Cocoon in the Park has become an unmissable date on any techno and house music fanatic’s festival calendar since its birth in 2009. Sven Vath’s incomparable influence over the industry, with a career spanning four decades and a proven ability to exhilarate audiences from the golden beaches of Ibiza to inner-city warehouses or even in our case, the sprawling emerald fields of Leeds’s Temple Newsam estate, set the bar high for my first visit to the festival, and even higher for my first time seeing him DJ.
The atmosphere at the festival rang with fever-pitch excitement and high expectations from the minute the shuttle buses from Leeds rattled into the majestic location; Temple Newsam, a Tudor-Jacobean estate set mere miles from the city’s centre. The weather had decided to shun the dismal expectations of British summer and permitted sunshine to pound down upon the festival all day, ensuring the music, stage production and setting could be enjoyed without the fear of losing shoes in mountains of mud.
The backdrop of Temple Newsam contrasts perfectly with the stunning stage design; a gleaming, modern centrepiece that serves as the festival’s sole stage. This centric viewing sets Cocoon in the Park apart from its competitors straight away, with the smaller, more intimate size of the festival doing nothing but reinforce the fondness everyone in the crowd and the DJs playing on stage feel for the festival and the music. There are no gimmicks, no gentrified stalls or over-produced stages promising trips into alternate musical dimensions, just incredibly strong music that is pounded out from an incredible Funktion-One sound system against a stunning physical backdrop, with Cocoon’s official website labelling its production “a northern light show to rival its natural polar namesake”. The feeling of awe that people must feel beneath the Aurora Borealis is somewhat paralleled in the fields of Temple Newsam, with the eyes of every audience member glued to the stage, unable to stop dancing to the minimal tones of Adam Beyer or the finales pounding beats courtesy of Vath, the boss himself.
After early sets in the day from Cocoon’s own Annie Errez, Bobby O’Donnell, and Alex & Digby, the festival escalated into an exhilarating trip into techno wonderland with the likes of Richy Ahmed dropping mid-afternoon bells, Joseph Capriati proving why he has become one of the most exciting DJs on the scene today with every audience member united in glee, hands and fists raised, feet moving to his fast, erratic beats, and Adam Beyer attracting a ginormous crowd, each prepared to lose all their inhibitions to his uplifting spin on original tracks and techno classics. Sven Vath, the man tasked with playing the cumulative set to such a fantastic day, spent waves of euphoria through the crowd with his well-practiced, well-established style, soaring euphoric beats that secured his reputation, the soaring light show behind him providing the perfect contrast to his paired-back style.
All in all, Cocoon In The Park definitely did not disappoint for a first-timer through its gates – the festival may be small, but its commitment to its punters and most importantly, the music and DJs it plays host to on stage, establishes it as a Northern summer institution that larger music festivals could take several lessons from. Keep it compact, keep it high quality, and with the sun shining and the tunes blaring, keep it messy.
(image supplied by Jukebox PR)