Review: Mint Festival

Mint Festival
Lotherton Hall, Leeds
Saturday 29th September

Announced earlier this summer, Mint Festival was an exciting prospect for a Leeds club-goer, and the culmination of a big year for Mint after the launch of Mint Warehouse in January. The lineup stayed true to the Mint ethos, with stages representing the club’s most popular nights including System, Bigger Than Barry and Loco Disco. Like Dimensions, the focus musically was house and techno, with some drum & bass and dubstep thrown in too, definitely catering to the club’s usual crowd.

Billed as the ‘last dance festival of the summer’, there was certainly a cheery, summer time atmosphere present upon my arrival at Lotherton Hall’s beautiful open field spaces, and even a few rays of sun despite the quickly descending temperatures. For me, the highlight of the day came relatively early on in the Black Light tent, where Ben Klock played a brilliant set of no-nonsense minimal techno to an eager audience. The Berlin producer seemed to be enjoying himself too, clapping and dancing behind the decks and shattering any stereotypes about German self-serious techno nerds. Sandwell District followed and were nearly as good, including a subtle reference to Leeds’ techno history by playing classic track ‘Loop’ by bleep pioneers (and former Leeds Met students) LFO.

Although probably the best arena overall, Black Light started to lose a little steam beyond this point, with Adam Beyer slipping into techno monotony and resorting to dropping the kicks in and out every few bars to keep momentum. Perhaps I’d been in the techno tent too long, so it was time to check out some of the others. Jungle Jam vs. Bigger Than Barry provided a much-needed break from 4×4 tyranny, showcasing some of the biggest artists from both the drum & bass and dubstep contingents, including Coki, Joker, DJ Hype and Drumsound & Bassline Smith. After an awe-inspiring performance at Mint Warehouse’s opening party this year, Joker’s set was hotly anticipated, but unfortunate clashes meant I had to miss out. But although not suited to my personal taste, one peek in the tent during Drumsound & Bassline Smith and I could sense a full-on rave atmosphere, a welcome counterpoint to the other arenas.

Seth Troxler’s celebrates his birthday, halfway through his set

I was left a little disappointed by Seth Troxler in the main arena, hosted by System & Flux. Troxler wasn’t bad, but seemed a little complacent, playing a fairly standard house set. Jamie Jones followed and fared a bit better, as the music got funkier and more danceable, with a version of Cajmere’s fundamental hip-twisting anthem ‘Percolator’ as the centrepiece. A quick wander over to the Asylum tent revealed a disappointing turn out, but despite there being more people behind the decks at times than in front of them, PBR Streetgang played a fun set of disco and funk-leaning house, closing an all in all enjoyable festival, which will hopefully return bigger and better next year.

photos: Ian G. Ramsey

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