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Review: Percolate Open Air was a turning point for the London-based party planners

Dance the rain away...

  • Alex Green
  • 4 August 2017

Percolate recently celebrated its fifth year of throwing parties. After half a decade, the London promoters have achieved much: stage takeovers at festivals across the UK and nights around Europe in cities like Barcelona and Amsterdam. Their ongoing success raised the question, where do they take the brand next?

The answer was of course Percolate Open Air, described bashfully by the team as "a party, in a park, in East London". In reality Open Air was much more. It was a exposé on keeping things simple, on smart programming and on rewarding yourself for five years of hard work. If Open Air was an attempt by Percolate to rise above the label of club promoter to something greater, then it was certainly a success.

This was Percolate's first major foray into festival-sized event planning and whilst the site felt cosy (perfectly circular, it had a diameter of about 400m) it also felt spacious enough to hold two stages. The chosen location, a green space next to Three Mills - a former working mill site on the Lea River - felt perfectly suited to the event. As punters strolled past the caramel brickwork of the space (now a TV studio) the anticipation grew.

Unlike most London festivals, many of which suffer from poor sound, Percolate managed to tweak their systems to get the most out of them while staying within the tight London noise pollution limits. At both of the site's stages the sound was, for the most part, on point.

The Unit, the site's smaller stage, was fitted with tight, punchy speakers that dealt well with the rapid percussion of Saoirse's spellbinding early evening set. On the main stage, The Face, sound varied between passable (during Objekt) to spot-on (during Scuba). Some issues arose during DJ Koze's grand finale, but were soon sorted by busy technicians working behind the scenes. From the off the sound clash between the site's two stages was very apparent, but thankfully close to each stage there was no audible overlap.

But technical considerations aside, Percolate did what Percolate does best: take a bunch of dancers who love the music and place them together in a setting where they can hear that music. Percolate has always been about keeping it simple and doing the little things right. Open Air was no different. The crowds were committed, the music was cleverly programmed and the feeling was one of boisterous joy. Not even grey clouds and near-constant rain could stop the revelry.

Here are the 10 tracks that defined Percolate Open Air.

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