Imagine if Predator, a wolf spider and a sexy sound system stack honed in on that new three parent baby procedure. Imagine! Well that offspring could be likened to the Arcadia arachnid.
At festivals like Glastonbury or Boomtown the sight of a 20 metre high, 50 tonne metal spider fused from recycled military machinery is no longer out of the ordinary, but at Queen’s Square, the setting for Friday and Saturday’s Arcadia ‘Metamorphosis’ show, it was as if the aliens had landed. The all singing, all dancing, all fire blasting 360 degree stage came to Bristol as part of the city’s Green Capital 2015 title, with its flame system powered by local chip shop waste oil.
The Arcadia website itself promised to ‘unify a community of all backgrounds, ages, beliefs and ideals’ and if you count the number of kids and bordering on elderly faces over the weekend in attendance amongst the crowd a city festival usually attracts with the only common interest in getting up to their eyes in gurners, then perhaps you could say they gave it a go.
Friday begun with a slight feeling of suspense in the air. Missing Bristol legend DJ Derek was due to play and even still on the posters. Most people half expected him to turn up and play his set with a ‘got you all didn’t I’ and we could all carry on in a happy little world as if nothing had ever happened. Sorry guys, but it’s a harsh reality we live in really. Derek didn’t turn up, but the show must go on. Sounds for this day were provided by Briz favourites Congo Natty, Roni Size and Reprazent. Unfortunately, their sets were nothing to write home about.
Saturday catered for more of a house loving crowd (and the old couples who didn’t mind either way, they just like the energy mannn). Mentionable, but for the wrong reasons would be Monki’s set. Personally the most highly anticipated act of the weekend, this 22 year old junior is already making waves in electronic music with her Radio 1 showcase show and her digital imprint, ZOO Music. Her hour and a half slot gave nothing of this away, it was lack lustre, sounding like bar or interlude music with badly selected tracks that held no character. Though the mass of uneducated ears loved it. Eats Everything was up next and played his usual, recognisable and high energy blinder but the sound system noise level let him down. Annie Mac finished the night’s proceedings. There’s a lot of love for this well-known radio voice, she tends to be one of those acts that anybody could enjoy listening to, with a few underground mixes she made years back still making the rounds.
The Metamorphosis show itself was the savior of the weekend; acrobatic aliens abseiled into the crowd, picking up supposed party goers and wrestling with them in mid-air, mechanical spiders crawled upside down along high wires, lightning men made music using lightning coming out of a rod and their own bodies (! ) This was all topped off with plenty of pyrotechnics, fireworks and lasers.
Without the half hour long Metamorphosis spectaculars we would have been in a not properly filled arena with huge toilet queues and a sound system that needed turning up and then turning up again. However, the failings of the weekend can be seen as down to its location and of the acts that played. Arcadia will continue to be a legend in festival culture, with the production value of the stage itself next to none. The Arcadia guys really have something special here and their passion is evident. With their stages now even gracing as far as Thailand, we look forward to seeing what their unique creative minds come up with next.