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Ross Allen // The Meltdown

September 15, 2010

DJ, radio presenter, A&R bo$$, manager and all-round good egg – Ross Allen – writes exhaustive but highly entertaining weekly email updates when he mails out his new radio show tracklistings. The man is a human dynamo. Honestly, I get tired just reading about his adventures.

Here we are again… it feels like I write these every day. I don’t – I do them weekly, but it feels like only the other night I was in from the Janelle Monae gig and trying to string a sentence together, let alone a full missive (we stopped calling them that for a while, it’s reinstated as of now). And now we are back from Bestival and excited by all that went on there.

I headed down to Bestival up for it but slightly jaded by a summer of playing festivals, all good fun but by now they have started to take their toll, a holiday is due, and when that happens you won’t hear from me for a while – i can hear the mass sigh of relief ! Don’t worry I will be going and relatively soon. However by the time I got to Bestival I was curious to see what it would be like but walking down the hill and seeing it all unfold in front of me, it reminded me of what fun can and has been had in the last seven years since Robbie and the crew decided to take that leap of faith and put on their own festival. It seemed like a big leap for them but from the off it was great. The now legendary Bollywood Tent had graced a few festivals in the run up to Bestivals’ birth but the first one was a small intimate affair compared to what it is now. I think people this year were saying it was about 40k people there, in its first year I think, and I could be wrong, that it was something like 3k. You almost knew, or felt like you knew everyone there. Small and intimate, lots of mates playing records and a few decent bands. Funny to see it grow so exponentially but I think that it reflects the care and attention that Robbie and Josie have devoted to it in its infancy, and still do. You can always tell who’s in it for love and who’s in it for cash… It’s definitely the former with Bestival. It feels good. As I walked down that hill it was a good feeling of ‘i think we are gonna have a laugh here’. We did.

Highlights were getting up graded to playing on the Afterburner for Arcadia at 12 midnight on Friday. If you don’t know it, look it up it is possibly the most mental stage at festivals that I have seen. Looking like the top of a huge spark plug, or a spider with three legs. It’s massive and spits out massive plumes of fire whenever they bother to do that, and they do it quite a lot when it gets dark. We eyed it with envy from the Mutoid Waste company area at Glastonbury. Especially when the guys starting channeling electricity and then fighting with it. This is no CGI thing, its pure power in blue bolts. It’s totally nuts and seeing them fight with blue bolts was, oddly, so much better than when they used to fight in Deptford when i used to play there years ago. Those wanna be south London villains could learn a lot from the cyber crusty arts crew or what ever they are called these days. Anyway we, Full Nelson from Greco Roman (or Alexander to his Mum) and I. get strapped into a harness and climb the structure, it’s high, and it gets a bit worrying when they start letting off the flames just above, and to the left and right of your head. I kept thinking if just this time it actually blew up in a disaster sort of scenario. It didn’t otherwise my typing skills might have been seriously curtailed. Thank God eh ?

Once up there, harnessed in and with your crows nest view of that area – you then had to rock it… We did, thank God for the new TEED single and the that Nas & Damian Marley Remix by Congo Natty that I got done for Island – 3 rewinds and a good MC (yes i am talking about the infamous Mike Man) and we were laughing – The Meltdown treatment works in a big field. It was a shame we were climbing back down within the hour.Powerful stuff, well i was excited. As i was when warming up for Gil Scott Heron on the main stage – gradually a big crowd appeared and we were soon into the legend that is Gil and his stripped down but deadly band – he seemed a bit looser this time around and it was interesting watching from the side of the stage as i could see the bands faces and they didn’t look to confident following Gil but may be they always look that way !

The Bollywood is always a rocking affair, and this year it was joined by the Chai Wallah tent as one that rocked… Hard. Except when I was doing it on Saturday afternoon in those witching hours between 4.30 and 6.15. Still I didn’t mind as I always thought that during that slot people were getting into their fancy dress. Now at this point I deviate from the Bestival manifesto because, basically, I am a massive snob. I am not sure about all this, jolly, letting your hair down, freeing your spirit act of self degradation that masquerades as FANCY DRESS. Now don’t get me wrong if you properly think about it you can come up with some good looks and I saw some – the pack of bright green toy soldiers, Romeo and Juliet on chargers that were really covers over mini motorbikes or the Mary Antoinette stylings – that were done properly. Not the person who had two bits of silver foil either side of his head and said he was a spatula !! or the blue faced Avatars, The Where’s Wally’s. Its not just at Bestival that this fancy dress trend is confined too, it seems to have spread to other festivals in that general British love of looking like a tit – we did invent Morris Dancing remember, it’s inherent. I DJed at the Big Chill Last year and was joined by ten crap male Bumble Bee’s, call me old fashioned but I don’t want to DJ to Bumble bees ! I know its a laugh and, again, good luck to them but it’s not for me. I did a good Mark Anthony once until someone picked up on the fact that Roman Legions, with all that walking would have developed at least some calf muscles ! But at least the costume looked good. See I told you I was a snob…

