One of the last weekends of August saw elrow burst into East London and turn the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park into a playground of the ludicrous and extravagant, typical of any elrow affair with a quality line up in tow. The event selling 15,000 tickets in 4hrs is an impressive feat, tickets grabbed by those intrigued at elrow translating to London on its largest scale yet. Anticipation had amassed as the Saturday arrived, the crowd chasing the final summer parties London has up its sleeve. In the backdrop of London, the site of the Olympic Park was suited to the event in its individuality and uniqueness, a concept elrow evidently ran with, from the flamboyant tennis players appearing casually in the singer-morning stage crowd and the rowlympics theme that was continued throughout the day. Arriving on site, the sensory experience immediately began.
The line-up had circulated with the likes of Jamie Jones, Eats Everything, Seth Troxler and Idris Elba the heavyweights on everyone’s lips for the weekend to come. Elba, along with the likes of Marcus Nasty and Crazy Cousins were the more bass orientated UK sounds on the line up across the weekend. The latter on the third stage for Saturdays event, these acts being booked a nod to the location of the London soiree and a welcome injection to mix up the line up. Unlucky for me Crazy Cousins were playing when I was in no position to leave the main stage as the inevitable day fest conundrum set in, with set clashes sacrifices had to be made.
Eats Everything took to the main stage, placed earlier in the line up, many elrow-goers were anticipating the dj later on in the day, a prime example of ‘fashionably late’ losing its appeal if you miss a gem in the line-up. The Menendez Brothers were across the park in again an early slot, bringing disco and garage to the contained but attentive crowd, another inevitable clash of the day.
Following on from these two at the second stage, the El-Rowcio tent, William Kouam Djoko kept the crowd attentive, as his set progressed so did the energy, he filled the day with momentum relatively early on, making it obvious the day extravaganza was in full effect. The tent was vibrant as the confetti came down when Djoko played his remix of Anja Schneider’s “Twisty”, a highlight in the crowd as the fun was in full effect and a great booking of the day.
Throughout the first half of the day it was easy to flit between stages, the crowd simmered along at the main stage for Jasper James’ set, anticipating the later acts’ arrival and awaiting the weird and the wonderful in the characters populating site - that’s the actors I’m talking about, although some fancy-dress efforts definitely met that criteria too. But nearer the end of Glaswegian Jasper James’ set, the singer morning stage’s energy was increasing, attracting a larger and more intense crowd. James was a fitting booking to welcome in the latter half of the day’s proceedings, confident and commandeering the crowd that only kept growing. The sax selected coincided with the sun’s appearance, with the confetti raining down as James’ set drew to a close.
The main singer-morning stage was a feast for the eyes that emerged as a powerhouse as the sun went down. The dramatics ensued increasing the anticipation for the start of the final set, from Jamie Jones. The most actors cropped up in the crowd of the whole day adding to the surreal effect and the stage was illuminated, as the crowd could bask in elrow in full affect. Jones was also playing the second day of the extravaganza in a b2b set with Seth Troxler, however this was to be at a much earlier slot in the day, the energy of the first evening was unrivalled for the finale. The whole set was energetic from start to finish, Jones dropped Darius Syrossian’s hyped new track “Moxy”, greeting the receptive and excited crowd, along with classic remixes of Beats International “Be Good to Me” juxtaposing the familiar and the new that kept the energy and attention on par.
Without being too big as some London day festivals are, which then sees vital components like sound systems for the stages neglected, or poor planning exiting and arriving, the event avoided any of these problems that can hinder a day. By remaining concise with two bigger stages and one smaller stage, there was room to roam at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, without being overwhelmed, the site easily navigable so the focus was solely on the fun. The Saturday had momentum due to the eclectic music on offer, a different vibe at all three stages, never feeling stagnant. The sheer scale of production, down to the details of the characters and actors popping up amongst the crowd, to the enormous creatures dispersed amongst the day-festival goers, made the day a captivating affair. elrow successfully executed the imaginative spectacle, illuminating London in the last weeks of summer. The props and the visuals are vital, but the party vibe being achieved is at elrow’s core.
Photo courtesy of Maxime Byttebier