After all the crowds had wound their way back to reality, the tents collapsed and stored away, and the lights switched off, there was nothing left on the fields of Hatfield House but some trampled grass and some grumpy groundskeepers. However, rewind back a few hours and catch up with that crowd as they waited for the trains back to London and beyond, if you looked into any their eyes you could almost see the tents spring back into place and the lights dilate their pupils.
Eastern Electrics 2014 had it all - the background of a lush English countryside, the killer lineup, the unique stages, well-placed facilities and streamlined transportation -the stage was set and the gauntlet thrown, but was it actually any good?
Let's talk about the venue first. As you left the train station you were presented with a five minute stroll down a marked-off walkway leading to the entrance to the festival, leaving the town of Hatfield far behind. The grounds were spacious and the organizers were able to exploit this and maximize distance between the stages as to limit noise bleed. However, if one wanted to get from one end to the other, it never felt like it was "too far" and you would be able to move quite freely despite the 10,000 or so other festival goers. Drinks were easy to access, the food choices varied and accessible, and the staff helpful.
Photos by Marc Sethi
The most underrated stage was Switchyard, an outdoor area encompassed by shipping containers. We arrived just in time to see Mano Le Tough rip this area a new set of eardrums - despite being fairly early on in the day, Mr. Mannion herded anyone within earshot of the Switchyard to him with his syncopic bass lines and hypnotic stage presence. We would have liked to move around to the different stages checking out Laura Jones or T. Williams, but quite honestly, Mano le Tough had us from start to finish and I don't feel the least bit guilty about it.
Photos by Marc Sethi
The calibre of music remained high throughout the rest of the day - the ever-beautiful Monika Kruse at the main stage laid off her singles and laid on the heavy techno and deep tech as the crowd grew stronger with each passing minute, and from her appearance for the remainder of the festival the main stage was buzzing - which, concurrently, had the lowest ratio of meatheads I have yet to witness at any festival. While EE may no longer be flying under the radar, they were able to bring in some of the big guns without compromising crowd integrity.
Canadian-born duo Art Department lived up expectations yet again, and between them and Ellen Allien the 6pm time slot was a blur of tech and deep house. Hard to say which was better, but the atmosphere at this point was unbeatable as the crowd was peaking just as the sun made its final appearance of the day before disappearing - and drawing Kerri Chandler, Tania Vulcano, and Derrick Carter out with it.
I'll have to hand it to Kerri Chandler here; he came to EE to play, and play he did. More than once you could hear people in the crowd yelling to their mates "He is killing it!" He brought the crowd up, held them there, and didn't let them go until it was last call. A good set doesn't have to contain the biggest drops, the loudest bass, or the most recognizable melodies. Kerri played to the crowd, as a great producer should; the crowd responded, and left feeling satisfied, satiated, and treated to something special.