The anticipation surrounding Gottwood had been rising since the full lineup came out in April. Now celebrating its ten-year anniversary, a landmark many festivals fail to reach, the festival’s longevity comes down to its humble approach and family vibe, relating both to the acts who play and the good-hearted crowds that grace the event. Many of the same DJs and crews return year on year, while a significant amount of festival goers are returning customers too. Located in the remote Carreglwyd Estate in the north-west corner of Wales, where land meets the Irish Sea, the setting in tranquil and helps to create the festival’s unique vibe. A main city is miles away, meaning those that made the journey really want to be there. This transcends through the energy of the festival and a real appreciation for the music each DJ brings.
Delivering a diverse range of underground electronic music curated by the Gottwood family and none other than Fabric resident Craig Richards. Dedicated to their festival vision, delivering long sets, DJing freedom and an eclectic selection of underground electronic music. Gottwood certainty achieved this goal once more. With those lucky enough to have a ticket to this sold-out show were treated to a great weekend, despite some slight weather problems from the classic British summertime.
Gottwood is a rare festival that packs the lineup from start to finish, meaning that Thursday was by no means a warm up. Guests were treated to a stellar selection of music from the moment they arrived. Artwork managed to play three times across several stages, delivering a different blend of sounds each time. Other heavy hitters to play Thursday included, Peter Van Hoesen, DJ Tennis and a live show from Kink. However, the key Thursday set belonged to Enzo Siragusa’s jungle set. With the crowds raring to go from the first night, Siragusa’s jungle set in the barn was the place to be. Known for their stripped back house it might have taken you by surprise hearing a phenomenal vintage jungle set. Siragusa’s set was expertly curated including deep cuts like ‘Quest’ by Andy C & Shimon and a brilliant selection of old school jungle breakbeats helping to revive authentic jungle energy.
Friday began with torrential rain that lasted through most of Saturday, slightly dampening the mood as people retreated to their tents for shelter. However, there was still plenty to see for the most committed of punters and as the day progressed the rain was forgotten and the crowds returned and grew. Notable performances came from the likes of dBridge, Antal, Radioactiveman and Frankenstein. The Walled Garden on Friday night was the highpoint. With a surprising set from Marlon Hoffstadt followed by a bass-heavy yet, melodic DJ Boring set that ended in a succession of classic trance records. This was followed by the main event, a live set from Paranoid London. The British duo of Gerardo Delgado and Quinn Whalley provided a rendition of their whacky early Chicago house/acid-house inspired music, complete with whinnying squeals and deadpan vocals. Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, it was still a refreshing change from the glitzy electronic music on show. ‘Eating Glue’ received a massive reception from the crowd and was one of the highlights of the weekend.
Saturday began with yet more rain, but at around 5pm it finally relented as the sun shone down. Perfectly timed for Palm Trax’s set, who’s selection perfectly typified the now ecstatic mood. Playing disco classics including Stephanie Mills’ “What Cha’ Gonna Do with my Lovin’. Moving on to an expansive spell of afro disco cuts that swelled the tent to capacity. Other distinguished sets on Saturday came from the likes of Egyptian Lover, Move D and DJ Stingray. However, the best set of the day and possibly the weekend came from Raw Silk, a duo of Grace George and Steph Smith. Expertly recovering from a shaky start due to a quiet sound system, which was not a fault of their own, the set then went from strength to strength. They played some unbelievable disco records that the duo is renowned for before upping the ante and the BPM through some grove heavy house and techno cuts. Starting with a moderate crowd which grew throughout the set until the Trigon stage reached capacity, optimised what Gottwood is about. Demonstrating crowds will follow the finest sound and not gravitate towards a stage just because of an established name. Raw Silk are a must see and are in for big things.
Offering a lineup with an incredible amount of talent, Sunday didn’t disappoint either. Sets coming from the likes of Seth Troxler, Crazy P, Craig Richards b2b Nicolas Lutz, Hunee, Shanti Celeste, Peach b2b Nathan Micay and Margret Dygas. It was Sonja Moonear, however, that stood out at the Walled Garden. The Swiss DJ let loose on the minimal scene of the mid-00s, then moved her way through a vast number of genres, from garage and synth rave to more classic techno. Her glossy mixing style allowed the mood and genre to shift seamlessly. The sheer amount on offer on Sunday was maybe more a negative than a positive. Several top acts clashed and led to some long queues trying to entre stages. Usually so expertly curated, Gottwood might have missed a trick here.
Overall, Gottwood again delivered and it’s easy to see why it has managed to last for ten amazing instalments. The inclusive and family feel is what makes this festival what it is, along with a brilliant selection of the best underground electronic music. Here’s to another ten years.