‘Happy Bang Face’ as if
it was a
Bang Face Weekender is like taking a trip back into the Nineties, it is a musical eruption of electronic dance music and euphoria with a sufficient amount of fancy dress, boiler suits and glow sticks to make you think that the last decade never finished.
The traditional British festival usually consists of music, cider, tents and campfires, but over the last two years there has been a new phenomena where festivals are concerned that are less claustrophobic and don’t haunt you with the horrific ‘festival smell’.
Bang Face Weekender brings festival life into the 21st century, it takes place in Pontins holiday park in Camper Sands, East Sussex, which means that camping is replaced with chalets and there is no risk of being caught in the rain while watching your favourite music acts because the music takes place in the Pontins club venues, which are all on site.
The weekender claims to be three days of Neo-Rave Armageddon, bringing all of the DJs that play at the club night in London together to one weekend full of joviality and excitement. The selection of music was more broad than the previous year, which is why the Weekender was even more successful. The man responsible for making this event a reality is Saint Acid, his combination of Dubstep, Breakcore, Gabba, Drum and Bass, Jungle, Reggae, Techno and Rave was truly stunning, combining rave culture, chaos and debauchery.
The chalets are organised in blocks; every block is like a street with a large patch of grass in the middle allowing you to lie in the sun whilst waiting for the music to begin. Having bedrooms, a bathroom and a kitchen makes the entire experience so much more comfortable, making damp tents and camping stoves a thing of the past. Camber Sands has the most beautiful beach which is only a five minute walk away from the holiday park, with prepossessing sand dunes, shops and cafes, so if relaxing on the grass drinking beer doesn’t appeal to you, you can always go for a swim.
What makes Bang Face different from your standard rave is its enthusiasm. Ravers are encouraged to dress in fancy dress, the theme of the weekender was space and the person with the best costume won a free chalet at the next weekender. The effort spent on making costumes was majestic, with aliens, NASA scientists and Star Wars stormtroopers to name a few. Card masks of yellow smiley faces and the face of the Bang Face logo were given out as well as signs with random slogans, which are held up during the rave. The atmosphere in the rave is most definitely eccentric, inflatable objects including animals and saxophones are thrown onto the dance floor, which injected colour and excitement into the already exhilarating ambience.
On arrival, a giant yellow ball with a smiley face printed on it floated above Pontins Holiday Park, welcoming guests and encouraging excitement. Outside the reception was a giant ‘Gabba The Hutt’ standing at 42 feet, which added even more anticipation to the already eager atmosphere. A massive illuminated UFO stood on the roof of the Queen Victoria pub as an addition to the space theme of the weekender. Every group leader of each chalet received a goody bag, which contained a cotton bag, frisbee, badges, postcards, swimming caps, mugs and tins of Alphabangi Spaghetti. The glorious sunny weather gave a Pontins holiday aura but the crowds of jovial adolescents ensured that the weekend would not be spent playing bingo or watching a show where the entertainers cover Abba songs. Far from it, in fact.
The weekend begun with an opening ceremony in the ‘Bang Room’, where everyone gathered as Saint Acid stood on top of a stepladder on the stage as he attempted to break the world record of creating the world’s largest glow stick. Cheers and excitement erupted as the glowing liquid poured into the enormous tube, measuring in at a colossal 2.54 metres. The attempt was successful, making the ‘Bang Face Hard Crew’ the Guinness world record holders.
After the opening ceremony came to the end, Ceephax Acid Crew took to the decks and presented an explosion of techno, jungle and acid house, adding a comical aspect as he mocked his own music over the microphone. DJ Assault astonished the crowd with his remarkable scratching talents in the 3D room; 3D glasses were worn so that the images shown on the large screens became three-dimensional.
The images and music complemented each other perfectly, creating a sense of euphoria. DJ Assault was followed by Dillinja, who enlightened the crowd with an exceptional blend of jump up drum and bass and jungle. The night was concluded with a spectacular set from Venetian Snares, presenting a synchronized acid beat mixed in with vicious breakcore.
Venetian Snares clearly dominated the first night of neo-rave Armageddon, injecting intense energy and rapture into the early morning. Inflatable animals, balloon and glow sticks spurted onto the dance floor as people held signs displaying amusing and comedic slogans such as ‘Knobbly Knee Competition’ and ‘Welsh Hard Crew’. After the music had come to an end, the party spirit was far from over as raves continued in chalets.
Mungo’s Hi-fi featuring MC Soom T was planned to play a Reggae set at the Queen Victoria on Tuesday morning but rather unprofessionally, a bouncer informed everyone that the DJ was still in bed. At 4 o clock on Saturday afternoon, there was what made Bang Face weekender more divergent and glorious than any other festival; the 3 hour rave pool party.
An army of inflatable objects seized Pontins swimming pool as DMX Crew, Remarc and Luna-C played rave sets; the collaboration of water, inflatable objects and rave music was so triumphal, why nobody has done this before Bang Face is an enigma. The first people to arrive at the pool parties received membership to the Bang Face swimming club and swimming caps with the logo 'Pool Party Hard Crew’.
