Percolate has grown into the London electronic music scene like a well-worn pair of shoes. As a brand they are now comfortable entering new spaces and exploring new territories, after partying for 5 years and injecting their own special brand of atmosphere they’re ready to take it to the next level. Enter Percolate Open Air. Since their inauguration into the big smoke, they’ve set about tackling all manner of popular venues and collaborated with a number of likewise promoters in the industry – whilst of course delivering a stellar cocktail of house, techno and everything in between. Some unfamiliar ground was trod this weekend though (figuratively and literally) as the chaps behind Percolate brought us their first attempt at an outdoor festival.
There’s no denying that Saturday wasn’t a particularly perfect day to engage in outdoor festival shenanigans. If you’d have looked out the window upon the grey drizzle that engulfed London then a festival would not have been the first thing that you’d have jumped at the notion of. Nevertheless, it wasn’t enough to dishearten the faithful that took the beating of the rain to attend Percolate Open Air. The location itself Three Mills Island was a grassy circular expanse tucked away into east London, surrounded by a series of canals. Everything you’d have expected from a festival experienced hit you in the face as soon as you arrived; the stage decoration was on point, there was a multitude of colourfully dressed individuals, the atmosphere was buzzing, the sound system was punchy and of course the DJ roster was sick.
The two stages hosted a great selection of acts, but as we arrived it was on the second stage which we were drawn to. After a marathon set from Leon Vynehall b2b Ryan Elliott b2b Evan Baggs, longstanding Percolate residents Krywald & Farrer were up and got the crowd bouncing. For a while we all forgot that we were drenched courtesy of the classic thumping house tunes that the boys were dealing out. After some time fist bumping to a warmly received selection of disco house including Earls Boom Edits’s ‘D D D’, we dragged ourselves away to catch some Objekt on the main stage.
Following a bass-y selection of offbeat techno stompers, Objekt made way for a live set from Paranoid London. A myriad of synths and drum machines shook the foundations of Three Mills Island and before we knew it Scuba took the helm and did what he did best. He didn’t mess about, almost immediately he (ironically) dropped Kink’s remix of ‘Sunshine’, which was greeted with multiple cheers as we continued through the rain. Amongst the top display of techno, a welcome addition of disco featured towards the end of Scuba’s set as he paved the way for the headliner.
Finally, the main act. The top dog himself, DJ Koze took to the stage and boy did he do a number. It was what you’d expect from such a fine selector; his set was meticulously orchestrated from track to track, and had all the highs and lows of a superb electronic showcase. It was quite a sight to behold with the rain pouring down in front of the vibrantly decorated main stage – the projector and lasers infiltrated through the rain to create a truly mystical effect. Koze didn’t let up, taking the whole crowd on a sonic journey through the depths of his music collection. Through ruthless four-to-the-floor techno rollers to ambient atmospheric soundscapes, Koze pulled out all the stops. His encore of course was to be expected, as the familiar dialing tone of ‘Operator’ teased us for what seemed like an agonising length of time.
Following the extended edit of ‘Operator’ that kept on giving us that little bit more we were begging for, it was time to disperse. Percolate have stayed true to what made them a great party over the years, and their first step into the festival scene has proved that they can take this ethos with them wherever they go. With a carefully selected display of talent, well thought out stage design and the swarm of ‘Party People’, Percolate hit the nail on the head.
Photography courtesy of Michael Njunge and Gemma Bell for Here & Now.