State is out of our depth. We’re not too proud to admit it. It’s a sunny afternoon in an east London park yet we are surrounded by people in various club dress and undress, done up for a night at a super club rather than a day in the dust. The now annual Tiesto festival is an odd combination of the day and the night life side of things. DJs play to five people dancing in some tents while others draw larger crowds who are content to just watch them press play on their CD players. For an event that lasts nine hours, there are a grand total of two live performers and one of them comes from Ireland. Japanese Popstars are hardly going to give Kiss and run for their money in performance terms but they are making a bold electronic noise on the main stage. They drop in a fair few snatches of recognisable tunes alongside their own stuff and get a good response from the early crowd, although an hour does prove to be a bit too much. One for the studio perhaps.
Clad all in black, Pendulum would seem to be from another planet to the day-glo generation here today. It was the drum n’ bass set that both gave birth to the Australians and was the first to embrace them though, so maybe the leap isn’t that great. Suddenly the site is transformed into something a lot more approaching a gig, with the random pockets of ravers all congregating at the front of the stage. The band seem as happy to be here as the audience are to have them, an indication of their eclectic roots. The trumpeting synth riffs are prominent and while they do seem to be playing the same song for an hour, so does everybody else at this event so they’re in good company. MC Verse may be a tad grating in his constant exaltations to the crowd to get involved but he is a rabble rouser par excellence and by the time ‘Propane Nightmares’ hones into view, the beautiful clubbers are moshing down the front. Next stop, a support with Iron Maiden at Sonisphere.
Next stop for us is the man of the hour, Tiësto. Long gone are the days when dance music was a faceless experience by design (with the music and the crowd as the real stars) and there is much devotion to the headliner as you would find at any traditional gig. Tiësto shirts abound, closely followed by tattoos and even his name shaved into somebody’s head. Once he appears for the start of his three hour set, the rest of the site is drained of people – with other DJs left to play to a handful of people before giving up the ghost and shutting down early. While we could never claim to be a fan of his music, the Tiësto experience is still an intriguing one. The show is heavy on production values and there can be no doubt that he gives value for money. Each track is accompanied by expansive visuals, although it does lead to the conclusion that he is simply playing the same set night after night as opposed to working with the mood of the crowd. At the end of the day, it is just some bloke playing some CDs but when the sweeping intro ‘Adagio For Strings’ sends the crowd into a mass hands in the air frenzy, even State can be found getting caught up in it all. We’re not reaching for the fluorescent body paint just yet mind, but at this particular place and at this particular time, Tiësto makes a sort of sense. What a funny old world.