Global Gathering 2006 - Long Marston Airfield, Friday

Having always been a fan of dance music but never really having experienced the world of live dance music, I wasn't really sure what to expect upon arriving at this year's Global Gathering. This was only the event's second year as a two-day celebration of dance culture and I approached it with hopeful enthusiasm and an open mind. Thankfully, I wasn't disappointed in the slightest. In fact, upon returning home, my ever-growing list of 'next CD purchases' is being rebuilt from the ground up - bye-bye guitar bands, hello superstar DJs.

After arriving and pitching our tent (and sinking the obligatory first - or, alternatively, first three - pints), my friend and I headed toward the arena which opened at five on the Friday afternoon. Once we'd found our bearings and mingled a little amongst some of the outlandishly-dressed revellers, we made our way to the Air tent where the party was already well and truly started. Hailing from Somerset, DJ Will Saul provided an hour-long set of up-tempo and atmospheric break beats that acted as the perfect transition into what would be a night of fantastic music. So impressed was I that we decided to linger in the Air tent, the next act up being Krafty Kuts. Decidedly funky, his set maintained the energy brought to the table by Saul. He even threw in a mix of Daft Punk's Around the World, a salute to the night's headliners that raised anticipation levels even higher.

Despite his respectable efforts in keeping the crowd going, the presence of Krafty Kuts was not enough to dissuade me from leaving early to hit the Strongbow Cider House where one of the weekend's most intriguing acts were due to play. The Presets are an electronic duo originating from Australia, and their brand of indie disco is what you would get if The Killers were a little less prissy and a little more hardcore. The closest thing to a small-scale 'gig' all weekend, their performance was as high-maintenance as many of the bigger artists on the lineup and one of the most impressive considering they didn't fill even half of the tent's dancefloor. However, everyone in attendance seemed to be having a blast, especially during an astounding and extended rendition of belting single Down Down Down. I would advise anyone going to August's V Festival to ensure they see these guys - they could very well be huge!

Having danced for a good couple of hours, it was time for a break from the madness come half past eight. The decision was made to mill about and soak up the general festival atmosphere for a while, questionably-priced hot dogs and lengthy sit-downs in the grass included. Soon enough though, vomit-inducing waltzers and further cans of cider were back in the picture.

Once stamina levels had been restored, it was on to the evening's big decision-making moment. Unfortunately, I had to give Groove Armada a miss, although the snatch of Madder I heard whilst journeying toward my final destination was enough to make me question my choice. I opted instead to find a decent spot in Electric where Erol Alkan was in the midst of getting the rammed tent all warmed up for the headliners. His kaleidoscopic set incorporated snatches of both Kelis' and Scissor Sisters' new singles, amongst other eclectic tunes, against a backdrop of psychedelic beats. At this point, glowsticks were out in full force. However, no matter how impressive, the night and perhaps the whole festival belonged to one act and one act only...

Daft Punk, making their only UK appearance this year, blew away all expectations - and, believe me, these were high enough already - to become my favourite outfit of the first night. Donned in full robot gear, the duo began their set with an unsettling intro consisting of the word 'Robot' being repeated over squealchy bleeps and almost industrial sounds, a piece that eventually segued into a blinding Robot Rock. From this point on, they did not let up. Situated in the centre of a huge and ominous triangle on the stage, surrounded by visually stunning light effects that made it obvious to everyone witnessing the show that it must have cost a fortune, the Punks delivered highlights galore. My favourite cuts were the songs from Discovery but such was their experimentation that these were mashed with other great moments from their back catalogue. There were only two real disappointments for me - firstly, only a snatch of the excellent Crescendolls was incorporated into the show and, secondly, there was a complete lack of perhaps their most mainstream hit Digital Love. However, the likes of Da Funk and a crowd-pleasing One More Time more than made up for these slight oversights. It happens that I was so enveloped in their set that I'm not entirely sure how long they were onstage but, come around one in the morning, things were wrapped up with a storming Human After All. Easily one of the best live acts I have seen, I would describe their show as a true experience, something both auditory and aesthetic but also truly sensory in other more untouchable ways. Hopefully, they won't wait another ten years before returning to our quaint British shores.

Once the rocking robots had left this newbie raver astounded in their wake, it was time for a return trip to the campsite and a good night's kip before the fun started all over again the following day. Inevitably, though, the sonic celebration was still in full swing even once the arena's gates had closed, funfairs and boom boxes still blaring out some fat choonage. One hour's worth of sleep - now that's got to be a banging festival! Roll on day two...

Last updated: 19/04/2018 04:49:41

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