Back to give the people of Sussex its annual dousing of electronic music, Shakedown fans returned in their numbers for an evening of debauchery and hard beats. Juxtaposing that of more commercial contemporary electronic festivals like Creamfields, Shakedown is a one day event that offers something different to the commerce and pop glamour that electronic music has now become. With a line up that boasts 2manydjs, DJ EZ, Jaguar Skills, Sigma, Camo and Krooked and Sub Focus, it would become easy to point the finger at the obvious crowd drawers. Though not at Shakedown.
With two 2manydjs headlining the festival, it was surprising to see the sheer dominance every other stage had next to the internationally known disc jockeys. And maybe this is what makes Shakedown different to most commercial electronic festivals, the hardcore drum n bass faithful that make the event what it is. Using record labels like Defected in the House and Hospitality Records, the festival offers more niche, more specialised and far less commercial music for house and drum n bass respectively.
With a host of MCs backing the turntablists, the drum n bass tent saw the cult legend Sub Focus warm up the crowd before Camo and Krooked took the headline set, whist MK and Oliver Dollar took the reins for the final few sets in the house tent. The sheer size of the Hospitality Records tent dwarfed all the other arenas, and probably had 50% of the festival's attendance inside it. At one point, an olive branch felt like it should be offered to the Belgian Brothers (2manydjs) who probably had no idea how petit and incomparable their tent and crowd size was to the rest. It was very transparent to see who the main drawers of Shakedown were.
On the festival's only outside venue, Oxide and Neutrino brought their nostalgic taste of garage for an early afternoon crowd pleasing set, whilst DJ EZ later played a more diverse set than normal. Known for his garage roots and his exquisite song selection, DJ EZ's performance was meant for everyone, which may have annoyed some of the more robust garage aficionados looking for a more traditional set.
Jaguar Skills, wearing his accustomed black ninja mask, delivered well. The mash up DJ was on top form, unafraid to try even the most daring of mixes, like Biggie Smalls into Mario - not many DJs can get away with that. As normal though, Jaguar Skills cut songs from every genre possible, setting up the most commercial acts of the day, Example and Sigma.
Fortunately, Example was limited to his DJ set, aided by DJ Wire, which is far more festival friendly than the laborious sets he conventionally delivers, though he peculiarly ended his set 15 minutes early for some unknown reason. Sigma then closed the stage running through all the chart hits that he now possesses.
Though none of the 10,000 strong crowd would've have gone home in any way disappointed, it was fairly poignant to see the direction the festival is headed in, and if the festival organisers are wishing to expand Shakedown, a different approach may be needed. Though for the ravers on site, they wouldn't change it for the world.
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