Live Review: MADE Festival 2017 | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Live Review: MADE Festival 2017

Greg Woodin returns to his motherland in Digbeth to see if MADE Festival 2017 lives up to the standard set by last year's event

Anyone who knows me will know that after last year’s event, MADE Festival will always have a special place in my heart. It might sound a bit corny and overblown, but it genuinely was one of the best days of my life. So, naturally, expectations were riding high for this one, and while it didn’t quite match my 2016 experience (what could?), MADE 2017 was nonetheless one to remember.

‘Don’t go ghost on me ‘cause I’ve got issues’: Detlef and Green Velvet’s ‘Issues’ booms out of the Yard’s speakers. There’s something about tech-house that suits a small outdoor stage, and Klose One is delivering track after track of techy goodness. The skies are clear (for now), the drinks are flowing… I’m trying not to come out with the old clichés, but it’s a great start to the afternoon. I’ll admit that Klose One wasn’t on my list of acts to see before today, but it’s clear how he’s earned his reputation as a selector that can turn his hand to almost any style: the last time I saw him he was DJing bass house with New York Transit Authority. And despite being an ardent fan of UK bass music myself, I actually prefer this set.

It’s clear that MADE is no longer a fresh-faced newbie in the festival world. A sell-out crowd and a star-studded line-up make this a metropolitan festival destined to put Birmingham back on the music map

Then it’s time for a spot of drum & bass in the Arena. I’m surprised to see that Nu:Logic have an MC; their music isn’t quite liquid d’n’b but the vibe is decidedly more chilled-out than your average high-octane onslaught, and in all honesty I’m not sure if it works to have a guy shouting over these tunes. But from the half-time swing of ‘Strut’ to the uplifting, jazz-infused ‘Nova’, the Cambridge duo pull off an accomplished set that demonstrates their experience and versatility. My one gripe is that the speakers lose a fair bit of their impact near the back of the Arena; if you want to become fully immersed, making your way towards the front is a must.

Next up it’s High Contrast, and I’ll be honest: whenever I see the words ‘live set’ next to a DJ’s name, I’m never entirely sure what I’m going to get. Will they be making music up on the fly using drum loops and synthesisers? Or will they be doing their usual job of mixing, only with some live accompaniment? As High Contrast takes to the stage, it becomes clear that the latter is the case here. It all seems a bit weird and incongruous at first, but when I get used to the idea, it’s refreshing to hear ‘actual’ live music, and the supporting vocal quintet hit all the right notes. And as the classic ‘If We Ever’ is played on its tenth anniversary, it’s a special moment. Not entirely sure about the live guitar, though.

It’s starting to rain and I made the decision not to bring a coat, arrogantly disregarding the advice of practically every weather forecast I’d taken a look at. It begs the question why I bothered looking at these forecasts at all, but whatever – I braved the queue and made my way inside to the Warehouse. It’s more than a little bit strange to see ‘Chris Lorenzo b2b Cause & Affect’ on the line-up seeing as, once upon a time, Chris Lorenzo was one half of Cause & Affect alongside long-time collaborator Kane. But as the two bassline house stars are reunited, it feels fitting that this happen in their hometown of Birmingham. Before long I’m pulling my best bass face and sweating profusely (it’s hot) to some 4/4 filth, and it’s the most fun I’ve had all afternoon. You can always count on Lorenzo and Kane to deliver.

Giggs gives an energetic performance with a set chock-full of hits, working the crowd with a swagger that comes only from being one of grime’s top emcees

After cooling off on the Roof Terrace with Dan Hills rolling out the laid-back R&B vibes – a welcome diversion – it’s time to bite the bullet and head outside for Giggs. Giggs gives an energetic performance with a set chock-full of hits, such as ‘Talking the Hardest’ and Drake feature ‘KMT’ (‘Batman, der-ner-ner-der-ner’), working the crowd with a swagger that comes only from being one of grime’s top emcees. And closing off proceedings are headline act Chase & Status, who bring out some surprisingly heavy drum & bass bangers interspersed with poppier hits such as ‘Blind Faith’ and ‘No Problem’, as well as recent cut ‘Tribes’. It’s not quite the euphoria of Rudimental’s closing set at last year’s event, but then again, nothing was going to be, and it’s a fitting end to a hugely enjoyable afternoon and evening.

It’s clear that MADE is no longer a fresh-faced newbie in the festival world. A sell-out crowd and a star-studded line-up make this a metropolitan festival destined to put Birmingham back on the music map. Only time will tell whether Digbeth can sustain MADE’s ever-growing popularity or whether relocation is necessary. We can only hope for the former, as MADE’s urban, rough-around-the-edges aesthetic is a massive part of its appeal.

You can join the Facebook event for MADE Festival 2018, which will be taking place on July 28, here.

 

Soon to be studying MA by Research in English Language and Applied Linguistics



Published

4th August 2017 at 9:00 am



Images from

Here & Now



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