Last weekend I ventured down to Ringwood, the site and home of Soundclash, with absolutely no idea what to expect. Having never been before, I presumed it would be more of an event, considering it only lasted 12 hours. One stage, a few stalls with a focus more on the acts opposed to the production making it feel like one long gig. However, my assumption was very wrong and I left thoroughly impressed at not only the music but the imaginative production and professional organisation of this 12 hour festival.
Initially, and perhaps most boringly, I was impressed with the buses. I’ve been to many festivals where transport is forgotten, often leaving commuters stranded in a unknown city with the dread of an overpriced taxi. But Soundclash had this sorted, with numerous free buses running from both Southampton and Bournemouth train stations, making it one of the easiest commutes a drunk student could possible take. The bus journey took us through the beautiful New Forest, making it feel like you were driving to a secret location. Vast wooded areas and dirt tracks led to the site adding to my anticipation of what I would see at the other end.
Immediately after getting off the bus you could feel the festival. Drum and Bass music was echoing across the fields and you could hear the shouting of several hundred intoxicated teenagers. Soundclash had put their heart and soul into making the site a true festival experience. Four tents surrounded the main stage playing non-stop Drum and Bass, Pop and House music which resulted in frantic running between tents to get to the next act. Fairy lights, streamers and balloons adorned the ceilings of each tent and the LED light shows made the rave experience. Funfairs rides and food stalls made the site look just like a festival and it’s small size was a positive to me as it meant I didn’t have to walk for miles to explore each tent. The vast amount of people raving meant I didn’t even feel the cold and so festival attire was still worn despite it being 11pm in October.
A highlight for me has to be Groove Armada. Despite it only being a DJ set they drew the crowd with lighting, smoke machines and, of course, dance remixes that were exceptionally good. I was warned that, as it was only a DJ set, their classic hits may not be played so you can imagine my drunken delight when Superstylin’ and I See You Baby came on. D&B legend Andy C’s stage saw the likes of Pendulum, Wilkinson, Culture Shock and North Base which were all brilliant at keeping the crowd dancing until 1am. You could tell by looking at everyone that we were all here because we missed summer and the festivals that went alongside them. There were mums, uni students, college kids and ravers all decked out in glitter and wellies, with no care for the cold, only for the music.
My favourite tent, by a landslide, had to be the Electro Love tent. Yes, I went to a D&B festival and spent 80% of my time in a tent that played hits before the year 2000. Don’t judge me. It had giant Rubix cubes, a podium, disco ball as well as a constant bubble machine that made us all feel extra groovy. I have to give a shout out to the guys working in the Electro Love photobooth who took cute Polaroid style photos all night. Thanks for the photos and props guys, we had a blast. We also made full use of the VIP tent with its fancy toilets and own DJ booth. The staff were lovely and we spent lots of time chatting to the people we found in that tent who would tell us their crazy festival stories whilst listening to VIP DJ’s such as Brad Russell and Gaz White.
As the evening drew to a close and we waited for the buses back to our respective cities I felt sad but also happy. Soundclash was a brilliant festival and its time and date added to the magic, it gave us summer ravers something to look forward to just when we thought it was all over. It showed us all it’s not the time of the year or weather that makes the festival but it’s the production and people and so you can certain I will be returning for Soundclash #5 next October.