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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cocoon In The Park 2012 (Or Monsoon In The Swamp?)

It is hard to know where to start this review.  It was my third time to Cocoon In The Park.  This time we were staying in a hotel in the centre of Leeds.  This trip there were four of us.  It has been raining quite a lot recently, hasn't it?  However, I recall last year that it had also been raining the week before, albeit not quite as much, and heavy showers were forecast last year for Cocoon In the Park but magically missed us, so I assumed that was all down to the magic of Sven, and assumed he controlled the weather.

The journey up from Reading was delightful, having been soaked already on the way home from work, the road conditions were awful, the traffic was awful all the way from Reading to Leeds.  It should have taken 4 hours at the most, it probably took 6, including a stop to check the engine, traffic jams, more traffic jams, oh and going through a bus lane.  Not the easiest of journeys, massive respect for our designated driver.

Eventually we found our hotel, the Malmaison.  What a hotel.  Cannot recommend it enough, £45 a night each is quite pricey for up north but it was well worth it.  Really good service, really good rooms, superb food for breakfast - and the hotel bar plays proper decent house music.  Yes, real underground, deep house - in a hotel bar.  Maybe it is a Leeds thing?

We made our way down to Cocoon In The Park, by a taxi, who decided to show us a really rough estate in Leeds, and pointed it out to us how rough it was.  Thanks.  Was that a short cut?

As usual the festival itself was spot on, very well organised.  The only negative thing about last year was the toilets, and this year the lay-out of the toilet area was much improved.  The site itself had to be moved due to the rain that had fallen, onto higher ground, at short notice, which must have been quite some achievement.  I have to say a massive well done to the organisers - that is not an easy operation to have to do.  True determination saw it through.  Massively impressed.  And thanks for the wood chip.  Other potentially muddy festivals take note.



Musically, the DJs were all superb.  I am not one to argue which DJ should or shouldn't play a Cocoon event.  Their DJ roster is fantastic.  Personally I love Ricardo Villalobos as a DJ, and would love to have seen him play there as per the last two years, but variety is the spice of life and I also enjoy hearing DJs that I would not normally hear.

Visionquest were very interesting.  Perfect for a warm-up.  I could do a whole night with them.  There was a more floaty, melodic, hypnotic kind of sound coming from their music - call it deep trance if you like.  I do.  And I do like it.  Seth Troxler in particular was playing some very impressive tracks.  Just like last year when I saw him, I really wish I knew what he was playing.  Very impressive.

Cassy was next, and I think she was not the crowd's favourite, a couple of her vinyls jumped, which the crowd didn't seem to like but I say forgive DJs when this happens.  To play vinyl is to truly love records, none of this instant downloading.  They have to be discovered, waited for, paid for and delivered, so they are cherished.  I love vinyl.  I dream of a day when I can afford a vinyl collection of my own.  She played some really good house music and also wasn't afraid to twist it around a bit, with some garage and even some UK bass.  I was most impressed.

Sadly, what had been a glorious day of sunshine up to this point, had clouded over and the long-ominous clouds finally arrived to pour rain on us, to dampen the end of Cassy's set, and the start of Loco Dice.

Loco Dice is a DJ that I really haven't seen enough of, and an hour and a half at Cocoon In The Park was definitely not long enough.  Everyone seems to say that Loco Dice smashed it, and he did smash it but I don't think I wanted to be musically smashed at that point as the rain had put a dampener on it.  But I still really enjoyed it, especially the remix of Artful Dodger, ha ha!  For me, his set was my least favourite, but it is kind of like saying that a blow job is a least favourite form of sexual endeavour.  He was spot on, I just wish he was playing for much longer.

And then Sven, well I have written enough about him in the past, he is truly an inspiration for everything he does, and especially everything he has created.  The sun did come out for him, but not for long because it really poured down for a second time, and by now we were fully soaked and once one person said "I've had enough" - the group consensus soon came to a decision that it was time to go home, have a shower and get ready for the after-party.  We arrive together - we leave together.

And on the way out, of a supremely well-run festival, despite everything the weather had to throw, Sven played some fantastic tracks in the distance, as the heavens opened once more and a true monsoon amount of rain fell, and fell and fell.

Back to the hotel to try to re-engage with a soaked and fried body and mind - water was amazing.  Quite why more water was required seemed odd but yes it was required.  Made it to Mint Warehouse, which had really good music on, however a crazy light show did get to my eyes a bit, especially the amount of strobing - sometimes less is more!  Fantastic venue though, really want to go again and thoroughly recommend it.  Superb sound-system, fabulous crowd and totally chaotic, but in a good way.


I am in love with Leeds.  Such a fantastic city, especially the people.  Everywhere seems to play good quality house music – the total opposite of Reading.  It seems everyone is up for a party, and I totally love the people of Leeds.  One delightful thing was the inclusion of boards all over the city centre where club nights can be advertised.  Unlike Reading where I live, where club night posters “ruin the asthetics”.  Even on the few boarded up buildings they still get taken down by official local fuckwits.



Leeds is rather seemingly chaotic, the road network is non-sensicle, the nightlife is never-ending, the streets are chaos still at 6am, the city doesn’t seem to sleep.  It is a bit every man/woman for himself in places – getting a taxi outside the Warehouse was pot luck, no form of queue like you would get outside a club in London, people just pushing in front of others.  And don’t even think about queuing for a toilet, just push in like everyone else.

So glad I went there rather than the apparently disastrous Bloc, which I did consider to see Ricardo.


I give the festival 9.5 out of 10 - only slightly knocked off perfection by the rain.


Will I go next year?  Not definitely, I have been 3 years in a row now and I might consider doing something different.


But I probably will :-)


***

Anyway, I’m back now, survived the sunburn, a total soaking, hypothermia, dehydration, manflu, bus lane fines, allegedly smoking engine, traffic jams and muddy swamp to have a brilliant weekend.

I love clubbing, and especially Cocoon events – I come back on such a high and so positive, and I am more determined than ever to try and do my bit to try to develop an underground house music scene in Reading.  Going to spend much more time practicing DJing, and do as much as possible to develop the Free House Project to make it a success, and a little less time partying until Eastern Electrics next month.

Reading will never be Leeds, we have no proper nightclubs despite it being an affluent area full of young people, and no venues willing to focus on good house music.  But I am not going to sit here and moan about it - I am doing something about it.