“Two raised platforms on either side of the Terrace brimmed with dancers, transporting the room into a scene akin to an early morning session at Amnesia Ibiza.“
Junction 2’s hotly anticipated weekend takeover of Tobacco Dock was one of many festivals to lay it down as the August Bank Holiday weekend swung into action in England’s capital. For many, including the Dance Wax crew, it was their first return to the festival dance floor since the pandemic. Amidst the joy of venues reopening nation-wide, production crews, DJs and ravers are being forced to acclimatize to the new festival reality of COVID passports and lateral flow tests.
This Inner-City edition amassed a star-studded line-up of some of the most revered DJs from across the techno spectrum. Yet again, Junction 2 demonstrated why it remains an inimitable force in London’s underground scene as it continues to deliver, event after event. Party-goers were spoilt for choice, presented with five diverse stages all conveying individual atmospheres and emotions. DW headed down on the Saturday, and it cannot be understated the pleasure the crew had in re-immersing themselves back in the dance after what has seemed like an eternity away.
CiCi set the tempo and intensity for the main stage on a crisp, punchy sound system, warming the early afternoon crowd up in the Great Gallery with an uncompromising set filled with heavy hitting techno rollers. Hypnotic vocals from VIL and Cravo’s most recent Klockworks release looped over and over as shafts of sunlight struck the large wooden beams of the Dock above. Sama’ Abdulhadi continued this intensity with a relentless set of pounding tracks which had the crowd in a frenzy in the hours following.
Downstairs in the underbelly of the Dock, peeling back a thin black curtain unveiled the Cavern, a low roofed, pitch-black room with huge brick columns which created a cauldron-like atmosphere. Manchester-based Afrodeutsche began by laying down uplifting and infectious breaks including weaving The Prodigy’s classic, “Out of Space”, into the set.
From then, DJ Boring took the reins and had the crowd entranced with his track selection, as he rapidly transitioned between genres in a high energy set. Beginning with punchy house numbers which were laced with trance stabs to get the people moving, he then lured the crowd in with the nostalgia-inducing “Like Water”, before reeling the track back and unapologetically slamming down a powerful kick and taking a more sinister line, with the crowd’s arms enthusiastically flailing in tow.
Further afield from the larger rooms and tucked away in a hidden corner of the Dock resided The Vault, where RinseFM resident Trudy.JPG laid down a tech-induced set in a room which had the feel of a house party. One Records co-founder Subb-An followed this up with slick minimal cuts and rollers, including Voigtmann’s classy edit of “Diego Santana’s Confessions of an Acid Eater”. Both selectors had the tiny room bouncing in what was an intimate and secretive setting which could have easily remained undiscovered by dancers.
As expected, Dixon and Maceo Plex’s sets drew the crowds and the roars of hundreds at the Terrace in the late afternoon. Dixon’s highly percussive, slow tempo tracks got feet stomping and arm’s in the air for the first couple of hours. Two raised platforms on either side of the Terrace brimmed with dancers, transporting the room into a scene akin to an early morning session at Amnesia Ibiza. Maceo’s set played upon this with a set which serenaded ravers with long, drawn out vocal tracks and rippling bass lines which burst into life after extensive build ups. As the Cuban-American DJ played an edit of DFX’s “Relax Your Body”, the fading light morphed the stage dramatically. Countless blue lights struck the swathes of turquoise fabric above, giving an ethereal quality to the performance and making a memorable impression on those there for the closing stages.
Returning to the Great Gallery for the finale of the festival, anticipation was heightened as one of the biggest names in techno took to the stage. Freed from the shackles of the pandemic, an endless schedule of touring awaits for Amelie Lens, head honcho of EXHALE. With such a schedule, she could be forgiven for a set which fell short of her high standards. The DW crew needed not be apprehensive, as yet again she delivered two hours of ceaselessly pounding kick drums and relentlessly scintillating acid lines which was matched by an equally impressive light show. Red lasers rifled across the room as graphics lit up screens to combine with the music. At least every couple of tracks, the DW team were looking at each other with exchanging maybe one or two expletives in awe of the impressive show.
AmelieLens’ last track was met with rapturous applause, and the moment the final kick drum was over, the Belgian artist had vanished after thanking the crowd, no doubt in preparation for her set later at the Fabric afterparty. The crowds poured out with smiles on faces, with those with the energy left following suit to the iconic Farringdon club.
Junction 2 now looks forward to June 2022 Bank Holiday weekend, with another stellar line-up already announced. From what the DW crew saw from Inner City, this will not be one to miss.