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Bank Holiday Day Festivals 2024

**BANK HOLIDAY WEEKEND IN LONDON!!!** What to do? Why not go to three different festivals in three days?

I often moan about day festivals, mainly because they’re over before they start, so I decided to attend three festivals in three days across the bank holiday weekend, creating my own ‘proper’ festival experience in Central(ish) London.

Friday: GALA Festival at Peckham Rye Park

First up was GALA, a three-day festival. Though three days of repetitive beats in the same location didn’t appeal to my eclectic tastes, I took a punt on some early bird tickets for the Friday, hoping it’d give me a good excuse to bunk off work early.

© Photography by Jake Davis (instagram.com/jakephilipdavis)

I lucked out with DJ EZ as the headline act, supported by Interplanetary Criminal. Both masters of their craft, who play everything from Speed Garage to Grime in a seamless mash-up. However, the second time you have the DJ EZ ‘experience’, it doesn’t quite match the first, and you seem to get diminishing returns thereafter. Interplanetary Criminal, known for his party-starting, chart-topping tracks, and sometimes suspect selections – Vengaboys ‘We Like to Party’ – served as a suitable warm-up. Not that I actually watched either of them DJ this time around…

I kicked off my day at Nicholas Daley’s stage, where Aba Shanti-I delivered the goods as always. The sound system was on point and truly brought the noise. I also checked out Benji B’s Deviation, but the vibe had changed since the early days at the now-defunct Gramophone. Most people gravitated towards Joy Orbison closing the Pleasure Dome, but his selection felt underwhelming.I found myself spending most of my time in Charlie Bones’ Do!!You!!! tent, which delivered a house party atmosphere that kept me locked in until the ‘lights came on’, bringing some much-needed groove to an otherwise soulless festival.

In hindsight, Sunday would have been the better day to attend GALA, with some of my favorite DJs—Antal, Hunee, and Palms Trax – going B2B2B on the Rush Hour stage, celebrating the label’s 25th anniversary.

www.thisisgala.co.uk

Saturday: Wide Awake Festival at Brockwell Park 

Having followed the psychedelic rock gods who were headlining – King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – since their first gig at the Shacklewell Arms in 2014, I knew I was in for a treat, and their high-energy performance, influenced by legends like Black Sabbath, Can, and the Grateful Dead, was a frantic blast through their 24 studio albums. This is a band everyone should see at least once and are destined to go down in musical history!

Luke Dyson @lukedyson www.lukedyson.com

One of the UK’s best live bands at the moment, Squid, served as a suitable warm-up with their post-punk mix of energetic rock, funk, and jazz. Optimo had me pogoing to disco on the Disco Pogo stage, I’d last seen them at the Sub-Club in Glasgow a few years back, and they can certainly read the crowd and get any dance-floor moving, while Ben UFO artfully mixed bass and garage bangers to a packed tent in the mid-day sun. 

The festival organisers have also spearheaded Bad Vibrations, LNZRT, MOTH Club, and The Shacklewell Arms. Their tireless support for the underground music scene over the years truly deserves applause, as they consistently thrive in their various venues and ventures across the capital.

www.wideawakelondon.co.uk

Sunday: Cross The Tracks at Brockwell Park

Out of all the days, I was most excited for Sunday as it perfectly aligned with my eclectic musical tastes. Erykah Badu headlined…well, supported by BadBadNotGood. Having seen them both at All Points East last year, I knew we were in for a treat. However, Badu called in sick, much to the disappointment of the majority of the crowd. To make matters worse, she was posting unrelated content on social media all weekend, which felt disrespectful to her fans.

Neal Francis, the American singer, songwriter, and pianist, topped my must-see list. In his first UK appearance, he and his band were outstanding, blending yacht rock and psychedelic influences. With nods to The Meters, Allen Toussaint, and Sly Stone, Francis rocked the crowd into a 70s-inspired crescendo—definitely the highlight of my day even at 4pm!

I also caught Madlib and Freddie Gibbs, who played two sets, one in absence of Badu, but hip hop on a wide-open stage feels a bit lost and dated to me, even though I do love Madlib’s productions. Emma-Jean Thackray’s set was another highlight, bouncing along at just the right BPM.

Brainstory, another US band debuting in the UK, brought a heavy dose of psychedelic jazz to the Caboose stage. However, my entourage craved something more danceable, so we ended the festival with Ninja Tune artist Romare, who delivered a feast of kaleidoscopic visuals alongside his live set.

The night didn’t end there—we stumbled into the Florence Pub on our way home. A local gospel band was playing some sing-along classics and belted out the performance of their lives to a well-lubricated crowd, making for a good substitute for the absent Erykah Badu, kinda…

Overall, I had a great weekend crafting my own festival journey. Ultimately, diversity—not the dance group—is key when it comes to festivals for me, gradually increasing the BPM and energy levels throughout the day. I’m looking forward to All Points East later this summer, with LCD Soundsystem, Loyle Carner, and Kaytranada headlining on different days; it’s sure to be another eclectic affair of the highest order!

www.xthetracks.com

Words by Woody Anderson

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