Ceremony Festival – the latest and greatest addition to the UK’s festival landscape is being mooted as the last big celebration of the British summer season. With 7 arenas of prestigious musical talent, great entertainment and the last of the September sunshine this is, on paper, the ideal summer closing party any Londoner could ask for.
The Festival itself is owned and managed by the wonderful folk behind FOUND festival and evidently reinforces their status as one of the leading players in the business with the attention to detail that went into curating one of London’s most exciting house and techno line-ups to date.
Each stage had been themed specific to an era, genre or label influence such as the Ceremony and Fact stages playing host to some of the biggest house and tech legends. Groove Odyssey are here to showcase the veterans who have curated the Soulful House scene to such great effect over the decades and London/Ibiza party hosts Magna Carta are supplying the vastly-growing sound of contemporary deep tech and progressive house. Even with a vast option of ‘who to see’ at any particular time all the stages had a pick and mix of past present and future talent, a nice touch meaning each line up worked well against each other and it kept to the certain philosophy of delivering a credible show for a broad audience.
So Fresh So Clean debuted their popular West London hip-hop formula in a perfectly compact tent dedicated to feel good hip-hop vibes from the likes of Dan Hills, The Menendez Brothers, and the legendary Todd Terry who, with his second set of three, digging deep into the vault for a special one-off set filled with strictly high energy classic hip-hop assorted with R&B throwbacks. Whilst we were gutted to have missed much of Grant Nelson’s early afternoon display of Soulful, heart-warming House by this point the ravers inside FACT’s 51st State arena are warmed up & in buoyant mood for Chicago legend Roy Davis Jr, whose appearance on these shores always goes down to great acclaim. Steadily weaving styles of disco and house both past and present, it’s the inevitable fade-in of ‘Gabriel’ that draws the cheers and whistles as the House pioneer visibly breaks into his stride.
Louie Vega, DJ Sneak and Lil Louis showed their international influences bringing different styles from record to record. Kevin Saunderson, the Detroit veteran and Inner City gave festival-goers arguably the biggest reason of the entire occasion to dance with an increasingly rare rendition of nostalgic rave sounds reminiscent of dance culture of the early 80’s to mid-90s.
Magna Carta staged the popular Adana Twins, while the bass driven Hamburg DJ and Ibiza resident Sidney Charles went back to back with Sante, spinning deep techno and rolling tech house harmonies as the sun came down. Urban Nerds also had their own stage hosting the grittier side of UK bass from the likes of Plastician, Matt Jamm Lamont and DJ Luck & MC Neat – a luxury for anyone who grew up listening to garage, grime and 2step in the Moschino-cladded era of the early 2000’s.
Reaffirming it’s status as an occasion offering just about every style of underground music on offer, Urban Nerds bagged a festival exclusive with the Tropical Showcase featuring JME, Skepta, Logan Sama & Jammer which predictably drew a hefty crowd for an onslaught of Grime renditions both past and present, including sing-along of the summer ‘That’s Not Me’ – no doubt the single best track to emerge from the scene in years.
With Louie Vega playing to a packed-out main stage as the bringing proceedings to a close the Bronx-born Masters At Work is visibly in his element as he shifts through the classics and rounded off the day in perfect fashion. It’s that essence of legendary which really personified Ceremony, and having spoken with many of the scenes fathers including Todd Terry, Roy Davis Jr, Robert Owens & Paul ‘Trouble’ Anderson it’s clear they’re just as humbled to be playing records to sell-out crowds as they were twenty years ago. With a continuous cycle of festival’s in motion for 5 months of the year it was an undoubtedly bold move by Found to add one more to the diary, but with a line up that’s stronger than the bulk of them, this was the perfect event to sign off the season.
Our Ceremony Festival coverage continues over the coming weeks as we release interviews with Todd Terry, Roy Davis Jr, Robert Owens, & Citizen. Subscribe to our pages to keep up to date with all the content.
Check out our Ceremony Festival photo gallery featuring the best of the action below.