Review

elrow Town London 2018 – Saturday

Same place, bigger production and more confetti - elrow Town returned to the capital

Since it’s inception as a Barcelona club in 2010, the wild and wonderful elrow has grown into one of the world’s most popular party experiences. The brand’s two directors; brother and sister Juan Arnau Lasierra & Cruz Arnau Lasierra, both derive from a long line of entertainers, dating back six generations. Choosing to fuse theatrical acts with club life music, elrow prides itself on their flamboyant and downright outrageous approach to parties, showcasing a kaleidoscope of colours and shining a new light on the underground rave scene’s usual dark settings.

elrow Town marked it’s return to London with another tasteful line up of house & techno greats. Splitting the festival over three stages, the weird and wacky Psychedelic Trip hosted the main stage, while the jungle mania of Sambodromo Do Brasil took over an indoor tent arena dubbed “The Cave” and a smaller sized pink blow-up cathedral space held a rollerskating disco (who comes up with these ideas!?).

 

Venue

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Elrow Town was once again housed in The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, situated in the heart of London, adjacent to Stratford City and around 15 minute walk from Stratford train station. The venue space consists of the stadium previously used for the London 2012 Olympics and large surrounding park where elrow Town was based.

Staff
Quick to serve and constantly in the elrow fun-loving sprit. Queue times were minimal both when entering the venue and waiting at the bar.

Drink Prices
A tad higher than usual London rave prices, and also slightly raised from last year’s stint which was unfortunate. That said, the prices were still competitive based on some of London’s higher priced venues.

Beers – £5.50
Flavoured ciders – £6.00 to £6.50
Spirit & mixer single – £6.50
Spirit & mixer double – £9.00
Water – £2.50

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Crowd
Predominantly made up of young and energetic ravers ranging between 18-25, however the beauty of elrow Town being set within London is that it brings out the incredible diversity of the capital, with a great mix of cultures and backgrounds adding to the festivities.

Heat
Luckily the weekend saw a break from the never ending heat wave England has experienced the past month (not that we’re complaining). A nicely comfortable temperature kept even the enclosed areas at a rave-able heat.

 

Production & sound

The Cave – Sambrodomo Do Brasil
The enclosed tent area with an immersive nature design running through it’s entirety, was typical of an elrow themed event; character and colour. Impossible to keep fixed on just one of the busy amount of props in action, it was truly dazzling, with our eyes darting between wild inflatables suspended from the rafters, the roof space mimicking a forest canopy & an illuminated gecko to frame the DJ booth.

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The already bright theme was then visually boosted by strobes and beam lights during the sets, streamers shooting out towards unsuspecting crowds and stilt walkers in a variety of costumes. We really where transported from the concrete jungle of London to Elrow’s Amazon rainforest.

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Main Stage – Psychedelic Trip
The jewel in the crown of elrow Town London was the main stage, bringing a world class setup to a smaller festival venue. Holding a psychedelic trip theme, the visuals on display from huge LED panels were adorned with mind-bending patterns, providing that 60s hippie aesthetic. Like most festival stages, they come alive once the sun sets, and this is when elrow’s main stage really shone. The visuals became sharper, vividly displaying a rainbow of colour, before glittery confetti covered the London skyline, fired from the main stage & speaker stacks at the rear of stage area, leaving the whole area lit by glistening glitter. This was an improvement from the previous year, where only those at the very front received the benefits of the production.

Sound between the two areas was also improved following the elrow’s last trip to London, with further speaker stacks added to the rear of the arenas to bulster the day’s audio. Whilst this was a better experience from last year, there were still corners of the space where sound quality was dampened.

 

DJ Sets

wAFF
Born and bred in Hull; Jon Wafer aka wAFF has become known for his high calibre sets, funky production and being an all round hilarious human being. Having practiced hard in the studio waiting for the opportune moment to release his tracks, wAFF by chance met heavyweight DJ and producer Richy Ahmed, who helped him on his way to release his debut EP ‘Jo Johnson’ on Jamie Jones’s very own Hot Creations. The rest is history.

