Secret Garden Party 2014 Review

Though not the sort of festival where you instantly gravitate towards a juicy array of headliners, the line-up at this year’s Secret Garden Party was not to be sniffed at with David Rodigan, Fat Freddy’s Drop, and Public Enemy all featuring on the bill.

If it was 1989, Jagwar Ma would be right at home at the Hacienda, or at least it sounded that way during their headline set on the Where the Wild Things Are stage. The essence of rave runs right through every tune like a river of acid, and the canoes we are sat in are made from guitars. For rock-and-rave come techno track Four – it could well have been Manchester in the 80s, rather than a Cambridgeshire field on a Friday night in 2014. It was a riotous affair which set the bar pretty high for the rest of the weekend.

Much later that evening it was only the hardy who remained for a highly anticipated set from breakbeat legends Plump DJs at The Temple of Boom.

However, after an onslaught of rough and ready electro bangers for nearly an hour there was just the one breaks track played leaving a few slightly irked. It posed an interesting question – is breakbeat, the scene which they had pioneered for the best part of 20 years, dead? That’s maybe a discussion for another time.

Away from the tunes, and there was plenty weird stuff in-between to get stuck into at The Garden.

There’s totally losing your shit in a giant field of sunflowers, or watching the floating Emerald City stage burn into ashes. The fireworks on Saturday were the biggest my eyes have witnessed at a festival, and this was followed by a paroglider airdropping thousands of glittery fairy things onto the main stage crowd leaving everyone pretty gobsmacked. Nobody was really sure what it was, but it was amazing.

If there was any criticism to be had, the sound on some of the outdoor stages needed a bit more oomph, but maybe we’re being a bit picky. 

It was pretty hot the whole weekend. To the point when Rodigan declared ‘England is hotter than Jamaica’ in the midst of a smoking fire of reggae, dub and sunshine on a scorching Sunday afternoon. That was immediately after thousands had lobbed a shit load of paint at each other, colourful stuff.

Sunday was actually really good. Jackmaster’s Slot Machine of Broken Dreams capped off a really strong final day – the Numbers co-founder was joined by Bicep and Midland on the Drop stage before then wading into a crazy five-hour back-to-back set with Joy Orbison and Optimo. Thumping techno in the warm early evening outdoors – it doesn’t get much better than that. 

If we were to stick a tune on the weekend it would have to be the lead track off Caribou’s forthcoming Our Love LP. Can’t Do Without You produced an amazing reaction each time it was played and someone slightly broken was definitely humming it under their breath on the train home.

With an eclectic line-up, there really was something for everyone regardless of which way you swing, musically. Mix that with a super chilled out atmosphere and next level production to boot you can sign us up for next year. Early bird tickets for 2015 have sold out already. Yep.