Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Review: Creamfields 2015

Creamfields is considered to be one of the biggest summer festivals organised in UK which has an impact all over the world. The videos of the DJs performing at the festival go viral on YouTube. The last bank holiday weekend in August is the perfect time for such a huge scale event to take place at the Daresbury Lane in Warrington. To bring smiles to the faces of the many visitors from UK and all over the world. 28-29-30 of August the global festival visitors had no excuse not to attend the most innovative and playful gathering of all colours and styles of modern electronic music culture contemplated with amazing weather that was mostly sunny and bit cloudy at sometimes.
It's UK weather after all but no rain whatsoever that made it ideal to go camping with your friends at the festival grounds escaping from reality for 3 days and indulging yourself in the mysterious and lucrative pleasures of electronic melodies, headbanging basslines and earth shuttering drums. Creamfields 2015 edition was a huge success and definitely will be marked as a turning point in its long history that started back in 1998 and continues  with even greater success and worldwide respect and recognition.

Undeniably if you compare the schedules of all the well-known festivals at the moment Creamfields has the most complete running order that combines cleverly the top headliners, soon to become headliners and new upcoming artists that making waves in the scene and you should be aware of them. At 2015 top headlines such as Hardwell, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Armin van Buuren, Dj Tiesto, Martin Garrixx, Above & Beyond, Chemical Brothers, Steve Aoki, Steve Angelo, Axwell vs Ingrosso, MK, were merged with legends such asSasha, Paul van Dyk, Paul Oakenfold, Ferry Corsten and newcomers that exploded into public consciousness thanks to their UK top 40 entries such as Oliver Heldens or Kygo.  It's not an exaggeration to say that by attending Creamfields you keep yourself up-to-date with the best djs, their latest productions and their beloved tracks that happen to rock crowds all over the world. It is a music festival in its most classic sense that is focusing on providing great music and less on creating an environment with special decorations and particular themes were the music becomes background soundtrack to your whole experience.

Creamfields is a celebration of electronic music provided from organizers who are music lovers themselves with worldwide reputation in producing massive scale festivals for an intelligent audience of self-identified as dedicated music lovers who are knowledgeable of the lyrics and can sing along their favorite tunes and can judge if the dj can do nice transition or not. The North and South mainstages was the centre of the festival with state of the art technology, magnificent crystal clear crispy sound system and superb lighting effects with colorful lazers and exciting pyrotechnics. The majority of the headlines had prepared special shows just to perform at Creamfields grounds and that make it even more groundbreaking and super special. All over the festival grounds many other tents were hosting their themed stages dedicated to wide variety of music styles.  From artist related stages such Fat Boy Slim or Pete Tong to record label related stages such as Armada MusicSize recordings or Revealed recordings  and stages dedicated to festival concepts such as the Dutch Don't Let Your Daddy Know. The sound system on these tents was incredible as well as you can easily enjoy all the range of sound frequencies with highs and lows, bass and tremble and anything in between. Fantastically designed stages with the most impressive being the  Ants stage with its futuristic theme. Of course required elements like pyrotechnics with small scale explosions, colorful shower of confetti's along with the classic strobes, lighting effects and mindblowing lazers were used in their most effective combination to allow the crowds to lost themselves in music and feel the unique experience that is Creamfields.

At this electronic music festival  music still remains the main key that unlock fun and happiness that can be enjoyed along with nice food, delicious ice-creams, great drinks and numerous fun fair rides. What is also very important you can still pay for your drinks and food with pounds and in that way you can keep track of your budget and how much you are going to spend. You are not required to pre-purchase festival coins of any kind that most of the times create problems particularly when at the end you have in your pocket many unused vouchers that you cannot redeem them and take your precious money back. The bars were located clearly all over the festival and there were no long queues of people waiting to be served. The bar tenders were smiling and were happy to serve your favourite drinks. The toilets were enough for everyone without avoiding some cues and most importantly fresh running water was available in special locations to refill your bottles and avoid dehydration and refresh your body engine. Creamfields grounds offered numerous activities to keep you playing with your friends and even socialize to meet new friends and maybe your future love partner as well. 