Saturday night delivered a Dubstep detonation, with Caspa, Skream, Rustie and Zomby dropping back breaking bass and beats, followed by Noisia, who’s set was indubitably the pinnacle of the entire weekend. Noisia launched a vigorous bass line onto Bang Face, the Dutch trio annihilated Camber Sands with their electronic ecstasy leaving the evening to progress into an amalgamate of Gabba and Breakcore.
The music became darker as the sun begun to rise, ending with Otto Von Schirach playing an hour of sinister contentment. Taboo named tracks such as ‘Tea Bagging the Dead’ emancipated dirty bass and pulsating beats causing what could only be described as pandemonium.
The fourth room of Bang Face was transformed into ‘Inflataland’, which was an inflatable battlefield complete with children’s play area equipment where fellow ravers would battle for honor and respect. This was very similar to the ‘Duel’ challenge in the classic game show ‘Gladiators’, where contenders stood on podiums armed with pugil sticks as they hit each other trying to knock their opponent off the podium and achieve defeat. Inflataland was much more of a smaller scale than the one seen on Gladiators, but just as exciting. ‘Bouncy Boxing’ and Sumo suits were also present at Inflataland, which was a substantial success with everyone.
Sunday being the final day of the event meant that everyone wanted to party harder than they had the entire weekend. Barry’s Bootlegs and DJ Rubbish played at the Queen Victoria pub to commence the final day of mayhem but unfortunately, the name DJ Rubbish was not ironic. The set was disappointing, as negativity spread throughout the crowd.
This did not affect the rest of the day as he was followed by MC Devvo and DJ Marley in the Bang Face room. MC Devvo, a comedic act from Yorkshire who MCs about British Chav culture played a hilarious up tempo set with lyrics such as ‘Trying to escape to an island, where they do pills all day, nine ‘till eleven, it’s like ‘eaven, what are you gerrin’, what are you gerrin’?’
These sarcastically obnoxious rhymes were incredibly well received by the Bang Face crowd, which was rather ironic because of the fact that MC Devvo was the only act to appear in the weekender that wasn’t electronic dance or reggae. MC Devvo had a friend along side him on stage acting as if he had taken ecstasy; he was dancing, chewing vigorously and fell to the floor at one point. Another addition to the comedy in his set was that unlike the other acts, he did not have a DJ but a speaker plugged into his ipod.
KJ Sawka truly took an unyielding grip on Camber Sands as he created live drum and bass on the stage. The one-man show consisted of just him and his drum kit, obliterating the drum kit at a speed that was impossible to not be astonished by. People could not believe their eyes due to the talent of this human jungle drum machine.
Following this breathtaking act was planned to be a collaboration from the legendary John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers with the father of Breakcore Aaron Funk (also known as Venetian Snares, who played his solo set on the Friday night), but they announced that due to technical difficulties which could not be resolved, the set would have to be rescheduled to play at Bangfest in August. Ceephax Acid Crew took their place, joking that the technical difficulty was simple enough to fix but they were simply too lazy. Nevertheless, Ceephax Acid Crew gave a mind blowing performance, exceeding his rendition on Friday night.
DJ Kentaro, a Japanese scratching prodigy who inflicted goose bumps onto the crowd with his scratching competence, followed Ceephax Acid Crew spilling upbeat remixes of reggae songs and generally astounding Camber Sands with his talent. The weekend was concluded by a set by 808 State. Their mixture of ambient, electro, acid house, techno and house was quintessential to put Bang Face weekender to an end, and even though the band formed 21 years ago, the timeless music fitted the event perfectly. A sense of disappointment rushed around the holiday park as it was realized that the end had come, and there was only a few hours left until bags had to be packed and it would be time to leave.
People were shouting ‘Happy Bang Face’ as if it was a national holiday like Christmas or Easter. Throughout the entire weekend, there was an exultant, friendly atmosphere running through Bang Face. Unlike other festivals such as Reading Festival and Download, there was no fighting, trouble or riots, everyone seemed to be friends; everyone seemed to understand that they were all there for the same reason: to have fun, be merry and be blown away by the fantastic array of musical performances.
People were welcomed into each other’s chalets for parties and gatherings with no concern about disagreements or theft, this was not like other festivals where it is normal for things to be stolen, this was Bang Face.
There was a sense of desolation whilst leaving on the Monday; the amount of clutter, burst inflatables and living room furniture that had been left out in the rain made it look like there had been a hurricane. All that was left was a memory of a truly outstanding weekend, and excitement that there were only 360 days until Bang Face Weekender 3.
© 2009 Kimberley Gibbons and Ravetalk. Pictures courtesy of www.bangface.com.
In the second review of Bang Face Weekender 2009, Jem Güner tells how he wanted to give a sloppy kiss to a balloon.