Stockeld Park is usually a quaint and peaceful green oasis, less than half an hour distance from Leeds city centre. But then Mint Festival rolled into town. The 23rd of September saw this serene tranquillity flipped on its head, and instead opened Stockeld’s gates to some of the world’s most prolific house and techno DJs, and thousands of their fist-wielding, glitter adorned avid fans.
The 2017 version of Mint Festival was immediately superior to its 2016 sibling, the latter being hosted at Leeds city centre’s Tetley Brewery. Instead of the cramped conditions that plagued the 2016 event, 2017 saw the festival return to a lush green backdrop that promised much more room for hedonistic behaviour and great musical diversity. The inclusion of more stages and thus, more DJs on offer, allowed each punter to tailor their own day’s experience, free from the stress of cramming into tents bursting at the seams; each tent or outdoor arena was spacious, from the atmospheric system. stage set amongst innumerable trees, lit up at dark by dazzling neon lasers, to the sweaty, high-tempo edible tent and Leeds’s leading events company No Curfew’s offering, an outdoor stage playing host to several bass-driven, West Midlands-dominated big names that made a welcome addition to the plethora of minimal house and techno on offer.
The system. stage remained crowded throughout the day, with arguably the strongest of the festival’s line-up playing sets on its stage. Techno titans Loco Dice and Ricardo Villalobos played eclectic sets that unified the crowd in front of them, each hand raised to the jet-black sky as it began to signal the close of the festival, lit up only with shooting jets of pink and green, their sounds carrying throughout the field perfectly thanks to a brilliant sound system and total concentration of the audience. The No Curfew arena’s apparent love affair with Birmingham was personified in three of its highlight sets; The Streets frontman and UK garage titan Mike Skinner provided a healthy dose of throwback bangers; Lady Leshurr’s self-assured, quick-fire grime offering was a heady set completely different from the minimal lyrics typical of every other act throughout the day, with certain lyrics from viral ‘Queen’s Speech ep.4’ proving apt (“Why you Snapchatting in the club for? Just dance, man” was all I could think of when staring at certain groups more interested in infinite photoshoots than the music they had paid over £50 to witness); and finally, Hannah Wants, the female house DJ often credited with bringing the scene to a younger, more commercial audience, definitely played to this strength with an accessible and fun bass-filled heavy set. After witnessing sections of both this and Loco Dice’s final sets, it was easy to spot the difference in the crowds attending each – age varied greatly, but it was the methods of dancing that sparked the comparison, with an elated pumped fist vs. angry skank dividing the two.
The Knee Deep in Sound area bought the requisite number of disco vibes to the festival, headlined by Yorkshire’s very own Hot Since 82. The set featured his drop of Ronnie Spiteri’s ‘Multiply’, a track set to be released on the label later this year; the crowd at a Hot Since 82 show is always euphoric, on the right side of delirious, and united in their love for music. Over in the Eats Everything-curated edible tent crowd favourites Patrick Topping, Skream and The Martinez Brothers played bell-ridden, hit-laden sets, fresh from summers touring every global festival and every club on the White Isle. Topping’s ‘Forget’, a sure-fire way of igniting a crowd since its release in 2014, performed its usual magic, along with other massive release ‘Taking Libz’ and a quick sample of his feature on Green Velvet’s ‘Voicemail’.
The 2017 offering of Mint Festival certainly cemented its position as one of the most exciting and adored dance music festivals on the UK calendar. The perfect goodbye to summer, the OTT hello to Leeds fresher’s week, and the irresistible invitation for every punter to continue immersing themselves in everything the electronic music scene has to offer.