I‘m gonna jump right out the blocks and say this from the off: I’ve never been to a festival before. Yes. You read that right. Just in case you’re still in disbelief, let me
write type that again. I. Have. Never. Been. To. A. Festival. Before. Well… does a quick 45 minute walk through of Parklife when it was held at Platt Fields Park many eons ago in my teen years count? I’m gonna say no – no it does not. Especially as one doesn’t go to a festival on the off chance they may stay. Do they? But that’s the thing, how am I to know the mindset if I’ve never truly traversed the open fields of bliss surrounded by a congregation of thousands revellin’ in harmony? Regardin’ festivals, I’ve lived a very sheltered life. I was an innocent virgin. In other aspects in life, let’s just say if the ‘Pearly Gates ‘ are a real thing, I may be standin’ in line for a while, and when I get to the front ID’d out drippin’ in sauce, security will have to check with management if they are at capacity. But I digress. Being 25 (+ more), I find it a tad embarrassin’ to admit. But thanks to Liverpool International Music Festival and Sefton Park, I’ve finally done it. I broke my festival cherry. And it was goooood.
If you read my previous blog post (here), you will know that ‘longside Liam, Mamo, and Osvaldo we were invited across to Liverpool by JD and Puma to cover the Mostack and Oneacen gig. The night before Liam suggested we could go to the festival once we finished up at JD, but I’ll admit, due to our age difference, I thought he was merely lookin’ for a chaperone for himself and his friends. With them all being a similar age, I was clearly the ‘Papa’ of the group. That being said, I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to share this amazin’ experience with. They’re honestly an incredible bunch who didn’t make me feel out of place. Well, everyone bar Liam. He shall get his day!
On the aforementioned night before my big day (ha), he showed me the flyer for the event and I was truly amazed. How could a festival I’ve never heard of garner such big acts, and for such a small fee. My interest level significantly peaked. I didn’t even realise it was a two day event! I was somewhat upset I wouldn’t get to see Trevor Nelson live. He is one of my all time favourite DJ’s. The man is walkin’ legend! I remember as a kid I used to tune into his show on MTV Base – ‘The Lick Chart’ every week without fail to see the latest top 10 music videos trendin’ in RNB and Hip/Hop. Hang on, I’ve just realised somethin’. In my hurry to express how I revere Trevor’s skills as a DJ, I may have just admitted how old I really am. Well, in the ball park anyhow. Back to LIMF.
Now, even though I was readin’ this flier at 1am at a shisha bar in Manchester, the event havin’ finished hours ago, I was still starin’ incredulously at some of the names. Everyone who likes Grime should have a notion of how Wiley’s been influential in the genre. They don’t call him the ‘Godfather’ out of courtesy. Alongside others like Nasty Crew, So Solid Crew, and individuals such as Dizzee Rascal who came up on London’s pirate radio stations, he helped plant the seeds to a subculture that has flourished allowin’ artists like Not3s (check the flier), to emerge. The prestigious MBE award he received in recent times is proof that he’s also another walkin’ legend. I remember listenin’ to my first Roll Deep and Nasty Crew cassettes when I was 12 thinkin’ “what is this, and where can I find more?” Ahh! I’ve done it again haven’t I? I just mentioned cassettes! Well, the cat’s out the bag now! I’m like a fine wine anyhow. When I glanced to the right and saw Hacienda Classical, Basement Jaxx and Tim Westwood on the Sunday bill, LIMF nabbed me with relative ease. There was no attempt to struggle. Get me on board this ship of sounds and relieve me from my sea of solitude. I wanna party! They had me hooked. They had me lined. And I was set to sink in this field of bliss.
To the festival itself!
So, after we finished up at JD, we were tryna figure out the best way to get there. We’re Mancs. We didn’t know the lay of the land. Luckily, we linked up with Joe on the day who knew the way. We jumped in a black cab from the town centre and within 10 minutes give or take, we arrived. Now, I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, I do not do well in heat. Anything over 16 degrees, I struggle. Soundin’ like a broken record now right? If you’ve read my other ‘Live Features’ you’ll get the reference. Nothin’ wrong with a shameless self plug. You want to know why I keep mentionin’ my inability to cope with heat? It’s funny when you know where I was born. I was born in the magical place that is… Kingston, Jamaica. You see why it’s funny now don’t you? There’s a reason why I’ve lived here for the past — wait. Nearly slipped on the age again! Manchester was moderate when we left in the mornin’. But once we went through security and got inside, I had to de-layer.
As you can see, I didn’t dress for the occasion. Like who goes to a festival in 25+ degree heat in a black denim jacket, black long line T and skinny fit jeans? I do. See, I’m not well versed in these matters. Within 5 minutes of entry, the jacket had to go. And even then, I was still roastin’. On hot days, I tend to have a flannel situated in my back right pocket in case of emergencies. This was a crisis situation! But hey, it’s all in the fun. Stowin’ my jacket away in my back pack and reachin’ for my flannel, we headed towards the True School Club House tent.
