Festivals 2016

Craic, Cranes and Crowdsurfing At AVA 2016

We flew to the Northern Ireland capital for the second outing of AVA Festival.

AVA festival assembled an all-star lineup of techno heavy hitters for their sophomore year 

On the first Saturday in June, I was lucky enough to fly back to my hometown of Belfast for a crash course in local DJ talent. Stepping out of a taxi at the T13 warehouse on Belfast's Titanic docks couldn't have been more different from twelve months prior for the inaugural AVA. Icy winds and horizontal rain had been replaced with blue skies and sunshine, but the faint pump of kick drums remained.

First order of the day was to catch techno legend Juan Atkins captivating the whole conference with his tales from the early days of Detroit.

After the speeches, it was time to grab a beer and get out to the sun, as the musical offerings of the day kicked off in earnest. Boiler Room returned for their second show in Northern Ireland, this time featuring local talent in the form of Swoosh & Cromby, Brame & Hamo and Phil Kieran. Rounding out the Al Fresco vibe squad was Glasgow legends, Optimo.

While Optimo put in their usual astounding track selection and flawless mixing, the day was stolen by local man Phil Kieran, who pulled a massive crowd and finished off his set in true Belfast style - with a quick crowdsurf.

Also playing outside on the second stage, we managed to catch local boy Jordan, who had done us a teaser mix back in April and put in a fantastic performance, getting the already more-than-up-for-it crowd, to next level pumped.

After that it was a dash inside to catch another previous SoundOf mixer, Derry and Liverpool's finest, Or:la. Or:la filled the colossal warehouse with an on-point selection of house and techno before Shanti Celeste came on to deliver a bit of funk to proceedings.

After Shanti we caught the main event - the world debut of the Bicep lads' live set. Along with a whole host of audio hardware, they brought some serious lazers with them. You'd have to ask Matt and Andy for a full explanation of just what all the buttons, pads and sliders did, because I don't have a clue. But I can tell you they played a new-material heavy set that has me very excited to hear their upcoming full length.

After Bicep had filled the room the stage was set for the international heavy hitters of the evening, Dublin's Mano Le Tough and Germany's Rodhad. At this point in the narrative I'm running a little low on verifiable memories, but if the aching of my feet, head and ears the next day are anything to go by, this was a solid couple of hours of punishing techno magic.

The second outing of AVA built on the 2015 foundations and has gone a long way to cementing the event in the dance festival calendar. But probably AVA's greatest achievement is its persistent establishing of Belfast as a music location in the eyes of both it's locals and the rest of Europe - for that alone the organisers deserve all the praise they get.

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More Festivals:

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Written by Matthew Francey

13 Jun 2016