Creamfields for me started from Friday 28th that was accessible only to those with camping tickets but as press I had the chance to attend it as well and get myself warmed-up for the long weekend ahead. As I'm not camping fanatic I decided to stay in one of the main cheap hostels that you can find in Liverpool and I used all 3 days the very frequent and truly well organized bus shuttle from Liverpool city center. On Friday just some selective stages were running like Armada Music, Revealed recordings, Jamie Jones stage, the Pepsi Max silent disco stage where you can listen the music performed by the djs with a set of the headphones provided in the entrance and the Rebel Sound stage. 

As a self-confessed trance music addicted I headed straight away at the Armada Music Stage were Cosmic Gate were performing their explosive sets including massive new anthems from their latest album and unforgettable classics like Fire Wire and Exploration of Space that have catapulted the UK Top 40 chart. The explosive Andrew Rayel was next who did his best to put the crowd on fire with his ecstatic anthemic hits and mindblowing selections. You could feel the dedicated crowd moving along under his commands and dominating euphoric melodies. Last on this stage was the absolute King of Trance Armin van Buuren performed an exceptional set with his big room trance sound merged with great uplifting trance anthems. This set was definitely dedicated to die-hard fans while his mainstage set on Saturday was for the mainstage type of crowd. 

From the Revealed recordings stage I had the chance to attend the superb W &W appearance that was incredible with the usual doses of aggressive basslines, vicious drums and crowd friendly feel good melodies. This duo knows well how to rock the audience and manage easily to keep them entertained.   Headhunterz who manage easily to abandon the hard dance sounds and move to the big room house scene performed an equally energetic stage that had only great moments for the attendees to recall. Jamie Jones warm deep classic house sounds were tempting and engaging with hypnotic effects to the listener. On the silent stage area I loved the feeling of listening the music on your headphones and dancing around with top djs like the German big room destroyers Deniz Koyu and Tujamo who delivered the goods and even more. Many Creamfields visitors have commented really positively on Sigma's performance that I wanted so much to experience but unfortunately I didn't manage to be on time for it. The first date was truly incredible and was the perfect starter for a satisfying 3 course dinner for any hungry for festival atmosphere person like me.  On Friday there was no returning shuttle bus so I had to come back in Liverpool with a taxi that you must be aware that may charge you as much as they like if you don't negotiate the price beforehand. 70 pounds from Daresbury to Liverpool is definitely overpriced but that was fortunately the only downside for a wonderful warm up day. 

The second day of the festival on Saturday started from 14.00 and lasted until 04.00 in the morning so was plenty of nice action to check out and be amazed. Firstly when I entered the festival I wanted to check how the big mainstages were look like and I head towards the North Stage that Anthony Probyn was warming up in perfect style with his brilliant selections. The crowd was definitely up for it and ready for action. On the Tidy 20 years stage the beloved trance legend Signum performed his magnificent classics which contained relentless energy and hair raising synthy hooks. The decks went mental with Maddox & Townend classic hard trance beats and I felt that was the moment to move on and taste the rest of the stages. One of the top artists in many festivals is Kryder who deliver a very powerful big room house set with melodies and nice vocals but always with that Kryder edge to it. 

I headed next to Size records stage that I stayed for quite a while as I was deeply mesmerized from the sounds of the brilliant Scottish upcoming star Grum who had releases on several labels including the beloved Anjunabeats. Every selection in his set was an ear opener with special warmth and hair raising synthy riffs that hypnotized your senses. Max Vangelli took the stage from him who moved to a more mainstage friendly progressive house sound that the audience welcomed with excitement. Next I went back to the North Stage that they had a fantastic tropical house party with Thomas Jack bringing superb holiday sounds and the upcoming superstar Kygo proving why he is so loved at the moment with all his big hits and great remixes on the fantastic I See Fire or the Marvin Gay classic Sexual Healing. The unstoppable BBC Radio 1 dj and producer Danny Howard was in the Cream stage delivering all the future house and big room current dance anthems with the mental crowd cheering their Northern UK hero.

