tue 30/11/2021

Found Festival 2016, Brockwell Park | reviews, news & interviews

Found Festival 2016, Brockwell Park

Found Festival 2016, Brockwell Park

Solid dance music line-up ruined by bad organisation, low sound and dreadful security

A DJ, possibly observing an unfortunate victim being carted off by security in the distance

Found Festival 2016 got a couple of things right. The choice of music-makers was solid and the broad cross-section of friendly people who attended was admirable. But, unfortunately, everything else went wrong. Worst of all was the behaviour of the security team who, by the end of the day, had become hi-viz-jacketed herds of power-dizzy bullies, marauding around the site.

The idea of the festival, born of a south London club night and in its fourth year, was to fill Brockwell Park, from 11am until 9pm, with five marquee tents of underground techno, disco and house, plus a sixth outdoor stage topping things off with 24-carat techno/house originals Derrick May and Kerri Chandler. A great scheme for a coolly curated day-rave. In practice, this meant five marquees where the volume was so low a conversation could be held with ease; indeed, the whisper of a small child would have cut through it. Thus, whenever I popped into one of these areas, the whole day long, the sound was utterly feeble, from early sets by the likes of Germany’s Zenker Brothers to Secretsundaze’s four-hour session featuring perennial Detroit house don Theo Parrish back-to-back with his associate in the Three Chairs production unit, Marcellus Pittman, to a headline live show by Dutch electronic wizard Legowelt. It is pointless having a festival if the music is not at a sufficient level unless your head’s inside the speakers.

Found relied on a “token system” for buying drinks. This entailed standing in a queue for 20 minutes or more to purchase plastic on-site currency – which was especially miserable when the skies briefly opened to drop a mid-afternoon monsoon – and then queueing for another 20 minutes (or more) to buy a drink. It’s always over-priced at festivals, but to top that off with this endless queueing showed extreme disorganisation. In any case, the token system is a con, basically forcing festival-goers to buy minimum £5 tokens, knowing that a large percentage will eventually wander off-site with much unspent.

The job of security is to discourage flagrant drug use, but mostly to make sure the event is a safe, happy environment

Worst of all was the security. Anyone who’s been to a few raves and festivals, from the wildest drug-nutter to the most level-headed police officer, knows that there’s likely to be some naughty behaviour going on. Drug use is, of course, not officially tolerated but, given dance music’s entire ethos is based around the meeting of MDMA and electronic music, all sides of the equation are usually keen on keeping things sweet, letting the party happen, not provoking unnecessary conflict. In short, the job of security is to discourage flagrant drug use, but mostly to make sure the event is a safe, happy environment.

This is not how those in charge at Found – an outfit going by the apt moniker of Saber - saw it. They were proactive to the point of unpleasant from the start, making preposterously intrusive searches on the entrance gate, then continually carting off struggling young people throughout the day, even from the dismal, sound-distorted backstage “VIP area”, where a drinks queue dominated the whole pathetic "dancefloor". But let’s just focus on one incident, by way of example.

Away from the main stage, late afternoon, early evening, once the sun had come back out, groups of people sat under trees, some having a cheeky spliff, most just chatting. As I munched on a veggie burrito I became aware of large groups of security circling from all sides, corralling. They dived on a guy having a smoke to start with and when his friends moved away they tackled them to the ground. As other people stood up, looking worried, the security men just went for anyone, opening bags, patting people down, all with bullish alpha-male aggression.

I discreetly left, moving away as all around me young people who were minding their own business, not smoking weed or showing any sign of drug usage, were interrogated and searched. Plonking myself down in another area to finish my food, the same thing occurred. These guys just couldn't get enough of their petty power. And that’s what I observed throughout: bored, joyless, testosterone-addled individuals, who presumably have had the training to know better, bearing down like pack predators on isolated individuals or small groups, away from the main crowd, bullying them. They were forcing festival-goers to reveal all they had on them, like customs officers, even when there was no reason for suspicion. This is something even the police are not allowed to do. Then the unfortunate ones were physically hauled off, pushed along like cowed prisoners, or simply carried wriggling away, to who knows what fate.

Of the music, the only outstanding act - or at least the only outstanding act at a volume louder than a flea disco - was Paranoid London. This duo have quietly sneaked up on dance music, making distorted, raw, fizzing acid techno. They were on the main stage, fronted by a bloke who a friend described as “looking like a dad at a barbecue”, clad in a straw hat, maroon Fred Perry, camouflage shorts and sunglasses. He may or may not have been Paranoid London member Quinn Whalley but, whoever he was, he started by telling us to “wake the fuck up”, which his music duly made us do, a crunching gumbo of frazzled 303 lines and percussive clatter, like a fusion between Underworld and long lost Nineties nutters, the Bearded Warriors of Acid. Paranoid London should slay the 2016 summer festival season.

From thereon it was Detroit techno original Derrick May, who played an adequate set, more groove, less machine, as suited the sunny evening, to an enthused crowd. Make no mistake, despite all the flaws of Found, up front before the main stage, a multi-racial crowd mingled happily, chatting and chewing and smiling and exchanging those knowing glances so common in clubland, jiggling to the rhythms if never actually taking euphoric full-pelt flight. And everything finished with Kerri Chandler, who occasionally wandered from his decks to play upbeat motifs on a keyboard, maintaining a gospel-tinged flavour of upbeat house. Unfortunately, though, Found Festival screwed up too much else, and the heavy-handed and unnecessary conduct of the security crew left me with a bad taste in my mouth that, even now, won’t quite leave.

It's pointless having a festival if the music is not at a sufficient level unless your head’s inside the speakers

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Security was totally unnacceptable - not sure how they were briefed but it was unlike anything I've ever experienced in my 20 years of club/fesitval going. One of my male friends had his balls squeezed so hard that he was left in pain for the rest of the day. At the same time one of the the girls in our group had a pint-sized security meat-head look her in the eyes and threateningly exclaim "I'm fucking bored, I can't wait for a fight to kick off". That's before we even get to the (lack of) sound and buzz-kill queues. None of our group will be going back to this festival after that.

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