In under four years since inception, the Manchester-based You&Me collective has gained a dedicated following from its in-demand, routinely sold out event series, launched an in-house vinyl label and thrown a debut festival.
Four stages played host to a carefully curated lineup in the debut year of Hide&Seek. Set in the breathtaking grounds of Capesthorne Hall around 20 minutes from central Manchester, hours ran from 11am through to 11pm with extended sets from an array of innovative artists.
Each space offered unique variety in both music and design. Elegant structures from Stax Creations littered the site, framing minimalist DJ booths and chill-out areas with the site’s natural beauty at centre.
Tucked beneath an aesthetically pleasing geometric tent, The Dome was the only indoor space on site. Despite reaching uncomfortably high temperatures during the sun’s peak, the club-like space held the Funktion-One sound remarkably well and remained packed for the entire day. Modular’s UZU cut through high tempo house jams in the mid-afternoon, boasting confident basslines to a keen crowd.
Smart bookings stood out on the bill, shifting away from predictable, ticket-selling artists, programming targetted a niche market of stripped back, and often vinyl focused selectors. Cult following headliners in the likes Nicolas Lutz, Margaret Dygas and Praslea were each given three-hour slots, along with the highly anticipated Francesco Del Garda and Dan Shake who both suffered extensive flight delays from Croatia’s Dimensions Festival and were unable to make their sets.
Forced into making vital last-minute decisions upon the news of the delays, Margaret Dygas was given an extra hour and moved inside the sweat-inducing Dome stage to replace Francesco, which could have been a blessing in disguise. Taking over from the slick garage-tinged sounds of SlapFunk duo Ingi Visions, the Perlon mistress played arguably the set of the festival.
Weaving through loopy techno and UK garage with clever filter work, moments of magic seemed to rise out of nowhere. After casually ending the crowd into hysteria with Basement Jaxx’s ‘Fly Life’, the Polish eccentric eventually concluded a memorable closing set with Michael Jackson’s ‘Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough’ to immense applause.
You&Me resident Josh Baker opened proceedings on the site’s biggest stage The Countour. Shifting through neat minimal, the youthful talent set a steady pace before handing over to festival favourites Ferro & Reiss for a masterclass in silky Spokenn flavours. The dutch duo returned for a second set later in the evening back to back with Josh, replacing Margaret Dygas’ initially planned closing slot on the Ten Tree stage.
Praslea paved his way through an effortless three hours in the early afternoon, bringing smiles to an appreciative crowd with Ion Ludwig’s ‘Le Imagen’, the Romanian flair was at full effect. Drifting through a bottomless pit of hypnotising cuts, the [a:rpia:r] associate teased vocal blips and short melodies with impeccable mixing across a three CDJ setup.
This level of professionalism and focus on sound echoed throughout the festival. Excellent conditions both in the booth and the dance floor encouraged the best from DJs. Booths sat at ground level with great monitoring and rotary mixers facing intimate dance floors. Nicolas Lutz shortly followed suit, turning a screw with Tristan Da Cunha’s ‘Move’, before venturing into darker atmospheres as the sunset behind the booth.
The Stretch Tent offered variety from the minimal-heavy lineup. Jamie 3:26 kept a packed dance floor rocking with feel-good cuts like Peven Everett & Stacey Kidd’s ‘Body Jerkin’, before Jeremy Underground took to the helm, sifting through soulful house and disco-edged territory. The pair both played extended sets to make up for the missing Dan Shake and had no trouble keeping the tent packed until closing.
Despite inevitable first-year teething problems, proceeding ran relatively smoothly for the debut year of the festival. Two understaffed bars and a single water tap occupied the entire site, which led to lengthy queues and mild noise spillage leaked into some chill-out zones.
The site could also perhaps benefit from small implementations like a cup deposit system, similar to those seen at Houghton festival to help reduce litter and single-use plastic. In spite of these minor niggles, Hide&Seek was an impressive display of contemporary dance music and a great indicator of Manchester’s thriving music scene.
A positive vibe oozed throughout the day and top tier DJs were appreciated by a new generation of ravers throwing regular parties in their home towns. Hosting a festival in the midst of often fatal licensing laws in the UK, on top of local competition from Manchester giants The Warehouse Project is no easy task.
Together with a selection of grassroots promoters, the driven, like-minded creatives behind Hide&Seek showcased the possibility of creating something special via the community inspired, DIY route.