Some parties really are too good to be missed. But luckily for the residents of London’s Stratford, a certain party made its home in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park over the weekend, for two days of pure house music shenanigans. So even if locals couldn’t get tickets, at least they’d be able to hear it. In fact, they’d probably be able to see it from the various apartment blocks dotted around, because when the Elrow gang throw a party, they tend not to do it in halves. This family know what’s what when it comes to hosting wicked shindigs, and their London debut was no exception.
From suburbia to Kings Cross and Kings Cross to Stratford, the unmistakable rabble of revelers and punters was infectious. Sure, some of them may have given off the whole “I’m only coming so I can get messed up and post a photo on Instagram, so people can see that I go to festivals, and that I wear Prada sunglasses” sort of vibe, but the enthusiasm was there none-the-less. We ambled on through to the gates, queued for a few minutes, then reached the main arena just after half one.
Our first move was to head straight over to the the Singermorning Stage, navigating our way through the crowd to find a tasty spot for Eats Everything. The stage was fantastic to say the least, a giant house with dancers in the windows, with Eats Everything holed up in the bottom room shelling out beats. Giant model lobsters roamed through the crowd, and masked figures on stilts danced away as the talented Bristolian laid down some serious bangers. One track definitely worth noting is a little unreleased number from an artist called Burn. It’s been cropping up in Eats’ sets a lot recently, and it’s not hard to see why. With plenty of groove it shys away from the generic tech house category, yet still manages to cause mayhem in the dance. Definitely keep your ears out for that one.
Time passed quickly, and through a daze of confetti showers and blow up inflatables we found ourselves in the El Rowcio tent. We were the audience, entranced by the mesmerising performance of Snatch Recordings front-runner Riva Starr. The Italian stallion was on form, with an infectious energy behind the decks as he rolled out his new track ‘The Wickedest Sound‘. The name sums the tune up pretty perfectly; it’s a leveller, one of those absolute weapons that makes your jaw drop (and some), as the harsh drawn out synth stab leads into a pounding snare drum. It was an excellent display from the bald bellezza, and left us nicely prepared for the closing set.
19:30 – two and a half hours left. Ten pm is an early finish by anyone’s standards, so with night drawing close the task of completing Elrow’s opening ceremony fell to one man. Well, we say “task”, but judging by this chaps constant movement behind the decks and his unmistakable headbanging – which has been a part of his sets since days began – we’d say the Hot Creations honcho was having the time of his life. Jamie Jones knows what is what, and when darkness hits and the Singermorning Stage truly comes to life, he’s the perfect conductor for a rightfully rowdy orchestra.
We quickly headed to the Relentless area – picture a massive podium that looks out over the whole arena – and took our spots. Well, it wasn’t that quick, because climbing the steps was an interesting struggle to say the least! But once comfortable, the view and the sound was absolutely tip top. Rolling out The Amazing’s ‘Qu’est-ce que vous voulez?‘, the echoing vocal sample stating “haschish ou opium” was enough to grab all the ravers attention, where he then followed that up with Latmun’s upcoming belter ‘Footsteps’. This bouncy little number had us bopping and bouncing all over the shop, and with seamless mixing, plenty of build ups and enough pop culture vocal samples to sink a ship, the man from Wales closed the opening ceremony in classic Jamie Jones style. Hats off to the Hot Creations honcho, he absolutely smashed it. And the banging view from the Relentless area? Well that was just the icing on the cake.
Another day, another dollar. Well, another few pound on the Oyster card. Same route, same crew, but this time the journey there was full of a lot less ‘Instagram Poser’ wankers. Moving through the gates, you could instantly tell that more of the people were there because they liked the music; that they booked a ticket after seeing the lineup, not simply because “It’s Elrow BRUV“.
We arrived a bit later than the previous day, quickly making our way over to the Singermorning Stage to catch two good pals going back to back. Jamie Jones was once again shelling it down, this time joined by Tuskeegee main man Seth Troxler, with the both of them picking the perfect soundtrack for a Sunday day of raving. Of course Diemantle’s remix of ‘Gypsy Woman’ went down an absolute treat, but it was Denney and Detlef’s re-edit of ‘What’s going on’ that really got the crowd going.
Fast forward a couple of hours and two new faces had now taken center stage. Sure there was more cloud in the sky, but if any two could lay down some killer beats to keep the weather at bay then it was Sante and Sidney Charles. The chemistry between these two is unmatched, and it certainly showed. Sidney’s very own ‘Fargo’ dealt some serious damage, and along with Sante’s ‘Sub bass system’, the two German’s really let rip, providing two hours of carefully selected tech house cuts. We were feeling splendid to say the least, but it was time to mix it up a bit.
Mr Whompy, good ol’ Mr Whompy. Picture an ice cream van, kitted out with decks, with a right rowdy bunch congregating around it. And this bunch was particularly rowdy, because the big man Cause and Affect had just taken center stage… well, center van. Hunched over, the lad from Birmingham played some absolute filth. A naughty VIP of ‘Get to the Chopper’ had the crowd reeling, and he followed that up with his own remix of Stanton Warriors ‘Cut me Up’. It was bassline at its finest: chunky drops, with enough attitude to make anyone pull a screwface, alongside a sea of gunfingers and enough wobble to topple the van itself. Big things from the man from Brum, but it was time to hit the tech again.
Knee Deep in Sound, Labyrinth in Ibiza… ring any bells? Course it does. Hot Since 82 was now in control of the Singermorning Stage, and despite the fact the heavens had decided to open, there was still a buzz in the air. The unmistakable sight of ponchos dominated the park, but it was the progressive sounds of the lad from Leeds that kept the rain from ruining the vibe. Montel’s ‘Be the Same’ was one of the big’uns, a vibesy progressive techno number that still retains enough hard hitting drums to make your two step go into overdrive. And into overdrive we went, because before you knew it, the clock had struck ten.
And that was it! The final confetti shower had been sprayed and the last tune had been dropped. Were we disgruntled at the early finish? Not at all, because Elrow had offered something different; something that other London festivals just can’t manage. It’s not simply a wicked party, or simply has a wicked lineup: it’s an immersive experience; a mesmeric carnival that reels you in with stilts and inflatables, churns you up with banging house and techno, and spits you back out into the streets of Stratford thinking “Now that was a fucking party“.
Elrow’s next UK showcase lands in Edinburgh on the the 28th of October for a Halloween Haunted House special. Sign up here
Photo credit: Maxime Byttebier