Gottwood 2022: Revellers ramble to Anglesey for the first time in three years

Gottwood 2022: Revellers ramble to Anglesey for the first time in three years

For many electronic DJ heads, the pilgrimage to Anglesey Abbey for Gottwood marks the first days of summer. The Wales weekender is a carefully curated festival that hosts some of the world’s most established selectors, as well as rising names looking to make their mark on a precarious industry. After two years of tribulation, Gottwood promised double the celebration in its alluring landscape and bewildering woodland. Festivalgoers, who enjoyed a microclimate of Anglesey sun, were treated to a meticulous line-up, but the weekend wasn’t exempt from issues.

Although the event economy experienced an initial boom after lockdown, independent festivals have struggled to capture the hearts of hedonists who formerly enjoyed a weekend of music. Earlier this year, Brainchild announced its cancellation due to post-pandemic “inflation” costs and “far slower” ticket sales than previous editions. Despite going ahead, Gottwood clearly struggled with similar issues. Of the 5,000 capacity, a reported 3,500 tickets were sold, and although the organisers increased attraction with student and group offers, a non-sell-out meant cuts had to be made elsewhere.

Tom Carpenter and Co clearly prioritised the lineup at the Soundsystem’s’ expense. Walled Gardens, the Lorn, and the Barn boasted brain-rattling rigs for DJs to let loose on whilst Trigon and Ruf Kutz underwhelmed, despite hosting the likes of Call Super and Ruf Dug. It was disappointing to see Super poised, ready to carve a slick set of subterranean sonics in front of an audience already depleted by the speakers’ softness.

Nevertheless, from the second Anglesey Island’s stunning coastline is in view on Thursday, the prevailing excitement of revelers isn’t hampered. Meandering across a medley of underground electronic sonics, Gottwood’s 2022 program boasts a versatile display of DJs, who clearly appeal to large groups of students and young professionals. On Thursday night alone, DJ Tennis blesses the Curve with blends of balearic, acid house, and disco whilst Skream rolls back the years with an energy-inflicted 140 set at the lighthouse: limbs catapult across the grassland whilst gun fingers fly into the air with equal measure.

On Friday, the festival is woken by remarkably warm temperatures. In true British fashion, people say no to sun cream and the Lawn quickly becomes home to a pod of lobsters: thirsty for pims, pints, and K-Lone’s breezy percussion. It is the first time people can enjoy the festival’s tranquillity and admire the ground’s jaw-dropping scenery, which mixed with the Brighton artist’s blissful productions, provides an early highlight. The evening is all about bopping between Gottwood’s ten stages. Tim Reaper’s utopian jungle blends and Dungeon Meat’s brain-mincing baselines stand out, but Lukas Wigflex’s wonky shufflers gather a huge crowd at Walled Gardens, and rightfully so. The Nottingham Veteran’s ear for the unknown makes him a pioneering figure in England’s DJ-sphere and the set felt like a real moment.

Saturday is defined by the festival’s quicker tempos. From 22:00 onwards, the Barn becomes the place to be, with sets from Cartridge x Strategy, Nia Archives and Halogenix proving some of the weekend’s most explosive. The venue’s vibe lends itself to the more abrasive amen breaks of jungle and dubstep’s comparably ominous syncopations. Kent DJ Alec Falconer, who has become synonymous with squelchy melodies and idiosyncratic rhythms, deserves a mention too, packing Ricky’s dome with happy ravers.

Sunday’s serenity permeates through the delicate tones of Children of Zeus. The Manchester duo spin stoner ballads like ‘No Love Song’ as well as Zed Bias’ remix of ‘Vibrations’. Tyler Daley tops up people’s cups with Malibu and gets everyone buzzing for the final night. As dusk settles, the Lorn seamlessly transfers from a vibey R'n'B hub to a veteran techno showcase. Extrawelt, with their deep, rebellious rhythms, get progressively darker as the sun sets. Equally as explosive, Max Cooper steps up to perform, arguably, the weekend’s best set, building through ambient beginnings into dystopian neuro-funk, before eclipsing the stunning scenery with ‘Breathe’ by the Prodigy.

The weekend could happily finish here, but as Eris Drew and Saoirse close Walled Gardens with a primordial selection of house and speed garage, Gottwood’s grounds stay busy until the DJ’s final selections. The festival had its difficulties, but that Gottwood still exists after such a hiatus hopefully bodes well for the future of England’s independent events economy.

Written by Liam Cattermole (@liam_cattermole)