I am writing this comment after visiting both Homelands 2002 and the Gatecrasher Summer Sound System. Whereas I thoroughly enjoyed both events I have to say that Homelands wins hands down over Gatecrasher! The festival was very well laid out in a circular format which meant you did not have to walk far, although there only appeared to be one main gate there was very little time spent queuing to get in and when it was time to leave the buses back to Winchester station were well organised with very little wait time. Bars were plentiful and service was fast, efficient and friendly. Oh yes, and the music was of course, SUPERB! Basement Jaxx headlined and their set alone justified the entrance fee. The MUSIK arena was rammed and when they played 'where's your head at' the whole place went ballistic. Fantastic set. Also worthy of a mention was the Plump DJ's who's latest CD 'a plump night out' has been one of my favourite CD's of the moment. Roger Sanchez played a midnight set in the MUSIK arena which continued the party atmosphere left by the Jaxx. Also worthy of a Mention was Armin Van Buuren in the Slinky arena and DJ Tiesto who opened up the show in the Essential Mix arena. If anyone got to see Sasha and Digweed then I would be interested. The Face arena was too crowded when I went to check them out. The only let down was the absense of mobile phone masts. Ericsson was not sponsering Homelands 2002 and trying to get a signal on my Orange phone was a nightmare. Text messages were taking 6 hours to deliver which meant it was difficult to find someone after you lost them. All in all though, a great day out.
I have been to homelands for the last 3 years now and have had a variable experience of the festival scene. There are various tents from various clubs reflecting a huge choice of dance music from Drum n Bass to tribal Trance. The cost is around £45 a ticket plus with Ticketmaster (I hate them) plus booking fee. Getting to Winchester by car is simple and the directions are labelled on route, parking the car was easy as well. There is a big walk up the hill then you find the bowl where tents and fair ground attractions await you. The first year was perfect, good music, good atmosphere, and great weather. The pick of the evening for me was Laurent Gaurnier as the man was on form with a BLINDING set. Paul Van Dyk struggled and the set was disaster as the sound system was so quiet after the Chemical Brothers obliterated it. Second year was simple awful and that was due to the weather. The night out was ruined wet, aching joints (the body kind) from dancing in the cold, just a plain mess is definitely not my idea of fun. Even eating a dirty burger seemed a luxury just keep myself warm. Driving home in my BOXERS was new for me, as I couldn’t wear soaking clothes in my friend’s new car, so that was PANTS for an ending. At least the car was warm after it heated up! Even in the cold and wet I still managed to enjoy parts of the night like watching Public Enemy play and they were the mutts nuts although the river flowing through the tent did alarm me at one point. The biggest disappointment on the night was the Sasha and Digweed sets, I have a lot of time for those guys and am really into that style of music but the decibel level was far to low! Third year I bought the tickets of a newsgroup advert on the cheap. I only bought them because the BBC 5-day weather prediction service had show saturday would be fine. It was a really wikkid night, Adam Freelander in the Bud Ice bus was buzzing outside. Space was
the place to be that night with Steve Lawler, Sasha, John Digweed, Danny Tenaglia all lining up to bang out the choons. Althought I was a bit disappointed with Tenaglia. The Bacardi tent seems the better purchase for drinks (and not because I like Bacardi a lot) as they are just poured out and not measured, so it seems a touch of the European influence. After drinking far too much the men’s toilets were very good but that is because they covered most of Matterly Bowl Arena My advice is to buy tickets at the last moment when you know the weather is going to be okay as it makes so much difference. And please Homelands organisers turn the sound up!
My previous experience of Homelands involed rain, mud, torn ligaments and the loss of my wallet. It may be hard to believe that so much dark luck could befall one person in one day but unless I was suffering from the unreality of fungus, the gods of misfortune were happily proding me with their big toes. So when the opportunity arose to head back down to Winchester for Ericsson's Homelands 2001 my immediate reaction was cold sweat and shakes as I sat in the corner rocking back and forth. This time however I was determined to have incident free good time, and with a line up including Orbital, Danny Tenaglia, Sasha and arenas provided by The End, Radio One, Movement, Space, Back2Basics and Slinky, incident-free seemed rather far fetched. As we departed Waterloo by train things were looking pretty good, I had a cold beer in my hand, the sun was shining and all my valuables were now safely in the possesion of a trusted and more responsible friend. ON arrival in Winchester all festival-goers were hearded down specific routes, through the "drugs amnesty"(was that 4 pills or less and you can keep them or was that just not go to jail for 4 years or more? much confusion), eventually onto buses which took us the short journey to the site, or so we thought. After the initial excitement of getting of the bus at our destination we were then confronted with a very long uphill walk to the actual site, and very pleasant it was too, though slight flashbacks of knee ligament damage occasionally sents the cold shakes through my body. Once we sqeezed through the entrance my fear and scepticism died away almost immediately. After collecting a cold alcoholic beverage from the bar we headed for the nearest sounds we could find, which manifested themselves in the shape of Norman Jay and the Bud Ice bus, excellently positioned right next to the entrance (after the long journey we were in no mood to get the "lay of the lan
d", we come to party!). I am a die hard fan of Norman Jay and the Good Times soundsystem at Notting Hill Carnival and with the sun shining down and people dancing outdoors that familiar summer vibe took hold for the first time this year. With the departure of Norman Jay the temperature was raised ever so slightly with a DJ set from Groove Armada, slipping from funky hip-hop fused beats into cool deliberate house fuelled grooves. While jumping around like kids we bumped into old friends and aquaintances, the kind that you only bump into at festivals and house parties and after enough time had passed that we thought we were in the swing of things we moved on to check out some of the tents. The main homelands tent was nothing short of vast, with a superb soundsystem and visuals which with the exception of Orbital seemed wasted on the average line up which included Pulp, DJ Spoony, and Seb Fontaine. Moving around we came across the Space tent. The club in Ibiza (at least the Terrace) can honestly put itself forward for best club on the planet, however tranporting that vibe, sound and atmosfear over to a large tent in Hampshire prooved little too tricky. The sound was very disappointing, it was pitch black and not on the right level at all. So on to the next tent and drum and bass was the order of the day, though the sound again was disappointing, the vibe and the music was fantastic and after boogying around for a hour or so we moved on to find The End arena banging out quality progressive sounds to a totally entranced crowd. While collecting some more beer we passed the Radio One stage which seemed to be laying down trance anthems to the masses though not really being my thing we passed and headed for the main arena and Orbital. All the times I have seen the Hartnoll brothers over the years I have been entertained and inspired. They manipulate sounds, images and the crowd with such ease it makes you wonder how th
ey learnt how to push the right buttons. The visuals were superb and while their set was a little more relaxed than normal the long encore littered with classics such and Chime, Satan and their Doctor Who theme left me and the crowd screaming for more. By the time we made it out after Orbital the sun had gone down, it was a little colder and the choice of where to go left us a little silent. What could possibly follow Orbital? Danny Tenaglia maybe? Though going back stage seemed like a bit of a cheat, we had missed Tenaglia's listed set and a five our set back stage was too much to pass up. So off we went to dance the night away with sexy deep house grooves and pints and pints of beer, though I do not quite remember getting back to Waterloo I am assured it was smooth and incident free, the same can not be said though of friends who had driven. After forgetting where their car was parked (next to the red sierra!) the large non- moving queue to get out tested sunday morning patience. All in all though my Homelands fears have been blown away by good music and a fairly well organised festival, 2002? I'll be waiting.