BACKSTAAAGE’S 51ST STATE FESTIVAL REVIEW

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51st State Festival came, saw and conquered last weekend, being less about how it looked, how people looked and being more about true music lovers gathering for good vibes and ultimate throwbacks, this was a festival that pleasantly surprised me. Situated in North London’s Trent Parl, we couldn’t get over what to us was an unknown park… none of the Finsbury, Victoria, Olympic or Hyde Park that churns out the same old familiar festival clone of each other; Trent Park is definitely an undeniable diamond in the rough venue.

 Relatively small in the grand scheme of things, the festival was easy to navigate through and with more bars, improved sound, a variety of food stalls and funfair rides meant there were enough areas and space that it didn’t feel packed out. Something that I loved about 51st State Festival was that it was inhabited predominantly by an older crowd, well you’d expect so when the stages possessed Soul, Disco, Reggae and Back to 95 UKG. There are so many festivals but this festival kept it’s edge at the same time welcoming all ages, which got me gassed when I saw people that looked in their early twenties raving to tracks I could have sworn they probably had no clue but this was a festival for reminiscing. I’d watch as festival goers spat lyrics word for word, to tunes I genuinely hadn’t heard and I was in awe of DJ Luck & MC Neat, Norris Da Boss Windross, Jason Kaye, Wookie and Shola Ama. These DJ’s and their MC hosts literally had everybody skanking and raving the hardest they had in ages, as horns sounded off in appreciation and lazer’s filled every inch of the tent. Shola Ama’s set was short, sweet and sexy, as she belted out ‘Imagine,’ ‘Run to Me’ and her more recent hit, a collaboration with Toddla T for ‘Take It Back.’

Eva Lazarus was a treasured find at 51st State Festival, as she waved in between Reggae, D’n’B and Jungle at the Channel One stage, alongside her carnivalesque backing dancers with their hypnotic ribbons. Her energy was as striking as her turquoise braids were vivid but being an undiscovered artist until that day for me, I was captivated by her bouncy performance and the interaction between herself, her DJ, backing dancers and her audience. You’ll love Eva if you’re a fan of Ms Dynamite, enjoy husky yet powerful vocals and can get down to relaxing Reggae beats. Stylo G also brought his A game… remember the ‘Badd’ Sister Nancy video he shot at Notting Hill Carnival a few years back? Well he gave us a taste of what’s to come this August bank holiday as he performed a fusion of reggae hits including ‘Call Mi A Leader’ and ‘Soundbwoy.’ It’s a shame we didn’t get to catch the main hosts themselves but we’re sure we’ll find them at a sound system soon!

The VIP area proved popular with VVIP service, private music tent, 10/10 toilet facilities and speedy bar access and seating areas. It’s the area you pay slightly more to use at your convenience and it wasn’t over populated, so that was a plus. The only thing that would have made it better would have been to have it used as an exit from a certain time, due to it being closer to the Oakwood station where most people needed to commute from. Throughout the day there were some famous faces, Norris Da Boss was happy to mingle with his appreciation club, as was Olympic sprinter Dwyane Chambers.

Dimitri From Paris gathered the masses to the main stage aka Groove Odyssey to get down and get up to Funk Soul anthems that had us singing from our lungs like some type of diva. A lot more relaxed than Back to 95 and no need to get out those clothes to wipe yourself down, everybody was going wild as the super afro stage host introduced guest singers and danced away with Studio 54 style dancers.

I see massive things for this festival; bigger tents and even more big names in years to come as 51st State Festival relishes in its understatedness.




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