The Ants stage was beautifully designed with dark house, tech house and underground techno sounds offering the perfect soundscapes with mouthwatering line up including Ben Pearce, George Fitzerland, Andrea Oliva, Seth Troxler and the undeniable princess of the dark sounds Maya Jane Coles who was truly concentrated on her professional mixing during the whole time without playing with the audience who loved every record that she played.  The Mistajam presents Speakerbox was packed with funky house, UK garage and deep house sounds with brilliant live performances of energetic Mc's who knew how to bring the festival goers into the action and become part of the game with performances from Blonde, High Contrast, Andy C, Mistajam and chart topping Shift K3Y. On the Pepsi Max arena I enjoyed Camelphat, Redondo, Philip George and Wilkinson sounds that seem to attract a loyal following who was coming back frequently to the stage to enjoy their favorite artists. I was eager to discover the South Stage that blew me away with its equal extra large size, the gigantic hi-definition screens and the top notch lighting and lazer effects. The Dutch supremo Martin Garrix brought to the stage his youthful personality with one hit followed from another with the thumping basslines and booming drums driving the crowd wild and out of their heads.

The heat was rising as the Dutch trance hero Armin van Buuren took over for his mainstage trance sound including the fantastic live performance of his latest hit Another You including vocals from the beloved Dutch singer Mr Probz. At the same time in the North Stage the always loved Above and Beyond were playing so I had to run like mad trying not to fall down and move through the crowd as close to the stage as I could. As always Above and Beyond are mythical as they performed all their current emotional anthems supported by special visual graphics and specific moments of their music videos that were projected in the hi-definition screens. I was taken by surprise from the excellent combination of music and visuals along with the usual Above and Beyond messages displayed on screen and the most famous push the button moment that everybody is waiting to experience. 

At the North Stage Chemical Brothers deliver an exceptional show that was truly innovative with visual graphics that were used to explain the songs to the listener and immerse ourselves in their sounds. Of course they are not dj performers doing fancy things behind their computers but their live set was more than magical. It was the first time that I experienced them live and this very moment I understood why they are considered to be legends in electronica that can be relaxing, melodic, and aggressive with house, electro and breaks elements. If you expect the usual big room stage sound from them you will be disappointed so better be openminded to challenge your perceptions of what a festival performance should be like. On South Stage at the same moment Avicii was playing so I had to check him out as well but when I arrived there the whole stage was packed with party people so I had to experience it from a distance but I could clearly see him delivering surprising tracks and not only his personal chart topping hits. Particularly his last choice with his hit Wake me up was incredible as many listeners wish to hear it and it went down as the big highlight. During his set we experience the mindblowing fireworks that added to his triumph and very positive perception of his high quality performance that was not just chart hits as he loves to educate his crowd with captivating not the obvious choices. 

After the closure of the two main stages the rest of the night was equally magnificent with Steve Angelo playing his euphoric melodic progressive house that don't compromise by playing his personal singles and many of the Swedish House Mafia anthems in brand new remixes and mashed up versions. On the Cream stage Laidback Luke raved the house lovers with futuristic epic house choices including great vocal house tunes and the heart throbbing Alesso who drive the crowd wild and totally out of control with his distinctively Swedish vocal house sound. 

The All Gone Pete Tong's superb stage  included the awesome German tech house duo Andhim delivering melodic and groovy beats, the fantastic Joris Voorn underground essentials, Hot Since 82 sexy grooves and the fantastic Gorgon City who one of their members had his birthday so definitely was a very special set for them that I decided to be my outro moment for the first day of this top festival that included everything from full on epic house, uplifting hard trance, deep underground techno and relaxing cocktail beach bar summery sounds. 

