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Lady Waks. Pic by Alfred Gorman
Lady Waks. Pic by Alfred Gorman

Belvoir Amphitheatre

Friday, December 26, 2014

As another year draws to a close, it comes time for the annual pilgrimage to that holy shrine that is Belvoir Amphitheatre, to celebrate the year that was and all things broken beat.

The 14th annual Breakfest was again a sell-out affair – a much loved event on the calendar, it has managed to maintain its appeal by evolving musically and providing a more laid-back dance festival vibe for the more mature and discerning crowd. Still a festival focussed on the many forms of breakbeat and drum ‘n’ bass music, the lineup is always solid with a well balanced mix of legends, and upcoming acts, focussed more on underground sounds and steering clear of big, commercial EDM names.

German party starters Funkanomics got things well and truly fired up in the amphitheatre early on with their cut n paste, beats and breaks mashup, before Lady Waks came on and took things to the next level with a killer set, inciting mass hands in the air dancing with her ecstatic mix of tunes. Russia’s First Lady of Breaks impressed many at Breakfest 2013 with a standout set and didn’t disappoint again with a hard hitting, heavy mix of breaks, electro and bass, served up in her irrepressible style – a ball of smiling energy behind the decks sporting an amusing ‘Putin with a Hitler mo’ singlet – she’s rapidly become a crowd favourite.

The numbers swelled as it progressed into the late afternoon, filling up the amphitheatre, and Waks seemed to be having a great time as she handed her phone to DJ SS to film the last big drop of her set as he set up beside her.

Then it was on to a couple veterans, the big boys of d’n’b, DJ SS and Grooverider. SS kicked things off with some party flavoured tunes, before getting on the mic and moving to the front of stage to hype the crowd, while Grooverider took over on the decks. The godfather of jungle took things slowly in a deeper, darker direction with some proper old skool sounds. The only problem with these afternoon sets was the sound system just wasn’t loud enough to have that real impact where you can feel the bass in your midsection.

An hour and 15 minutes hardly seemed enough for a duo of their stature, who were just starting to get into their groove, but as it approached 6.30pm they wound it down and handed over to Krafty Kuts and Dynamite MC. A veteran of many Breakfests past, Krafty is always a safe bet to get the party started proper with his dynamic style and showmanship – this year accompanied by his long time offsider Dynamite MC, the consummate hype man. He wasted no time building things up with an intro section that included Fatboy Slim’s classic Right Here, Right Now – which was indeed a good place to be.

While entertaining as always, it was a typical party set from Krafty that almost seemed a bit light after the heat and darkness Grooverider brought, but the big bouncy breakbeats of some classics like the Armand Van Helden remix of Tori Amos’ Professional Widow and Drummatic Twins’ Feelin’ Kinda Strange had bodies moving in the pit. Nothing lasts too long in the Krafty blender as the man kept things moving at a breakneck pace. Despite his award-winning skills as a turntablist, Krafty doesn’t showboat, but uses his talents at choice moments to create dramatic effect, and seamless blend together track. The sections where he does decide to incorporate some tricks and scratching into his set are always impressive.

As they played their “Tequila Song” Dynamite sincerely thanked the crowd, saying how much they always loved coming here, paying tribute to the man behind the whole event, Boomtick’s Liam Mazzucchelli, who they brought to the stage to do shots with them.

Krafty upped the tempo for a big finale with an amazing mash up set mixed together seamlessly, scratching over the Pendulum remix of Voodoo People and blending Praise U into his own classic Tricka Technology, which was capped off by an awesome laser show as darkness fell.

Etc! Etc! came on with a bang taking things in a very different direction and lost a few people in the amphitheatre after the more positive party vibe created by Krafty. The LA native was a bit more aggressive, getting on the mic and shouting at the crowd, playing a hard mix of trap and bass music that didn’t seem to suit the mood.

Back up top Cambourghini was winding up a fun day of mini-madness in Tiny Club’s takeover of the unisex toilet block and the Beach Party stage overlooking the volleyball was rocking all day with an all-star lineup of Boomtick locals, Mo’Fly & Tee El having the honours of winding things up.

Meanwhile over in the Challenger Ready tent London’s Luke Wilson, otherwise known as Utah Jazz, had a packed crowd of bassheads bouncing. A highly regarded producer amongst d’n’b fans, Wilson’s liquid funk style proved popular with the purists, and he also demonstrated his talent as a DJ, dropping a killer set of rolling beats for those who wanted to get down with more of a groove. It’s that classic rolling style that has that swing and the tent was heaving. Showing his respect for Wilson, DJ SS even got up on the mic during his set to hype the crowd, cracking jokes and having the crowd answer the shout out “We love” with “Drum and bass!”

The crowd had grown again in the amphitheatre as people were gathering for the arrival of Martin Horger. Etc! Etc! was finishing up with Soulja Boy’s Crank That and by the time Horger stepped up and dropped his first beat, it was a welcome change.

He launched straight into it with a big beat remix of Blur’s Song 2 which never fails to get the party started well and proper. He kept a bit of a trappy, glitchy dubstep vibe going for a bit before moving into his more typical style, nice big techy breaks. Contender for set of the night the German had a rocking’ party vibe going in the amphitheatre. After a huge breakdown he dropped a cool breaks remix of Dr Dre’s The Next Episode, and his own track, LGFU. There was an amazing lighting and visual show for Horger’s set, Boomtick really took things to the next level for this year’s festival.

A wicked final sequence from Horger saw him play Talking Heads’ Once In A Lifetime, and as David Byrne inquired “You may ask yourself, how did I get here?” a bunch of giant inflatable balls were released into the crowd, as the Boomtick crew got onstage, joined of course by the Breakfest mascot Stumpy. A big drop of M.O.P.’s Ante Up had everyone fire up one last time before ending on the more chilled, blissful, good vibes of Bob Marley’s Could You Be Loved.

To finish off the evening, our prodigal son returned. Shock One was back home for the holidays and closed the night in style. Changing over to the sounds of a huge dubstep re-rub of Pharoahe Monch’s Simon Says, Shock One showed us why he’s now an in demand name internationally with a polished live set of big beats, breaks, dubstep and drum ‘n’ bass. Major Lazer’s Pon De Floor got a work out as well as some of Shock One’s own productions.

It was a great way to end the night and another perfect day – with just the right mix of ingredients – great crowd, great music, and set in one of the most beautiful natural venues in the country.





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