When we discovered that Rudimental and Disclosure were joining forces to put on a brand new festival on the south coast, to over 30,000 people, we knew it was something we had to witness. With a line-up that boasted the best in up and coming pop and dance acts, as well we world-renowned DJs and Hip-Hop legends, it looked set to be one hell of a party, so did they pull it off? Here’s what went down at WILD LIFE Festival 2015.
First stop on our list of must-see acts from the weekend was dubstep producer Skream. Rewind six years ago and this London based DJ was making waves as one of the true artists to bring dubstep to the forefront of music, and into the charts with his infamous remix of La Roux‘s In For The Kill and collaborations with the likes of Example and Toddla T. With a brief stint as one of the producers behind Magnetic Man it looks like 2015 is the year her returns as a solo performer. However, as anticipated as his DJ set at WILD LIFE was it did absolutely nothing to excite us and it didn’t take long to get bored of hearing the same beat over and over for fifteen minutes. A disappointing start to the day and not at all what we’d expected from the renowned DJ. 4/10
Though he was somewhat the odd one out at WILD LIFE, the British indie darling George Ezra pulled one of the strongest crowds of the entire weekend. Playing the hits from his successful debut Wanted On Voyage, incuding Barcelona, Cassy O and Blame It On Me, the latter of which bringing out his witty side, “If you don’t like my music, watch the video for this on YouTube because I get shit on by a bird and hit by a car.” With a weekend packed full of dance and house music, Ezra’s set was a breath of fresh air and he successfully charmed 30,000 people with his personality and charming indie anthems. 8/10
For an artist that has a career that spans over two decades, we expected a little more from hip-hop veteran Nas. It can be difficult to win over a crowd, who let’s face it, are too young to remember his early work and with nothing but a DJ behind him, Nas did his best at performing songs from across his back catalogue, including an ode to Michael Jackson, to the sizeable crowd. As an artist, he’s clearly still very appreciative of being given the chance to play on a stage of this size and overall it was an adequate performance, unfortunately there was just nothing that really stood out to make it a memorable one. 6/10
As the sung begun to set on the first day of WILD LIFE, the Big Top stage was quickly filling up in anticipation for one of the UK’s hottest house acts of the past year. Despite arriving to the stage fifteen minutes late, the crowd were absolutely buzzing for Gorgon City. Impressive strobe lights filled the tent and joined by their vocalists Lulu James and Josh Barry the duo smashed through House anthems from last year’s Sirens. The bigger, floor-filler hits such as Ready For Your Love and Here For You unsurprisingly caused an almighty crowd reaction, a sea of bodies soaking up the smooth beats and sultry vocals while the producer duo faultlessly deliver a set that could see them as future headliners. 7/10
Of course if you’re going to put on your own festival, you’re going to make sure you’re one of the headliners, and that’s exactly what Rudimental did. This London crew don’t do anything by half measures either, it’s not a simple DJ set, they like every element of their music to be performed live, which certainly takes the entire atmosphere up a notch. With incredible backing vocalists, a brass and percussion section and an array of instruments by their side, Rudimental went about ending the first day of WILD LIFE on a huge scale. Performing their much loved hits from 2013’s Home, including Waiting All Night, Free and Feel The Love the entire arena was buzzing with the uplifting, energetic sounds that they delivered so easily. Rudimental have set themselves apart from the various House/Dance producers so brilliantly and their performance at WILD LIFE was evidence of why they deserved to be in that headline spot. 8/10
Kicking off day two of WILD LIFE for us was BBC Sound of Introducing 2015 nominee Lapsley and we’re fairly sure that all the sore heads in the crowd thoroughly enjoyed the smooth and soulful sounds that escaped the Main Stage during her performance. Lapsley certainly has talent, there’s no doubt about that, but it felt like she just got lost amongst the Main Stage crowd. Her voice was on point, but without much of a stage presence the set didn’t do much to stand out unfortunately. That and the fact her vocal effect mic didn’t work for 90% of the songs, meaning the overall performance just felt a bit flat. 6/10