Upon entry, all I heard was “Little mannnn, I’m endlessly proud of youuuu”. Anyone that knows me can attest to how much I LOVE Old School Garage. Steve Sutherland was SHELLIN’ DOWN!!! I’ve always said I wish to go a strictly OSG rave. This was a taster of what could be. Again showing my age. But at this point, who cares! I’ve actually got the track playing as I type. The Exemen version is one of my favourite tracks OF ALL TIME! The way we threw down our bags and formed a circle around them! I personally closed my eyes as the rhythm took over my soul. Ahhh. Get me back there now! Even my youngers were lost in the riddim! Though an open tent, the spot was RAMMED! People of all ages were harmonious in the get down. I even chanced a promo picture for the blog mid skank (pictured). If you’re reading this ladies, contact me so I can tag you on the Insta page. Track after track, Sutherland gave the crowd an incredible set that in my opinion ended too early. Then again, we didn’t get there on time so one must make do with what they have.
Round one complete, we stepped from under the shade of the tent into the searin’ Scouse sun that threatened to scorch my sensitive neck. Sssssssee what I just did there? No? Look again 🙂 I didn’t care at this point. We already missed our scheduled coach home. There were no trains runnin’ from Lime Street back to Manchester due to rail works. We were here now. Worst case scenario, we all split an Uber home. Thankfully it didn’t come to that by the end of the night. But at that point, after skankin’ to Sutherland for a mere 15/20 minutes, again, I. Didn’t. Care. I’m more of a club goer myself. But this was another level. This was that x10. And more. It was a heightened experience.
Next, we did a walk around the park takin’ in the settin’s. Being a festival open to all ages, there was an eclectic mix of individuals takin’ in the festivities. There were infants in prams shaded from the piercin’ sun; toddlers running free (within parental supervision of course), teenagers movin’ to and fro from tents in a bid to ascertain the perfect sound, young adults well versed in their particular musical style settin’ up stall at their chosen location, middle-aged goers baskin’ in the ambience of the brilliance of the event, and the elder crowd swayin’ to the melodic rhythm of a perfect day. What more could one want?
At this point, we took a respite in the VIP area to monitor our social channels and schedule content to upload. There was a more laid back feel in this section as the DJ blessed our ears with the sweet sounds of music from my country of origin. The reggae was in full effect. From pop up photo booths, oversized beach chairs, private toilet and bar, the VIP experience was amazin’. Shout out to LIMF festival again. You guys did a brilliant job with this section. It definitely had a ‘personal’ feel opposed to the ‘public’ open space that was the ‘open field of bliss’. Once our content was sorted, we decided it was time to head home. Myself and Liam had done back to back 20 hour days networkin’ so we were startin’ to feel the strain. After going to multiple gates only to be told that wasn’t the exit, we were finally pointed in the right direction. Headin’ towards the exit (which unbeknownst to me at the time was situated next to The Shubz Tent) it happened. I heard a familiar voice waxin’ lyrical on the mic. I caught a second wind.
Tim Westwood. Initially, the boys wanted to still head home. “Come on Demz, let’s go man”, I heard. “We need to try and pattern this train”, I just about made out. But I wasn’t listenin’. I instinctively entered the tent of temptation. My feet were on auto pilot. I had to no control. Westwood was on a waaave! And so was I. All notions of home were far gone. We’ll get home when we get home I told them. Being the elder, I pulled rank. Like a general, I instructed my young cadets: “We’re here now. What will be, will be. Enjoy yourselves.” And so we did. This time optin’ to stay on the outskirts at the back, again we formed a circle around our possessions and the levelz were celestial at this point. From C Biz to Chris Brown, Kojo Funds to Travis Scott, Wretch to Drake, he lenged down the finest in UK/US Grime/HipHop/RNB. Though Sutherland’s set was incredible, this was special. Perhaps due to the longevity of the set. I believe we must have been there for at least an hour.
The whole tent was on a similar wave. My one critique of Westwood was that he wasn’t mixin’. Though an admirable set, there were times you’ll be waitin’ for the drop, verse or chorus of your favourite track, only for it to jump straight into the next with no build up. This was my first time after all. Surely there needs to be some build up right? I can’t be expect to jump straight in? But I did, And I LOVED it. What I love most about the power of music is its ability to bring people together. I bumped into Anna, a friend of mine from Manchester whom I haven’t seen in around 10/11 years (pictured far left). Look at those weary eyes of mine. My mind was telling me no, but my body was screamin’ yes. More of this please. My body was full, but my mental tank was depleted. I was running on E. Euphoria!
After this picture was taken, there were a trio of friends who wanted in on the action, so I welcomed their interest and accommodated them with an image of their own. Cheers lads. The guy on the right, (kingbousy) was throwing some serious shapes! He got stiff competition from a young girl no older than 8 who was milly rockin’ and lean n boppin’ like someone ten years her senior. There’s beauty in the union of souls through the medium of music. It’s incredible to see. Like beauty and love, music holds no colour or creed. We were all there to have a great time and I absolutely loved it! If schedule permits it, I’ll be back next year. This time, I’m staying both days. I’ll make it happen!
I shan’t bore you with the minute details of how we eventually got home. Just know it involved a taxi ride to the wrong side of town, a hopeful phone call to a friend in Manchester to collect us, a stint in McDonald’s which lasted over an hour, booking new coach tickets, said friend actually calling to say he was able to make the journey (too late) and finally getting back into my bed around 2am. All in a day’s work.
LIMF. You were amazin’. Thank you for being a part of my first festival experience. I had thoroughly enjoyed myself!
Images provided by lixmphotography unless watermarked by IBTC
Festival flier provide by LIMF