Hide & Seek Festival deliver another excellent edition to close out the Summer

    Hide & Seek - Contour stage

    All eyes were fixed firmly on the city of Manchester last weekend, with the UK summer season drawing to a close. Hide & Seek Festival is primely positioned to wrap up the warmer months of the year, as the British climate becomes trickier to navigate and the al fresco events start to move back indoors.

    It was already touch and go this time round, with the weather forecast in usual character switching between storm, rain and shine in the days leading up to the event. A sure nod to the last weekend of summer that despite a small spout of rain, turned out to be rather pleasant.

    This year was the first that the lads behind Hide & Seek turned proceedings up a notch, doubling the annual electronic pilgrimage to Capesthorne Hall up to two days. It was a welcome move that perhaps also turned out to be a brave one, in the face of the current economic climate – both generally speaking and in more direct terms for events. The fast rising cost of resources and a strain on ticket sales has seen some struggle, including Summer of Love who sadly had to cancel for the week before.

    But the organisers come together and they continue to support. Hide & Seek in particular are headed up by small collective of forward thinking, entrepreneurial purveyors of today’s underground electronic music scene. Kurt Hurst and Josh Baker make a determined pair and they’ve only gone and smashed it again in the face of uncertainty.

    Hide & Seek - crowd
    © Photography by Gemma Parker (instagram.com/gemmaparkerphotography)

    Last Saturday we joined the several thousand strong crowd once more descending on the idyllic grounds of that stunning stately home. It was a date etched firmly into the party calendar since leaving the last edition in 2021 and a familiar feeling took over as the nostalgia kicked in. Capesthorne Hall welcomed with open arms – a majestic space transformed into a playground so well suited for the dance.

    The line up was well split across the weekend, meaning those not able to keep to the full two day session were well catered for either day. And those staying for both the Saturday and Sunday, well they had all sorts to look forward to. With Raresh b2b Arapu, Apollonia, Spokenn, Sweely, Josh Baker, Dungeon Meat, Sam Bangura and Sugar Free all scheduled for the Sunday, plenty of people would be just getting started on day one. That didn’t mean to say that the crowd wasn’t ready to get stuck right in from the off and the lineup for the first session was just as solid.

    Each stage has its own character. At a risk of becoming stuck in the time warp of Tentree, we set about navigating the others. Cozy Boyz were warming up an already packed out Dome tent that would go on to host Gene on Earth b2b The Ghost and Josh Baker himself. A favourite for many, this comfy sphere would remain brimming with bodies for the duration of the day.

    Hide & Seek - Josh Baker
    © Photography by Hide & Seek Festival

    Lovers Paradise was this year converted from dark and sparkly to day-lit glasshouse. Crazy P (DJ set) took afternoon into early evening with a blend of the band’s classics and laser led disco funk, Danielle Moore’s vocals sounding as good as ever despite her not being there to sing them live. It was fun-fuelled music, but it might have been missing the magic of the disco-made marquee with centre stage disco ball, that they had going on last year.

    The larger lair of Fantasia was hosting Binh b2b DJ Masda and Voigtmann, a selection among the festival favourites that keep coming back with the well placed dedication and knowledge that comes with regular attendance.

    But before long the inevitable happened and we found ourselves at Tentree. And we definitely became stuck…

    Hide & Seek - Tentree stage
    © Photography by Hannah Barnes (instagram.com/hannahbarnesphoto)

    Little construction is required at this one. A wooden DJ booth is created with enough space to house the DJ at the helm and little more, featuring a splash of funky visuals on a screen in reward for those dancing at the front. But the surrounding environment gives so much more. Stacks of fine speakers sit either side of the shack, bellowing out beats at the right decibels. The sound isn’t faltered as the crowd spreads out to the back.

    Both the speakers and the booth are dwarfed however, by the big bolshy trees encircling the woodland area. It’s slap bang in the middle of the forest, one of the most magical spots for the dance. There must be some reason why it feels so good to let loose to the grooves in the midst of Mother Nature – maybe there’s some science behind it. Either way, it’s enough to make you stuck despite anything else going on around and Tentree is where we would remain for the majority of the day.

    Fumiya Tanaka
    © Photography by Gemma Parker (instagram.com/gemmaparkerphotography)

    Fumiya Tanaka was already deep into his Hide & Seek debut when we took up our spot in the hedonistic haven. The long time Perlon affiliate had the place popping, swapping his usual minimalistic bass for energetic garage and jacking house. Pumping basslines swerved in the space, rapid grooves spilled echoed vocals speaking through the trees and the driving hats of DJ Deeon’s ‘House-O-Matic’ carried in the wind.

    As evening drew nearer, the basslines got naughtier. Breaks and garage dominated for a while before creeping techno delivered in Jeff Mills’ classic ‘The Bells’. Tanaka mixed seamlessly through a whole array of the house music spectrum, in what became a much welcomed extended set following whispers that Zip (who was set to close) would not be able to make it.

    Sonja Moonear was still on her way and the leading lady arrived armed and ready to close. An over extended set spanning no less than three hours was underway and as per, she played a blinder. Deep, housey grooves sound tracked the darkening of night. Stripped back basslines drove through the natural arena leading swinging percussion, a rapid whip of energy like a bustling wind.

    Hide & Seek - Tentree at night
    © Photography by Hannah Barnes (instagram.com/hannahbarnesphoto)

    With the natural light disappearing, red neon took its place, striking minimalistic light bars on the roof above her head. It wasn’t long before the main visual event took over. Swirling shades of red bathed the mass of trees surrounding the space, bark bathing in sharp warmth, flashing and feigning with the beat. One need not look at much else in accompaniment to the sound.

    Sonja continued with manipulated classics, C&C Music Factory’s ‘Pride (A Deeper Love)’ turned into an acid led bomb still sporting the much loved vocal and the elation it brings with it. The ode to the old school continued, Jamie Principle’s seedy classic ‘Baby Wants To Ride’ bellowing song beneath the canopy. Deeper became more delinquent, with the robotic, electronic droning of Cube 40’s ‘Bad Computer’. Twisted funk driving squidgy electro, as much a banger as it is comical.

    Traumer was closing the main stage of the festival, so we finally forced a move from Tentree. The Frenchman was laying down smooth, minimal grooves, blending in classic fashion and taking care to make full use of the musical combinations. With the beautiful setting of Capesthorne Hall behind and soft lights bathing the festival’s iconic Contour stage, it was a real nice place to close. But it wasn’t before long that the Tentree withdrawal symptoms kicked in. Sonja was calling us back. We spent the last 30 minutes nestled in deep at the front, well aware of the inevitable, impending end to the day. Maybe we should be coming back for day two…

    © Photography by Hannah Barnes (instagram.com/hannahbarnesphoto)

    Hide & Seek took a leap from one day to one weekend and it looks to have paid off. Right before the rains kicked in, several thousand strong crowds were able to make the most of their last summer weekend in the most quality of company, with an excellent soundtrack to boot. Keep it up guys, you’ve got this down to a tee.

    Register here for pre-sale ticket access to Hide & Seek 2023.

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