Hospital Records certainly have their heads screwed on right. After twenty-one years in the game, the infamous drum and bass record label is still churning out some serious talent, with names like High Contrast and Camo and Crooked all under their wing. If you’re a d’n’b fan in the UK, it’s more than likely that you’ve either been to, or heard of one of Hospitality’s legendary events that spring up all around the country more than a handful of times a year. Their scope is so far reaching now, that they can command control of huge venues and sound systems that shake the earth and draw in thousands of people.
Last September, GIGsoup had the chance to check out Hospitality In The Park; a one day festival extravaganza, all set in the Indian summer atmosphere of Finsbury Park, North London. Hospital Records certainly went all out, with a huge arena and even a multi-genred line up that brought both variety and drum and bass quality to the table.
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A short DLR ride away from central London lies Tobacco Dock, a building that has worn many masks and lived many lives since its construction in 1877. Originally built as a tobacco storage facility, the huge warehouse complex was transformed into a shopping centre in the 1990’s, in an effort to give a new lease of life to the then empty building. Due to its location, the scheme failed, and the goliath lay dormant for a number of years after its closure. However, with some help with from English Heritage, the site has recently been given a new lease of life, and is now the home of some seriously massive music, TV and corporate events. The skeleton of the shopping centre is still very much present in the building however, with empty shop fronts, and a multi-story carpark area all still accessible inside. More than anything, the venue is unique in its scale and layout, with many open roofed areas and long walkways leading punters around the site.
Daytime raving is a rare thing; especially when it involves the heaviness of drum and bass (and the impending promise of a party-heavy bank holiday weekend). Upon entering Tobacco Dock, the air was thick with the gleeful chatter that Hospitality always manage to stir up around their live events. The drum and bass community are some of the friendliest folks around, and they always radiate appreciation for their much-loved UK-born genre.
The first floor of Tobacco Dock housed two very high energy dance floors, which would continue to be absolutely heaving throughout the day. The main showcase of acts would come from The Great Gallery, which was brought to life early on by Fred V & Grafix; a producer and DJ duo, who are currently riding the wave of their latest album release. Their set was varied, and included some off-kilter almost trap-inspired beats. With MC Carasel acting as the backbone of their fast-paced set, the day was kicked off just as it should be; with barrels of energy. To follow came a very special set from Mr Hospitality himself; London Elektricity. As the co-founder of the record label, Tony Colman is treated like royalty whenever he walks on stage. His set covered 21 years of the label’s history, and gave fans a taste of the nostalgia and legacy that Hospital Records embodies.
To give fans a much-needed break from skanking, Tobacco Dock’s expansive floor space was filled with smoking areas, a small food court and even a huge rooftop area which sported two bars and a worryingly high looking bungee jump contraption. UK festivals now have an expectation of an all-encompassing entertainment experience; and Hospitality certainly delivered this in all aspects of their event curation.
The Jungle Jam room, on the other side of the expansive building had all the atmosphere of a tiny, sweaty club at an unreasonable time in the morning. The dancefloor was always packed out, and was filled with sounds of Uncle Dugs, Dillinja, Benny Page and many, many more. For the most part, this was the room that punters could go to, and sing along to all their favourite d’n’b classics.
The main star of the show however, was always going to be The Great Gallery. After electrifying sets from S.P.Y and Nu:Logic (a collaboration of Nu:Tone and Logistics) there was a swift change over to make way for Dutch electronic trio Noisia. Their act was to be the grand-finale of a very fast-paced, high intensity day of music, and their hour set was billed as a multi-media stage experience, rather than a typical live performance. The trio sported strange flashing hoods as they took to the stage, and their set was accompanied by a constant stream of psychedelic visuals. As a spectacle, the set was hugely impressive, drawing in all kinds of creative elements to create a visually gorgeous experience. Unfortunately, their hard-hitting music seemed to get lost in the mix somewhere, and their sound became oddly disjoined as their set moved on.
Hospital Records have done it again; it is more than apparent that there is a lot of love and care put into every aspect of their events. Their Hospitality events continue to be friendly, warm spaces that bring likeminded fans together for a seriously all-encompassing experience.