Social – an informal social gathering, especially one organized by the members of a particular club or group. This definition describes the festival perfectly… although it does miss out a few things. It doesn’t quite mention the mad light shows, and fails to describe the relentless thud of techy tunes floating about the festival, but the definition did get one thing right: it was certainly an informal social gathering. Sweaty ravers, wrongens and weirdos all sandwiched cheek by Jowl into dark buildings, the house heads cutting shapes while the DnB heads skanked away, and it was all organised by Kent’s biggest name in house music Nic Fanciulli. It was hot, it was dark and it was the sound of the underground – it was Social all over.
Judging by the name of this building you’d expect a certain amount of peacefulness… you’d be wrong. The Social festival decided to mix it up a bit this year, adding a new genre of music to the house and techno they were so famous for: drum and bass. Bamboo village was its home, located right at the bottom of the festival, and kicking it off early was Majistrate. He came on around half one in the afternoon, instantly rolling out some filthy drums. It’s hard to remember what tracks he played, but he definitely banged on his Carnage VIP and his remix of Logan D and Dominator’s Hooligan. It was Jump up at its finest, relentless filthy drops interspersed with bright lights that occasionally revealed certain ravers making some very strange faces indeed.
Hot. Hot. Hot. Hot. Hot. That’s how to describe the meadow. It was sweaty as… so when Richy Ahmed eventually rolled on playing B2B with Patrick Topping, everyone perked up a lot. It was about half four, and already Richy Ahmed was smashing it. A techy remix of Drake’s One Dance followed up by a remix of Thick Dick’s Welcome to the jungle got the ball rolling nicely, before the crowd got absolutely levelled by The bells part II. The rest is pretty much a haze of lights and naughty sounding beeps and squeaks, but I can remember Patrick Topping finishing with a dark and dirty remix of Fatboy Slim’s Superstylin. It’s safe to say these two have cracked the house formula: long build ups + weird vocal samples + heavy drops = winning.
Fast forward to 8.30pm. It’s still hot, it’s still sweaty and there’s still two DJs playing back to back. But this time it was the Social festival frontman Nic Fanciulli taking control of the mixing decks, with Carl Cox soon to come on after. The vibe was different now, daytime had crept into night and everyone had a sense of excitement about them, as if now was the time that things were truly going to pop off. And rightly so, for the tech house had now been faded out and replaced with filthy, relentless driving techno. Tune after tune rolled on, the build ups short the vocal samples weird and the ever present thud of the snare drum reverberated around the warehouse. Scream by Andrew Oliva dropped and the whole crowd literally went nuts, and a naughty remix of Make em dance by Camelphat topped up the vibe nicely. Carl Cox eventually rolled on and absolutely smashed it. He played the true sound of techno, with unapologetic and aggressive drops that still managed to bring everyone together for a fat rave up. It was smiles all round.
Now this really was a special place. We left the meadow a small way into Carl Cox because it got way too hot and saw Bicep was playing over at the stables so we headed over. We’d checked this place out briefly during the day and it was nothing special, but at night it was madness. The stage was set deep into a line of trees that you had to walk through to access it, and small lanterns hung from them to illuminate the surrounding woodland. If any of the stages were a social gathering then it was this one, everyone was chatting, dancing and laughing. It was pure vibes, all complimented by Bicep bringing the beats as they rolled out a refreshing bit of deep house. The lights were good, the music was good and – above all – your t-shirt wasn’t sodden wet.
So this year’s summer social festival. The lights shows were mental, the lack of tents was a tad annoying, but that was definitely made up for by the many sweaty warehouses dotted about the festival blaring out some filthy techno. I suppose that’s what the social festival is all about: it was dark and dirty, a full on rave up showcasing the best in underground house and techno.
Well played Mr. Nic Fanciulli, well played indeed.
Words by: Olly Gunns