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Starting off his set with a steady, minimalistic track entitled “Jenny” by Enrico Caruso was a perfect way to warm the feet of the crowd, before bringing out the big guns.  Trying to keep the music in relevance with the Brazilian theme, wAFF dropped “Sonhar” by Paul Cart. The South American style vocals providing the perfect setting, as elrow performers danced around in monkey costumes. As time began to press, wAFF reached the halfway point of his set, marking the time to bring in some energy to the performance, by spinning in Gullie Placencia’s floor quaker “Aqua Jam”. The fierce build up complimented by an added FX effect had the crowd’s arms high in the air, with strobes increasing the tension before an explosion of confetti as the track’s drop tore through the tent.

Richy Ahmed
The DJ/Producer hailing from South Shields in the North of England has been at the forefront of the house scene the past few years. Carving a funky electro style to both his production and DJ sets has turned the head of Paradise & Hot Creations head honcho Jamie Jones, leading to a catalog of releases and performances under the top flight brands.

elrow1 (1 of 1)Starting his set with a recognisable mix of groove driven tracks, featuring old school vocals was a noticeable shift from wAFF’s hard-hitting finale. Tracks such as Wilson Phoenix’s “Good Feel” gave the crowd a change in pace to break up the day. Keeping in character with the tent’s theme, Richy played the tribal drummed classic “From Jamaica To Brasil,” by Silvano Del Gado, followed by a buoyant disco anthem titled “Fly Life” by Basement Jaxx, with Flashmob on remix duties.

Bastian Bux
With the entrance of Bastian Bux came an injection of vocals and uplifting vibes to the packed out main stage. Dropping the 2010 house classic “Hey Hey” by Dennis Ferrer left the entire crowd singing in unison, with their hands pointing to the heavens!

This was the tone of Bux’s set, the crowd’s reactions being an indicator of how well this went down. We were treated with more vocal tracks such as Amine Edge & Dance’s  “Lovelee Dae” and  Klangkuenstler’s 2017 remix of Greco NYC ft Rowetta – “Be”. The cheerful selections kept the stage’s energy flowing and spirits at an all time high. However, it wasn’t all just vocal house by Bastian, with tech house belters such as Wade’s “They Know” giving the performance some bouncy basslines and rounding off an infectious set from the elrow resident.

Steve Lawler
The VIVa music record owner & former “King of Space” Steve Lawler provided one of the highlights of the event, with his two hour set. Lawler opened the cave closing slot with contagious drum rhythms of Antranig – “Ride it out”. A naturally groovy track that transitioned seamlessly into Mongobonix – “Mas Pito” (Marco Lys Remix), both tracks fitting the theme & production brilliantly.

elrowlawler.jpgNow that the VIVa Warriors boss had the stage locked to the dance floor, he once again ups the pace into the latter half of proceedings. Dropping the timeless classic “Finder” by Ninetoes left the crowd in awe amongst the Sambrodomo Do Brasil theme. With another professional display towards the final moments, Lawler closes with Haze & Noir – “Around” (Solomun vox mix). The iconic vocals cut alongside it’s disco & funk melody, were the perfect sound to wind down proceedings with a touch of class.

elrowtonivillen.jpegToni Varga, Tini Gessler & Bastian Bux
Unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances with his transportation, Paul Kalkbrenner could not attend. A large act like this can be challenging to substitute, but once again elrow Town pulled it out of the bag with the impromptu b2b’s of Varga, Gessler and Bux. The elrow resident trio kept the spirits high, the music selection on point and the party flowing effortlessly until closing.

 

Overall

Mind-blowing themes, ridiculous confetti drops and incredible music. What’s not to love about elrow? Once again the colourfest phenomenon has proven why it’s leading the game with a new direction; an inimitable style that fuses wacky theatre with house & techno. Since their last open air stint in London, noticeable improvements to production and sound have been made. This time round saw further thought into creating a 360 degree experience on a far larger scale than where it all began at the family club in Barcelona. Whilst the growth of the brand will continue to breed more areas of consideration to maintain their signature style, there’s no doubt the creative minds behind the scene have what it takes to keep elrow at the top. Who knows what’s next. 8/10

Well, for now we do know that they have another open air bash planned for Halloween. This time taking a trip to Southampton for an outdoor extravaganza. More info and tickets available here.

 

Images –
Luke Dyson
Toni Villen
ratemyrave (Neil Ritchie)
Steve Lawler