I did get to see some great stuff both musical and amusing: Gil Scott – with a very young looking crowd really singing along showed that kids aren’t just into gnarly basslines, Flying Lotus – not being too abstract and actually rocking that big blue top in fine style, The XX doing their first post Mercury Music Prize winning gig -packed and sizzling, Hurts – again in a packed Big Top looking and sounding so 80′s. DJ wise the most reaction came from anything reggae – so dubstep and Jungle featured heavily and got the place really moving. And the right sets with the right sounds really went off. In the Chai Wallah Skitz and Rodney P smashed it as did the guy on next definitely helped by the fact that Rodney and the worlds biggest bottle of Jack Daniels wouldn’t get off the stage. Skitz got so into it he was still there on Sunday missing his gig in Brighton the previous night. Rodigan was on everyones lips and the Chai Wallah tent was very disappointed when he didn’t show for a second set after smashing it in the Bollywood tent. Peterson and Greg Wilson put a bit of funk and soul back into the event. And The fast rising Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs caused a stage invasion with their jacking electronic house sound. I missed him but apparently Ritchie Hawtin live was a hit too. There was something for everyone…. and Byron Burgers to boot !

Other amusing sites were in a slightly schlock arena called the Cocktail Bar myself and a crew consisting of Thritsian ‘Birthday Boy’ BPM, Gilles Peterson and Thristians lovely girlfriend witnessed a very rare sight in deed security guards ‘having it’ and egging on the crowd. Fancy dress may be ? cunning stage invasion ? or just an over excited local who couldn’t see the line between actual security guard and drug crazed raver, seeing another security guard drag him off the stage was quite possibly the funniest thing of the weekend. Although changing a good friend’s name to Joely Poley and then fitting that name to the melody of everything single Chic song whilst they were on was great too – though i think he was over it quite quickly. The there was Ashley Beedle falling backwards over the monitor speaker in The Chai Wallah. It would have been even funnier apart from the fact that he actually really did sprain his ankle – Yeh, Yeh !

So it was a smorgasboard of silly ness, music and fun – a bit of rain and mud but all round great fun – just don’t leave it till Monday to leave – as 30k people trying to all a) get out of the site b) getting a cab or bus c) getting on an un booked boat is slightly over subscribed to say the least. Mad scenes.

Talking of Ashley Beedle, foot pending (no he actually will be there), he will be at THE SOCIAL MELTDOWN this Friday to join me back in London and back in our favourite new residency. Do join us if you can as i think it will be another good one. On the live front we have a great performer who has been making an album with Matthew Herbert, the one and only Rowdy Superstar. It should be a great and flamboyant affair. Don’t forget get down there early as it is a great start to the weekend and it all kicks off at 7, though you can get down there before. As per usual its at The Social, Little Portland Street, W1W 7JD… Don’t forget you can join the Facebook group to get immediate updates to what is going on and other things Meltdown related.

After that on Friday we are heading on to play at Dom Moir’s birthday party at East Village, 89 Great Eastern St, Shoreditch, EC2A 3HX on until the break of dawn. Danny Rampling makes a return to the decks (I thought i went to his retirement do the other year but I could have been dreaming), anyway really looking forward to this and Dom Moir is opening up downstairs with Stuart Patterson. I’ll be up stairs with Jim Lister getting funky !

So we did no radio show on Monday as we were queueing in Cowes to get on a catamaran. However being of a generous dispostion, I wanted to let you know that until 4pm today you can go on DJ Shadows web site and download his latest web site for free – both tracks ‘I’ve Been Trying’ and ‘Death Surrounds Us’. Not the exclusive 12 ” which has been popping up around London and the world and now E Bay. But a chance to get them both digitally, officially, for free. Go here to get them…

So there we have it. This weeks tosh. Bestival last week and The Meltdown this week.

Up and coming guests for the Meltdown are

September 17th – Ashley Beedle & Rowdy Superstar LIVE
September 24th – Various Productions
October 1st – Leo Elstob
October 8th – 2 Bears (Raf Daddy and Joe Hot Chip)
October 15th –
October 22nd – NUMBERS Crew return
October 29th – Greenmoney Productions (Alex Phountzi & Leo Greenslade)

Oh yes and the Pope’s here…. I wonder if you are as bothered about that as I am…. Um, i thought so !!

See you next week