Review: Junk Department’s Big Top – 03.05.14 – Part 2 (Future Garden)


This article is the second in article a two-part series reviewing Junk Department‘s Big Top, a one day festival that took place on the 3rd May 2014, headlined by Jamie Jones, Maya Jane Coles, Dyed Soundorom, and many more. The first part of the series is available here. The summary and ratings given at the bottom are derived from calculated averages representative of both authors’ opinions. Comments are welcomed and encouraged, see below.

Part 2:

If you’re an electronic music fan living in Southampton, chances are you’ve heard about Future Garden. Existing as a small collective of disco, house and soul DJs from the University of Southampton, they have effortlessly spent the last year or so building an enviable reputation. An impressive back-catalogue of well-organised events focussed around quality music and unique venues has earned them the necessary fanbase and expertise to host a stage at Junk Department’s much anticipated Big Top. Taking place on Bank Holiday weekend in a country park just outside of Southampton, the circus-themed festival featured a heavyweight line-up of deep house as the main attraction; Jamie Jones and Maya Jane Coles atop a bill of past Junk headliners. The site also featured fairground attractions as well as a pair of smaller stages and a number of DJs to keep those with VIP access entertained. Portsmouth-based promoter Concrete Music also hosted one such stage, but Future Garden’s offering for the day proved far more popular, with only Karma Kid really gaining any attention at the former.

In what is perhaps the most significant event for the Southampton crew since their inception 15 months ago, their suitably branded Discotheque features a line-up including sets from each member of the FG team as well as an array of guest DJs, most notably Berliner Max Graef. The stage itself, located at the end of a bar, was surprisingly small but distinctively Future Garden. Decoration was minimal and included vinyls, disco balls, and their own signature branding. Simple but effective, it offered an intimate all-day alternative to the dark, overly-spacious and somewhat disengaging Big Top tent.

As the site filled and the sun shone, crowds gradually gathered both inside and out of the FG tent while Chris Gee played an early set comprising of largely afro-beat influenced house and reggae to accompany the glaring sun. As the afternoon progressed and word of an alcohol shortage spread around the crowd, queues for the bar increased significantly and any panicked drinker that chose to try their luck on this side of the site found their nerves eased by a solid house and disco selection from guests Rob Winsley and Simon Bleakley. Future Garden DJs and friend Rami Ali played similarly enjoyable sets throughout the afternoon.

Opening his set and setting a strong tone with Chic’s “I Want Your Love”, headliner Max Graef took to the decks bang on 6pm, drawing a significant crowd out of the sunshine and away from other stages. The highlight of the day for many, Graef’s set not only displayed his ability to pick crowd-pleasers but also offered an insight into his personal taste – while his passion for hip-hop is not exactly a secret to fans, the inclusion of songs like “Runnin’” provided a welcome and arguably necessary change of tempo for any set this length. Spanning 2 hours and ending at dusk, Graef’s slot seemed to note the start of the evening for many; moods rose and inhibitions lowered as the sun set over the festival, soundtracked by a sublime selection of jazz-infused house hits that included his own fantastic recent release “No. 5”.

In true Future Garden style, the closing hours of their tent are owned by the members themselves. Showing a level of experience that defies their short history as a group, they go for 3 hours back-to-back to close off the night. Each member is fully competent technically behind the decks and their collective knowledge of the genre is made increasingly apparent with every party through a song selection that never stales. Tonight the similarly reliable crowd is treated to the likes of this fantastic remix of Gregory Porter’s “1960 What”, and Maribou State’s rework of “Praise You”. Final song “Street man” is accompanied by a warming wave of applause, rounding off an overwhelmingly positive day for Future Garden and their fans, at an event that suffered somewhat from lacklustre sound elsewhere and underestimation of drink demands.

Read Part 1


All photos by Jesse Olu for Only By Nght.

7.8 Good First Attempt

Well curated line-up. Needed more bars and toilets. Friendly, fair, and professional security staff. Bottled water was far too expensive, free tap water would be ideal.

This is a two-part review meaning that the summary and ratings given here are derived from calculated averages representative of both authors' opinions (Scarlett and Joe).

  • Pre Event Communication 5
  • At Event Communication 7
  • General Communication 6.5
  • Travel to the Festival 4
  • Arrival at the Festival 9
  • "Festival Experience" 9
  • Toilets 6.5
  • Security 10
  • Police Presence 7.5
  • Mobile Phone Reception 10
  • All-weather Planning 10
  • Creative Content 9.5
  • DJ/Artist Line-up 9.5
  • Disabled Access 10
  • Food 7
  • Bars & Drinks 5
  • Cleanliness 7.5
  • Size/Scale 9.5
  • After-hours Entertainment 8
  • Value For Money 8.5
  • Sound 6
  • Lighting/Effects/Pyro 8.5
  • Extra Attractions/Activities 6.5
  • Local Scene Connection 9
  • Green/Recycling 7

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