The English countryside has long been romanticised as pastoral paradise; since Marlowe’s 16th Century ‘Passionate Shepherd’, its rolling hills and luscious meadows have been the perfect place to tend to your flock of sheep, to take a breath beneath the shade of a sprawling oak and maybe canoodle with your shepherdess. Driving into the majestic grounds of Houghton Hall for the first edition of its eponymous festival, through the uniform white cottages of Houghton Village and up to the early 19th Century grandeur of the main house itself, the only thing that seemed amiss from this pastoral vision was said shepherd/ess and the sheep. Replacing them: 8000 revellers, drawn by the musical curation of Fabric mainstay Craig Richards and a 24-hour music policy which promised everything from an eight-hour back-to-back from Richards and Ricardo Villalobos, to jazz from Tony Allen, and disco from Hunee.
With its focus on the musical experience above all else, Houghton certainly delivered. Boasting nine stages, ranging from the cavernous rattle of a repurposed cowshed-cum-Warehouse, to the house plant-filled, burnished umber of the Brilliant Corners tent, the cave-like Quarry, and the mid-forest intimacy of the Terminus, each setting was an ideal match for the artists on display. Emphasis was placed on a diversity of selection, allowing for longer sets, freedom of collaboration, and multiple performances from the same artists. Richards himself played something like 20 hours’ worth of records during the weekend, including the aforementioned b2b with Villalobos, a stellar afternoon set in the Quarry – one which segued from bouncy house into UKG and even bassline – and a stomach-churning b2b with Nicolas Lutz at Terminus.
Read the rest of the review in Hyponik.
[This piece was published on 16/08/17]