Now I sit here inspired to write this review. Compelled after reading a review in a leading online edition of a DJ ← Magazine that was badly written, inaccurate and I felt gave a misleading and frankly dishonest review of Mint Festival, so here goes nothing…
The day started expectantly as the stormy wet weather of the preceding week cleared on Saturday and greeted Leeds with a crisp autumnal day. The Mint Festival promo team had ensured to circulate plenty of information on Facebook about the fact that all tents were indoor arenas and there were no outdoor stages. Unlike their Cocoon in the park event which thanks to a proper Yorkshire thunderstorm ended up as a mire for Papa Sven’s set, I mean it would be a pretty risky venture to execute a party on this scale involving any kind of outdoor stage in September. I specifically liked the fact that they had circulated aerial pictures of the site demonstrating it’s non-muddiness. Good move.
By 15:00 the site was beginning to fill out nicely, with throngs marching down the slight incline akin to lines of ants entering into their respective nests. I enjoyed watching the choices of outfits of some of the Swag Crew heading down to the Bitch / Loco Disco tent. Some rolled up denim shorts and ridiculously low cut vest wearing individuals may be slightly cold later on in the days proceedings, but I guess that’s why they go to the gym so much.
Although it must be said that this tent was the busiest for the first few hours and kept pumping all day long. The line up of 11 included Michael Woods, Eddie Halliwell and John Dahlback and they kept their side of the field pumping all day. A neat visual production certainly seemed to please the crowd which, perhaps due to the nature of the beast, certainly didn’t hold back its appreciation. Some solid fist pumping and a sea of sweaty faces and writhing bodies looked towards the decks in here.
Local bar Distrikt held court with a VIP tent serving cocktails and a soundtrack provided by local talent. This tent had a nice family vibe about it and the fact that ticket sales were limited to 1000 bolstered this. The comfy white sofas were also a welcome refuge to rest weary legs while sipping a well mixed mojito.
Next door was the System & Flux Tent boasting a line up including Soul Clap, Jamie Jones, Seth Troxler and Reboot. System is an house night promoted by the team at Mint, over the last 18 months their bookings over their 2 venues have included some of the biggest acts in electronic music right now. Flux are a brand who have built up a cult mid week following in Leeds with a eclectic mix of bookings across the house music spectrum. A good combination to host what promised to be the most hotly tipped tent to party the day away in.
This tent was filling up nicely as Soul Clap eased us into proceedings with their inimitable sound woven together with strands of house, funk, soul and hip hop hints. Wolf & Lamb stepped up to the plate after them and followed on perfectly, upping the tempo and whipping the growing crowd up as the afternoon went along.
Simultaneously Ben Klock was rocking the Black Tent with a hard hitting pumping set much to the delight of the slightly aging but grateful crowd. Please don’t misconstrue this comment, the tent wasn’t filled with a geriatric care home outing but certainly had a more discerning feel to it, the people that were in there were there for one thing only, techno, and they were treated to lashings of it. The tent had an industrial feel to it in keeping with the music and some nice visuals added to the feel that you in a grimy warehouse, not in a field in rural Leeds.
I wandered off to check out the asylum tent and was greeted by a remix of Luther Vandross Never Too Much swathing through the balmy air as my vision was awash with a matrix of multi coloured lasers that danced and through the smoke, Greg Wilson Esq in control of the soundtrack. A family feel made this tent welcoming and the perfect place to high five and get your boogie on with pals, as many were. I smiled alot while wandering round this positively vibed expanse of jolting bodies.
Across the way the Jungle Jam vs Bigger than Barry consistently churned out a deep and low slung collection of two step led beats and stomach churning dub. Trustafarians aplenty down this neck of the woods bopping and getting low to a strong line up including Adam F, DJ Marky and some live MCing.
Back to the System and Flux tent and two of the most in demand artists were in the house. Seth Troxler and Jamie Jones are two of the most in demand and well traveled artists on the planet at present in house music. If I were playing Devil’s Advocate I could suggest this was a lazy “playing it safe” set of bookings, one merely transposing a line up that would be successful on any given Monday near an old farm house at the end of a Balearic runway. On the other hand I would suggest that this proves the festival’s pedigree, the ability to book these busy jocks demonstrates they know what to provide the crowd. Lest we forget that Soul Clap and Wolf & Lamb had been playing too! It also added to the friendly feel of the event. These guys are all good friends and they buzzed off having been selected to treat all present to a journey of musical delights.
Seth played a set twisting and turning from melodic to hard at times but always with that eclectic Seth touch to it. He was surprised half way through his set, looking confused as his levels were turned down and he was presented with a large 1210 cake and a 3000 strong chorus of Happy Birthday. A novel way to celebrate a birthday that had to this point been kept under wraps. He seemed humbled and embarrassed in equal measure and couldn’t wait to hit the crowd with a thank you in the medium of Duke Dumont’s impressive Thunder Clap. The tent erupted.
We caught up with him for a few words after his set just before he was whisked away to play at Circus in Liverpool before hooking up with Jamie in Bristol again for a Just Jack party. Racking up the miles! Seth seemed relaxed and at ease and also indebted and grateful to the surprised that had been sprung on him.
“What do I think to Mint Festival? Well, y’know these guys know what they’re doing, they’re professionals, we always get looked after and Leeds is a great city with people who know their music so I have been looking forward to this for a while” was Seth’s synopsis of the festival. When I mentioned the weather having been kind, although perhaps not to the Ibiza standard he has been enjoying all summer Seth replied “Nah man, I love this weather, it reminds me of being at home in Michigan, keeps people inside where the parties at.”
By the time Jamie Jones strapped on his headphones ready to do battle the crowd really were in a pumped frenzy and he led them a merry dance playing the usual neon tinged Hot Creations crowd pleasing hits, leading into a darker more techier end to his set. Perhaps it was just me but I think the marathon dj / travel / party schedule he must have been on since Paradise closing at DC10 on the Thursday affected his mood, mind and track selection, and I enjoyed it. It harked back to Jamie Jones sets of yesterday that I would wager the majority of people in the crowd had not seen. By the sea of people, bouncing climbing on each others shoulders, whooping and yelping in delight they were enjoying it to say the least.
So that’s my take on the day, and now I feel at ease to have shared it with you guys. In summation overall the Festival did what it said on the tin, a spectrum of different musical tastes had been catered for, 7,000 revelers had attended and many seemed eager to continue the party and make their way to one of the several after events laid on for them. I feel confident that any teething problems or minor issues that may have presented themselves will be reflected on and this event will be back in a stronger guise next year, so watch this space. I just hope the weather turns up too!
Photos: Ian G Ramsey