The third and final day of the festival on Sunday 30th was brilliant as well and I had the feeling that was the most crowded from the whole 3 days. It started from 12.00 and finished at 23.00 including headliners in mainstages and big tents stages. When I entered the festival grounds I walked towards the North Stage where R3hab had his own madhouse session packed with rough beats and dirty Dutch house attitude. Then it was time for the Cream stage that the upcoming Sam Feldt melodic deep house star, showed his love to the crowd with his relaxing sunkissed anthems. So I was now ready for the harder sounds of the Goodgreef Xtra Hard stage and the cracking JP & Jukesy duo who supplied the bombs and the sharp like knife metallic sounds. The upcoming and uber talented Alex Andair was another must check out artist performing at the Fatboy Slim presents Smile High Club stage. Deep melodic tripping out house grooves and very danceable rhythm carried away the audience who seemed to be ready for more uncompromising action. At this stage the fun element was the acid converter machine that could transform anybody into a smiling person with its smile, blow, spray and ready moments. The trance alter ego was calling me so I had to get asap to the Pepsi Max arena with the psy trance hero Simon Patterson bringing the underground psy tech beats combined beautifully with euphoric breakdowns. Then I went back to the North Stage for the rough festival heavy hard house sound of Carnage who delivered relentlessly his banging basslines.

But I needed to relax for a while so the MK Area 10 was the perfect point to enjoy the dark tech house grooves from father and son B2B aka the legend inventor of the Detroit techno sound Kevin Saunderson and his son Dantiez B2B. One of the favorite melodic progressive house labels Pryda had his own stage and when I went there Jeremy Olander was playing his fine melodic electronic house tracks that created this unmistakable hypnotic soundscape that transfer you instantly to another place and time.  I knew that I needed my energy injection so I run to those who can deliver it straight away. At the Don't Let Your Daddy Know stage the Dutch powerbangers  BassJackers pushed the tempo to the limits with their excessive basslines, thumping drums and feel good melodies. Now was the moment to go back to the basics of house with the futuristic shapes of house delivered from the very energetic Oliver Heldens that I saw performing live for the first time. Great set that kept the audience dancing and smiling with many explosive highs during the rough ride. The trance addiction was back so I needed to check the Irish trance legend John O Callaghan who gave me all the melodies, harmonies, energetic basslines and heartfelt vocals that I needed at this very moment. Paul Oakenfold was a bit late so John and Bryan Kearny who performed earlier played for some minutes to replace him but when the legend and Cream ambassador Paul Oakenfold was on stage the crowd erupted. It's simply inconceivable to be dj for many years and so many different generations of trancers to love and respect you equally as  Paul did who manage to remain fresh and relevant rather than identifying himself with his classics and feeling obliged always to play them.

The North stage was close so it was great opportunity to taste some of Steve Aoki music cakes that he throw usually to his hungry for music audiences. Top moment was when he asked Nervo to join him on stage and together play their latest collaboration. The Australian sisters Nervo are simply brilliant as they have skills as song writers, producers and great mainstage performers as well. Next must check dj was the French chart topping Michael Calfan who played melodic anthemic future house including his well-known hits that combined soulful vocals, African chants and xylophone melodies. The energy was vibrating all over the place so the Goodgreef Xtra stage was calling my name and I had to go and check first the masked hard trance live performance by Lab-4 and then the superstar Kutski. My check list included another French innovator, the beloved Magician who started as an underground deep electronic house artist but unexpectedly crossover to the mainstream and definitely his success gives some credibility to the UK charts. The same time MK was playing but it was not possible to get into the stage as it was super packed and outside people were waiting to get into the stage. Pryda was going dark, melodic and more techno infused with Claude Vonstroke intimate dj set and great crowd connection. Back to the Dutch big room house with the massive Ummet Ozcan smashing it with fierce basslines, divine vocals and heavy drops. On the Pryda stage the legend of progressive house Sasha was playing in a packed stage of mixed crowd who respected his contribution to the development of electronic music with underground minded set that was deeper and electronic. 