Years & Years were one of the most anticipated acts of the entire weekend, and it showed by the sheer amount of people that turned up for their performance in the afternoon. The electro-pop trio have already had an incredible year since the release of Real, and their performance at WILD LIFE only emphasised why they’ve come so far, so quickly. Sunshine-filled hits such as Desire and Worship provided a much needed soundtrack to pick the mood back up, but it was when previous single King begun that the sheer joy from the crowd was experienced. Timid frontman Olly Alexander has an alluring awkwardness about his stage presence but that only makes you fall more in love with them and their music. With debut album Communion only around the corner, their performance at WILD LIFE was only just the beginning of bigger and better things to come. 9/10
Skepta & JME may have been a bit of an odd choice for replacing Sam Smith after he had to pull out of the festival due to health problems, but somehow it really worked. Kicking off the set with a bang, it was hard not to be drawn in to the hip-hop vibes of smash single That’s Not Me and with one look at the crowd, it was clear to see that Skepta had them whipped in a bouncing frenzy, all chanting “That’s not me” as loud as they could. It may not have been to every festival-goers taste, and the lyrics can be more cringe than an episode of The Only Way Is Essex but it’s possible that Skepta performed one of the most fun sets of the weekend and for that, we salute him. 7/10
Norwegian producer Cashmere Cat didn’t exactly pull in the strongest crowd of the weekend and although his hits have a sweet, soft pop touch to them, if we’re honest, we felt like we were at an under-18’s club night at Oceana. His talent for creating infectious electro-beats haven’t gone unnoticed, with Ariana Grande and Kanye all openly admitting to being fans, however it would appear the Brighton crowds just weren’t too excited by his appearance and with so much else going on at the Festival, the set overall just felt a little uninspiring. 6/10
Annie Mac is every House music lovers dream and with her career only on the up after her recent promotion to Zane Lowe‘s coveted Radio 1 slot her DJ set at WILD LIFE was on the must see list of everyone going. Pulling in an absolutely astonishing crowd, it’s incredible to see how one woman can single handedly create such an atmosphere to around 30,000 people. With bright, neon trees decorating the stage and pyro exploding on the big beat drops, Annie Mac delivered one of the best DJ sets we’ve ever seen. If you’re not a huge House fan (us included) it’s understandable that it would become a little tedious, but for most it was a solid forty five-minutes of gold and the special tribute to Sam Smith made her performance all that more honourable. 8/10
Headliners for night two were the co-founders of the festival itself, Disclosure. These two lads have had an impressive career thus far and there’s no doubt that this will have certainly been a highlight for them. With a set over an hour in length, it was going to be a tough job to keep the weery festival crowd up on their feet, but they did so with ease. Their performance was a perfect mix of old and new, opening with White Noise, the single that first gained them their recognition, was followed by the ever-appealing You & Me, When a Fire Starts to Burn and F for You. It was the newer material though, which really stood out, with special guest appearances from Lion Babe, Kwabs and Gregory Porter it provided the evidence that forthcoming album Caracal is going to be absolutely huge. After thank you’s aplenty, the duo made their exit on the sensational Latch, which of course was dedicated to the voice behind it all, Sam Smith. 9/10
And that was it, our achey feet made our way to the Festival exit and the weekend came to a close. For a debut, it was an impressive sight and a lot of thought had gone into making WILD LIFE the best experience for everyone in attendance. However, unfortunately unless you were on some sort of substance, you were left feeling a little ostracised from everyone else and unable to enjoy certain aspects of the Festival. It’s certainly a Festival for a particular type of person and perhaps we just aren’t the right type of people to enjoy it properly. That said, we look forward to seeing how they build and develop WILD LIFE in the years to come.
Written By: Tamsyn Wilce