One of the country’s biggest festivals made their return last weekend, following a hiatus since 2019. Moving to a new location, the pressure was on as We Are FSTVL started a new chapter in its colourful history. Its safe to say they didn’t disappoint.
For its 8th season We Are Fstvl moved to a new location for 2021, this time situated in Romford’s Central Park, RM10 7EU. It was easy enough to get to, even though it did require a 20 minute hike to and from Dagenham station.
The connection links into London made the journey stress free. The last thing you want is a bad commute either going to or getting back from the rave.
One of the standout points of the day was the staff. Whether they were the guys checking your Covid status, running the security, upgrading your tickets at the box office, serving you food and drinks etc. They were brilliant, friendly, and helpful throughout!
A mixed crowd, but probably mostly on the younger side between 18-29 – standard for an event of this type. The VIP area was where the older ravers (30+) tended to be. During the day it was generally good vibes, and no trouble.
Being this close to London you expect to pay city prices however it was definitely more expensive than some other events. They operated a contactless system on the day.
Beers & Ciders: £6.50
Cocktail cans: £8 each or 3 for £20
Spirits & Mixer £8 or double up for £12
Bottled water was £3 however I was disappointed to not find/see any signposted free water points which is generally a given when at a festival of this size.
Production & Sound
The marquee and tent arenas were all kitted out with with hefty systems and world class lighting. The sound was crisp and loud, whilst production provided a sensory overload.
Large LED screens offered plenty of visual delight for those of us in attendance, with lighting coming from a host of lasers, strobes and spot beams.
Outside was more of a simple affair, with stripped-back production, however still featuring a decent set up. Unfortunately it did seem there was sound restrictions in force for the open air stages. With sound being incredibly quiet, to the point it was hard to hear the drops in iconic tracks from the likes of MK & Sonny Fodera, over the voices of people talking. If the same restrictions are in place for future shows, we’d like to see more indoor arenas/tents so that headline acts can crank up the volume!
English duo Dave Whelen and Mike Di Scala formed what is known as Camelphat in Liverpool in 2004. Since then the duo have been fan favourites in the dance music community, with their breakout track ‘Cola’ reaching 18 in the UK singles chart.
The crowd was fully immersed in proceedings, with a remix of Shakedown’s “At Night” creating an uplifting and euphoric moment with all hands raised to the rafters.
The euphoria continued with “For a feeling” – Camelphat & ARTBAT’s track ft RHODES, which blasted across the space. The crowd were whipped into action for “Hypercolour” by Camelphat, Yannis & Foals with people singing along to the iconic lyrics! A performance which set a solid tone for the rest of the day.
After being rescheduled to perform at a different time due to the unforeseen absence of ARTBAT (sad face), the number 1 selling Beatport artist Eli Brown stepped up, armed with a plethora of releases on the industry’s biggest and best labels such as VIVa, Toolroom and Repopulate Mars to name a few.
The Carl Cox & Friends tent was full of energy when Eli dropped the bass heavy Ronnie Spiteri remix of “Stratosphere”; the rumbling bassline rippled through our chests in emphatic fashion. It didn’t slow down there with Eli maintaining the pace selecting “Wait A Minute” by Radio Slave. Later digging into his own back catalogue with “Killer” released on Polydor Records leaving the crowd’s attention locked front & centre.
There was a reason we suggested Andy as one of our must see acts on the day and guess what – he didn’t disappoint. The DnB stalwart had top tier bespoke production and an armoury of iconic 160-180 BPM tracks to go alongside. The crowd in the Bass Stage was probably one of the friendliest and most energetic on Saturday. Reacting to every drop and shift in production with true passion.
Andy being a master of the crowd meant he could use this to his advantage, opening up with his own track “Boom'”, the crowd cheered on the drop complemented by a laser frenzy.
Carrying things on came Sub Focus’ “Rock it (Wilkinson Remix)”, a huge track the crowd instantly recognised. However, the stand out moment of the day came from Andy C upping the intensity with another Sub Focus track – “Desire”, his collab with Dimension. Paired alongside dizzying strobes, scattering beams and C02 on the drop the whole place was going insane!
Well laid out, with lovely weather, welcoming staff, a well stocked albeit slightly expensive bar, quality production throughout, top tier international DJs and a crowd really enjoying themselves!
The sound outside was a shame but this is common throughout London/residential areas and unfortunately something that can rarely be altered due to strict sound restrictions issued by local councils. Apart from that, it’s easily one of our best We Are Festival experiences to date! Will I be booking a ticket again next year? Absolutely!
Words: Neil Ritchie
Photos: Ben Bentley, Eric Aydin-Barberini, Justine Trickett, Gobinder Jhitta