Last weekend’s Cocoon in the Park looked set to draw the curtain on a relationship which stretches back over ten glorious years. The production would be ramped up, Cocoon favourites drafted in and Sven would take the Leeds crowd on a journey through his record bag for the very last time. The label’s boss’ extensive touring commitments across Europe, festivals and Ibiza surely make for an exhausting summer schedule. The end of the annual one-day Temple Newsam extravaganza would bring about no hard feelings, but no shortage of sadness.
Festivals which last inevitably combine efficient organisation, with just enough chaos and creativity to keep things interesting. The party’s longevity means that everything runs like clockwork. The sound system is punchy, the venue is accessible and you’ll rarely catch yourself waiting too long for a drink. It’s a relief that they’ve so far restricted the temptation to expand. The site would probably have room for a second stage and the festival itself could just as easily roll into Sunday. But by keeping it simple and accommodating excellent DJs on one bespoke stage, the day’s musical tension builds around a focal point with the minimum of fuss.
As is usually the case, there was an enormous shift in atmosphere from the early afternoon sets to the evening. Geordie hero Patrick Topping did an admirable job of getting the crowd warmed up, by cutting across his own heavier tech-house material and some funkier tracks from deeper inside his record back. Eats Everything’s forthcoming remix of Miss Honey was a particular highlights, and his b2b with Alan Fitzpatrick was second only to the headline set in terms of energy. Carl Craig may have benefitted from playing before the previous two, with his more cerebral form of Detroit techno not having quite as many hands in the air moments as the duo which preceded him. He’s clearly adept at reading a crowd though, and was soon delivering tunes with a 4x4 kick and more uplifting vocals. Shiba San’s “All I Need” wasn’t what I expected to hear in a typical Carl Craig set, but he did a good job of setting the tempo before the Cocoon boss took over.
Sven’s own set was typically powerful. Full of driving basslines punctuated by more gentle, melodic tracks. He’s exactly the sort of DJ who thrives on being able to spread his wings across a four or five hour set. With his knack of gradually building a set towards a couple of hours of relentless techno, having Sven soundtrack the sunset is always a wise move. The finale was typically spellbinding, leaning on some of his old favourites as well as deploying newer material such as Young Rebind’s remix of Legowelt’s “Disco Rout”. It surely hit the spot, just as Patrice Baumel’s remix of Gazebo kept the crowd moving.
This set up a fairly bizarre set piece in which Sven himself grabbed hold of the mic (fairly unusual in itself) and informed us all that any notion of this being the last ever Cocoon In the Park was “fake news”. We heard that Cocoon will run for another 20 years at Temple Newsam, an announcement to which the crowd went wild. Whether this was some crafty marketing ploy or some circumstances had changed behind the scenes, the idea of something being fake news doesn’t really work when its something you yourself have said. It’s excellent news that the festival can continue though. Clubbing in Leeds is generally excellent, with a lot of passionate people delivering unique, exciting experiences. Cocoon definitely has its own place across that landscape, and it’s hard to envisage a name like Sven Vath performing under any other circumstances. Just as Ricardo Villalobos and Seth Troxler have their own special relationship with the city, so does Sven. Fortunately it’s a partnership which looks set to continue for a long while yet.
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