The Verse’s Will Craigie tells us what he thought of WILDLIFE festival at Brighton City Airport on the 9th June.
Good times, here we come. A small private airport in the second culture capital of England (tied with Manchester, of course) played host to some of the newest acts in music. In its third triumphant year, WILDLIFE returned to Brighton, and the organisers – dance titans Rudimental and Disclosure – appeared to try to make this their biggest yet. And hurrah, it was sunny!
It was a shame, then, that the line-up seemed slightly disappointing this time around. Whilst previous years hosted legends such as Nas, Wu-Tang Clan, and Ice Cube, 2017 only contained one bona-fide elder statesmen of music in the form of Chaka Khan. Moreover, whilst Zara Larsson, Jess Glynne and Clean Bandit are interesting to some (Jess Glynne did perform an entertaining show with a range of pop tunes) and there is definitely a place for them at a festival like WILDLIFE, it was a shame that less commercial, innovative and risk-taking artists were featured on the bill, making the main stage one of the least interesting parts of the festival.
But don’t get me wrong, there was much talent to behold. Giggs caused a frenzy, Pete Tong seamlessly fused brilliant new dance beats to old skools anthems (Frankie Knuckles’ Your Love is perhaps the most reassuring sound to hear across a booze-soaked field) and Rudimental served as an uplifting warm-up act for the Godfather of Big Beat and all-things-Brighton, Norman Cook aka. Fatboy Slim. Chaka Khan remained a joyful treasure, with the crowd slightly too out of it by this point to fully appreciate the scene (although still a very friendly bunch) . When she unleashed I’m Every Woman and Ain’t Nobody, the intoxicated crowd came together in beautiful rhapsody. I Feel For You was a notable absence from her set, which focused more on her 70s funk songs with old band Rufus rather than her solo work, but Chaka brought some much-needed soul to the festival.
The other stages played host to more obscure but intriguing acts. Solardo created a hypnotic wall of house at the amazingly bonkers Elrow stage (which boasted a Brazilian theme this year with inflatable monkeys, parrots, flamingos and more) where everyone appeared to be having the time of their lives. Meanwhile, Black Madonna brought soulfulness to the proceedings in the Kopparberg Urban Forest tent.
Although cheesy and idealistic, WILDLIFE did, like many great festivals, really bring people together. Hosted the day after the general election, the festival-goers love for music seemed to conquer feelings of sadness or disappointment at the results and allowed us to forget for a day. I came away from WILDLIFE with Rudimental’s Not Giving In resonating in my ears, and the sound of the crowd singing with defiance and hope. WILDLIFE is a promising festival, but it still has a way to come yet.
Featured image of Rudimental, courtesy of Scott Salt.