Festival Review: Junction 2 | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Festival Review: Junction 2

Redbrick's Nathan Davies is impressed by the quick climb of quirky Junction 2 Festival

Whilst 2018 marked only the third year of Junction 2, the new kid on the block’s continued success should come as little surprise. Created by London Warehouse Events - the capital’s biggest event organisers and exclusive promoters at Tobacco Dock and Printworks - the one-day event runs in association with Sonus festival, a Croatian 5-day house and techno extravaganza, and Drumcode, the renowned Swedish techno label with whom LWE has cultivated a successful partnership. 

The new kid on the block’s continued success should come as little surprise

Towards the outer reaches of the Piccadilly line, Junction 2 has made its home in Boston Manor Park. Forgoing the traditional approach of short sets in plastic big-top tents, the festival is set across five varied stages within the somewhat unique location. Perhaps the most conventional of these was The Pavilion, hosted by LWE’s SIDEXSIDE party, however, its line-up was far from ordinary. Arguably the best set of the day, the mammoth six-hour, back-to-back provided by Âme and Dixon was consistently excellent, including a healthy dose of unreleased material, as well as a couple of curveballs (drawing to a well-received close with the Butch remix of Basement Jaxx’s ‘Good Luck’). A testament to the captivating offering of the Innervisions label heads was the difficulty in refraining from pitching up in The Pavilion for the day, in spite of the plethora of talent on offer elsewhere. 

Arguably the best set of the day, the mammoth six-hour, back-to-back provided by Âme and Dixon was consistently excellent

Sat alongside The Pavilion was The Warehouse; paying homage to the UK’s rave scene, its constructed faux-warehouse frontage hid a cavernous interior. The darkness accompanying the no-nonsense techno inside was interrupted only by overhead lazers and periodic blasts of light, proving emergence out into a summer’s day to be slightly disorientating following a weighty set from SCB – the moniker attributed to UK bass pioneer Scuba’s techno project. Unfortunately, as the only enclosed, limited capacity stage at Junction 2, plans to later return and witness Len Faki in action were scuppered by a queue of revellers who obviously found it a similarly tempting proposition. 

Emergence from The Warehouse out into a summer’s day was slightly disorientating following a weighty set from SCB

On the other hand, The Hex was the most open stage at the festival. The somewhat isolated open-air arena played host to a who’s who of artists, including Tale of Us and Maya Jane Coles, rounded off by the ever-serene Nina Kraviz with her severe, relentless sound. Separating The Hex was the strip of woodland which ran through the site. Going into ‘The Woods’ (the name of the stage contained within - hosted by the chic, Marrakesh-based Oasis festival), a handful of main paths and a network of less trodden offshoots, sparsely adorned with lights and decorations lead into a shady clearing, which hosted the most upbeat sets at the festival. Ranging from funk-infused to acid-laced throughout the day, Joy Orbison further incorporated elements of garage and UK funk into his closing of the stage, with some of the sizeable crowd packed into the small space having to integrate into the surrounding woods, appreciating the diverse music on offer through the trees. 

In stark contrast to the leafy tranquillity of The Woods, The Bridge sat beneath an M4 flyover, lined by monolithic pillars supporting the traffic flowing above. The strikingly industrial stage, accessed via a floating walkway and converged with the site’s natural features, this junction giving the festival its name. However, the long and narrow shape of this space meant an additional set of speakers located further towards the back may have been of benefit during its busiest periods. Nevertheless, no complaints could be made about an impressive Enrico Sangiuliano set, later followed by a 90-minute, world-exclusive back-to-back courtesy of Carl Cox and Adam Beyer. 

The strikingly industrial stage, accessed via a floating walkway and converged with the site’s natural features, this junction giving the festival its name

Oh yes, oh yes – having played individually, the two then came together as daylight faded to tear through a set littered with unashamedly crowd-pleasing crescendos. Dropping established barnstormers like Cirez D’s ‘On Off’, alongside newly released material from Cox’s Intec and Beyer’s Drumcode labels, the fun being had behind the decks was apparent, with Beyer even taking to the mic to proclaim it as one of the best nights of his life. Accordingly, the comments section of its recording, uploaded by Mixmag, is filled with those waxing lyrical about both the set and the festival as a whole. 

A prestigious line-up and an intriguing locale have combined to create an exciting new feature on the capital’s calendar, and a real contender for the nation’s premier techno event

With a late afternoon combination of Sonja Moonear and Nicolas Lutz in The Woods also turning heads, the back-to-back sessions at Junction 2 were perhaps the standout feature during a day of quality performances. An impressive commitment to providing a music-focussed experience, a routinely prestigious line-up and an intriguing locale have combined to create an exciting new feature on the capital’s calendar, and a real contender for the nation’s premier techno event. On a busy weekend which also saw Parklife and Gottwood take place, Junction 2 has quickly earned a place amongst its popular contemporaries and will undoubtedly continue to excite as it looks towards only its fourth instalment.



Published

22nd June 2018 at 2:00 pm



Images from

Pixnio



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