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Festival review – Brainchild 2021

No sun – but lots of fun at Brainchild 2021

The not-for-profit art organisation returned for its 2021 edition with a feeling of relief, gratitude and euphoria.

Taking place on the fields off The Bentley Wildflow and Motor Museum in the depths of East Sussex, the 2500 cap festival returned, despite the odds, for a three day exploration of emerging artists, scene staples, bold ideas and DIY culture. Funded by the PRS foundation, the 2021 edition felt like a true moment of freedom from the tough times endured in the last years and the DJ’s and artists utilised this vibe with a no-holding back attitude on the stages. 

Friday night saw the likes of Jack Hello, Worldwide FM’s Coco Maria and many more opening things up with an eclectic display of latin-funk, pulsating breakbeat, driving disco and classic house selects to get the crowd going for the evening’s events. Taking the realms on the main stage, Overmono shelled out their well practiced live set, with a masterclass in how to combine quick cut breaks with detuned synth riffs and driving low end. Opening up with ‘So U Kno’ their latest release on XL Recordings, the Welsh brothers took the ecstatic crowd through a journey of their back catalogue. Releases such as their remix of the Irish band For Those I Love and their 2020 ‘Everything U Need’ combined a balance between melancholy and club functionality to highlight why the duo had such a successful 2020 and what is to come in 2021/2022, with an album in the works.

Other highlights came from two of the most exciting DJ’s in the UK scene today, OK Williams and Lil C. Williams cast her spell with a seamless display of UKG, breakbeat, techno, hardcore, rave and beyond, which felt as fresh as it did classic to the UK dance scene. Lil C took over and gave a lesson in contemporary dancehall, R&B refixes and all things bashment, raising the energy to full throttle.

Saturday morning brought the torrential rain but in true UK style the ravers returned to the stages sodden and ready for their masterclass in voguing (to improve those post-pandemic rusty moves) from the QPOC + LGBTQ+.activist and Ballroom master Jay Jay Revlon. Energy restored, people sachyed to Duke’s classic ‘So In Love With You’ and the mood was beginning to hit its peak.

As the rain eased and the mud congealed, the femme culture honcho and Technicolour signee Elkka graced the Shack stage with her live set. Dreamy synths glistened over sequenced rhythm perfection for one of the weekends biggest high points in a truly beautiful woodland setting.

Chatting to the artist afterwards, Elkka elatedly stated  “Having not played live for 2 years Brainchild seemed like the perfect place to re-connect with an audience who just want to be surrounded by good people and good music. That’s exactly what it felt like for me. It was a really special show that really moved me and reminded me so much of what we all have been missing for so long. The crowd was perfect, the rain – mostly- stayed away and I couldn’t have asked for anymore.”

Sound system highlights came from the Lemon Lounges’ bespoke four stacked system, which was put to test through a special two hour dub set from South London’s jazz wizard Joe Armon Jones and introduced the threat of tinnitus to new ravers and reinstated the importance of ear plugs to the older crowd.

Overall the sun failed to show up, but the musicians came through in full energy focused style to form what was an excellent return to what felt like a relatable yet fresh party in a muddy field.

Jack Carr-Miles

Check out our ‘heard at Brainchild’ DJ chart here

Photography credit – Jake Denton