From holding down residencies across many of the worlds greatest clubs to running one of the finest labels in house and techno, it comes as no surprise Nic Fanciulli is also the brains behind one of the UK’s most exciting one-day festivals in what is a hugely competitive calendar. What’s even more impressive is his ability and commitment in gathering such an esteemed cast of stars to his hometown, collectively making it the perfect festival finale in addition to being the go-to party for house and techno. Our only regret is not checking out the Kent native’s creation sooner.
Having emerged on to the scene in 2013, The Social Festival is a boutique party that’s made seismic strides in such a short time. With a line up boasting the best of the White Isle it’s evidently alluring for the masses of partygoers who now make the voyage over to Ibiza for the summer. In truth upon first glance of the social’s gargantuan line up we realize you don’t have to travel 1300 miles to soak up experience Carola, Hawtin, Troxler, Osuna and co. as Ibiza’s, in effect, taking over Maidstone!
With that said the weather god’s must have got the memo as the sun (uncharacteristically) unveiled itself in all its glory as we arrived at the vast and radiant site of Mote Park. The production – with Mad Ferret given creative license to flex their skills – was undeniably impressive with fairground rides, food stalls, haystacks, flags and marquee’s galore. Of all the boutique festivals on offer this had to be one of the year’s best. Vibrant and picturesque, it’s rare to see such meticulous efforts go in to a one-day event, and for that the teams behind the scenes deserve major props.
With five different themed arena’s on offer and within comfortable distance of each other, we opted first for Seth Troxler’s Bamboo Village with Joy Orbison already ramping up proceedings with a trademark mix of house and bass that suited the canopy’s more open and weather-friendly construction.
Having been on site for no more than 45 minutes it was already time to take in one of the day’s biggest spectacles as founder Nic Fanciulli orchestrated an unmissable B2B with Sasha and Joris Voorn. Despite the blissful conditions outside The Meadow stage is the festival’s largest arena and is already packed. The trio are clearly in buoyant mood, building a euphoric and feel-good vibe as they shift through the gears with Voorn dropping the Kölsch edit of ‘Love Sweet Sound’ before Sasha mixes in a hands-in-the-air house warmer. To see such a power-pairing shift through the gears in a manner that commands such attention was a captivating spectacle, and fans were intent on showing their adoration by happily absorbing every build up and drop for the sets three hour duration.
In the midst of the afternoons action highlights also came from Paco Osuna who held nothing back with a hard and heavy execution of techno as The Barn began to gather pace. The inimitable Four Tet delivered a set filled with eclecticism as he spliced through disco, house, unreleased material with Champion and classic UK Funky from Grand High Priest. Jackmaster continued and brought a similarly infectious energy with the Glaswegian producing a typical onslaught of upfront 4/4 anthems that ramped up the energy as the sun began to set.
Whilst Seth’s aesthetically pleasing Bamboo Village was a certified hit by day, the most impressive of all the arenas came in the form of the imperious Barn stage. Programmed quite simply for the harder, more industrial echelons of techno the spectacular lazer and light show was Timewarp-esque, taking no prisoners and complimenting Rødhad and Richie Hawtin’s carefully crafted big-room selections impeccably.
The Barn’s visually impressive setup may have taken the plaudits for best spectacle, but the festivals seminal moments all came from the meadow stage, with the essence of Ibiza embodied as all eyes fell on Jamie Jones and Marco Carola who brought the sounds of DC10 and Amnesia respectively to a packed and anticipant audience. Needless to say both were on form as Jones – the adored Paradise resident was evidently in the mood as the Welshman served up a memorable live set of mercilessly groovy rhythms as he meddled with progressive house and deep tech to inspirational effect.
With the Hot Creations boss – in head-bopping and dancing mode throughout- giving us a performance in the truest sense of the word, it was time for arguably the day’s biggest start to take to the stage. It speaks volumes that despite DJ Koze, Cassy and Richie Hawtin occupying headline slots amongst the other arenas, Marco Carola remains the biggest lure with his night Music On spearheading him to superstardom in recent years. Unleashing a typically exemplary mix of big room anthems, the Italian weaved his usual magic the only way he knows how, prolonging devastating build-ups with blockbuster drops and rumbling low ends that formed the perfect close with the masses in audible appreciation with a swell of wolf whistles and cheers filling the arena as Carola clapped his way off stage for what was a rare UK performance.
With approximately 10,000 in attendance this year, The Social came, saw and conquered on just about every level. Combining impeccable production with an equally masterful line up that curated a very clear music policy. Quite simply, for those seeking the best in techno and tech-driven house there’s no better festival offering in the UK right now, and long may that continue…
Luckily we don’t have to wait till next September to get our next fix of Social action, with a typical all-star line up confirmed for the ‘Winter Social’ on Saturday February 6th at the Kent County Show Ground. With a world-class selection of selectors recruited in the way of Art Department, Maya Jane Coles, Nina Kraviz, Guy Gerber and Maceo Plex, Nic Fanciulli’s Social empire shows little signs of slowing down. Check out the line up in the flyer below and be sure to grab tickets by going HERE.