I’m going to start this review with a qualifier that I had a great time at Eastern Electrics. The music was brilliant with high production value put into the stages, and I ate some delicious food. Still as I bopped my way around I was being wrung for cash at every point.
£5.50 for a 400 ml bottle of warm Heineken is always going to leave a bad beery taste in your mouth – and this is on top of your ticket (£60 if bought in the days building up to the festival) – and that’s not even mentioning food.
To buy your overpriced beer you would need to top up the RFID tag on your entrance wristband, which I imagine was intended to speed up buying stuff, but ended up just adding more queuing to the event. Also more cynically, I’m sure the organisers will make a hefty profit on money that went unspent on people’s tags not to be reclaimed.
My last and by far my greatest complaint is the organiser’s failure to provide free water. Instead revellers would need to queue to top up their wristbands, then queue for twenty minutes at a bar to buy a bottle, ultimately missing acts and spending £2.50 for the privilege of a small bottle of water with no way of getting it refilled.
Boozing in the sun is like kryptonite to Brits across the world for good reason: you’re being dehydrated from two angles. Failing to provide an easy supply of water meant many would have gone without, no doubt contributing to the numerous passed out teenagers sprawled in between stages.
Under licensing conditions all premises that serve alcohol are required to also serve free tap water to ensure safe consumption of booze and festivals should be no exception. If the organisers had snuck round regulations by providing a solitary tap somewhere in the grounds, my three laps of the festival and numerous questioning of staff failed to find it.
I could really forgive all previous complaints levelled if it wasn’t for this last one. Eastern Electrics needs to make money and the takeover of a South London park with the exemplary line up can’t be cheap, but not providing water to thousands of people, dancing and drinking on a hot summer’s day is irresponsible, bordering on dangerous.
Anyway… Rant over. The rest of it was great.
Electric City Stage was a real highlight with a natural dip in the land providing an intimate arena showcasing some exceptional live acts with space to dance or relax.
Big name artists sometimes just don’t live up to the hype but that could not be said about Carl Cox. I actually got to meet the man himself in one of the festival’s many queues, this one for the backstage food (provided by Boho Bakery – exceptional food and a festival highlight), when I grabbed the last wrap as he reached for it. He took it well but I’m sure he now is harbouring a grudge against me.
Either way it didn’t hold back his performance. A jumping set with bags of nostalgia, it was a genuine privilege to see him perform, especially considering his inevitable retirement is looming.
A successful festival but one where I felt slightly more like a cash cow than a punter.