Garden Party’s 10th anniversary and this year’s August Bank Holiday weekend in true musical style.
Being a small festival set in the centre of Leeds, the festival succeeded in using what was a fairly small space. You were able to hop between the three stages set in tents and the smaller outdoor stage in a matter of seconds, meaning you could easily catch the beginning or end of an artist’s set before moving on to watch another musical offering. Hay bales covered in colourful saris and materials provided seating, while colourful bunting and striped tents made it feel as though you couldn’t possibly have been in the middle of the city centre until you spotted the skyscrapers dotted around in the distance.
The festival had an 18+ age restriction, and attracted an array of people from younger groups of guys and girls to the older, who had most likely been attending The Garden Party annually since its launch ten years previously. Street food trucks provided much needed dancing fuel for the day, with offerings of Vietnamese noodles, freshly baked pizza, and BBQ burgers. Indian street food van Rola Wala, popular in Leeds, served up filled Indian flatbreads. We had one of their beetroot and paneer daal flatbreads and it was delicious. For those wanting a bit of added luxury, a VIP ticket included a separate area that had access to the inside of the Tetley, the use of a cheaper bar, much more desirable toilets and a BBQ.
The first set we saw was from German duo Kristian Beyer and Frank Wiedemann, otherwise known as ȂME. Defined by Resident Advisor as the pioneers of ‘futuristic sounds’, they delivered a clearly thought out set, that sadly was played too early to be appreciated by the masses.
Later on in the day on The Dummy stage, renowned tea-drinking DJ Mr Scruff played a three-hour set, a few hours less than the six hour sets that is known for. Prior to his performance, Mr Scruff also drew some rather interesting cartoons of several of the artists forming part of the line-up. Soul II Soul and Roisin Murphy also played this stage later on in the evening.
Bristol-bred Redlight (due to play at York’s very own Project D a couple of years ago) performed his characteristic mix of house, garage and dance on the Metropolis Stage in light of his recent album announcement. His set finished with crowd pleaser ‘9TS (90s baby)’ and got the post-1990 born crowd, singing, “lets party like its 1990” like they themselves knew what it was like.
Also on the same stage later on in the day was Shadow Child, who mixed together underground sounds with drum & bass. From across the tent, his sound resonated as he played ‘23’, whilst the audience enthusiastically moved in time to the music. The Metropolis stage could have done with an increased capacity for the crowds that the acts brought, as people spilled out of the sides on numerous occasions during the Saturday. Gracing the FACT Stage on the Saturday were South African DJ Black Coffee and renowned DJ and producer Joy Orbison, who pulled large crowds into the small tents.
Canadian born Heidi enthusiastically closed the night on the Fact Stage, captivating the audience with her heavily defined steady beats, and smooth performance. From an onlooker’s perspective, Heidi looked completely at home on the decks, glass of wine in hand and her trademark blonde hair dancing along with her.