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The Comedy of Errors

Review: Detonate Festival 2021

1 October 21 words: Katie Lyle
photos: Jack Kimber, Alistair Brookes and Graham Joy

Nottingham’s biggest outdoor electronic music event - Detonate Festival - has just passed, and it felt so good to be back...

Last weekend saw the return of one of the key events on any Midlands raver’s musical calendar, Detonate Festival. Incredible sets from the very best expertly curated DJs and live acts in electronic music created a joyous atmosphere, and set amidst the picturesque location of Colwick Park, my third visit to the festival did not disappoint. 

Detonate always strikes me as a really beautiful event, the stages all really well thought out, carefully selected to fit an array of genres and vibes. It felt like a weight had been lifted to be able to rave again after two years away from it, and the independent Notts-based team always manage to transform the idyllic Colwick park so artfully into the perfect stomping ground without losing its natural character. This year brought some new arenas as well as old favourites.

Special Request was my highlight, with Paul Woolford providing an amalgamation of breakbeat techno that had people unable to stop moving

I couldn’t wait to get back to the Hidden Woodland, which encompasses a canopy in the midst of Colwick Park woods, and showcases the latest in techno and house, with some of the very best selectors in the business taking to the stage. After seeing the likes of Camelphat, Eli Brown and Solardo in previous years, I didn’t think it could get any better, but catching headliner and Dubstep innovator Skream was a special affair. Maribou State also shone, bringing a performance of some of their best remixes along with their moodily uplifting original material, rich in glorious melodies. Special Request was my highlight, with Paul Woolford providing an amalgamation of breakbeat techno that had people unable to stop moving.

The Meadow stage was bigger and better than ever, with bass, and more bass, matched by some fantastic production values and truly mind-blowing sound. Syreeta pumped high energy techno and tech house, combining heavy basslines and ambient melodies to electrify the dancefloor - handing over the stage to Obskur with a remix of Gypsey Woman was a stand-out moment. Eli Brown brought a party of house and tech house, transporting his audience into a land of energy as expected. Headliners of The Meadow, Holy Goof, attracted the masses, providing an explosive set of diverse bassline, with remixes of some new and old bangers.

Detonate Festival prevails as one of Nottingham's biggest and best parties, with something for everyone

The most unique stage had to be The Pontoon, returning year after year it’s probably best described as a disco on Colwick Lake, featuring a deft selection of tech house, disco and more throughout the day submerging the crowd in raving paradise. Dan Shake brought an hour and a half of infectious melodies with characteristic charm and personality. And later in the evening Jayda G set up a soulful, crowd pleasing, disco-centric dance party as the sun set upon Colwick Lake. 

Largest stages The Clearing and The Big Top featured line ups of some superlative DnB and reggae heavyweights throughout the day, which I didn’t get to but the overflowing crowds I witnessed attested to their popularity . 

Overall Detonate Festival prevails as one of Nottingham's biggest and best parties, with something for everyone. It couldn’t have been a better day to close the summer of festivals and it felt so good to be back after COVID. As a Detonate regular I’ll definitely be returning next year. 

You can grab early bird tickets for Saturday June 4 2022 now.

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