From the one legend to the other and this time at the trance stage Paul van Dyk was providing the full on euphoric uplifting sound with live elements and imaginable mixing. His current Politics of Dancing vol.3 tracks were mixed with some of his most beloved classics including I don't deserve you and Home. Next on the same stage was the innovator of Dutch trance Ferry Corsten who cannot go wrong as he delivered a full on trance set. My journey had to continue and this time I moved to the mainstage North Stage for the mad duo of Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike who simply are unbeatable behind the decks as they choose music, play with the crowd and making their performance a live party experience that you should attend once in your life. Like Mike got his selfie and asked the crowd to sit down and stand up altogether. The crazy Greek/Belgian duo were joined by Steve Aoki for another half hour of unstoppable action for the3 Are Legends performance. 

Mouthwatering visuals, magical lazers, fires and most importantly the involved crowd that felt totally connected with them. I can see Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike getting the number 1 spot at the dj mag Top 100 djs and they deserved it so much. At the Cream stage the fantastic melodic deep house German star Robin Schulz played his top tunes including his latest danger for your teeth Sugar. The last performance at the trance stage was by Aly & Fila who never failed to deliver the classic uplifting energetic sound with emotional melodies and heartfelt vocals to uplift your spirit. Then it was the right time to check for first time the newly formed duo Axwell & Ingrosso who have presented their superb new tracks and even more. They always do their best to entertain and their dj set went down really well in the packed Creamstage. Last act at the MK Area 10 were Cajmere vs Oliver Dollar with classic USA style house grooves and funky sexy basslines. The booties were definitely bouncing to their choices. At the Pryda stage the legend Eric Prydz provided his melodic progressive house sound that is colorful, dreamy and very optimistic as the end of it you feel a bit happier and optimistic. 

From the more deeper excursions to the wild sounds of Blasterjaxx who finished the Don't Let Daddy Know stage perfectly with the big room house audience jumping and shouting wanting more of the same. I decided that the perfect epilogue at Creamfields should be written from the legend and pioneer Tiesto so I devoted the last minutes on his performance that was explosive to say the least with classics, new tracks and impressive visuals, lazers, lighting effects and fireworks that added to the whole Tiesto experience. At 23.00 o clock the music has ended and it was time to move out and make my way back to Liverpool leaving behind me 3 days of electronic music provided from the best djs to the most up for it crowd within a safe, secure and most importantly fun filled environment. 

 If someone ask me to give my 5 reasons why someone should visit Creamfields in 2016 I can point them out the following elements:
1-Creamfields is above all music festival focusing on the music and the djs rather than being the brand of the festival at the heart of it.
2-Creamfields includes the most happening artists from headliners, to upcoming talents and of course the legends and pioneers.
3-Creamfields is well organized and is easy to find your way around with enough bars, food choice, free tap water and toilets.
4-Creamfields has great sound system in all stages and of course state of the art technology with mind-blowing visuals and lighting effects that even if you are not at the front of the mainstage you still enjoy the spectacle.
5-Creamfields has the most up for it crowd as many djs have admitted that UK festival visitors love to party, be nice to each other and have good time that initially vibrates to the djs who are obliged to give their best performance.

If you think that is better to stay at home and enjoy it from your computer think twice cause Creamfields is the world’s leading summer festival and you can never judge if you don't hear with your own ears and see with your own eyes and not the camera eyes the incredible unforgettable inconceivable moments that you get when you are surrounded by thousands of fellow clubbers and you dance together, make friends and feel goosebumps when your favorite tune is playing or when even better you discover tunes and music that you didn’t event know that exists out there. I admitted that I Loved It!

Thanks to Gill Nightingale and Rio Grant for the press accreditation.  It was great opportunity to enjoy Creamfields and be able to write about it. Thanks to Creamfields / Live Nation crew for having me. See you next year.

Early bird tickets and deposit scheme to secure your 2016 ticket is on sale now. click here

Review by Dimitri Kechagias, music journalist and radio host at 1mix radio.

Some of the photos were taken by myself and others provided by Creamfields.

Thanks to the official Creamfields photographers:
Lorenzo Tnc
Alex Lonsdale
Anthony Mooney
Geoffrey Hubbel
Howie Hill
Warren Simmens

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